In most families, it takes a fair bit for parents to kick their kids out of home. (For my dad, the standing threat was he’d kick me out if I got an earring. I never got to test if he was serious, because I’m not into unnecessary pain. Or earrings, for that matter. In my teens, I once wore a stick-on one to church on April Fool’s day; he spent the morning edging around the church trying to tackle me to remove it, while I was being shielded by all the twenty-something guys who thought it was great fun. He also would use me and my sister in sermon illustrations, so this is part of the enduring payback. The thing is, had he not mentioned it, I wouldn’t have even thought about wearing an earring – which means I can trot this story out in connection with Rom 7:7-8, too. But back to Hosea.)
In Hosea 11, we have God depicted as a conflicted parent – one who has every right to kick his wayward son, Israel out of home, who’s had far more than his ears pierced, tattooed himself with the names of most of the local prostitutes (see Hosea 5), and stolen from the family multiple times to feed his growing addiction to methamphetamine, which causes him to be a dangerously bad influence on his impressionable younger brother, Judah (Hos 4:15). As a parent, God is torn, simultaneously feeling love and anger, compassion and rejection. What will he choose to do? Will he kick Israel out? And if so, will it be for good?