Archive for the ‘Hosea’ Category

Hosea 14

Hosea 14 has God’s call for His people to repent and return to Him.  “Return , O Israel, to the Lord your God”.  God is in the restoration business.  He is waiting for us to come back to Him.  It was that way in Hosea’s time, and it is still that way today.  Sin gets in the way of our relationship. It causes us to be separated from God.  He can’t tolerate it because of His nature, but He never stops loving us and waiting for our return.  “For you have stumbled because of your iniquity”.  Scripture is clear we all have a sin problem that causes us to fall.  But there is hope.

God is there with open arms waiting for our return.  “Take words with you and return to the Lord”. In returning to the Lord, Israel must come on God’s terms, not their own.  God has a requirement of how we address the sin problem in our life.  He wants us to return to Him, not with a silent feeling in our heart, but with proper words of repentance and trust in Him.  He isn’t taking us in if we carry the guilt of our sin with us.  We have to deal with that sin and be willing to communicate our repentance and willingness to turn around and run to Him and away from our sin.

It isn’t enough to feel repentance before the Lord. Instead, we must take words with us and tell God we are sinners and repent before Him. We must completely depend on God’s mercy and grace to deal with the sin problem in our life.  “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips”. As we come to God with our words, we must declare His goodness and greatness.  We don’t deserve His grace.  He has chosen to make it available to us because He loves us.  Enough He sent His only Son to the cross to redeem us from our sin.  That’s real love done God’s way.

God promises to restore His people and heal their backsliding ways.  But only after they repent. God tells us how He feels about us, even as sinners. “ I will love them freely”. Remember, these are the same people He has rescued and led and loved for generations, who have turned their backs on Him and gone about their own sinful and idolatrous ways.  But He never gives up.  And Hosea paints a great picture of just how good restoration is when we return to the Lord:  (credit to David Guzik for this list)

  • Growth is restored (He shall grow)
  • Beauty is restored (He shall grow like the lily)
  • Strength is restored (lengthen his roots like Lebanon)
  • Value is restored (His beauty shall be like an olive tree)
  • Delight is restored (His fragrance like Lebanon)
  • Abundance is restored (revived like grain . . . grow like the vine . . . scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon)

Hosea has shown us how faithful God is to love, even when it isn’t warranted.  God is love, and He offers that love freely to you and me!

Hosea 13

Hosea 13 has the prophet reminding God’s people that they took the wrong path.  “He exalted himself in Israel, But through Baal he did wrong and died”.  God never blessed Israel when they worshipped Baal, but that didn’t stop them.They kept after their idolatry more and more.  And it cost them dearly.  Sin always does.  Idols are not ok.  Worshipping other gods is not ok.  God doesn’t tolerate that because it is sin – a willful choice to put something else in the place only God belongs.

When we do, there is a price to pay.  Sin always comes with judgment.  “Therefore they will be like the morning cloud and like dew which soon disappears, like chaff which is blown away from the threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney”.  God is going to deal with the sinful choices that His people have made.  He never gives up on us, that’s the good news.  “Yet I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; And you were not to know any god except Me, For there is no Savior besides Me”.

 God is always looking for a way to restore us to Himself.  We are all guilty of sin – maybe not idols and false gods like these folks were – right?  Or maybe, if we take a look, we are a whole like like them.  We sometimes sit back in our chair and wonder how God’s people could be so stupid and make the bad choices they did.  After all, He led them safely from Egypt and took care of them miraculously for 40 years.  God never left them.  But they fall prey to themselves, and we’re just like them.  “And being satisfied, their heart became proud; therefore they forgot Me”.

That’s our problem.  We get prideful and self-sufficient and decide we don’t need God any more.  We push Him off the throne and make ourselves god of our own life.  It’s a plan doomed to take us where we don’t want to end up.  Remember that God’s people asked for a king – “I gave you a king” – God game them what they wanted and it went awry.  Why?  Because these kings were human and pride got in the way.  Power corrupts, and absolute power really corrupts.  It leads all of us to sin, and God doesn’t forget.  “His sin is stored up”. We have to address our sin.  It’s written on the book.  It’s only through the shed blood of Christ – the grace of a loving God who sets us free when we receive His gift – that we can overcome that sin and spend eternity with the Father.

Hosea 12

Hosea 12 has the prophet remembering how the people have rebelled against God.  He tells the history of Jacob and others who have failed to stay in God’s favor.  Sin always gets in the way.  Jacob finally comes to the place where he understands that God has beaten him, and all he could do was hang on to God and plead for a blessing.  Hosea tells God’s people they need to return in the same way.  “Return to your God, observe kindness and justice, and wait for your God continually”.  we can never even return to the Lord without His help. This shows how weak we are and how much we really depend on Him.

