“How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.” (Hosea 11:8 NAS95)
These words of tender compassion were spoken by God about His own people. The children of Israel had spurned God again and again. They were obsessed with rebelling against Him. God called them out of Egypt to bless them, but the more He called, the more they turned away from Him. God was like a loving father to them. He took them in His arms. He taught them how to walk. (Hosea 11:3) God showed nothing but kindness to Israel, yet they refused to turn to Him or honor Him. What could God do? What choice did the people leave Him? God would send the sword of the Assyrians upon His people. They would face His wrath.
But though God’s fierce anger was aroused, it’s amazing to realize that His heart was still full of compassion. His heart was “turned over within Him.” What an insight this verse gives us into the heart of God! Our God is full of compassion! He is full of mercy! Even though these ungrateful people were bent on rejecting Him, He still had compassion for them. What a merciful, wonderful God we serve!
Does the mercy of God touch your heart? How should His mercy and compassion affect us? First, it should drive us to offering up our lives to Him. “Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice…” (Romans 12:1 NAS95) Those who think little of His mercy will not be interested in offering up their lives to Him. Second, the mercy and compassion of God should drive us to being merciful and compassionate toward others. “So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” (Colossians 3:12–13 NAS95)
Let us reflect today upon the tender mercy of God as shown to us in Jesus Christ. Let us not be obstinate like the children of Israel but may the mercy of God drive us into His loving arms. May His mercy drive us to showing mercy to everyone around us.