Love, given by God, is not returned by His people. “When Israel was a child, I loved him” (Hosea 11:1), “The more I called them, the further they went away” (Hosea 11:2). “I was one who taught the people of Ephraim to walk. I took them by the hand” - This is the love of God, “But they didn’t realize that I had healed them” (Hosea 11:3) - This is the ingratitude of God’s people. “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ropes of love” (Hosea 11:4) - Again, we see the love of God. “They have refused to return to Me” (Hosea 11:5) - Again, we see the people of God, turning away from the God of their salvation. How deep is their rebellion against God - “My people are determined to turn away from Me” (Hosea 11:7). How deep is His continuing love for them - “How can I give you up, Ephraim?” (Hosea 11:8). What a great contrast there is between God and man: “I am God, not a human” (Hosea 11:9). He is so much greater than we are. His love is so much greater than our sin. The Word of God is honest and forthright about our sin - “Ephraim surrounds Me with deceit. Judah rebels against God” (Hosea 11:12) - but is doesn’t end there. It speaks also about the faithfulness of God. This is the great thought with which Hosea 12 ends. Judah’s rebellion is “against the Holy One who is faithful” (Hosea 11:12).
“I spoke to the prophets and gave them many visions. I taught lessons through the prophets ... The Lord used a prophet to bring the people of Israel out of Egypt. He used the prophet to take care of them” (Hosea 12:10,13). The ministry of the prophets was very important. It doesn’t begin with speaking to men. It begins with hearing from God. The question, “What does the Lord have to say to me?” comes before the question, “What will I say to the people?” When we listen to what the Lord is saying to us, we will have “power with God” (Hosea 12:3) - power to speak His Word in a way that will bring glory to Him and people to Him.
“You are against Me, your Helper” (Hosea 13:9). God is our Helper. This is grace. How does He help us? He is our “Saviour” (Hosea 13:4). “You are against Me.” This is ingratitude. It’s not only disobedience of a command. It’s rejection of a love, the greatest love of all, the love of God. If we do not turn to the Lord to save us, we will turn to someone else, someone who will not be able to save us - “Where, now, is your king, the one who is supposed to save you?” (Hosea 13:10). What does God say about others who claim to bring salvation to us? This is what He says: “There is no saviour except Me" (Hosea 13:4). It is the Lord alone who “frees us from the power of the grave” (Hosea 13:14) and “gives us “the opportunity to live again” (Hosea 13;13).
“Return to the Lord your God ... Return to the Lord” (Hosea 14:1-2). Who is the God to whom we return? He is the God who loves us. He is the God who says, “I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). God’s love for us is His free gift to us. He does not love us because He has to love us. There is nothing about us that compels God to love us. He is the God of love. He is the God who chooses love. He is the God who chooses us. What wonderful promises of love He gives to us. In Hosea 14:4-5, God says, “I will.” He says this four times. In Hosea 14:5-7, He says, “They will.” He says this nine times. “They will” follows “I will.” The blessings are given to us. They come to us from the Lord. When we realize how much we have been blessed by the Lord, this leads us to make a fuller commitment of our lives to the Lord, turning from our evil ways - “The people of Ephraim will have nothing more to do with idols” (Hosea 14:8) - and turning to the good ways of the Lord - “The Lord’s ways are right. Righteous people live by them” (Hosea 14:9).