I think one of the most beautiful aspects of Hosea is the focus on God’s love. In the midst of Israel’s heinous worship of the baals – which included sexual rituals and other despicable practices, God’s love for His people, although spurned, was tender.
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath (Hosea 11:8-9).
God would not destroy Israel, but instead He preserved a remnant – a people who would survive invasion and exile and return to rebuild Jerusalem. But even more significant…He would preserve a people who would be washed clean by the blood of the Lamb and be given a new robe of righteousness. These people are His church.
The church is not just like Israel, the church is in fact the true Israel – for the true Israel has always been those who look to God in humble faith for their salvation – not necessarily those born in the direct line of Abraham. In other words, God’s family is born of spiritual descent.
We see that God’s tender love for his family is still active among His people in the personal and intimate words He gives the seven churches.
Consider the church in Philadelphia which lay in an active earthquake area. They endured evacuations and rebuilding because of earthquakes…. “In the midst of insecurity from earthquakes on the one hand, and attacks on their faith on the other, Jesus promises final stability and protection forever in his presence in the heavenly city which will come one day.” (P. Gardner, Revelation, pg 61).
Also, details within Jesus’ letter to Laodicea revealed His intimate knowledge of them. Laodicea was a wealthy and proud city, so Jesus counseled them “to buy from [him] gold refined in the fire, so you can become rich” (3:18). He was teaching the church that their earthly wealth was poverty in God’s kingdom, and true wealth came from humble dependence on God alone.
Also, the very familiar words of Jesus standing at the door and knocking (3:20) – were given to this self-sufficient church who had spiritually locked Jesus out of their congregation and lives. He promised to come in and restore the bonds of fellowship to those who would open their lives to Him through repentance and dependence. Jesus was firm with the church of Laodicea because He loved them (3:19)!
We are benefactors of this Great Love of God! He knows us intimately and loves us deeply. He loves us so much that He is willing to reprove our complacency and restore our faith. I pray that His love would compel us to return to Him in humility and persevere in obedience…until He comes again!