When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them.
They shall not return to the land of Egypt,
but Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.
The sword shall rage against their cities,
consume the bars of their gates,
and devour them because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.
They shall go after the LORD;
he will roar like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west;
they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria,
and I will return them to their homes, declares the LORD.
Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
and the house of Israel with deceit,
but Judah still walks with God
and is faithful to the Holy One.
(Hosea 11 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
Remember, O LORD, in David's favor,
all the hardships he endured,
how he swore to the LORD
and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob,
“I will not enter my house
or get into my bed,
I will not give sleep to my eyes
or slumber to my eyelids,
until I find a place for the LORD,
a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.”
Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah;
we found it in the fields of Jaar.
“Let us go to his dwelling place;
let us worship at his footstool!”
Arise, O LORD, and go to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
Let your priests be clothed with righteousness,
and let your saints shout for joy.
For the sake of your servant David,
do not turn away the face of your anointed one.
The LORD swore to David a sure oath
from which he will not turn back:
“One of the sons of your body
I will set on your throne.
If your sons keep my covenant
and my testimonies that I shall teach them,
their sons also forever
shall sit on your throne.”
For the LORD has chosen Zion;
he has desired it for his dwelling place:
“This is my resting place forever;
here I will dwell, for I have desired it.
I will abundantly bless her provisions;
I will satisfy her poor with bread.
Her priests I will clothe with salvation,
and her saints will shout for joy.
There I will make a horn to sprout for David;
I have prepared a lamp for my anointed.
His enemies I will clothe with shame,
but on him his crown will shine.”
(Psalm 132 ESV)
A Song of Ascents. Of David.
Behold, how good and pleasant it is
when brothers dwell in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down on the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down on the collar of his robes!
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion!
For there the LORD has commanded the blessing,
(Psalm 133 ESV)
A Song of Ascents.
Come, bless the LORD, all you servants of the LORD,
who stand by night in the house of the LORD!
Lift up your hands to the holy place
and bless the LORD!
May the LORD bless you from Zion,
he who made heaven and earth!
(Psalm 134 ESV)
For the Love of God
IN HOSEA 9, GOD SAYS OF HIS covenant people, “Because of all their wickedness . . . I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious” (9:15). Yet here in Hosea 11 God declares, “My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused” (11:8). How shall we put these two passages together?
First, this emotional turmoil is the language of the jilted husband: in this book, Almighty God plays the role of the cuckolded husband. Make all the allowance you like for anthropomorphism, this is as truly the way God presents himself in Scripture as the passages where his utter sovereignty is affirmed. It is the juxtaposition of such themes that has driven orthodox confessionalism to insist that God is simultaneously, on the one hand, sovereign and transcendent, and, on the other, personal and interactive with his image-bearers.
Second, the juxtaposition of God’s wrath and God’s love makes it unnecessary to pull verses out of two chapters (9 and 11). Within chapter 11 the tension is already almost unbearable. The chapter opens with a brief historical review. God saved Israel out of Egypt at the time of the Exodus (11:1) and taught her to walk, leading her “with cords of human kindness, with ties of love” (11:4). But the more he lavished on Israel the more they turned away (11:2), and they utterly refused to repent (11:5). So God will come at them with great wrath: “Swords will flash in their cities. . . . Even if they call to the Most High, he will by no means exalt them” (11:6-7). It sounds as if it is too late. And then suddenly, almost as if God is talking with himself, he asks how he can possibly give them up (11:8).
What is the answer? The answer lies in the very character of God. He is not exactly like a cuckolded husband. “For I am God, and not man — the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath” (11:9). Or, more precisely, as the next two verses demonstrate, he will not finally come to them in wrath. They will go into captivity, but he will roar again with the lion’s royal sway and call his children from the west, from Egypt, from Assyria, and they will be settled again. Indeed, within the larger canonical framework, the fact that God is God and not a mere mortal, the fact that both his wrath and his love must be satisfied, means that wrath and love will rush forward together — until they meet in the cross, the cross of the man who was also called out of Egypt by God to be the perfect son, the perfect anti- type of Israel (11:1; Matt. 2:15).