Saturday, August 5, 2017

Hosea: wantonness - Israel's and mine

I finished Mark finally.  This year, I think I'll try to go through Hosea, but about once a month.  I teach Sunday School and children's church and want to dedicate most of my blogs to those lessons since I take pride in them.  But I won't do that every week and need to go through another book straight through.  Kelly Needham has a study through Hosea that's supposed to take women deeper into God's word.  I hope she does more.  The resources are all on her website for free and are good to take advantage of.  For her first week, her homework was to read Hosea 1-3 three times.  I was also prompted to take note of Judgment and Restoration.

First, here is the situation.  Hosea is called to be a prophet to Israel.  At this point, Israel is two kingdoms: Israel and Judah.  Hosea is called to Israel.  Israel has a long history of God saving them from slavery only to have them turn their backs on God and worship idols or false gods.  Each time he sends people to punish them, then they turn back, and then the next generation falls again.  Hosea is called toward the end of the existence of Northern Israel before God finally has enough and has another nation: Assyria, take them into exile never to be heard from again.  He graciously saves Judah as they have some faithful kings, but Israel, after they split from Judah after the reign of Rehoboam set up golden calves and worshiped them and none of its kings were faithful to God.  None.  Jeroboam set up the idols, told the people they could worship the true God through them so they would not have to go to Jerusalem, and disregarded the 2nd commandment which led way to them breaking all the others.

Meanwhile, Judah still had the priests keeping them faithful to the true God while the people would also turn away from God.  Both nations deserved God to cast them aside, but God still send prophets to warn them and save them from themselves.  He finds a unique way for Hosea to bring his message.  He tells Hosea to take a wife who would be unfaithful to him, but still love her.  Verse 2 of chapter one uses a word three times: harlotry or whoredom.  The wife, Gomer, would sleep with other men for money and treat a sex act that God created to bond a man and his wife as a cheap commodity to share with anyone.  He says the word for prostitution or wantonness three times for special emphasis.  Just like it's horrible for a wife to leave her husband and have sex with strangers for money, it is just the same as if a nation or church turns away from God to worship dead images or even people who have nothing to give and certainly can't save you from death or slavery.

So in chapter 1, God judges Israel by telling Hosea to name the kids that Gomer bears terrifying names: their meanings are "Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People."  Jezreel is the plain where king Jehu slaughtered the descendants of the wicked king Ahab but still went and worshiped the golden calves.  But at the same time, there is redemption because God remembers the promise he made to Abraham, to make his descendants as numerous as the stars of the sky and the sand on the seashore.  He promised to be faithful and to bring about a Seed that would redeem mankind from eternal separation from God's love.  So, he would spare Israel and leave a remnant.  One day, No Mercy will have Mercy, and Not My People will be God's People.  And great will be the land of Jezreel.

In chapter 2, God would punish Israel for her wantonness, but then in verse 14 he says he will "allure" her.

In chapter 3, somehow Gomer finds herself in slavery and he tells Hosea to buy her back.  It was something scandalous and I think even against the Levitical code, yet eventually, God will do the same for Judah and all his lost children by sending Jesus to die for our sins.  Our sins must be paid for and we cannot pay it.  But God's justice must be satisfied, so it has to be paid.  Praise God, he send a substitute for us, our own betrothed, Jesus Christ.

Kelly has questions on her note sheet.
When have you experienced apathy toward God? How do you feel to know it's so offensive to Him?
Where do I begin?  How many times have I made a friend, made that friend the center of my world, and found myself worshiping that person only for them to break my heart and not live up to my expectations?  Even down to last year, I have made idols of people and slowly seen God strip them away to where I wish I could learn to love people without idolizing them.  It is why I now must spend time away and even suffer loneliness because the alternative is me not being faithful to God.

Does the harsh tone of the first couple verses intimidate you? Excite you? Distress you?
Actually, yes.  I was told one time that the "W" word was once bleeped out on TV.  It's a disgusting word for a disgusting practice yet my sin and yours are just as disgusting.  Even more, against an infinite God, it will last forever and had it not been for Jesus taking my punishment and then giving me his perfect life, I could never come to God or else I would burn forever under his just wrath in hell.

How do you think Hosea felt hearing what God was asking of him?
Awkward.  That is something nobody did, to keep taking back an unfaithful wife.  A man was supposed to put her away for life.  Some liberals even said that this was simply metaphorical, but no, I believe Hosea really did this at God's command.  It is so embarrassing for Hosea to have to go redeem his wanton wife again and to take her back.  And it was humiliating for Jesus to hang naked on a cross when he never committed a sin or made any errors for someone like me who keeps wandering to other loves and interests.  When will I be healed of this?  It will take a lifelong process that will finally end when I die or when Christ comes back.  I wish I could restrain my mind.  I must pray for the Holy Spirit to continue to guide me.

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