Day 7 Hosea 11:1-11 ... Wounded Lover

Many people carry around the image of God as an impersonal Force, something akin to the law of gravity. Hosea portrays almost the opposite: a God of passion and fury and tears and love. A God in mourning over Israel's rejection of him.

God used Hosea's unhappy story to illustrate his own whipsaw emotions. That first blush of love when he found Israel, he said, was like finding grapes in the desert. But as Israel broke his trust again and again, he had to endure the awful shame of a wounded lover. God's words carry a tone surprisingly like self-pity: "I am like a moth to Ephraim, like rot to the people of Judah" (5:12)

The powerful image of a jilted lover explains why, in a chapter like Hosea 11, God's emotions seem to vacillate so. He is preparing to obliterate Israel - wait, now he is weeping, holding out open arms - no, he is sternly pronouncing judgement again. Those shifting moods seem hopelessly irrational, except to anyone who has been jilted by a lover.

Is there a more powerful human than that of betrayal? Ask a junior high school girl whose boyfriend has just dumped her for a pretty cheerleader. Or tune your radio to a country-western station and listen to the lyrics of infidelity. Or check out the murders reported in the daily newspaper; an amazing proportion trace back to a fight with an estranged lover. Hosea, and God, demonstrate in living color exactly what it is like to love someone desperately, and get nothing in return. Not even God, with all his power, can force a human being to love him.

Virtually, every chapter of Hosea talks about the "prostitution" or "adultery" of God's people. God the lover will not share his bride with anyone else. Yet, amazingly, even when she turns her back on him, he sticks with her. He is willing to suffer, in hope that someday she will change. Hosea proves that God longs not to punish, but to love.

Point to Ponder: What is your strongest memory of feeling betrayed?