When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.
2 As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.
3 I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.
4 I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.
5 He shall not return into the land of Egypt, and the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.
6 And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.
7 And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.
8 How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.
9 I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.
10 They shall walk after the Lord: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.
11 They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the Lord.
12 Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.
God loved Israel and brought them out from their bondage in Egypt (11:1). However, they did not like the messages God gave them through the prophets. So they departed from God, and served other gods. God cherished Israel, but they soon forgot how He brought them out of Egypt and what He had done for them (11:3,4).
Northern Israel would experience a bondage in Assyria similar to the one they had experienced in Egypt, because they refused to return to God (11:5). They could not avoid war and the invasion of Assyria because of their own misguided counsels (11:6). No one could free them from this bondage, because they were habitually backsliding from God (11:7).
God’s heart turns over in pain because of His love for Israel. He says, “How shall I give you up? How shall I deliver you, O Israel!” If only Israel would repent, God would not destroy them because He is the “Holy One” in their midst (11:9). Ellen White says, “Holiness is wholeness, total devotion.” Our holiness is total devotion to God, and God’s holiness is His perfect devotion to us.
Even in Hosea’s time, God still loved sinful Israel but with deep pain, hoping for their return to walk with Him (11:10).