Was asked few days ago: “what do you think about reading through the Bible chronologically? is it worthwhile?” Can be helpful as long as you understand – are number of uncertainties about dates. Some things are clear, others not so much. Present book one of the clear ones, Joel e.g. no clear indications when written. Where it is better known, understanding nature of circumstances in / to which prophet was speaking adds richness to message. We say, rightly, God speaks to us from pages of Scripture. Would be accurate to say God has preached two large sermons in Bible – OT and NT: 4 elements of good sermon… proclamation, illustration, application, invitation.
OT sermon: proclamation – Pentateuch, illustration – History, application – Poetry, invitation – Prophets
NT sermon: proclamation – Gospels, illustration – Acts, application – Epistles, invitation – Revelation
In Book of the Twelve, God closing in on sermon’s conclusion, final call to his people to respond. Had heard redemptive truth stated in God’s Law. Had heard redemptive truth illustrated in experiences of God’s people (Joshua, Judges, Ruth). Had heard redemptive truth explained and applied in God’s house. Now hearing clear call to repent from evil and seek God’s redemptive mercy.
“Hosea reveals the broken-hearted love of Jehovah for His unfaithful people. This mighty, divine love is the sure foundation of all the redemptive purposes of God in Christ God’s call to redemption is always based on this sure foundation. Every unfaithful sinner has hope because of this love. Israel’s redemptive existence is rooted in this love.” Parker
Intended audience a people specially favored by God. were enjoying period of significant prosperity. Politically during Hosea’s time was good, bad, downright ugly. God sent a prophet, one of their own, because God had a plan for both prophet and people.
Deut. 7:6-8 – “a people for his treasured possession”; “the Lord set his love on you and chose you” “because the Lord loves you”
checkered history, probably black squares outnumbered white – cycle of judges (rebellion/idolatry, slavery, deliverance, wash/rinse/repeat); “make us a king” (1 Sam. 8:5)
three kings, then division: Saul, David, Solomon (1050-930 BC)… then Jeroboam (930-722) and Rehoboam (930-586)
did ok w/idolatry during time of Saul and David; Solomon… built magnificent Temple and married Pharaoh’s daughter 1Ki 11
primary characteristics of Ashtoreth, Chemosh, Molech, Baal – sexually immoral practices, human sacrifice (esp. child)
much of worship practice done openly in full view of public – “in your face” regardless of own religious preferences… difficult to impossible to completely avoid, especially when more embedded in culture
like Ephesus church, like first parents in Eden, generations before and since – left exclusivity of first love, devoted selves to others
read 2 Kings 17:6-17 – yes, at end of line for Israel, but God graciously gives backstory from his perspective
didn’t just smack ’em, then let them try to figure out why; put it right out there – because of idolatry, rebellious disobedience
how is Ephesus like these guys? they all had their God-shelf, kept adding competitors to one true God – first: human wisdom
Ephesus hadn’t gone beyond that… yet! short steps to god of own definition/description, god who enables personal desire, god who can be manipulated
so how is that relevant for us? we don’t have idols like that in our culture… or do we?
let’s start with human wisdom: attitudes toward Scripture – God’s word or not, myth or history, etc.; what about authority… and who decides – science or Bible, reason or faith
how about gods of own definition or description – my god is god of _____; my god wouldn’t do that; all roads lead to same destination; doesn’t matter who you have faith in, just that faith is sincere
and the the gods to whom we sacrifice – should Planned Parenthood be rebranded Molech? and how is present cultural stance on morality different from Israel’s licentiousness?
