Saturday, May 21, 2011
Hosea Chapter 1
- God came to the prophet Hosea and said “God and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.”
- Wow. Can you imagine being in Hosea's place?
- A marriage is to be something built on trust, faithfulness, love... “Go marry a prostitute”!? Whose kids will be conceived in prostitution!?
- God basically said to Hosea, go take a wife who is going to be unfaithful to you.
- Thinking about God's provision and God's love for His people... I don't think of God providing an unfaithful spouse for me. That just seems so... wrong.
- But God was asking Hosea to demonstrate His own relationship with His people.
- For they... and we... are the unfaithful wife.
- Israel was chasing after all these gods. They left their husband and went chasing after other lovers.
- Hosea had to be a man of great faith. I think I would have questioned God a hundred times over before marrying a random prostitute. I would have wanted to know why God wasn't loving me the way I thought He should.
- Ever been there? Ever wondered why you keep getting bombarded with life? “Am I not a child of God? Do I not deserve blessings? Why do I feel like I've been cursed?”
- Jeremiah 2:1-3:10
- Isaiah 30:1-17; 31
- James 4:4
- I don't know if Hosea had doubts... but he did as directed. He went and married a prostitute named Gomer.
- Her first child was a boy. God said to name him Jezreel. “For I am about to punish King Jehu's dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel's independence. I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”
- In II Kings 9 and 10, we find the story of Jehu. Elisha sent a prophet to Jehu. He anointed him king over Israel and commanded him to destroy all of Ahab's family. Which he did. Not one descendant or relative was left when Jehu was finished. He then called for all of the Baal worshipers to come to the temple for one huge ceremony to celebrate his ascension to the throne... Then he had his men kill them all. They destroyed the temple of Baal and put a public toilet in its place.
- However, Jehu DID NOT destroy the golden calves in Bethel and Dan that had been set up by Jeroboam.
- Ok so who's Jeroboam. Solomon's son Reoboam tried to over tax the people. So Jeroboam, one of the generals, took half the kingdom from him. Jeroboam ended up with the upper half, and Reoboam, the lower. Because Jerusalem was in the southern half, Jeroboam set up golden calves in Samaria... he was afraid that he would lose the people back to Reoboam if they went back to worship at Jerusalem, so he gave them a second option.
- “But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.”
- By outward appearances, Jehu was a man zeal for the things of God, but God looks at the heart. He knows our heart better than we do ourselves.
- footnote- “Jehu did much of what the Lord told him to, but he did not obey Him with all his heard. He had become God's instrument for carrying out justice, but he had not become God's servant. As a result, he gave only lip service to God while permitting the worship of the gold calves. Check the condition of your heart toward God. We can be very active in our work for God and still not give the heartfelt obedience He desires.”
- As a result, Jehu's sons who reigned after him, also continued in Jeroboam's sins. God was constantly gracious. Helped them many times. Tried to humble the kings. Tried to have them turn back to Him. Loved them anyway... but every king still worshiped those few golden calves that were left.
- Now it says that God was bringing an end to Jehu's dynasty because of the murders he committed... but God TOLD him to kill Ahab's family...
- But he didn't say anything about Ahaziah, the king of Judah.
- But Jehu killed Ahaziah and 42 of his relatives. That wasn't what God had directed.
- There was a significance in the place of Jezreel. Jezreel was the location of the summer palace of the kings of Israel. The Valley of Jezreel was the agricultural center of the area.
- Because of the Valley's vast resources, many major trade routes converged at the pass which led into it. This made it a site for many of the battles in Israel's history. Whoever controlled the people who lived in and around it controlled the trade routes.
- So here, God is not only saying that He's going to punish the sins of Jehu, but He's also taking the power that this area affords, away from the people of Israel. They would no longer have the ability to support themselves. Their trade routes would be taken from them. They would be dependent on other nations to allow them to import and export trade items.
- Gomer's second child was a girl. God said to name her Lo-ruhamah. This meant “not loved.” (Man... that's a horrible name to grow up with...)
- “For I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies—not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.”
- Because of their continued stubborn sin, God is cutting Israel off. Remember that Solomon's son and Jeroboam had fought and split the kingdom... Israel was the bigger part of the nation. Israel never had a good king after the split. Every king was an idolater. Judah had good kings every now and again who would reform the nation and call them to worship God.
- But Israel constantly persisted in their sinning.
- If you, as a spouse, were married to one who was constantly, blatantly, unfaithful... Eventually you'd get tired of chasing them down.
- In essence, God is letting them go... for a time... He's saying “ok... fine, you want to go your own way, go. I release you to your sin. I'm not going to force you to love me. But in your turning away... don't expect me to rush to your rescue when you need saving.” He's breaking the covenant with Israel. They had turned from Him enough times that He turned them over to their sin.
- In Romans 1:18-2:16 Paul talks about God's anger at our response to sin.
