The Lord’s Love for Israel
Open Your Bible
Hosea 11:1-12, Psalm 103:11-14, Matthew 23:37, John 6:32-40
The books had gathered dust in the corner of the room for too long, and I was finally putting them in their rightful place on the hallway shelf. I brushed off each one, shaking out the pages as dust particles danced in the sunlight. That’s how I found it—a torn strip of paper sticking out of the top of an old paperback. The words were written in crayon, in my handwriting: “Mama, we’re always in the family, right?”
As soon as I saw it, I remembered. It was a few years ago, and our three older children had become adorably addicted to affirmation. When they got into trouble, or sometimes just because, they would ask the question again. I’d written it down so I’d remember.
“Mama, we’re always in the family, right?” Yes, of course, we’d say. You will always, always be part of this family.
They haven’t asked the question lately, now that I think of it. I hope this means they’re learning what it means to be a beloved child.
We’ve come a long way in the book of Hosea. We’ve seen Israel struggle to believe that God is who He says He is. We’ve seen them struggle to repent and obey. And while the whole book makes us ache with recognition of our own sin, these verses at the start of chapter 11 have to be among the most heartbreaking:
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
Israel called to the Egyptians
even as Israel was leaving them.
They kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the hand,
but they never knew that I healed them.
God had been with Israel from the beginning, loving them, providing for them, healing them, leading them “with ropes of love” (v.4). He was faithfully their Father, but they had forgotten what it meant to be His beloved children.
It’s not hard to imagine ourselves in Israel’s shoes. Those shoes are where we live. We forget. We are unfaithful. We ignore the hand who heals us. But our sin is not the headline here. The headline is God’s faithfulness.
“How can I give you up…?” God asked His children, while they continued to wander in their idolatry (v.8). Jesus echoed this in the Gospel of John: “Everyone the Father gives me will come to me, and the one who comes to me I will never cast out…This is the will of him who sent me: that I should lose none of those he has given me but should raise them up on the last day” (John 6:37,39).
God’s people scatter in their sin, yet Christ will lose none—not a single one. I am not the exception to that rule. Neither are you.
It’s true that we are Israel-caliber sinners. We get lost, wandering through the wilderness of our idolatry. But even when we’re lost, He never loses us. The Lion of Judah will roar as necessary, and His children will return to Him, trembling (Hosea 11:10). Trembling, but at home.
Child of the Father, receive this affirmation today from God’s Word. The One who was with you in the beginning, who has raised you up as His beloved child, will not forsake you now. The sacrifice of His Son has covered your sin, secured your standing, and sealed your hope (Colossians 1:14, Romans 5:17, 1 Peter 1:3–4). With Jesus as your Redeemer, you are always in the family.