Hosea 11:1-11

The Lord still loves his people

1 The Lord says,

‘When Israel was a child, I loved him as my son.

I called my son to come out of Egypt.

11:1God is speaking about the time when Israel was a young nation. He rescued them from Egypt, where they had been slaves.

2 But the more I spoke to Israel's people,

the more they turned away from me.

They offered sacrifices to the images of Baal.

They burned incense to give honour to their idols.

3 I was the one who taught this child, Ephraim, to walk!

11:3Ephraim was another name for the Israelite kingdom in the north.

I held their hand and I led them.

I took care of them,

but they did not understand this.

4 I loved them and I was kind to them.

I led them as their guide.

I gave them rest from their hard work.

I bent down to feed them.

5 But they refuse to turn back to me.

So they must return to Egypt.

Assyria will rule over them.

6 War will come to their cities.

Enemies will break down the strong city gates.

War will destroy my people and all their wicked ideas.

7 My people have decided to turn away from me.

That is all that they can think about.

They call up to a God who rules above,

but he will not help them.

8 Israel, I cannot leave you alone.

I cannot let you belong to someone else.

I cannot destroy you, as I did to Admah and Zeboiim.

11:8Admah and Zeboiim were cities that were near Sodom and Gomorrah. See Genesis 10:19. God destroyed all those cities because of the wicked things that their people did. See Genesis 19:24-25.

I now realize that I love you too much.

I could never destroy you completely.

9 I am very angry with you,

but I will not punish you so much.

I will never destroy my people, Ephraim.

This is because I am God. I am not a human.

I am the Holy God who is with you.

I will not come to destroy you in my anger.

10 I will roar loudly like a lion,

so that my children come to follow me.

When I roar, my children will shake with fear,

as they come from the west.

11 They will return to me, like birds that fly from Egypt.

They will come like doves that fly from Assyria.

They will be afraid, as they return.

I will bring them back to live in their homes again.’

That is what the Lord says.