- 1:21-25 says “Yes, they knew God, but they wouldn't worship Him as God or even give Him thanks. And they began to think of foolish ideas of what God was like. As a result, their minds became dark and confused. Claiming to be wise, they instead became utter fools. And instead of worshiping the glorious, ever-living God, they worshiped idols made to look like mere people and birds and animals and reptiles. So God abandoned them to do whatever shameful things their hearts desired. As a result, they did vile and degrading things with each other's bodies. They traded the truth about God for a lie. So they worshiped and served the things God created instead of the Creator Himself, Who is worthy of eternal praise! Amen.”
- God is faithful to call us to Him... but as we see here... a lifetime of insisting on our own way and having stubbornly set our heart on sinning when we know better... can cause God to finally let us have our way... with horrible consequences.
- This is not to say that God gives up on us... God always loves the sinner. He is always concerned with their wellbeing. He always tries to get them to to come back Him.
- Have you ever experienced that relentlessness of God? Felt God asking you to come back home to Him?
- I want to share a little of my story here...
- I grew up in church. Went A LOT. Sometimes it felt like we spent more time in church than at home...
- But regardless of how loving my parents were or how much I knew about God... I didn't have a deep relationship with God.
- Children cannot depend on their parent's faith to get them through. There comes a time when your faith has to become real to YOU.
- So like every other kid... I hit my rebellious stage. And I lived in this place of decision for a long time. Like... years. I had times that I thought, “yeah, I'll follow God... it'll be ok.” And then there would be times that I just got upset with God. Things just weren't going as planned. “Forget this God! I'll do better on my own!” And then there were the times that I just pushed God away. Tried to convince myself that He didn't or couldn't exist. Because if He did... He'd care about my life more than He apparently did...
- I went back and forth CONSTANTLY. Always something there to say “are you sure you want to follow this God you can't prove?”
- In that time... God never left me. He was always there proving Himself over and over again. He protected me, He kept me... He never let go.
- But I was so stubborn... and angry... that I didn't want Him messing with my life. Basically, what it came down to was control. I wanted control over my life. And I wasn't going to let some unseen uncaring “thing” tell me what to do...
- Slowly... God started taking things from me. Things I depended on. Things I clung to to maintain control.
- By the end of it... I had no control. I felt like I was sinking into nothingness. There was nothing to hold onto. No one I could confide in. No one knew my inner battle... and those who had an inkling... I felt like it was more extensive than they could understand... or more confusing than I could attempt to explain... cause I didn't even understand it all...
- See... nothing outwardly had changed. Only a very few people knew anything at all was going on.
- I still went to church. Still sang with the praise band. Still went to bible study. Still led praise team at my college... Still had the “good girl” image.
- But inside... I was dying.
- I felt myself dying. I don't know how else to describe it. God was constantly there asking me to turn back. I was fighting a never ending battle with myself. And really... that's where the real battle is taking place for most of us.
- I couldn't sleep. My nights were plagued with guilt, or reliving missed moments, or depression... I started taking nyquil just to go to sleep. But even that only lasted a few hours. Eventually, I started drinking to try to dull the guilt I felt. I would drink enough to make me sleepy... and hope I could get a few hours in. Most of the time... I only slept a little... and woke up with a headache and feeling like I wanted to die...
- My appetite was gone. Nothing appealed to me.
- I remember one night driving home and crying out to God to please DO something... because I didn't know what else to do. And it felt like there was no answer. I felt abandoned. I pulled over and screamed at the sky. It felt like I was living in the deepest darkest sorrow.
- After the fact, I stumbled upon Psalm 32... and when I read David's words... they were mine from that time period.
- “When I refused to confess my sin, my body wasted away, and I groaned all day long. Day and night Your hand of discipline was heavy on me. My strength evaporated like water in the summer heat.”
- About a week before God finally broke through to me... I remember laying in bed and trying to pray and literally feeling like death was coming. It felt like my body was so heavy and sinking into the bed. I felt like the air couldn't be forced into my lungs. I felt light-headed. I remember I stopped trying to talk to God and just laid there crying because I just knew I was going to die like this.
- About a week later, I finally broke. Something in me finally gave way and I could FINALLY cry out to God. And oh how He came to me...
- He had never left. But I could FEEL Him. So real, so close... And I felt like a little kid again... curled up in daddy's lap crying in my sorrow...
Ever felt like God had abandoned you? Ever felt like there was no reason to cry out? God was too far away to hear you? Well... He has never left you... He is there right now. Just call out... And He will answer...
- But what if I would have hardened my heart... Steeled myself and stubbornly persisted in my own path? My life would most definitely have gone differently from that point on.
- If God is calling you to repentance... don't hesitate. Don't put Him off. He is your husband... calling you to come home... to remain faithful... to live in His love... Don't say no...
- Psalm 44
- Jeremiah 14:1-18:23
- Gomer's third child was a son... God said to name him Lo-ammi... which means “not my people.”
- When we persist in our sin... and constantly turn away from God... Eventually, we're going to come to he judgment seat and be called “not my people.”
