May 31, 2020, Hosea 11 & 12 – ISSL Reflections

Does two chapters seem like a bit too much for this week? I will admit, when I first paid attention to this week’s reading I wondered if we should cut it down some. But the more I read it over, the more it seemed best to put the entire two chapters before us.

Let’s start our reflection by reading over the words from Hosea a couple of times. If it seems to go in somewhat of a circle at times, just let that be; we all, at times, circle around a point or two we want to make.

Hosea 11 (New Revised Standard Version)

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.

The more I called them,
the more they went from me;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals,
and offering incense to idols.

Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
I took them up in my arms;
but they did not know that I healed them.

I led them with cords of human kindness,
with bands of love.
I was to them like those
who lift infants to their cheeks.
I bent down to them and fed them.

They shall return to the land of Egypt,
and Assyria shall be their king,
because they have refused to return to me.

The sword rages in their cities,
it consumes their oracle-priests,
and devours because of their schemes.

My people are bent on turning away from me.
To the Most High they call,
but he does not raise them up at all.

How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.

I will not execute my fierce anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and no mortal,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath.

They shall go after the Lord,
who roars like a lion;
when he roars,
his children shall come trembling from the west.

They shall come trembling like birds from Egypt,
and like doves from the land of Assyria;
and I will return them to their homes, says the Lord.

Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
and the house of Israel with deceit;
but Judah still walks with God,
and is faithful to the Holy One.

Hosea 12 (New Revised Standard Version)

Ephraim herds the wind,
and pursues the east wind all day long;
they multiply falsehood and violence;
they make a treaty with Assyria,
and oil is carried to Egypt.

The Lord has an indictment against Judah,
and will punish Jacob according to his ways,
and repay him according to his deeds.

In the womb he tried to supplant his brother,
and in his manhood he strove with God.

He strove with the angel and prevailed,
he wept and sought his favor;
he met him at Bethel,
and there he spoke with him.

The Lord the God of hosts,
the Lord is his name!

But as for you, return to your God,
hold fast to love and justice,
and wait continually for your God.

A trader, in whose hands are false balances,
he loves to oppress.

Ephraim has said, “Ah, I am rich,
I have gained wealth for myself;
in all of my gain
no offense has been found in me
that would be sin.”

I am the Lord your God
from the land of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
as in the days of the appointed festival.

I spoke to the prophets;
it was I who multiplied visions,
and through the prophets I will bring destruction.

In Gilead there is iniquity,
they shall surely come to nothing.
In Gilgal they sacrifice bulls,
so their altars shall be like stone heaps
on the furrows of the field.

Jacob fled to the land of Aram,
there Israel served for a wife,
and for a wife he guarded sheep.

By a prophet the Lord brought Israel up from Egypt,
and by a prophet he was guarded.

Ephraim has given bitter offense,
so his Lord will bring his crimes down on him
and pay him back for his insults.

Let’s first notice this is something of a history lesson for Hosea’s hearers.

He doesn’t give us dates but he mentions events and places of significance for the people.


What would recalling the past do for these folk? Or for that matter, what might recalling the past do for us?

Maybe it depends on how and why they/we recall it?

I have been in groups where one of the first things we did was share our “spiritual autobiographies.” Is that something Hosea wants the people to consider? He puts before them the spiritual history of their nation. It’s ups and downs, it’s successes and failures.

Take some time to notice the history Hosea recounts.

What draws your attention? Are there constants in this history lesson? What stands out to you as the main point of Hosea’s history lesson? Maybe two or even three overarching things to hold in mind?

We’ll talk more later.

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

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