Hosea continues to remind the people that God is God and always has been.  “I have been the Lord your God since the land of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again”.  Hosea prophesied during a time of great prosperity, but spiritual and moral decline was all around Israel. When things are good financially, it’s hard for people to believe that their society is in trouble.  But God cannot ignore that decline which is sin – a choice we make to live against God’s laws and commands.  When we do, punishment must come.  Sin always carries a significant price.

By a prophet the Lord brought Israel from Egypt, And by a prophet he was kept”.  God has used prophets to speak truth to people for generations.  Hosea is carrying that message now.  He is dealing with idols and pagan altars and all sorts of bad behavior amongst God’s people.  God uses prophets to deliver truth and provide guidance, but people must choose to follow and walk in obedience to that truth.  That wasn’t the case here during Hosea’s time, nor is it in our world today.

Because sin gets in the way, God has to act.  “So his Lord will leave his bloodguilt on him and bring back his reproach to him”. God is in the restoration business, He wants to forgive our sins and heal our land, but we have to give Him something wo work with.  God sent prophets to Israel to restore them, but they refused to listen and rejected His word.  When that happens, judgement comes and the guilt remains.  God can’t just ignore our sin.  There is a price, which Christ paid on the Cross, but for that to become ours we must confess, repent and believe.  That’s how we remove the reproach of our sin and receive the blessing of a Savior!

Hosea 11

Hosea 11 has the prophet remembering just how much God loves His people.  Some 500 years before Hosea’s time, God had let them out of Egypt.  He provided for them and took care of them as they wandered the wilderness on the way to the Promised Land.  But they were unfaithful to him.  “They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols”.  Hard to understand what caused them to follow their own ways rather than staying connected to the God who set them free, but they did.

God nave gave up on them though, just as He never gives up on you or me.  “I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed  them”.  God doesn’t force us to love Him.  He draws us gently with cords of love, tugging at our hearts hoping we will come to love Him.  He never uses harsh manipulation or force to get us to love Him.  No man comes to God until he is drawn to Him.  God uses His love to draw us to Himself.

But the people then had the same issues we do today.  They were self-absorbed and focused on their own will and desires rather than being pulled toward God.  “My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, none at all exalts Him”.  Seems strange given the history of God’s people and His powerful work in their lives.  But it’s no different for us today.  If we merely look around we can see God’s fingerprints all over our lives, yet we choose willfully to sin and turn our attention to self rather than Him.  We too are bent on turning from Him.

God doesn’t want to chastise and punish us for our sin.  But justice demands that He do it, yet in His heart He provides a way of salvation. In this, God sends Jesus Christ, and on the cross Jesus was “given up” in our place.  He took the sin that we will be judged for and carries it to the grave.  And when He arose, He put that sin away and behind us once for all.  Jesus is the way God draws us to Himself and overcomes the sin problem that we each carry.  His nature requires that He judge us for how we live.  Christ covers that sin and allows us to come into right relationship with God for eternity!

Hosea 10

Daniel 12 wraps up the prophecy of this man.  Israel is destined for some trouble.  There is a battle brewing between good and evil. “At that time shall arise Michael, the great prince who has charge of your people”.  Michael, who is often associated with spiritual battle and is called the archangel prepares.  He is Satan’s true opposite. Satan is not the opposite of Jesus; he is the opposite of Michael, this high-ranking angel. In addition to his role as a spiritual warrior, Michael has a special job in protecting Israel. God appointed Michael as a spiritual guardian over Israel.

There is a troubled time coming.  “And there shall be a time of trouble, such as never has been since there was a nation till that time. But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone whose name shall be found written in the book”.  The outcome is already known – God is in control of all things.  But there will be a Great Tribulation that will be a time of persecution and world calamity.  The worst is yet to come.  The fury of the devil will be directed against the people of God in that time.

Yet victory is secure.  Deliverance will come no matter how great the attack.  God is still on the throne and promises to preserve His people Israel.  The promise of deliverance is not for every last person of Jewish heritage, but for these who are found written in the book.  God will bring all people face to face with their eternal life.  “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt”.  We will all face this reality – a time when we stand before God and give account.  There are two outcomes – heaven and hell – and it is there we will live forever.  Are you ready for that face to face?  Eternity is a very long time.  Don’t be caught unprepared!

The end times will be difficult, but there’s a ray of good news here in Daniel’s words.  “And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever”.  Those who live in God’s wisdom will shine. All God’s people are like stars in the sense that they radiate light and help others to see and find their way. But certainly, those who turn many to

Hosea 9

Hosea 9 has the prophet wailing against Israel who is exiled in judgment.  They are just entering the coming judgment, and haven’t quite figured out that some real change is on the way.  So Hosea warns them of the facts. “Do not rejoice….For you have played the harlot, forsaking your God”.  This is a serious issue and Hosea is setting the stage for what’s coming.  At the time Hosea brought this prophecy, things perhaps were not so bad in Israel. Maybe there was still plenty of fun and good times among the people. But he warns that they shouldn’t rejoice like other peoples, because judgment was on the way.

