“How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” - Hosea 11:8-9 (KJV, emphasis mine)
In this week’s blog, I invite you to have a considerate conscience in order to be captivated by our compassionate and gracious God. This will allow you to have a biblical perspective that will change your heart and mind during a season of correction from the Lord. As we examine the passage in Hosea there are a number of points to consider including the people group to whom this passage is addressed, a warning of impending judgment, God’s attitude toward His people and their judgment as well as His great mercy and forgiveness towards His people.
Identifying the People Group
The passage begins by addressing a specific people group. Ephraim is a reference to the nation of Israel so God is addressing this warning to His chosen people.
Understanding the Warning
This passage references two cities: Admah and Zeboim. These cities were located near Sodom and Gomorrah and were also destroyed when God judged Sodom and Gomorrah for their wickedness (Deuteronomy 29:23). God is clearly warning His people of coming judgment that will serve to chasten them for their backslidden behavior.
God’s Attitude towards His People
However, note that though the thick and threatening clouds of judgment are on the horizon, God is not enjoying nor is He enthusiastic about the pending punishment for His people! Instead He says, “mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together”. As a father of three boys I understand God’s attitude towards His children. I also did not take pleasure in disciplining but the power of love led me to correct my children in accordance with Scripture. Consider the words that God chooses to use in order to convey His attitude:
- Turned within Me = To be overturned, be overthrown
- Repentings = Comfort
- Kindled = To grow warm and tender
Our good and gracious God is saying that His heart is overthrown because it has been conquered by compassion. And since God is the God of all comfort, we must understand that His actions are carried and directed by comfort. This truth basically destroys the erroneous accusation that God only to pummel and pound us in order to produce the change that He desires. However, do not get it twisted my friends, God is holy and just and He must always punish sin. Do not be deceived God will not be mocked!
“Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” – Galatians 6:7-8 (KJV)
God is also saying, in your discomfort, I am comforted by My actions towards you. So at this moment My heart has turned from being cold towards you to growing warm and tender towards you!
A Display of God’s Mercy and Forgiveness
Let us consider again God’s heart that is displayed in verse 9 of our text: “I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.” – Hosea 11:9 (KJV)
God’s statement that He will not again destroy Ephraim points to a manifestation of Father’s majestic mercy. Even though their sin deserves it, God will not wipe out Israel. Instead, He will leave a remnant and will restore the nation.
Now embrace the considerable and divine difference between the Creator and the created. God clearly states “for I am God, and not man”. The longsuffering, forgiveness, and compassion of the Lord toward His people presents an unbelievable contrast that causes us to recognize that He is not man, but God. His love and forgiveness comes from His holy heart! There are enormous and transcending differences between God and man as it relates to forgiveness. Consider man’s type of forgiveness:
- Man will not resist his anger very long.
- Man will not tolerate others when he is tired, tested, stressed, or annoyed.
- Man will not reconcile with a person who offended him if that a person suffers a bad reputation and poor character.
- Man is often only willing to be reconciled on the condition that the offending party desires forgiveness and makes the first move.
- Man is often only willing to be reconciled on the condition that the offending party will never again do the wrong.
- Man, when he is wronged, does not bear all the penalty for the wrong done.
So what passes for forgiveness among men falls incredibly short to the amazing forgiveness of God! As a result, we should be encouraged, eternally loved ones! Our benevolent God will capture the backslider with chastening that is couched in compassion.
Not a Sermon But a Thought,