Hosea speaks the words he heard from the Lord. God is visualized as a loving parent of a stubbornly disobedient child. "The more I did for him, the worse he behaved. I taught him how to walk but he walked to places he shouldn't have gone. I loved him, fed him, cradled him in my arms, and now he would rather be with someone else."
Yet, God can not give up this rebellious, ungrateful child. Although the child deserves punishment, God continues to offer compassion.
"They will give up their sins. They will return home."
The first hearers of this message were living at the time that the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the Southern Kingdom of Judah were in conflict and the powerful Assyria had successfully attacked Israel taking many of its citizens into exile. Hosea reminded his listeners that the people of Israel had received much from God but had not been appreciative, that their own behavior had been part of the cause of their downfall. He used the image of Egypt to remind them that their actions before had taken them into exile. The reference to Egypt also would remind them that God did not abandon them there but led them home again. But, in that home, they had not behaved very well.
It's an old story but still is a relevant one. We, their descendants, know of the gifts granted to us and also know how we have treated them. We can base our hope on the God that spoke through Hosea, the God of warm and tender compassion, the God who will not come in the wrath we deserve but will welcome us back home.
Lectio Divina: Psalm 107:1-3