Sin always carries a price.  And what seems to be going well, is about to change.  Hosea lists out what lies ahead:

  • “They will not remain in the Lord’s land
  • They will not pour out drink offerings
  • Their sacrifices will not please Him
  • Their bread will be like mourners ‘ bread

They are going to be cast out of their homeland and at odds with the very God who has protected and provided for generations.  Sin carries a price and God is going to require them to pay it.  He doesn’t forget our sin.  There is always a day of reckoning.

The destruction is coming and Hosea makes it clear it will be severe.  “Weeds will take over their treasures of silver; thorns will be in their tentsThe days of punishment have come”.  The price is not just a little discomfort.  The price of sin is significant and life changing.  That’s why God sent His only Son to the Cross for us – because the cost of sin is so great.  It isn’t some little thing that just goes away over time.  “He will remember their iniquity, He will punish their sins”.  That was true in Hosea’s time – it’s still true today.  Sin carries a cost and we’ll pay it one way or another.

It’s why Jesus came – because the cost is so high.  God sent His Son to bear that cost if we’ll only receive Him as our Savior and Lord.  In Hosea’s time, the price was severe.  “They will bear no fruit….My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him”.  For us it’s no different.  The cost today is eternal separation from God – a life spent in hell.  It’s a strong response by a loving God, but His nature requires it.  He gave us a free gift of grace through Christ that is ours for the taking.  But we have to take action.  We have to confess, repent and receive that gift.  He never forces it on us.  But without it, sin will cost us everything.  We too will be cast away.  It’s the reality of the price of sin!

Hosea 8

Hosea 8 continues the chasm between God and His people.  “They have transgressed My covenant  And rebelled against My law”.  The people are oblivious as they continue to cry out to God.  They are fooling themselves.  They say “My God, we of Israel know You”! when in fact they have not relationship or clue.  They’ve rebelled and become idolaters who are not sincere in their words.  They didn’t really know God.It will be the same way for many church-goers today.  They think they know God because of their time in the pew, but that won’t cut it when judgment day comes.

Hosea paints a picture of what’s really happening as they go down their path of sin.  “For they sow the wind and they reap the whirlwind. The standing grain has no heads; It yields no grain”.  It seems to Israel that the judgement they receive is worse than the sin they committed. This isn’t true in the sense of God being worse to us than our sin deserves, but it is true in how judgment feels. This is usually because our sin is sown over a long period of time, but often reaped in a very intense period of judgment.  Sin always carries a price.

God is always in the restoration business.  “Now I will gather them up; and they will begin to diminish”.  But restoration doesn’t happen if sin is not dealt with.  In that case, God will deal with it.  It won’t be ignored.  God gives us many chances to get things write.  He has given us the written word just like He did for His children Israel.  “I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law, They are regarded as a strange thing”.  Most people treat the Bible very politely . . . When they get home, they lay it nicely on the bookshelf until next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes along to church….maybe.

The hard truth is that when anyone, including God’s very own children, forget their maker, there is no place to hide.  “The Lord has taken no delight in them. Now He will remember their iniquity, and punish them for their sins”.  There’s no escape from the penalty of sin.  It won’t be ignored or overlooked.  We can sit here and wonder how God’s people could be so stupid as to fall into idolatry and let sin ruin their walk with God.  But the must look in the mirror and be sure we haven’t made something an idol in our life.  Anything that turns our heart from God is an idol.  It can be most anything that we don’t keep off the throne and in it’s rightful place.  God alone can sit on the throne of our life!

Hosea 7

Hosea 7 points out one of the issues we have as people – a short memory.  God doesn’t suffer from that at all.  In fact, sin is never forgotten.  “They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their deeds are all around them; They are before My face”. The problem among the people and leaders of Israel was they forgot – willfully – that the Lord saw and remembered their sin. We often deliberately forget that the Lord sees and remembers when we sin too. It may be secret before men, but not before God.

We tend to want to believe that God will somehow just overlook our sin.  But He can’t.  His nature doesn’t allow that.  So we need to ask ourselves some difficult questions. Do you think God doesn’t see? Do you think God is blind to your adultery or pre-marital sex? Do you think your pornography habit goes unnoticed? Do you think God’s eyes are closed when you get drunk or take drugs? There are many church-going people today who sit in a pew on Saturday night or Sunday morning and think that God forgets or never sees such things, because they do them and then they come to church and make a profession of godliness, pretending that those things are never part of their life. It doesn’t work like that.

Sin can only be forgiven through the shedding of blood.  And since we don’t have the sacrificial system like they did in the Old Testament – we’re down to one option – well actually two.

