God’s faithful, merciful love is a major theme in the Old Testament, as seen in the creation of man and woman, the liberation of the Israelites from Egypt, and the establishment of the covenant with the people at Mount Sinai. The book of Hosea continues this theme of God’s special love for His people, comparing Himself to a husband loving his adulterous wife unconditionally. This is symbolic of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God through idolatry and willful subjugation to Assyria. The thesis “God as a loving and merciful parent in Hosea 11:1-11” highlights God’s tender and relentless love for Israel portrayed in the parent-child metaphor, which underscores God’s loving heart and readiness to heal Israel’s apostasy. As a parent, God teaches the son to walk, comforts him in times of distress, and heals him when he is hurt. God rises above God’s deep anguish and anger despite Israel’s rejection by loving Israel and continually calling her to return to God and walk in love and obedience. In doing so, God acts as a God and not as a human person.
Hosea 11 has a timely and auspicious message for us today. Although we are humans and not God, we are called upon to imitate God’s transcendent love. First, it invites us to be merciful and compassionate towards one another to build a better world filled with peace and joy. Second, it serves as an exhortation to strengthen our faith and give us hope. It gives us a firm reassurance that our God is forgiving and that His mercy saves us from sin. Third, while God’s nature is different from human nature, Hosea 11 lays out the path for everyone to have a clear view of the transcendent nature of God’s love and thus provides a way for us to live a more holy life by treating each other as God treats us – with love and mercy.