What does God mean when he says by His prophet Hosea, "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?"
Hosea 11:1 - 12
NKJV - 1 When Israel was a child, I loved him, And out of Egypt I called My son. 2 As they called them, So they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, And burned incense to carved images.
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Ephraim and Manasseh were the two sons that Joseph had in Egypt after he had been sold into slavery there by his brothers and had subsequently risen to prominence through his unique ability to interpret a dream that the Egyptian pharaoh had had (Genesis 41). (The descendants of Ephraim and Manasseh are often referred to as "half-tribes" of Israel, since they both represented the continuation of the tribal line of Joseph, who had been one of the twelve sons of Jacob (whom God had re-named Israel).) Although Ephraim was the younger of Joseph's two sons, he received a greater prophetic blessing than Manasseh from his grandfather Jacob at the time of Jacob's death (Genesis 48:5-21). After God had rescued the nation of Israel from its slavery in Egypt, Israel (hundreds of years later) split in two following the death of King Solomon, with two tribes (Judah and Benjamin) forming the southern kingdom of Judah, and the other ten northern tribes forming the kingdom of Israel. Following this separation, the northen kingdom descended into idolatry, which the prophet Hosea was called to preach against by comparing it to spiritual adultery against God. God intended to punish that idolatry, which He did by eventually allowing Israel to be conquered and sent into exile (where they became the ten "lost tribes"). However, at the same time, He was very distressed about doing so, as He expressed in the passage cited in the question, where He used the name of Ephraim (who had been born in Egypt) as a metaphor for the entire northern kingdom, of which the "half-tribe" of Ephraim was a part.
Great question, DJ Field! Hosea 11:8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How... (see Isaiah 49:15 for a similar expression of Yahweh’s love for Israel. "Isaiah 49:15 — The New Living Translation) Isa. 49:15: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!" We, sinners, need propitiation, which by definition is "the satisfaction of the righteous demands of God in relation to human sin and its punishment through the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ upon the cross, by which the penalty of sin is canceled and the anger of God averted." John 3:36: Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on them. Romans 1:18: The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness. Hosea 11:8-9 8: "How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboyim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. 9 “I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I devastate Ephraim again. For I am God, and not a man- the Holy One among you. I will not come against their cities.” Matthew 25:41-46 41: "Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 42For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, 43I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me.' 44"They also will answer, 'LORD, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?' 45"He will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.' 46"Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life." We need the propitiation provided by Christ but must be accepted by each one of us, individually! GOD WON'T GIVE UP ON ISRAEL AND HE WON'T GIVE UP ON YOU EITHER!
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