The Love of A Father.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt. But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols. I myself taught Israel how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him.” – Hosea 11:1-3 NLT
When we read all these messages of coming destruction and God’s anger with Israel and Judah it is easy to forget the fact that God was in love with them. The whole story of Hosea is built around the imagery of a husband and wife. Hosea had been ordered by God to marry and father children with a known prostitute. She would prove unfaithful to him even after he showered her with love and affection, forcing him to buy her out of sexual slavery. This book is filled with messages from the prophet regarding God’s anger and the coming punishment for Israel’s unfaithfulness. But then we have in chapter 11 a reminder of God’s love. It is couched in terms that we can understand – the relationship between a father and his son. God speaks of His love for Israel as a father reminiscing about his wayward adult son, remembering the days when he was just a child. As the son grew, he rebelled against his Father, causing the Father to call out to him. But the son only rejected the Father’s efforts by moving farther away. God longingly remembers the early days of their relationship. He pictures Himself as a father who recalls teaching his son how to walk, leading him along, lovingly guiding and protecting him. But now, that same child “doesn’t know or even care that it was I who took care of him” (Hosea 11:3).
As a father of two sons, I can relate to God’s description of disappointment and sadness. I love my sons and can vividly remember the day of their births. I can recall teaching them to walk, ride their bikes, playing catch with them, kicking a soccer ball together, reading books a bedtime, putting band-aids on cuts, and laughing as we wrestled on the living room floor. But I can also remember days when they rejected my love and rebelled against my authority. Those moments were always heartbreaking and sad. And while neither one of my sons have ended up rejecting me completely, just the isolated instances of rebellion have left me feeling empty and sad. To think of God as a loving Father watch the son He loves reject Him and forget all about Him is disturbing, but also enlightening. The punishment God was bringing was motivated by His love for Israel. He loved His people. He had chosen them. He had nurtured them. He did not enjoy punishing them. In fact, God states, “My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows. No, I will not unleash my fierce anger. I will not completely destroy Israel, for I am God and not a mere mortal” (Hosea 11:8-9 NLT). God’s love influenced His reaction to Israel’s sin. He had to punish them for their behavior, but He did so out of love, just as He does with you and me today. God loves me. He cares deeply for me. He longs for a relationship with me. And yet, too often He has to watch as I walk away from Him and seek what He longs to provide from something or someone else. And when I do, I break His heart. But He never stops loving me.
Father, never let me lose sight of the fact that You are indeed my Father. You are responsible for my very existence. You created me. You chose me. You have made me who I am. You have blessed me, fed and clothed me, disciplined me, protected me, and showered me with undeserved love and affection. Yet I have rejected You so often and turned away from You. I have acted as if I don’t know You or am not grateful for all You have done for me. Please forgive me for my arrogance and ingratitude. Thank You for loving me like a Father. Amen
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men