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hos 11.3.4Exodus 4:22-23 tells us, “22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord: “Israel is My son, My firstborn. 23 So I say to you, let My son go that he may serve Me. But if you refuse to let him go, indeed I will kill your son, your firstborn.” In this context, did you release what God said with the coming of the last plague in Egypt? He said basically My son for your son. So Israel is a picture and a provision to bring about the birth of His only begotten Son. The Son through whom and by whom we are made co-heirs and adopted into His family. Of course we know that this calling His Son from Egypt points directly to Christ, but let us not discount the fact that God calls Israel His child. One points to the other, and through the fulfillment comes the promise.

God chose Israel, He called Israel, and He is about to chasten Israel, all because He decided to love Israel. Yet Israel rebelled. Still we cannot escape God’s care for His people. There in verses 3 and 4, “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.” Look at God’s nurturing care here. It is as if we are reading about a parent and their child. And this is being replayed for Israel by the prophet as if it was one of God’s home movies.

Those of you who even know what the term “home movies” mean, can you imagine what it is like now to have a smart phone when your child takes their first steps? No 8mm film and camera, no VHS tape, you don’t even need a cam-corder. With the push of a button on your phone you can record history. So what do we film now? Selfies……

And we have all seen footage or film or a video and pictures of when a child takes their first steps, as they are gingerly held up by a parent, letting go first with one hand, then finger by finger releasing that little one to go off on their own two feet, literally toddling as they learn to walk. Then they learn to run 5 minutes later, right? Then drive. Seems like it.

There is such love and care portrayed here. And we miss this fact. We see God’s holy, righteous wrath toward their sin. We see that God is angry. And somehow we miss the fact that what motivates discipline from the Lord is not hatred for sin but love for His child! Yes He hates sin, but He chastens because He loves us. In fact, to be technical and specific, God hates sin and loves us and to keep us away from that which He hates, He demonstrates His love in acts of discipline.

Let me read it again, He says, “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.” He draws us to Himself with His love and goodness. Again Romans 2:4 asks us, “Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?”

When He says there “I stooped and fed them” we think of a parent leaning over to get on the child’s level to help them eat. There is more significance to the term here. How is it that God has provided nourishment and healing to His children? Jesus tells us that he is the bread of life. Here is the picture in John 6, “41 The Jews then complained about Him, because He said, “I am the bread which came down from heaven.” 42 And they said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How is it then that He says, ‘I have come down from heaven’? 43 Jesus therefore answered and said to them, “Do not murmur among yourselves. 44 No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day.”

Here we see God stooping, and drawing, and feeding. Verse 45 continues, “45 It is written in the prophets, ‘And they shall all be taught by God.’ Therefore everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to Me. 46 Not that anyone has seen the Father, except He who is from God; He has seen the Father. 47 Most assuredly, I say to you, he who believes in Me has everlasting life. 48 I am the bread of life. 49 Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and are dead. 50 This is the bread which comes down from heaven, that one may eat of it and not die. 51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread that I shall give is My flesh, which I shall give for the life of the world.”

He stooped. He came down. We are fed by Christ! This is Philippians 2 isn’t it? Hosea gives us such imagery to capture the love and care God has for His children and it all points to Christ!  Even in saying, “I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck” we are reminded of Christ’s words in Matthew 11, “28 Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. 29 Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” And here at the conclusion of the service we will partake of the Lord’s Supper, and that bread represents for us Christ and His body being broken for us. He is the bread of life. He nourishes us.

As we see God’s electing love and His adopting grace, we find that He draws us and nourishes us with the life of His Son.

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