Unrequited

“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.
“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.
“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.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most High,
None at all exalt Him.” (Hosea 11:1-7)

Love for our children comes naturally. So does our frustration with them: from three AM feedings to teenagers not coming home until three AM. Matthew’s gospel quoted the beginning of this passage in Hosea where God discussed what it was like raising his people from their childhood. Matthew applied it to Jesus’ time in Egypt, where his parents had hidden him until Herod the Great was dead. In context, Hosea’s prophesy spoke to the fact that God had rescued his people from Egyptian bondage because of his great love, and that he would likewise and for the same reason, send them to Assyria as punishment.

Egypt and the bondage in slavery, stood as a symbol of sin. The New Testament authors used the Exodus as a picture of salvation from sin. Even in the Old Testament, the prophets recognized that just as God had saved them from physical bondage, so he had the power to rescue them from spiritual bondage. The Exodus was their salvation experience, with the history that followed a picture of their lives as the people of God, suffering the rigors and backsliding and discipline of a God who loved them and sought to transform them into what they needed to be.

Israel’s Exodus out of Egypt, being baptized in passing through the Red Sea, and receiving the commandments from God, was paralleled in the life of Jesus, coming from Egypt, baptized in the Jordan by John, and preaching about the kingdom before dying for the sins of the world and rising from the dead. Despite how hard it is to raise children, they’re still worth it. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy. God thinks that we are worthwhile.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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