  1. Live a life without sin and walk in perfect obedience to God and His commandments.  (Scripture tells us that is not going to happen for anyone)
  2. Receive forgiveness through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross.  Confess, repent, receive and believe in His shed blood as the only forgiveness of sin.

That’s the only answer to our sin problem.  Only the atoning substitute of Jesus, crucified in our place under the New Covenant makes God forget our sin.

Sin is a real problem for all of us.  “For their hearts are like an oven As they approach their plotting”.  In Hosea’s time, they were inflamed with desire around idols.  But we all face a number of things that derail our walk with God too.  Sin never ends well for anyone.  “Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me! Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me! I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me”.  God’s desire is always restoration and forgiveness.  But it requires us to come back to him through confession, repentance and receiving the gift of grace He freely offers us through Jesus Christ.  We’re no different than God’s people in Hosea’s time.  Sin will cost us everything if we don’t deal with it!

Hosea 6

Hosea 6 has our prophet calling on God’s people to return to Him.  “Come, let us return to the Lord. For He has torn us, but He will heal us; He has wounded us, but He will bandage us”. Hosea prays with the right heart in response to the chastening hand of God. Instead of arguing with God, or resenting His correction, Hosea leads Israel in humble prayer. This is a prayer that trusts the love of God, and sees His loving hand even in correction.  God must deal with our sin and rebellion.  He can’t just look the other way because of His character and nature.  So rather than blaming Him for punishment and correction, we should run to Him in repentance.

He will revive us after two days; He will raise us up on the third day, That we may live before Him”.  Hosea prayed this full of confidence in God’s love and power to restore. In the prayer, there is a glimpse of the prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. We get a picture of what happens on the cross where Jesus was torn and stricken for our sake, yet He was also gloriously raised up on the third day.  God is in the restoration business. And he is victorious over evil.  He wants that in our life just as it was for Jesus!

Here come the marching orders.  “So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord”. Hosea leads the people to repent but then to pursue God.  We should know that when we pursue the knowledge of the Lord, He blesses it. It must be more than superficial, it must be a pursuit. But when we endeavor to know the Lord, especially through His Word, He reveals Himself to us.  God wants us to know Him and His name to be known throughout the world.  That only happens if we pursue Him with all our heart.  God alone is worthy of our praise.

Hosea tells us what God wants in a relationship with us.  “I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings”.  God would rather have right hearts, full of truth and mercy than sacrifice.  The people missed the heart of God, focusing on the wrong and superficial things. Israel brought animals for sacrifice, but they never brought themselves as a living sacrifice. They missed what God really wants: a deep, close relationship with Him.  If we want to connect with God completely, it has to be all of us being given to Him.  He doesn’t want a part, or sometimes.  He wants us to be in relationship with Him fully and always!

Hosea 5

Hosea 5 has the prophet calling out the leaders for the situation that Israel is in – deep in sin.  “Hear this, O priests”!  No sugar coating.  No, let’s take accountability for our sin collectively.  God saw the sinful state of the nation of Israel and makes it clear it will not be tolerated.  He saw that it had happened because the leaders did not lead in a godly way. It would be tempting for the priests to blame the people, but it was really the fault of the spiritual leadership (priests) and political leadership (house of Israel) of the nation.  The people are like sheep that merely follow those in charge.  That’s not an excuse, but God holds leaders to a higher standard.

Sin is a personal choice.  We can be influenced in many ways.  By others individually, by the culture, by an ungodly worldview, by the enemy himself.  But at the end of the day, no one else can be blamed and no one else will stand before God to address our sin.  It is ours when we choose it, and it will be ours when judgment day comes.  God says “I will chastise all of them”.  Like all sin, which is really simple rebellion, Israel’s rebellion was centered on pride.They arrogantly thought that what God said didn’t really matter compared to their own opinions and desires.

That’s usually the heart of it.  We push God off the throne and His Word or His Holy Spirit no longer are the source of truth in our life.  We allow our own mind, will and emotion to step onto the throne of our life and follow that very flawed direction.  It will always lead us into sin, because we are not holy or righteous as God is.  Our only hope for a life of holiness is to let God drive our life.  Any other approach will cause us to fail. “Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also has stumbled with them”. Sin can often drag others with it, and it was certainly the case with Israel and Judah.

Ephraim sinned by living by man’s standards and opinions instead of God’s. We can’t walk by human ways unless we first reject God’s ways, and that was exactly what Israel did. Israel was foolish enough to trust in man – her eventual conqueror – instead of trusting in God. So punishment comes, and God focuses on how to win back the hearts and lives of His people.  Sin always creates a separation, and while God may appear to move away, He never goes far.  “In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me”. This was the goal of God’s judgment against Israel. The goal was not destruction, but restoration.  Are you walking in harmony with God, or in your own wisdom and strength without him?  One choice is far better than the other!

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