“My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, None at all exalt Him. ‘How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred’ ” (Hosea 11:7-8).
As a parent do you struggle with having to discipline your child? Perhaps, many of us can relate to and remember one of our parents saying to us as they were correcting us, “This is going to hurt me, more than it hurts you”. How does God feel in having to discipline His children for their wayward behavior? Does God experience any kind of pain in having to discipline His children?
The 11th chapter of Hosea describes God’s struggle in having to discipline those He loves. It also shows us the incredible tender love God has for His children. God says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son” (Hosea 11:1). The Lord adds, “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them” (Hosea 11:3-4). These verses describe God’s tender love for His precious children.
However, God’s people of Hosea’s day had rebelled against and rejected God’s love for them: “As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images” (Hosea 11:2). As a result, God was going to discipline His children by allowing the Assyrians to take captive the northern kingdom of Israel: “He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent. And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels” (Hosea 11:5-6).
However, how did God feel in having to administer this tough measure of discipline for His beloved children? Notice God’s struggle: “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror” (Hosea 11:8-9). It pained God’s heart to have to correct His children and God struggled within Himself to have to carry the punishment out upon His children.
God carried out the discipline because He knew it was the only way He could help His children come back to their senses. He knew that a better end awaited them once they learned from being corrected: “ ‘They shall walk after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses,’ says the Lord” (Hosea 11:10-11).
As a father I can relate to the pain God felt in having to exact tough corrective measures upon my own children. God does not coldly administer discipline to those He loves, but carries out the chastening that is necessary for those He loves even though it breaks His heart to do so. I rejoice that God loves me enough to correct me when I go astray. Today, I will strive to walk within God’s Will so that I will not break God’s heart by His having to discipline me.
“And you have forgotten the exhortation which speaks to you as to sons: ‘My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives” (Hebrews 12:5-6).