Solomon, even for his unsurpassed wisdom, was way wrong on much; got this right: “nothing new under the sun” Ecc. 1:9
mankind, fallen in sin, naturally seeks the wrong gods; makes up comfortable gods; worships gods no better than himself
go by different names, have different symbols and representations – all false gods regardless of time or place in history made out of same raw material, serve same ultimate purpose
B. politics: good, bad, ugly — “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of”
Uzziah, 2 Kings 15:1-4 (Azariah)
“it continued to grow by the naturalization of outsiders to the south. …reached the height of its prosperity, having much of Philistine and Edomite tenitory under tribute.” JE
Jotham, 2 Kings 15:32-35
fortifications, standing armies, development of natural resources continued – enhanced by “temporary” decline of Damascus
Ahaz, and 2 Kings 16:1-3
Assyrian empire now on the rise, Ahaz refused to join alliance with Damascus against; instead made friends with Tiglath-Pileser
“What what was externally a blessing proved to be inwardly a curse. Ahaz, who was irresolute and impressible, yielded readily to the glamour and prestige of the Assyrians in religion as well as in politics.” JE
Hezekiah, kings of Judah, 2 Kings 18:1-6
much of what Hezekiah needed to do was undo his father’s destructive efforts; ok so long as followed God’s lead through Isaiah
Jerusalem was eventually saved from capture only because angel of the Lord slaughtered 185,000 Assyrians in one night
and in the days of Joash, king of Israel. 2 Kings 13:10-11 (Jehoash)
lowest point just prior to Joash: absolute vassal of Damascus, no effective means of protection or defense; Assyrians challenged Damascus, period of relief for Israel, Joash began process of recovery
Jeroboam II the son of Joash (Jehoash, alt. form) 2 Kings 14:23-24
“Israel still further revived, till Jeroboam II, son of Joash, brought it to a height of power and prosperity never before known. Indeed, for a time, the old ideal boundaries both east and west of the Jordan (greatest extent under Solomon) were maintained. But the glory was external and short-lived. The moral causes of decay are shown in the prophecies of Amos and Hosea.” JE
inspired commentary of author of Kings – “he did evil in the sight of the LORD; he did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin.”
repeated pattern – politics trumps piety – kings, along with people, quick to make alliances with nations God had forbidden
especially obvious in Judah – alliances with idolaters had 2 costs: adding sinful worship forms to religious practice and taking away from worship of true God
Ahaz began worship of sun god / god of war (2 Ki. 16:10ff) – moved brazen altar aside, replaced with altar to Ashur; Hezekiah stripped Temple of its gold and silver
good thing to remember: political alliances that sacrifice biblical principle never turn out well; depending on government to do job of family or church never a good solution
and… shouldn’t be surprised when (not if) government either fails to properly protect the church or turns against it even in presence of safeguards
anti-virus software big business for everyone, because sinners persist in figuring out ways to get around safeguards, restraints
C. prosperity: 2 Kings 14:25, 28; 15:20
glory days of Solomon 200 years in the past – magnificent wealth on display in Solomon’s Temple had come from “somewhere”!
economy had strength, size, health to support that plus Solomon’s lavish lifestyle as well as significant military to maintain
process slower in Judah than Israel but division of kingdom started period of slow but certain decline, albeit w/ups & downs
northern kingdom enjoyed period of revival/recovery under Jeroboam II – great military hero, strong leader, brought Israel to her moral and spiritual “tipping point”
prosperity all external because of efforts made on basis of human wisdom, not trust in God and his ways
great material wealth, adequate for decent lifestyle and hefty taxes to pay off potential invaders
wealth acquired without regard for biblical principles, at times in ways contrary to those principles was the root problem
appearance of health and wealth gotten and maintained at expense of conscience and godly principle – knowing purposeful actions contrary to known expectations, in no way accidental
consider: how do folks, even Christian ones, respond to threats against Social Security or securities investments; how about job loss, reduced hours, increased expenses or even just the potential of it
now, check those responses against God’s standards regarding faith/trust, economic principles, work ethic, list goes on
now… what about loyalty? to what extent has loyalty to true God and his word been transferred to other authorities / providers?
God’s answer to spiritual unfaithfulness of his people? send a superhero to ultra-powers to save the day… and the people? no…
D. prophet: unknown person of unknown heritage and unknown place called to long-term ministry
contemporary of Isaiah – Isa. 1:1 “The vision of Isaiah the son of Amoz, which he saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah.”
Beeri’s son – you know, Beeri, umm, nobody else knows either; only place he appears, no clue who he was, his occupation, family tree, where or exactly when he lived
don’t know any more about his son Hosea than what is in these 14 chapters; no indication that Hosea any more well-known or influential than his father
don’t have to be a “somebody” to be useful; do have to be faithful and obedient, over long haul
book doesn’t begin with Hosea, begins with Yahweh, 48x throughout book – important thing is message God had for people
God uses same kind of people today – not widely known, no large circle of influence, ones God empowers and equips to live and speak his truth. Our part: willing and committed to faithful obedience, dependent wholly on God.