God’s Broken Heart

Sacred Words: Hosea 11:1-9 and Luke 13:34
Current Events: This sermon was preached the week following the terrorist attacks in Paris and Beirut.

Note: This sermon is longer than typical. 

God’s Broken Heart

Jessica’s first steps

Hosea Historical

  • About 150 years after Elijah
  • Also prophet from/to northern kingdom
  • People are again worshiping Baals

Uses two primary metaphors

  1. Wife/prostitute for Israel
        1. Misogyny
  1. Child for Israel
        1. 11:1-9 uses child


  1. the LORD in English
  1. violence attributed to YHWH
        1. perhaps violence by omission
        2. ancients’ theology
              1. Deuteronomists
              2. Grace remarkable for era

Walk through Hosea 11:1-9

  1. God speaking
  1. structure is like a legal proceeding
  1. making case
  1. 3 parts:
        1. past
        2. present & near future
        3. long term future

Part 1: Past

1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 

  1. recollection of what God has done
  1. God was a good parent

2 The more I called them,

the further they went from me;

they kept sacrificing to the Baals, and they burned incense to idols. 

  1. this is a pattern throughout biblical arc
  1. Baals – plural

3 Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up in my arms, but they did not know that I healed them. 

  1. Ephraim refers to largest of 12 tribes
  1. notice obliviousness to all YHWH has done for Israel

4 I led them with bands of human kindness, with cords of love. I treated them like those who lift infants to their cheeks; I bent down to them and fed them.

  1. Further evidence of good parent
  1. Legal proceeding

Part 2: 

Present & Near Future

5 They will return to the land of Egypt, and Assyria will be their king, because they have refused to return to me. 

  1. Could be interpreted as God doing
  1. Hermeneutic of love = God stating results of our own behavior
  1. Free will

6 The sword will strike wildly

in their cities; it will consume the bars of their gates and will take everything because of their schemes. 

  1. Because of their schemes = further that this is if our own making

7 My people are bent on turning away from me; and though they cry out to the Most High, he will not raise them up.

  1. lament
  1. Most high refers to Baals
  1. Agony that we look the wrong way
        1. Technology & Money
        2. To ourselves
        3. Violence
        4. Hatred of kindred

Part 3 Long Term Future

8 How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim?

  1. Admah & Zeboiim are cities in Sodom & Gomorrah
  1. Legal proceeding means God has right to destroy
  1. No help to God’s Agony

My heart winces within me; my compassion grows warm and tender.

  1. This is the God I experience.
  1. Tho we deserve nothing God’s love offers forgiveness

9 I won’t act on the heat of my anger; I won’t return to destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a human being, the holy one in your midst; I won’t come in harsh judgment. 

  1. God is different than human beings
  1. Judgement
        1. Judgement, yes.
        2. Harshness, no.


This is literally about the people’s in the northern kingdom in 700s BC

  1. They trust wrong gods
  1. They focus on wrong things

Also about us. 

  1. We trust in violence.
        1. Military
        2. Emotional violence
  1. We trust in our money.
  1. We prop ourselves up worshipping god of self-reliance
        1. belittle the poor.
        2. don’t believe we have any part in racism.
        3. Rules over love
        4. Pettiness

We trust in everything but God’s love to solve problems. 

No wonder Jesus 750 years after Hosea laments like God,

“Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who were sent to you! 

How often I have wanted to gather your people just as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings. But you didn’t want that. Luke 13:34 CEB

Good News

  1. God loves us no matter how terrible we act.
  1. God judges, yes, but judges in a loving way.
        1. not an unmoved judge
        2. Means our humanity can be forgiven
  1. God loves every one of us
        1. even terrorists
        2. even child abusers
        3. even those who find God through other faiths
  1. God loves every one of us
        1. This is hard; why the Assyrians overran and conquered ancient kin
        2. Why our world is as it is

The Good News is that we are loved no matter what. 

The Good News is grace gives us the chance to try again and get it right. 

  1. We can participate in stopping Paris, Beirut, and Baghdad.
  1. We can help correct racism.
  1. We can help one another.

We just have to trust God’s ways of love and grace instead of humanity’s ways of money, power, and violence. 

  1. Trust in small acts
  1. Trust in ripples
  1. Trust in expansive love

Think about it. We can help solve all the horrible things in the world just by focusing on loving in small ways.


That’s Good News.


It’s not easy but we can overcome our anger and hatred if we trust in God’s ways.

Pray and ask for release from our pain, anger, and hurt.

The Good News is that when we trust in God’s expansive love, when we practice God’s expansive love, the world becomes a more humane place. 

The Good News is God points us in the right direction.

Do we want peace and justice? If so, we must love in our every encounter. 

Trust in ripples.

Trust for the sake of our great-grandchildren if not for ourselves.

Trust in extravagant & irrational love and watch the world change.

Trust and act in the ways of Jesus, and heal God’s broken heart.

Take a wobbly first step and watch our mother-father God beam with pride. 


Tim is a runner, a hiker, a devoted husband, a father of two adult children, and their spouses, and a grandfather of four perfect children. A former early childhood educator, Tim is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ). He has served as pastor of both Disciples and United Church of Christ congregations. As we enter what we hope is the final phase of the pandemic, Tim is beginning a journey of rediscovering himself and discerning next steps. He writes from his home in Albany, Oregon and wherever the Spirit lures him.

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Posted in After a Tragedy, Hosea, Hosea 11, Hosea 11:1-9, Luke, Luke 13:34, New Testament, Old Testament, Sermon, Special Times

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All materials by Tim Graves unless otherwise noted. Creative Commons License BY-NC-ND 3.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/us/

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