Saturday, September 2, 2017

4 observations from Hosea 2 and a search for satisfaction

Here is my second post in interaction with Kelly Needham's inductive Bible Study on Hosea.  I'm taking the slow track.  Last time I had read through chapters 1-3 and answered questions.  This time, Kelly had her class take a copy of Hosea 2:2-23 and underline and highlight things.  I was a little dismayed to be in chapter 2 again, but the idea is not only to study Hosea, but to also help women learn inductive bible study.

Women need to come to the Bible and read what it says rather than come with pre-conceived notions that they have heard all their lives.  I don't think I come unbiased.  I don't think anyone does.  I do my best to follow the instructions but still need to put my own interpretation on them.  So here are 4 things I noted when I tried to follow directions.

1. Kelly had her class underline all verbs and then double underline any command.  The very first word of verse two is a command: "Plead."  Plead with your mother for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband - that she put away her harlotry from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts.  The command is addressed to the children of Gomer and more greatly, the children of Israel to plead with God's lost loved ones to quit cheating on him with other gods and looking to them.

I also went and double underlined any verb that had "you" in front of it.  In verse 16 it says, "in that will call me 'My Husband,' and no longer will you call me 'My Baal.'"  The kings of the Northern kingdom of Israel would set up golden calves so that they would not have to go to the Jerusalem temple to worship and told them that the people were really worshiping the true God through calves.  They didn't have direct access to the priests who had the law saying you should not worship God through images - ever.  So they were led astray into worshiping God in ways that he forbid, and often it did involve literal prostitution to try to appease fertility gods.

God wants his lost loved ones to return to him and relate to him in his terms and not on theirs.

2. In three different places there is a list of assets prized by the woman addressed in this passage.  In one sense, this woman is Gomer, Hosea's wanton wife, and in a greater sense, the woman is Israel/the church, God's wanton bride.  Verse 5b, "For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.'"  Verse 8, "And she did nto know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her slver and gold, which they used for Baal."  And verse 22, "and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel."

We need to stop crediting our incomes and all we have to anyone other than God.  Do you have a house, heating and air, internet, food, a job?  Do you thank your own self for those things and not God?  I don't know how many times I've heard somebody say that "mother nature" is doing such and such or the universe has planned life differently than I did.  Mother nature and the universe are all non-entities along with evolution and chance.  They don't exist.  God does, and he is tired of not getting credit for all that happens.  He gives us everything and he doesn't have to, and we need to love him more than anyone or anything else.

3.  There is a series of "answering" in verses 21 through 22.  I will start with verse 20.  "I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.  And you shall know the LORD. 'And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel."  And before that in verse 15, "And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt."  God formed a covenant with Abraham and later on with all of Israel that if the nation would follow him, they would live, but if not, somebody would die.  And God passed through the torn animals in Genesis 15 when he covenanted with Abram saying that if the covenant was broken, then he would take the punishment.  Israel has done nothing but break the covenant promises.  Yet, God faithfully held them accountable by still claiming them as his bride and later sending Jesus to die for the sins of his Church.  And God answered all of heaven, which answered the earth with its grain, wine, and oil, which answered Jezreel, the plain where king Jehu slayed Ahab's family and also another name for Israel.

4. Despite the Church's unfaithfulness, God still desires her for Christ's bride.  Verses 2 through 13 show God's judgment for unfaithful Gomer's adulteries.  He is going to divorce his wife because she always goes after other men/gods who give her luxuries that she already had with her husband.  He will publicly shame her in front of everyone for her shameful behavior.

In ancient Israel, it was unheard of for a man to take back his wife after she had had affairs.  Sometimes she could live with her man but not have conjugal relations again.  But in verse 14, God changes his tone and says, "I will allure her."  He still wants to take her back.  She will face consequences as he will take her into the wilderness until all that she knows is God, the only true oasis in this cursed life.  I feel like this is my life.  I long for something, get it, but it is never enough and I always want more.  But in this life, I will never be truly satisfied because I was made for God and I don't know him in his fullness in this life.  And I have been unfaithful, longing for friends and relationships that would fill a hole in my life.  But they don't satisfy and my desires are unrequited.  But they will never be filled with anything other than the physical presence of Jesus which I will not know until the end of time.

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