“I bent down and fed them.”

People used to believe that the God of the Old Testament was different than the God of the New Testament. They saw the New Testament God as loving and full of grace. The New Testament God was forgiving and kind. He so love people that he sent his son, his only son, to die on the cross so the people wouldn’t have to die. The New Testament God was easy to love and obey. They saw the Old Testament God as angry and wrathful, full of vengeance and unforgiving. He seemed a God of blood and sacrifices and never satisfied. He took a people and then turned on them.

The passage above is from Hosea 11:4. It is a poignant passage of scripture in which God reminds Israel how he loved them when they were young even though they responded to his calls of love by going from him. They turned to other gods, to Baals and idolatries. God reminds Israel how he taught them to walk. A father holding their hands as they began their journey as children. This is God being tender as well as loving. What were his parental hopes for his children?

God reminds Israel that he held them in his arms to comfort and heal them but they paid no attention to who was holding them. God tells Hosea that he led Israel with bonds of love, and lifted their burdens from them. Then, at the end he says, “And I bent down and fed them.” This is a statement that shows a tender, loving and kind Old Testament God. After all this loving care they would not return to him. The result is that he will give them to the Assyrians.

If you read further you will find more tenderness. Israel will not exalt God, none of them. But, listen to the cry of the Old Testament God, “How can I give you up, how can I surrender you? My  heart is turned over within me. I will not execute my fierce anger…I am the Holy One in your midst and I will not come in wrath.”

God so loved the world that he gave his only son, not just to redeem Israel in AD 30 but for Israel who rebelled. This love is not New Testament love, it is eternal. God is the same everyday and does not change. The problem is not God, its his children. All of us are like straying sheep. We all turn to our idols. Still God says, “how can I give you up?” He is not willing that any should be lost. He is a God who bends down.

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