I turn to Hosea – not the Hosea who is scorned and abandoned by his wife, but the Hosea who is pondering and interpreting what he feels the Divine is saying. And perhaps Hosea can understand and interpret so well what the Divine is saying because he feels the pang of missing someone who has become close to his heart. We mourn and rage the most when the tender parts of our hearts are trampled on. Why would it be hard to believe that the Divine also feels deeply the lose of the called and chosen people.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. The more I called them, the more they went from me; they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and offering incense to idols. Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them up in my arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of human kindness, with bands of love. I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.
They shall return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria shall be their king, because they have refused to return to me. The sword rages in their cities, it consumes their oracle-priests, and devours because of their schemes. My people are bent on turning away from me. To the Most High they call, but he does not raise them up at all.
How can I give you up, 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.” (Hosea 11:1 – 8)
“I was to them like those who lift infants to their cheeks. I bent down to them and fed them.” Have you known someone like that, beloved reader? Who seems to genuinely and affectionately love child? Who values and protects the innocence of children who that person has not connection to? You can see them in your mind’s eye, can’t you? Gushing and adoring young children and taking delight in their freshness and innocence. I am like that; I smile at babies and young children. Knowing or assuming the protectiveness of parents, I do not break that circle of protection. But in my heart I am encircling them with love.
That is the essence of the Divine. Bending down to us, the Divine’s called and chosen people – yes, all of us! Encircling us in love, and seeking every possible way to nourish us. That is why I cannot embrace this concept of an “Angry God.” There must be some other way to understand that aspect of the Divine.
“I will not execute my fierce anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.
They shall go after the LORD, who roars 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, says the LORD.” (Verses 9 – 11)
“ . . . for I am God and no mortal” How telling is that? We don’t expect our fellow human to be kind and compassionate 24/7 365 days out of the year (366 every fourth year). But the Lord God is telling us, through Hosea, that no matter how much we may hurt the heart of the Divine, only love is there. Love that seeks to entreat and discipline, yes, but love nonetheless. And we, beloved reader, are expected as followers of the Lord God Jesus Christ who embodied the Divine to follow that example. Oh, what a task we have ahead of us! Selah!