Sunday Worship Service 5 pm

Monday, August 13, 2012

Hosea- God's Redeeming Love

A little after the time that Amos was prophesying to the northern kingdom of Israel, another prophet divinely called by God stepped into the spotlight. 

He is the first minor prophet to be listed out of seven in the Scriptures. He often refers to Israel as Ephraim in this book. 

His name was Hosea, which means "salvation" or "deliverer". Joshua and Jesus are derived from the same name. Hosea was a prophet who lived and prophesied just before the destruction of Israel in 722 BC. He preached to the northern kingdom. The book that is titled his name is a combination of many sermons given over a period of several decades.

   Just as Amos seems like John the Baptist in his approach, so Hosea is like how Jesus approached the people. This reveals to us more of God's heart. Loving, compassionate and forgiving.

   Hosea prophesied during the reigns of 7 different kings. Most place the time of his work at 750-725 B.C. Amos and Hosea prophesied to Israel. Isaiah and Micah were prophesying in Judah who were other prophets during this time.
The northern kingdom of Israel was drying up. 

Sin was even more rampant than seen in the book of Amos. Religious, moral, and political corruption was rampant. No faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God, cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery, breaking all bounds, bloodshed following bloodshed. 

   There is much in Hosea about Baal worship. It is important to understand the thought and practice that went with Baal worship. Baal was the god of fertility. The earth was viewed as female and Baal was the male that fertilized her and was responsible for the rain and plentiful crops. The people thought that they could arouse Baal if they performed sex acts in his temple. So temple prostitutes were numerous and plentiful.

   Religious- Hosea summed up the religious activities of Israel in one word: Whoredom. As a harlot, she had prostituted herself before the false gods. The people lacked knowledge, and were ignorant of God's Commands. Idols had been set up and Israelite women were serving in the temples as cult prostitutes.

   Moral- Their conduct was the co
ntradicting to that which God required. The picture painted in the Book of Hosea is truly that of a nation in utter rejection of the Lord their God.

   Political- It was a era of political uneasiness in Israel. Upon the death of Jereboam, several kings came to the throne but were almost immediately assassinated, some after only a few weeks. The king of Assyria came against Israel and exacted heavy tribute from them. Then in 722 BC, the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom, with many of the people being carried off as slaves. These were trying years of political conniving and intrigue, of anarchy and rebellion, of treachery and murder. God was totally out of the people's hearts at this point of time. 

   The prophet's goal was to win the thinking of the Israelites back to the Lord, but they were too deeply steeped in their idolatry to pay any attention to his words of warning. They refused to hear the loving voice of God calling them to Himself. They despised His messengers bringing the words of love for His chosen people. They killed the prophets, that He had sent to prepare the coming of Jesus. And finally when Jesus, God Himself came to his beloved, they were so far gone from the truth that they killed their Lord as the ones before.

   "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not!" -. Matthew 23:37

   An analogy is made between Hosea's experience with Gomer, and the Lord's experience with Israel. 

Hosea was commanded by the LORD to marry a prostitute Her name was Gomer. His life with Gomar would become an object lesson of the deep love of God for His wayward children. His marriage to the unfaithful wife is to be an example of God's relationship with the unfaithful nation of Israel. 

In the first few chapters of this book we alternate between the events in Hosea's message and God's explanation of how those events relate to the nation. She certainly would come to symbolize what Israel had become. 

God breaks Hosea's heart to prepare him for ministry. He learns that his wife is a prostitute. Certainly this broke his heart. And he learns that God's attitude toward His people is heartbreak. He learns how to have God's heart. Gomar bore three children. 

   The first son is named "Jezreel" Which means "God scatters", or "God sows". His name prefigured God's judgment on the ruling house of Israel.

   The daughter is named "Lo-Ruhamah" Which means "no mercy" Her name describes God's attitude toward Israel, though Judah still found grace in God's sight. Some suggest that the daughter and the son to follow were not Hosea's. Note it does not say she bore him (Hosea) a daughter, as before. 

   The second son is named "Lo-Ammi" His name means "not my people" God declares his rejection of Israel. Again, just a reminder of God's disowning them.

   Though cast off, God promises a restoration. Israel's restoration is described as using a wilderness, God will win her back.

God will cure her of using the language of Baal worship. God will establish a covenant of peace and safety, and betroth Israel to Him once again. God will once again bless them, and be merciful to them as His people. 

While there may be references to the restoration from captivity, it also foreshadows the age of the Messiah and His spiritual blessings.   

So what is God's reaction to Israel forgetting Him? 

After describing their sin and bringing them to the wilderness. God is also merciful and now he is enticing them back to Him. 

God uses these wilderness experiences to bring us closer to Himself. Notice in Hosea 2:14 that He leads them into the wilderness or desert.

"Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." - Hosea 2:14

   When God leads us into the desert, we need to understand He isn't taking good things away from us. 

He is taking away things that we thought were good for us, so that all we will have left is what really is good for us, and so we will depend on Him. Many times in our life God may stripe things of this world away, as to unblind us so we can hopefully see His deep, pure, holy and perfect love. "...for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..." - Exodus 20:5 He is jealous for you. He wants to win your heart.

   Hosea is charged to love an adulterous woman. Hosea takes her back, though with a period of probation. Symbolizing God's willingness to take Israel back. How does all this we have talked about apply to us? 

Israel was very wicked and evil in their deeds. They totally forsook God. We could compare ourselves to them and think we are not nearly so sinful and wretched. I mean, we certainly don't bow down before baal or offer our bodies for prostitution. 

Maybe we don't worship graven images, but we are all like Gomer the unfaithful wife.

   Hosea symbolizes God. Gomer symbolizes His children. We as Christians do not always stay pure and faithful before the Lord. Every time we sin, we are like the unfaithful wife, participating in other things that trump our desire to be devoted to God. Like a wife has more desire to spend time with other men rather then her husband. It's like the same thing.

So just like Hosea, what did God do for us when we ran away and were unfaithful to Him. In Romans 5:8 it states ."But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." Yes, while we were still lost Jesus came seeking for us, like Hosea went out to seek after his wife who had gone astray. Just as Luke 19:10 says. "For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost."

   And once again, just like Hosea bought Gomar back, Jesus bought us back by sacrificing His body on the cross and shedding His blood for to purchase us as His own. Then rising again three days later! This is the ultimate act of love, showing God's deep and undivided passion to be with His children

"Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends."- John 15:13   

Hosea is one of my favorite characters in the Old Testament because this is the whole message that God was trying to get across to the people through Hosea's life. This was a foreshadowing of how God would redeem His people to make his church the bride of Christ and to spend eternity with Him instead of separation.

 "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. Hosea 2:19-20 

   The Bible is the greatest love story ever written! Wouldn't you agree? May God give us all a deeper understanding of His enduring love for us.

Leah Nicolette

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