Hosea 11

DateVersionReading Plan
@November 2, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • The Lord’s Love for Israel


The chapter opens with God reminiscing of His love for Israel as a child. However, the more He called them, “the more they went away” (Hos. 11:2) and sacrificed to idols. God was the one who “taught Ephraim to walk” (Hos. 11:3) and responsible for raising Israel from infancy as a nation, but they failed to acknowledge it. He cared for them, leading them with “cords of kindness” and “bands of love” (Hos. 11:4).

Hos. 11:5-7 are of the consequences of their refusal to return to God, not to be sent to Egypt but to be exiled to Assyria. The Lord announces the penalty for Israel’s ingratitude, to be delivered to and oppressed by Assyria as Egypt had done (Hos. 7:16; Hos. 10:6). God people were bent on turning against the Lord will refuse to raise them up when they call out to Him (Hos. 11:7).

In Hos. 11:8-9, God expresses His broken heart over Israel’s disobedience. The point of God’s manner of speaking here is that nothing stands in the way of deserved abandonment and destruction of Israel but God’s gracious compassion. Out of His sheer mercy, He will not execute His burning anger and will not again destroy Ephraim (Hos. 11:9).

The remaining verses (Hos. 11:10-12) describe how the people will go after the LORD and He will “roar like a lion” (Hos. 11:10). Whereas the Lord being depicted as a lion in Hos. 5:14 and Hos. 13:7 is as a fierce predator, here the comparison is a positive one as the divine lion of Israel’s champion restoring them to the land. The people will come “trembling from the west” (Hos. 11:10), signifying submissive excitement at hearing the Lord’s voice (Job. 37:1-14). God will return the people to their homes. God then ends with a declaration that Ephraim surrounded Him with lies and “the house of Israel with deceit”. Both nations were grieving the Lord in their rebellious actions, but “Judah still walks with God and is faithful to the Holy One.” (Hos. 11:12).


In this highly relational chapter, God speaks to Israel as a loving Father, expressing His broken-heartedness toward their insubordination. The more He called them, the more they went away, sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. He raised them up with “cords of kindness” and “bands of love” (Hos. 11:4) but their response to Him was aloofness and ingratitude.

While I am not a father, I have empathy for those who have experienced the immense disappointment of a wayward child. A heart crushed when, after guiding them and sacrificing for them, they still choose a destructive path. What you wouldn’t give to be able to impart to them the disastrous end to which they are headed. You would rather spare them the pain, but also know that their going through it is the only way that they will learn. Praise God that we have a Father who allows us to fall, provoking within us the growth we need, all that He would get the glory.

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