One night during family worship we were in Hosea 5 and we discussed the following verses.
I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I myself will tear them to pieces,
then I will carry them off, and no one will be able to rescue them!
Then I will return again to my lair
until they have suffered their punishment.
Then they will seek me;
in their distress they will earnestly seek me.
You know I like to ask questions so the first one was: who is the one causing the suffering? God. Who is the only one who can rescue them? God. They will seek God after they have suffered. Does this mean that only those who suffer will seek God? No, of course not but is it possible that those who suffer are more likely to seek God earnestly?
My initial inclination is to say that yes those who suffer do seek God and seek Him earnestly more so than those who do not suffer. If you are not in pain then what do you need God for really? Yes, I know you need Him for your very life but these people are typically happy and self-sufficient. It is not a good place to think you are in control when you are not. I know because I was there and sometimes go back there.
In their distress…
Yes I am going to blame the summer season on not posting. While there were many times of devotion and discussion over the summer, the kids and I did not make any progress on our in-depth study of Hosea. I guess that’s what I’m going to call it since we spent several weeks on just the first two chapters. So last night we began again on chapter three.
Hosea 3:2 – So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her.
After reading the five verses in chapter 3, I asked a lot of leading questions like I always do. I think the first question was “What is the theme of the Bible?” and Kristen’s response was “Jesus?”. I said yes let’s expound on that. Blaine said “He died on the cross for our sins.” Now we are getting somewhere.
Jesus redeems the elect. He pays the price for our sins so we can be made right with the holy God. There is nothing we have done to deserve this or earn this redemption. In the same way we see Hosea redeeming – purchasing – his wife even though she did not deserve it either.
I am not always wise enough to be able to preach the gospel message from every section of scripture but sometimes God just lays it out there. Always thankful for His redemption.
The first time I remember studying Hosea, this verse was a big discussion point.
However, in the future I will allure her;
I will lead her back into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And every time I have read this book since then, this verse has always popped out at me. God is alluring His wife. This is not like man. When we are treated poorly, we want to do anything but allure them back to us. Why would we want to put up with someone like that? But God’s love is different than our love. God’s grace and mercy overflow. It is beyond comprehension.
In Hosea 2:8-13, the prophet talks about discipline (or maybe out right punishment). The Lord will take back His grain (v. 9). He will put an end to all her celebrations (v. 11). He will destroy her vines and fig trees (v. 12). And still the Isrealites forgot the Lord.
“I will punish her for the festival days
when she burned incense to the Baal idols;
she adorned herself with earrings and jewelry,
and went after her lovers,
but she forgot me!” says the LORD.
From time to time, I am involved in a conversation about the “dumb” Isrealites. We tend to ask how they could have rebelled from God when they had examples of miracles in their daily lives including provision of their basic needs – manna from heaven and water from a rock. Yet we have the same tendency. God has provided us with life and everything we need and we turn away from Him every chance we get.
I tend to forget the gifts He has lavished upon me, like the Israelites forgot. And He eventually reminds me through discipline, like the Israelites were reminded.
I am really enjoying this study of Hosea. This week we will read Hosea 2:6-7 for family worship.
Then she will pursue her lovers, but she will not catch them;
she will seek them, but she will not find them.
Then she will say,
“I will go back to my husband,
because I was better off then than I am now.”
Even after being disciplined, Israel still refuses to repent and turn to the Lord. They pursue and seek lovers but they will not find them. Only when they are utterly destitute do they go back to their husband.
In a similar fashion, I refused to follow God for most of my life. After Kara and I agreed to get divorced, I began seeking answers. God found me and saved me during this time. As I reflected on my life sometime near my salvation, I realized there were many points in my life where God had tried to bring me too Him but I was not utterly destitute. I actually rattled off a list of several events where God was trying to call me to Him but I did not write them down and I have not found the memory trigger to recall them all yet.
But I do know that the time just previous to my conversion, I was literally on the floor of my bathroom in such pain (emotionally) that I could not get up. Yet, I was still too stubborn to turn to Him. I thought I could fix the problem myself. I had never relied on the Lord for anything, why start now? I know now that God was destroying an idol in my life to make room for Him later.
Only when that specific idol was completely destroyed was God able to save me for Himself.
In reviewing Hosea for family worship last night, I read Hosea 2:1-5 again.
