“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. As they called them, so they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images. I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:1-4 NKJV
These words . . . these scriptures . . . they are so beautiful, and they are so telling. Especially verse 3, “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.” They did NOT know . . . They did NOT know . . . They did NOT know . . . God’s love for us is evident every single day. He isn’t some far off distant God. Much like it says He did with Ephraim (one of the tribes of Israel), He teaches us hands on, in the moment, not shouting instructions from a distance, but leading us and guiding us face to face. And yet, how often are we walking in defeat because we do NOT realize that God has healed us? How often are we letting old struggles and old sins have power over us because we do NOT understand the healing value and the redemption of the blood of Jesus Christ?
How sad is it, that we don’t walk in wholeness, not because we’re not whole, but because we do NOT know we’ve been made whole? If you’ve ever injured yourself in such a way that it affects how you walk, you know that often times, even after the injury has healed, you’ll still limp as if you aren’t well. You have to retrain your body to walk correctly. The children of Israel were no different. They were living as if they were broken because the did not realize they were made whole. And we do the same thing today.
If you haven’t ever read the book of Hosea, I encourage you to take the time to study it. Whether you look at it literally or figuratively (which I believe it is both), it is a picture of God’s love and longing for Israel despite the fact that Israel continually turned away from God . . . Just a couple scriptures after this we see two things . . . vs. 5 “. . . they refused to repent” and vs. 7 “My people are bent on backsliding from Me . . .”. And yet God never stops drawing the children of Israel back to Him. He never stops pursuing those He loves. Even His anger is only for a season. I often wonder “why” the children of Israel were so rebellious, but then I look at my own life and wonder how often can I say the same? How often do I insist on my own way even when it is far from the best way?
We serve a good God . . . a loving God . . . a merciful God . . . the one true God. And He loves us far too much to leave us in this state. Verse 4 goes on to say, “I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” No matter how bad it seems, God still loves you, and you’re never too far gone to look up and realize you are healed from all that entangles you.
What a beautiful message this Valentine’s Day week. No matter where you find yourself today, God loves you. He cherishes you. He wants you as His child.