“Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk;
I took them up by their arms,
but they did not know that I healed them.
I led them with cords of kindness,
with the bands of love,
and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws,
and I bent down to them and fed them…
My people are bent on turning away from me…
How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?…
My heart recoils within me,
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.”
Hosea 11:3-4, 7-9
I’ve written on these verses before, but each time I read them they resonate so powerfully with my heart. Because we see so clearly the great compassion of God. We see His forgiveness, His love for us that seeks to save rather than condemn (John 3:16-17). We see His patience which is our salvation (2 Peter 3:9, 15).
As humans, we are so frail. We are drawn away so easily. Our hearts are fickle and our emotions shift on a dime. But oh, how steadfastly we are loved. The God of heaven, forever unchanging, is faithful. He is true to those who are His, those whom He has purchased with the blood of our Savior.
There are times when we may wonder if we’ve gone too far. If this cycle of sin is unbreakable, too strong for us to escape. If we have spent our allotted amount of forgiveness and God has cut us off.
But His love stands firm. Our faith may weaken at times, but our God will make us stand. In those moments, may we recall His forgiveness which will not be removed from us, His power at work within us, and His ability to break every chain and purify our hearts. And as we focus on this truth, that God our Savior does not give up on us and He has made us free, may we be strengthened through His Holy Spirit to cast away fear, shame, sin—every hindrance—and confidently set our face like a flint, choosing to follow Him.
May we also guard against the twisting of this truth. The enemy, who seeks to devour and destroy us, looks for every opportunity to turn us from our Lord. Those who are in Christ are saved to the uttermost. We walk in freedom and light, and our debt of sin has been paid on the cross. This freedom has been accomplished at a high price, and its purpose is our reconciliation with the God in whose presence we find joy, peace, and healing. So let us not abandon this reconciliation, using our freedom to pursue darkness. “You are not your own, for you were bought with a price” (1 Corinthians 6:19b-20a). “I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).
This life lived by faith has two effects we can apply here: by faith, we believe that there is now no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus, and that when we confess our sins, God is faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (Romans 8:1, 1 John 1:9); and by faith, we believe that our God is good and wise and just, and that our call to obedience is not a call to miss out on good things, to miss out on joy, to miss out on what would actually be better—but it is rather a call to pursue joy and freedom, and that rebellion would only find us trapped and ashamed.
As we go forward today, may we walk confidently in the knowledge that we are kept by our God who is steadfast in His love for us, pursuing His path of righteousness and trusting that in the moments when our steps falter, He will be faithful to uphold us and lead us back to Him.