As we finish Hosea today, the word “conflicted” comes to mind, and it applies, strangely enough, to God.
God is conflicted over His people. On the one hand, he knows what they deserve, what justice demands. On the other, He loves them. You see it plainly in 11:8 – “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” (Admah and Zeboiim were two cities of the plain consumed in the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah – compare Genesis 10:19 and 19:24-29).
Judgment doesn’t come easy for God, but it does come, just as it did for Israel (often referred to as “Ephraim” in this book).
11:1 introduces us to a text used in Matthew 2:15 and reminds us that Bible literature sometimes has two non-related meanings. In Hosea, the line “out of Egypt I have called my son” refers to the Exodus. In Matthew, it refers to the sojourn of Jesus’ family in Egypt when he was a baby. But be careful. While Bible texts may have more than one meaning, the meanings they have must always be obvious from the text. As Bible interpreters, we are not allowed to assign meanings to passages they never had in the Bible.