All through the collection of prophecies in this book, God has likened His anguish and pain felt because of Israel’s unfaithfulness as being like the human experience Hosea was having in his painful marriage to Gomer.
Now in the eleventh chapter, God uses another human experience to communicate the pain He feels over His people’s rejection of Him – parenting.
Israel is a beloved child who has walked away from the parent who raised it (vs3), turned its back on them despite the incredible love and parental care (vs4) that has been shown.
God’s anguish is evident; ‘My people are bent on turning away from me’ (vs7). The God of Scripture, our God is not aloof, untouched or cold. The language of the whole book of Hosea is of profound human experiences that help us to understand how God feels when we are in a state of sinful rebellion or rejection of Him, living and acting as though He were not our God who has loved us.
Because of Israel’s refusal to turn back to God (vs5), ‘the sword will rage against their cities’ (vs6) and God will not answer them anymore when they do call out to Him (vs6).
God’s heart is in pain and conflicted like a parent who has had to discipline their child; ‘My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender’ (vs8) and so God will not totally destroy Israel when He sends them into exile because of their sin.
God promises a future day when a remnant of Israel will be gathered back to God from the nations they are about to be scattered to in exile;
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. (vs10-11)
God will remain faithful to His covenant promises; God is faithful even when we are unfaithful.
What does this mean for us today?
- All the language of human experiences throughout this book of prophecies reveals the profoundly personal nature of God and our relationship with Him.
- How we live really matters to God, God feels pain when we live as though He doesn’t exist, when we spurn His words to us, when we live in sin and compromise, when we give our hearts trust to other things or people.
- Ephesians 5:10 in the NIV translation instructs us to ‘find out what pleases the LORD’ and Ephesians 4:30 urges us; ‘do not grieve the Holy Spirit’. May we live to please God, live in such a way that we do not grieve God. May we bring joy to our Father, not tears!
Hezekiah was a mighty man of God, yet sadly his son Manasseh did not follow his father’s example. Even worse than that Manasseh actually undid all the good his father had done and re-erected altars to Baal and Asherah, he even had altars to these false gods erected inside the Temple! He burned his own son as an offering and consulted fortune-tellers and mediums provoking the Lord to anger.
How does this happen? Father follows God incredibly, and yet his son is evil personified.
Sadly, the bible has a number of this sort of one-generational God-following.
- Eli and his sons (1 Samuel 2:12)
- Samuel and his sons (1 Samuel 8:3)
- David and Solomon (1 Kings 11)
In Deuteronomy Scripture clearly portrays God’s plan for parent to teach God’s ways to their children, to ensure that God-following, that faith is not one-generational but is passed on.
“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. 5 You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. 6 And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. 8 You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 9 You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. (Deuteronomy 6:4-9)
And yet this is dramatically not the case with Hezekiah and Manasseh. Seventy five years later Manasseh’s grandson Josiah who did what was right in the eyes of the Lord, re-discovers the Book of the Law while he was repairing the Temple. His grand-father and father had been so ungodly that when the priest gives Josiah the Book of the Law it is simply referred to in the following way;
“Then Shaphan the secretary told the king, “Hilkiah the priest has given me a book.” (2 Kings 22:10)
But when Josiah heard the words of the Book of the Law he tore his clothes, humbled himself and repented. And because of this God forgave him and granted him mercy (2 Kings 22:18-20).
We then read in 2 Kings 23 that Josiah went on to reform all of Judah, leading Judah to renew their covenant with the Lord. Josiah went on to purify the temple of Baal & Asherah worship and removed false priests and broken down the high places and even finally fulfilled the prophecy God brought against Jeroboam back in 1 Kings 13:11-32 and his rebel altar at Bethel.
Lastly Josiah restores the Passover festival which has not been mentioned in Scripture since Joshua 5:10-12. And so as the epitaph over Josiah’s life is a glowing one;
Before him there was no king like him, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and with all his soul and with all his might, according to all the Law of Moses, nor did any like him arise after him. (2 Kings 23:25)
Hezekiah didn’t pass on faith to Manasseh, faith was lost for essentially 75yrs in Judah and then sadly Josiah although he followed God was another example of one-generational God-following as his son, Jehoahaz turned from the Lord again.
If you’re a parent – what can you do today, and do beyond today that can ensure that your God-following is not one-generational too?
And if your parent(s) have not followed God, can you believe God that you could be like Josiah and break with the past and follow God wholeheartedly and be used by God to accomplish amazing things?