hos 11.1Take your Bibles and open with me this week to Hosea chapter 11. We will be looking at the first 11 verses of Hosea 11, leaving verse 12 as the beginning of the next message in the series as verse 12 is better tacked onto chapter 12. We are going to begin to sense a change in the tone of the message from the Lord through Hosea in these last chapters. We have seen the living parable, the portrait and pageant that God has presented with the prophet and his wife and their children, displaying the unfaithfulness of Israel and the faithfulness of God.

God has been telling the people that they need to be sowing righteousness, and reaping lovingkindness. He has instructed them in how to repent, what to say, and what to do to return to Him. To break up the fallow ground and seek the Lord as then He will rain righteousness down on them. But they have continued to refuse. They have continued to compromise. They want to worship God as they see fit, in conjunction with the worship of false gods and false images of God. They want relief from the consequences of their sin but they do not want to repent, believe, or obey the Word of the Lord.

God has been telling them what to expect, the judgement that is coming. But now in chapter 11 the tone changes. In the midst of the harsh rebukes and serious threats about what was going to happen to the nation, now we hear an appeal from the Lord based on His love for His people.

Remember that in the beginning the Book here, Hosea married Gomer, she ran into a life of unfaithfulness, and all the while he continued to support her and provide for her and care for her children, even as she continued to run deeper and deeper into sin away from him. And when it became so bad that she was put up for sale at the slave auction, it was Hosea who sought her and bought her. He was the highest bidder and he took her home, not as a slave, but as his wife. He bought her and brought her back with complete faithfulness and forgiveness.

Here in this next chapter of the story we will hear some things said about God that require us to be familiar with the backstory here. In fact, some of the things we will talk about this morning, if not properly understood with the context of this story and in harmony with the whole counsel of the Word of God, these things can seem to be contrary to what we know about the nature and character of God. What we learn is that in this chapter God tells His people that He loves them so much that judging them is troubling His heart. These things stir God up – now we confess that God is unchanging, unwavering, and that often we are given language in the Scripture that we refer to as anthropomorphism, things that present God in terms we can relate to in our humanity and in our finiteness. So we will see how it is that we are to understand this statement in verse 8 where God proclaims, “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.”

To begin then, the first four verses give us a picture of God’s Fatherly Love for His people. We will remember these verses of Messianic prophecy, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. 2 As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images. 3 I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. 4 I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.”

 Here as God begins to reveal Himself to Israel as a Loving Father, He begins by talking about when the nation was young – When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. This speaks directly and specifically of God’s electing love. This is God’s choice of Israel to be His people. Now how God can choose His people in the Old Testament but not in the New reveals the truth that election when applied to a nation is not as hard to swallow as election of individuals. And yet, an elect nation is full of individuals!

Looking back at Creation, we understand that even before God created the heavens and the earth, even before He made man in His image from the dust of the ground, male and female, before the perfection of creation God already knew that Adam and Eve would rebel and sin against Him. He did not author their sin, but it was not a surprise to Him in any way. And before He had created and before sin entered the world, He knew He was going to send His Son, the Second Person of the Trinity, Jesus, to be our Savior. This was always Plan A, and never Plan B. The cross is not a rescue mission, it was the intended mission from eternity past.

We know then as we look at the Old Testament that God Abram, from Ur of the Chaldeas. Uh oh, you see there, in order to elect a nation God began by electing an individual who was to be the father of that nation! Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves…God called Abram to leave his homeland and to take his family with him. He didn’t tell Abram where to go, He just told Him to go, and Abram believed and obeyed. He went.

As God then made a covenant with Abram, the covenant included promises. God said that He had chosen Abram to make him the Father of many nations and of a multitude of people. He was going to give Abram and Sarai a son of promise. And we know the response, that even as God speared in the form of the  Angel of the Lord and told Abram and Sarai that they would have a child, in their old age and barrenness, they laughed. This to them was impossible, but for God it was a covenantal promise. Then of course we know that the son of promise was born and named “Laughter”, or Isaac in Hebrew.

As God chose and called Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, even revealing to us that He chose Jacob before he was born, while he was still in his mother’s womb. He was the one through whom this great nation of promise would be born. God chose some and passed over others all through the history of the world to bring Jacob to be the Father of the twelve tribes of Israel.

What was God’s elective purpose here? Why did He call Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob? Why is it that He is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? God did this to bring about the incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. He created the nation of Israel in order to send His Son to save His people from their sin. In their laws and rituals and ceremonies we are pointed to our incredible need for salvation, for forgiveness, and for reconciliation, because we like Gomer, are unfaithful. We are born that way as descendants of Adam in the flesh. Through the son of Jacob named Judah would come the Savior.

This was God’s choice. He says “When Israel was a child I loved him” – in other words, as the nation was just being birthed, before they rebelled or did evil in His sight, and before they obeyed and did what was right…He chose them, based on His purposes and not on anything they had not done, had done, or were yet to do in the future. God demonstrates here for Israel a special covenant love. The Hebrew term is “chesed”. It is a decision of God to enter into this covenantal relationship with Israel because He has chosen them and decided to love them with an everlasting love.