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Compassion

( [email protected] ) Feb 13, 2009 06:56 AM EST

Read: Hosea 11

My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. (v. 8)

Finally—a moment of silence amidst the raging voice of accusation and judgment. For ten full chapters Hosea has railed against the Israelites, promising them doom and an oppressive and destroying wrath. Then, like the calm after a storm, the Lord relents, the tone changes; compassion rules, sympathy reigns. "My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender," says the Lord.

Despite the shame of his peoples' waywardness and the anger it provoked in the living God, he only kept the rpm's of his wrath revving for so long. Rather than continuing to point the finger of accusation, God extends his hand of mercy.

The single reason God offers for this amazing change is this: "For I am God and no mortal, the Holy One in your midst . . ." (v. 9). The only rationale is that it would be contrary to God's very being to continue to execute wrath on his children, on the ones he has named and claimed, delivered and sustained.

God's compassion on us is not a result of our good intentions to do this or to be that. Nor is it a result of our ability to conjure up his sympathy—it is simply the result of who he is. It is only God's gracious nature that causes him to have compassion on his own.

Prayer: Thank you, God, for your hand of mercy.

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