Let us read that portion of Scripture. “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. The more they called them, the more they went from them; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols. Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, And I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; And I bent down and fed them” (Hosea 11:1-4, NASB).

Oh, what tender care we see of God for His people Israel! The first thing we notice is God’s great love for Israel and subsequent calling of Israel out of Egypt. Israel did nothing to deserve God’s love. We read in Deuteronomy 7:7-8, “The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you were more in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples, but because the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers, the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (NASB). These verses show that the only reason that the LORD loved Israel and brought them out of Egypt was because He loved them!

Israel is spoken of as “My son” in verse 1. This shows the close relationship between the LORD and Israel. God also called His Son the Lord Jesus out of Egypt. When Jesus was very young, King Herod tried to kill him. The magi had brought gifts to Jesus and then we pick up the story in Matthew 2:12-14. “And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. Now when they had gone, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up! Take the Child and His mother and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you; for Herod is going to search for the Child to destroy Him.” So Joseph got up and took the Child and His mother while it was still night, and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: “OUT OF EGYPT I CALLED MY SON” (NASB).

Hosea 11:2 says, “The more they called them.” This is speaking of the many prophets the God sent to His people Israel to plead with them to follow the Lord instead of idols. However, the more that the prophets spoke to the people, the more the Israelites disobeyed the prophets and the LORD. They continued sacrificing to idols instead of worshiping the LORD.

We read in Hosea 11:3, “Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; But they did not know that I healed them.” Ephraim was one of the ten northern tribes of Israel. It was one of the more prominent tribes and so sometimes in Scripture Ephraim is mentioned when the Lord is talking about all ten of the northern tribes. The two southern tribes were Judah and Benjamin. Since Judah was a prominent tribe, sometimes in Scripture Judah is mentioned when God is speaking about both of the southern tribes. We have a touching picture of the LORD teaching His people to walk just as a parent holds both hands of his little one to help with the first steps. When a baby is learning to walk, there are frequent falls. However, the Lord took Israel in His arms to keep them safe. Israel did not realize that the LORD had healed them.

In Hosea 11:4 the LORD says, “I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love.” This refers to various ways that the LORD used to try to draw Israel to Himself. We see this even more clearly when we read the explanation in the Chaldee. “As beloved children are drawn, I drew them by the strength of love.” Then we have a beautiful picture of the LORD’s tender care for Israel by saying that He removed the yoke from their jaws. He gave them relief from their labors just as a yoke is removed from the jaws of oxen. This certainly was true when He delivered them from hard bondage in Egypt! Finally, we read that He “bent down and fed them.” God provided manna and quails for the children of Israel to eat.

This is a wonderful portion of Scripture. Although the interpretation is for Israel, we can surely make an application to our lives as well. As God loved Israel, we read that “God SO LOVED the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life” (John 3:16, NASB). God’s love goes out to ALL mankind! Have you repented of your sins and trusted in the Lord Jesus as your Savior? If you have, then you know that the Lord tenderly watches over you, just as He watches over Israel. The Lord says to us in Hebrews 11:5-6, “I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. So that we may boldly say, The Lord is my helper, and I will not fear what man shall do unto me.” Bask in His love, dear friend, and enjoy His tender care over you today.  (DJ)  (494.4)