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Saturday, June 14, 2014

Scripture Reading: Hosea 11
When Israel was a child, I loved him,
     and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more I called them,
     the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
     and offering incense to idols.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
     I took them up in my arms;
     but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
     with bands of love.
I was to them like those
     who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.

They shall return to the land of Egypt,
     and Assyria shall be their king,
     because they have refused to return to me.
The sword rages in their cities,
     it consumes their oracle-priests,
     and devours because of their schemes.
My people are bent on turning away from me.
     To the Most High they call,
     but he does not raise them up at all.

How can I give you up, 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 fierce anger;
     I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
     the Holy One in your midst,
     and I will not come in wrath.

They shall go after the Lord,
     who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
     his children shall come trembling from the west.
They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
     and like doves from the land of Assyria;
     and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.

Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
     and the house of Israel with deceit;
but Judah still walks with God,
     and is faithful to the Holy One. (NRSV)

Reflection
Hosea 11 reads like the private journal of God.

Journal Entry 1
“I remember when you were just a young one, Israel.”

It sounds like a parent recalling, “Yesterday’s diapers are now today’s car keys.” Or it’s like remembering dropping off a child at school on his or her first day and perhaps, like my mother, shedding tears (and later trying to think back to those moments in the trying years of puberty and high school).

Then the tone of God’s next entry changes.

Journal Entry 2
“But you pull away from the love I offer. You prefer to be in superficial connections rather than in authentic relationship. You go and serve masters (Baals) when I would have you my Beloved. Soon this will make you suffer. But don’t expect me to help. This was your choice.”

Journal Entry 3
“But how can I give you up? How can I just sit here in your suffering as my heart winces in pain, you melt me to tenderness?”

Journal Entry 4
“No. I will call you, and we will walk together. I will return you home, for you have been away too long.”

On occasion, read this Hosea journal. It’s full of the imagery of a God that is precisely not the God we have imagined—the clock-maker in the distance, the chess player sitting on a throne—but a God caught up with the destiny and dynamics of creation.

Read it, again. If only to remember that God has chosen to be God with you rather than God without you.

Prayer
God, sometimes I choose to serve masters rather than live in your covenant, to be your Beloved. Remind me, by the power of your Spirit, that you have promised to be God with me and not God without me, and that I am never alone. Amen.

Written by Edwin Estevez, Pastoral Resident


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