- God will persist in His pursuit of you... but eventually... if you insist upon it... He has to let you go...
- My time of decision came... had I turned in that moment that I felt the dam burst, as it were, and said “no... God, I want some more time before I have to surrender control.” I fear that He would have let me go. I felt that moment so hard and that time so strongly... that I really don't know what would have happened had I turned away in that moment.
- God is a God of second chances. The same people that He said He would cast off... He goes on to say that they will one day yet again be called “the children of the living God.”
- Now, at least part of this section is talking about Christ. I don't know if there's any place in Israel's history that really fulfills this except maybe becoming a nation post WWII.
- Looking at it in that way... Israel has come home. They have joined with Judah in their homeland. They are no longer exiled.
- Looking at it from a spiritual perspective... we as gentiles were just as lost as Israel. But we have been united under one leader—Christ. We have come back from exile. We no longer are separated from God's love.
- “What a day that will be—the day of Jezreel—when God will again plant His people in His land.”
- “Jezreel” means “to plant”.
- Do you rememeber the parable of the sower? The seed kept falling on different kinds of ground?
- Well our seed, has fallen in Jezreel. We have been planted in the source. We're in the richest possible soil. Unlimited resources at our disposal.
- We have been planted in the kingdom. And given the command to go plant others.
- “In that day, you will call your brothers “my people” and you will call your sisters “the ones I love.”
- Remember that the kingdom was split? Israel's capital was Samaria and Judah's was Jerusalem.
- When Jesus came to the Samaritan woman at the well? There was so much hidden there that we in this day may not understand.
- Once the kingdom was divided... the Northern Israel was raided and exiled and steeped in sin enough, that there basically was no pure bloodline left.
- By Jesus' day, the Samaritans weren't considered as part of the Jewish nation. The “Jews” were those of the Judah portion of the kingdom. The Samaritans were looked upon with the same, if not more, disdain than the gentiles. They were considered as dogs. They had betrayed their people by intermarrying with the enemy.
- How awesome as it that we are living out the story of the prodigal? We were right there with the nation of Israel. Doing our own thing. Running from surrendering to God. And yet God continually called us back to Him... Back to His love. Calling us to come home so He can plant us there. No matter where you're at today. Part of God's house on the outside, needing Jesus to be Lord of the inside, or if you're on the outside, like Gomer, thinking there is no way God could forgive or love you now. God is there calling. Don't pass your moment by.
- Jeremiah 3:11-4:8:3; 30:1-31:40
- Isaiah 30:18-33; 32; 63-66
- I Peter 1:13-2:12
- Romans 9:25-33; 12:1-21; 3:23-31
- Ezekiel 37:20-28
- Leviticus 26:1-46
- Nehemiah 1:4-11
My Life Application Bible has a pretty good intro to this book... so I'm just going to use it. It says everything I want to say... : )
“Groomsmen stand at attention as the music swells and the bride begins her long walk down the aisle, arm in arm with her father. The smiling but nervous, husband-to-be follows every step, his eyes brimming with love. Then happy tears are shed, vows stated, and families merged. A wedding is a joyous celebration of love. It is the holy mystery of two becoming one, of beginning life together, and of commitment. Marriage is ordained by God and illustrates His relationship with His people. Thus, there is perhaps no greater tragedy than the violation of those sacred vows.
God told Hosea to find a wife and revealed to him ahead of time that she would be unfaithful to him. Although she would bear many children, some of these offspring would be fathered by others. In obedience to God, Hosea married Gomer. His relationship with her, her adultery, and their children became living, prophetic examples to Israel.
The book of Hosea is a love story—real, tragic, and true. Transcending the tale of young man and wife, it tells of God's love for His people and the response of his “bride.” A covenant had been made, and God had been faithful. His love was steadfast, and His commitment unbroken. But Israel, like Gomer, was adulterous and unfaithful, spurning God's love and turning instead to false gods. Then after warning of judgment, God reaffirmed His love and offered reconciliation. His love and mercy were overflowing, but justice would be served.
The book begins with God's marriage instructions to Hosea. After Hosea's marriage, children were born, and each given a name signifying a divine message. Then, as predicted, Gomer left Hosea to pursue her lusts. But Hosea (whose name means “salvation”) found her, redeemed her, and brought her home again, fully reconciled. Images of God's love, judgment, grace, and mercy were woven into their relationship. Next, God outlined His case against the people of Israel: Their sins would ultimately cause their destruction and would rouse His anger, resulting in punishment. But even in the midst of Israel's immorality, God was merciful ad offered hope, expressing His infinite love for His people and the face that their repentance would bring about blessing.
The book of Hosea dramatically portrays our God's constant and persistent love. As you read this book, watch the prophet submit himself willingly to his Lord's direction; grieve with him over the unfaithfulness of his wife and his people; and hear the clear warning of judgment. Then reaffirm your commitment to being God's person, faithful in your love and true to your vows.”