2:2 Plead earnestly with your mother
(for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband),
so that she might put an end to her adulterous lifestyle,
and turn away from her sexually immoral behavior.
The pleading reminded me of 2 Corinthians 5:20 from a few days earlier. The Apostle Paul said at the end of that verse: “We plead with you on Christ’s behalf, ‘Be reconciled to God!'”. This is the same idea that Hosea is pleading. Put an end to your adulterous lifestyle and turn back to the true God.
2:3 Otherwise, I will strip her naked,
and expose her like she was when she was born.
I will turn her land into a wilderness
and make her country a parched land,
so that I might kill her with thirst.
I think I’d rather repent.
2:5 For their mother has committed adultery;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, “I will seek out my lovers;
they are the ones who give me my bread and my water,
my wool, my flax, my olive oil, and my wine.”
This actually reminded me of a sermon I had also recently heard where the pastor asked “What has Jesus given to you?” During family worship I shared my struggle with loneliness with the kids. And how God had used that question to help bring me back in line. My first response to that question was basically “I don’t want to answer that! I just want to focus on what He hasn’t given me!” But by this point it was too late. I was already being reminded of all the wonderful things Jesus has given me. My bread and water come from Him. I might believe that I can find happiness in other “lovers” but only Jesus provides joy in my life.
It is always interesting to see how different scriptures God places in my life and different events He orchestrates combine to form a lesson or help me to grow in some way. He has been slowly pushing this loneliness out of my life. Sometimes it seems too slow but He has a plan which is probably in part to keep me dependent on Him.
They will appoint for themselves one leader…
Hosea 1:11 – Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land. Certainly, the day of Jezreel will be great!
Looks like a little bit of prophecy. I wonder who the one leader is that will gather the people of Judah and Israel together.
If God is faithful to His covenants then can He reject His people?
Hosea 1:10 – However, in the future the number of the people of Israel will be like the sand of the sea which can be neither measured nor numbered. Although it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it will be said to them, “You are children of the living God!”
The commentary says that when a prophet would pronounce judgment on Israel, they would pull out the Abrahamic covenant. The attitude was “God said He would prosper us and He cannot go against His covenant”. They thought it was their birthright and they did not have to live by the law. So was the covenant with Israel or with God’s elect?
We see that the Apostle Paul in Romans shows that the covenant included Gentiles.
Even us, whom he has called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he also says in Hosea:
“I will call those who were not my people, ‘My people,’ and I will call her who was unloved, ‘My beloved.’ And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
If it was not based upon birthright, what was it based on? Maybe it is dependent on God who shows mercy?
How would you like to hear that?
Hosea 1:8-9 – When she had weaned ‘No Pity’ (Lo-Ruhamah) she conceived again and gave birth to another son. Then the LORD said: “Name him ‘Not My People’ (Lo-Ammi), because you are not my people and I am not your God.”
I cannot really even fathom the idea of not being one of God’s children. Even more to be told by God that He is not my God – ouch. But this is the justice side of God. In verse seven we saw that God would be glorified through His grace and now we see that He will be glorified through His justice.
Do you think they stopped claiming to be God’s people? I imagine hundreds of years of boasting about being God’s chosen people would not end because a Prophet was claiming they were not His people. Overall, man is too prideful and arrogant for that.
One son and now a daughter.
Hosea 1:6-7 – She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the LORD said to him, “Name her ‘No Pity’ (Lo-Ruhamah) because I will no longer have pity on the nation of Israel. For I will certainly not forgive their guilt. But I will have pity on the nation of Judah. I will deliver them by the LORD their God; I will not deliver them by the warrior’s bow, by sword, by military victory, by chariot horses, or by chariots.”
I will have no pity on the nation of Israel. There are many in the world that God will have no pity on. Many who reject Him just like the nation of Israel who He will have no pity on. But He does have pity of the nation of Judah. Was their sin any less grievous against the Lord? What is the difference?
It is actually something quite amazing that we see in verse seven. Grace! I will deliver them by the LORD their God. Nothing they have will deliver them. Only the LORD can do this by His grace. They will not be able to claim their bows or swords delivered them. Their military might and chariots will not be their salvation. The LORD will deliver them in the same way that the LORD delivers His elect now. By His grace we are saved and this is not by works so that no one can boast. I am simply in awe.
I’m ready for tonight! What do the next verses hold for me?