God's longing for his people.
God’s longing for his people.
“My heart is turned over within me, all my compassions are kindled.”
Having someone reject and devalue the love we show them is one of the most painful experiences we can have. Alfred Tennyson wrote, “Tis better to love and lost than never to have loved at all” in response to the death of his close friend. Yet it is one thing when that loss is due to death, but it is quite another when it is due to rejection and disdain. Of course, we grieve the loss of a loved one, perhaps grieving for the rest of our lives. But the love remains for the person. However, to be rejected by another, our love turns to hatred and despair. Rejection is a pain that never retreats.
In Hosea 11, we find God lamenting the rejection of the people he loved. In verse 1, God affirms his deep love for the people of Israel, a love that led God to save his people from their bondage in Egypt. In verse 3, we see God pictured as a loving father who cared for Israel like a helpless child. He is a loving father who held them by the hand and taught them to walk. When they fell and were hurt, he took them into his arms and brought healing to them. Unlike the fickle, demanding, and angry gods of the Canaanites who enslaved the people with fear, God bound them with the bonds of love. Instead of putting a yoke upon them, he removed their yoke. He cared and provided for the people. Having experienced the depth of God’s love, one would expect the people of Israel to remain steadfast in their love for God. Yet, they scorned his love. The more God pursued a relationship with them through the prophetic appeal of the prophets, the more they refused to listen and continued their pursuit of the worship of Baal. Even though they gave lip service to God, they were bent on turning away from him (vs. 7). As a result; God would bring his discipline upon them by sending them into captivity by the Assyrians. Yet even as he disciplines them, “his heart is turned over” within him. Even as God brings judgment, his compassion wells within him as he desires to restore the people. Even though Judah is unfaithful, God will remain faithful in his love. Despite their propensity to turn their back on God, God will not turn his back upon them but will again restore them to the land (vs. 11).
There are times when we stray from God and reject him. When confronted with the guilt of our sin, we question God’s acceptance of us. Our guilt leads us to doubt his forgiveness. Even though the message of Hosea is predominately one of judgment and discipline, God makes it clear that his discipline is grounded in his love and desire to restore our relationship with him. God’s heart is moved with love and compassion despite our rejection of him. No matter how unfaithful we have been to him, he is always faithful to us to restore us to fellowship. The only thing he requires is for us to ask. Such is the love of our heavenly Father.