2 Timothy 3:16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.
The other minor prophets are going to have to wait. I need a break after Hosea. Something like going back to New Testament basics. I did learn valuable things about the character of God and his enduring love and desire to teach, train and correct us despite, and because of, our circumstances. I learned first and foremost his heart is to equip us to be able to walk on our own two feet…but always with him…never alone. It’s a total picture of what righteousness training looks like.
It’s good to know that the Word is more than one book. It’s not just a long list of painful reminders of the results of bad choices, hard lessons and needed corrections so we’ll be afraid to step out of line. God has chosen Jesus to provide that independence for each of us. Jesus gives us a personal, independent identity with God that reveals our unique spiritual gifts “that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
Hosea 12:6 Oh, come back to God. Live by the principles of love and justice, and always be expecting much from him, your God.
Hosea 13:4 “I alone am God, your Lord, and have been ever since I brought you out from Egypt. You have no God but me, for there is no other Savior. 5 I took care of you in the wilderness, in that dry and thirsty land.
Hosea 14:9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things. Whoever is intelligent, let him listen. For the paths of the Lord are true and right, and good men walk along them. But sinners trying them will fail.
Here’s the very abbreviated version of the last three chapters of Hosea.
Come back to a place where you independently depend on God to do for you to what he has done for others. Expect that he will be at work in your life. Be wise so you understand what it is God is trying to teach you. Be smart and listen carefully. The path of the Lord is easier than the tangle of the woods and the company’s better.
1 When Israel was a child, I loved him…3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.
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.
It’s an interesting sidebar to discover that Hosea’s name means “salvation” or “deliverance.” So much of Hosea is a record of the threat of God’s punishment for the faithlessness of the nation of Israel and yet underlying the whole message is that meaning and the tender revelations of God’s memories of his love and desire for them on a personal level.
What could be more personal than the image of a father teaching a child to take his first steps? It’s a once-in-a-lifetime period in a parent’s relationship with his child. It’s a time filled with pride, encouragement and reassurance as they learn to take those first steps on their own. God’s “cords of human kindness with ties of love” is a risky kind of leadership. It’s putting a level of trust and faith that independence, rather than fear of punishment, will make salvation and deliverance a personal choice.
Hosea 9:8 “I appointed the prophets to guard my people, but the people have blocked them at every turn and publicly declared their hatred, even in the Temple of the Lord.
10 “O Israel, how well I remember those first delightful days when I led you through the wilderness! How refreshing was your love! How satisfying, like the early figs of summer in their first season!,…
This is the bottom line: a faithful prophet and an unfaithful wife have become an object lesson for us. God is determined. He will be our guard. He will not let us self-destruct without a fight.
Hosea 6: excerpts from v.1-3
He will heal us
He will bind up our wounds
He will restore us that we may live in his presence
Let us acknowledge the Lord;
Let us press on to acknowledge him.
He will appear
He will come to us
6:4 Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears…6 For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.
7:13 Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them
but they speak about me falsely. 14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds.
8:2 Israel cries out to me, ‘Our God, we acknowledge you!’ 3 But Israel has rejected what is good…5b How long will they be incapable of purity?…
I’m glad I’m reading Hosea knowing that God is going to provide the answer for us in Jesus. It’s hard to read of the disconnect between what God required and what “those” people were willing to give. Still the point of reading this book or any other of the Bible is to consider what possible difference it makes for life today.
Look at the statements pulled from the first part of Chapter 6. Don’t they sound like faith? The reality is they’re only a sacrifice of words. The next two chapters are a frustrated God calling them on it. Isn’t it interesting that God looks at those same statements that sound so good and adds “but they speak about me falsely?” The truth is God pays attention to the words we offer him and their connection to the what he sees in our heart.
There’s sort of a cart before the horse idea here that’s really important to remember. Acknowledging God with words before our hearts are connected to them won’t get us anywhere. We’re fooling ourselves if we think words are all it takes to convince God we’re putting him first and willing to move forward with him in the lead.
TLB Hosea 6:6 I don’t want your sacrifices—I want your love; I don’t want your offerings—I want you to know me.
Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land…”6…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…14…a people without understanding will come to ruin!
Hosea 5:”… I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.
15 Then I will return to my lair until they have borne their guilt and seek my face—in their misery they will earnestly seek me.”
There’s no way to avoid the message in Chapters 4 and 5. They’re heading for trouble. The Israelites did not lack information. They lacked making what they knew about God their priority. The charges that the Lord says are their downfall seem like a Cause and Effect story to me. The Cause?..”lack of knowledge.” The Effect? “…no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.”
That repeated “no” the prophet uses is a record of proof for us today that information about God doesn’t automatically convert to knowledge and understanding. Information is good but it’s really just ideas to consider, it doesn’t save us. Hosea reminds us of the most important of our priorities…to earnestly seek the Lord that can save us.
I’ve paid almost no attention to the “minor” prophets in the Bible but it’s time for a change. Certainly change is a major theme in the book of Hosea. It’s a strange story that reads like an “R” rated soap opera.
Hosea 1:2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”…
Hosea 2:10 So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands…14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her…17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked…21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the Lord—“I will respond to the skies and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and the olive oil,..
Hosea 3:1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites….” 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.
I’m sure there are deep symbolic meanings in all the details of this story but I’m going for the cliff notes for these first 3 chapters.
1. God does not ignore broken relationships with generations of faithless people no matter how bad the realities are.
2. Those who exploit the provision of God will be exposed so all can see but even then God will not let them go. He will respond because of his love for what he has created.
3. “The Lord said to me, Go, show your love…”…”They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last.”
God’s plan has always been that “R” can become Restored.
Hebrews 11:1 Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see. 2 This is what the ancients were commended for…13 All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.
Oswald Chambers said “Believe God is always the God you know Him to be when you are nearest to Him.” The mystery of living by faith is how easy it is to forget that. Sometimes circumstances seem more real than faith
Hebrews 11 is called the “By Faith” chapter. The real life stories of those notable “ancients,” elsewhere in the Bible, tell us the human side of their lives as well. They were not perfect. Their circumstances were very real. Faith was just as mysterious, and the evidence just as elusive, for them as it is for us today and yet they were commended for it. Why?
Twenty one times Hebrews 11 gives us the simple answer to what makes “living by faith” a reality that works even today for our lives. It’s all summed up in that one small preposition, “By.” That little word is the agent of change that makes possible a faith that impacts what we’re able do. Remembering our most intimate moments with God is what makes living “by faith” something that’s more real than circumstances. That’s commendable.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. 2 Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. 3 And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and he separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light “day,” and the darkness he called “night.” And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day.
This first day of 2017 reminded me of that long-ago first day in Genesis when out of “the empty darkness” God created the dependable cycle of days and nights we still live by.
The first light of this first day is dependable evidence of the bottom line of what God created so long ago; an essential difference between yesterday and today. That cycle held the promise of brand new days that could separate what was from what could be.
“In the beginning God…said…“Let there be light,” and there was light. God saw that the light was good…and there was morning—the first day.”…the first day of a year of brand new days, 2017.