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Hello, Church Family,

Sunday's sermon was from the book of Hosea. Set against the backdrop of ancient Israel, Hosea's narrative unfolds as an allegory, weaving together themes of love, faithfulness, and the challenges of straying from the path of righteousness.

Let's read Hosea 11:1-9:

God’s Love for Israel

11 “When Israel was a child, I loved him,
    and out of Egypt I called my son.
But the more they were called,
    the more they went away from me.[a]
They sacrificed to the Baals
    and they burned incense to images.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
    taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
    it was I who healed them.
I led them with cords of human kindness,
    with ties of love.
To them I was like one who lifts
    a little child to the cheek,
    and I bent down to feed them.

“Will they not return to Egypt
    and will not Assyria rule over them
    because they refuse to repent?
A sword will flash in their cities;
    it will devour their false prophets
    and put an end to their plans.
My people are determined to turn from me.
    Even though they call me God Most High,
    I will by no means exalt them.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
    How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I treat you like Admah?
    How can I make you like Zeboyim?
My heart is changed within me;
    all my compassion is aroused.
I will not carry out my fierce anger,
    nor will I devastate Ephraim again.
For I am God, and not a man—
    the Holy One among you.
    I will not come against their cities.

When Israel was a child, the Lord's love enveloped them, and out of Egypt, He called His son. Yet, the more they were called, the further they strayed, even offering sacrifices to false gods. In this unfaithfulness, God, the patient Father, had taught Ephraim to walk, healed them, and led them with cords of kindness and bands of love. The people, however, refused to return to the Lord, and consequences loomed.

Despite the deserved wrath, God's heart recoiled at the thought of giving them up. His compassion grew warm and tender. "How can I execute my burning anger?" He asked. "I will not destroy Ephraim, for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath."

Consider God's character. What does God want us to know about Him? About us? 

How does it challenge or inspire your understanding of divine justice and mercy?

How does this passage make you feel? Are there emotions of gratitude, conviction, or hope that arise as you contemplate the interplay between God's compassion and humanity's tendency to turn away?

As a church, how can we strike a balance between acknowledging the righteous consequences of actions (justice) and embodying God's compassionate and merciful character?

In a world where unfaithfulness often prevails, and God's people are bent on turning, Hosea's narrative resonates deeply. The prophetic call to return to God echoes throughout Hosea's words. Reflect on areas where you feel the need for a spiritual return to God. What practical steps can we take, individually and as a community, to respond to this divine call?

May the insights God reveals through this sermon and reflection shape your journey, inspiring a deeper understanding of God's boundless love and the call to return to Him.