Hosea envisions Israel as a rebellious, stubborn, idolatrous child (Hosea 11:2), oblivious to the provision and care of its father (Hosea 11:3). It is no surprise at this point that Israel has wandered far from the Lord. What is surprising, however, is the unstoppable tenderness of God towards His people. While they are “bent on turning away from him” (Hosea 11:7), He is bent on showing them compassion (Hosea 11:8).

In one of the more moving sections of Hosea, we are given a look into the inner dialogue of God as He wrestles with the waywardness of His child. Only a moment after threatening to turn a deaf ear to their cries (Hosea 11:7), He finds Himself unable to do so (Hosea 11:8). His heart recoils from the idea of abandoning His people. Instead, He will roar like a lion to call His children home to Him (Hosea 11:10-11).

This is the tender heart of our God. Though we constantly turn away from Him, He cannot even stomach the idea of turning away from us. Even when we think we are pulling it off on our own—completely oblivious to His Father care—He refuses to leave us to our own devices. And when we wander from home, He raises His lion-hearted voice so that we can hear again His compelling call.

Make no mistake; this is God’s approach to us even when we are at our worse. How can we be sure? God was so intent on embracing His people that He sent Jesus to be all that we could never be. The New Testament sees Jesus as the “son” of Hosea 11:1 (Matt. 2:15). In other words, He came to do all that Israel had repeatedly failed to do. He fulfilled all of the covenant responsibilities and bore all of the covenant curses so that God’s covenant breaking people could receive all of His covenant blessings. It is in Jesus that the justice (Hosea 11:5-7) and mercy (Hosea 11:8-9) of God perfectly meet and kiss. And in Him our identity and standing as children of God is secure (John 1:12).

May His soft and gentle heart touch your heart, leading you to walk in faithfulness with our God whose promises are yes and amen in Christ.