Tag: Hosea

A Serious Disease

Hosea 7:1-16

Is a detail supplied at very beginning of book easy to overlook – look at Hos. 1:1 again: “The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.” If you’re like most people, skip introduction, go right to chapter 1, want to get to good part of book. In case of Hosea there’s drama of first 3 chapters followed by 11 chapters of pretty dire proclamations. Can read start to finish in about 30 minutes – except for change in rhythm between chapter 3 and 4, nothing else to interrupt flow.

Look once more at first verse – 4 kings of Judah, 1 king of Israel cited there…total period of Jewish history covered at least 100 years. Jeroboam assumed throne of Israel around 793 BC, Hezekiah died in 687 BC. Not likely Hosea prophesied over entire duration. But… start near end of Jeroboam’s reign, 750 BC to beginning of Hezekiah’s, 715 BC, have an active period of at least 35 years. “The word of the Lord …came …in the days of” those kings. So, all we read in 30 minutes actually given to Hosea and then to people over course of 30 years!

May seem like lots of repetition, similar criticisms brought against Israel and Judah over and over. Hosea not a radio preacher, gave his prophetic message several times but to different audiences as he traveled around Israel. Makeup of his audience changed over time – old ones died, young ones grew up, repetition required for people to assimilate and master a concept. Then there’s sad reality – some in audience probably heard, really heard Hosea’s message from God but majority did not.

In spite of unresponsiveness, God continued over period of years to reach out to his people to draw away from objects of sinful desire and rebellion. Good lesson for us who live in culture devoted to instant gratification – genuine spiritual change rarely takes place instantly, when we pray for it. Here in text, God uses number of graphic illustrations to describe and explain condition of sinful nation. And, through it all, God weeps and pleads, desiring their love and loyalty.

A. a serious disease v.1-3

puts in mind of term new to English in 1970 – comorbidity; previous generations more focused on holistic medicine, treating whole person; more recently, focus on specialization, brings up queston: “How to wholly evaluate the state of a patient who suffers from a number of diseases simultaneously, where to start from and which disease(s) require(s) primary and subsequent treatment?” Wikipedia Their answer, comorbidity and different scales to assign value to conditions, come up with treatment plan

Israel in Hosea’s day, like many of our day, displaying multiple symptoms of disease – God, the Great Physician, has means to heal patient, notice how he does it:

first he uncovers all the symptoms: “when I want to heal them, it is necessary to uncover their iniquity and wickedness”

symptoms: practice fraud, steal, plunder, plot evil, lie, commit adultery, are drunkards and scoffers… to start with

practice then and now – treat all those things as diseases (or disorders), try to figure out how to treat individually and together

God’s practice: uncover / expose all these ailments as symptoms of the one underlying cause – corruption of sin

we who are God’s children, being renewed in our minds, must follow God’s example… think how he thinks, see beneath surface

both in own lives and interaction with others, gotta get past treating symptoms – pick whatever social/political/economic issue, most important thing to treat is spiritual need

principle holds true wherever the problem exists, w/o regard for any other conditions/circumstances; don’t be taken in by those who try to complicate things

B. a hot oven v.4-7

repeated imagery here of fire that never goes out, ready to burst into flame as soon as something stirs it – not a good thing, is a fire that causes trouble not good

is fire of sinful desires that breaks out in different ways – sexual immorality (4), pursuit of pleasure (often by means of substances) (5), personal advancement (6), lawlessness in all forms (7)

is fire that cannot be fully controlled or extinguished by human means – external controls effective only up to a point

common methods that attempt to address are some form of substitution: change definition of what is acceptable; use different language; substitute one form of dependence for another

only true solution – put fire out with blood of Christ, water of Spirit and Word; bring thoughts/desires under authority and control of Christ

C. an unturned cake v.8

probably referring to flat-bread baked on hot rocks – think of it like pancake left on grill w/o being turned: burned one side, doughy the other, unpalatable on both

no surprise: one ruled by passions doesn’t pay close attention to detail; by neglect becomes useless, waste of good resources

perhaps even worse: often one ruled by passion reaches point where proper reasoning no longer possible, are unable to take Yogi Berra’s advice – “when you come to a fork in the road, take it”… don’t just stand there undecided

additional factor in view here: relationship between Ephraim and surrounding nations, between God’s people and the world

situation where purity has become compromised, ingredients in cake off enough so even with proper attention won’t cook properly

only solution – full-hearted devotion to one master, Lord Jesus, followed by purifying from Spirit and Word

D. gray hairs v.9-10

signs were there but either overlooked, ignored or denied – gray hair, sign of approaching older age: think mostly of passing years

also clear sign of other things, too – yup, all those things that go along with gray hair: diminished strength, less acute sight / hearing, slowing thought processes, and more

in face of mounting evidence, refuses to acknowledge reality of what is taking place – still working to finish up bucket list, not looking good, stubbornly refuse to ask for help

is process that’s been going on for a while, One standing by obviously ready to help, continually being rejected

E. a silly dove v.11-12

dove had reputation for being simple-minded, easily frightened or deceived, not very discerning but easily misled

in Ephraim’s case, had turned away from the one who intended good for them, turned for help to those who intended harm

had some pride mixed in with it also (10a) – were confident they could play Assyria and Egypt against one another to their own advantage

were ultimately overthrown and deported to variety of places by Assyrians, 722 BC; would not have happened had they relied on God

true of many still enslaved in sin: self-identify as geniuses, thoroughly understanding and in control; reality is exact opposite, unwittingly walk right into traps

F. clueless v.13-14

did not realize or want to realize God was their only hope – blamed him for their troubles, didn’t see him as their solution

“Israel saw their problem, but not their sin. When God’s hand is against man, he easily sees he has a problem but often does not see it as sin against the Lord.” Guzik

is universal problem – man refuses to acknowledge sin against God, at same time will not cry out to God, seek his help

G. a treacherous bow v.14b-16

God was absolutely faithful to them, they were undependable in return – could not be counted on to do right thing at crunch time

true in many walks of life – person not guided by biblical principles often unpredictable: make decisions based on what appears expedient at the moment… and usually decisions have unintended/unexpected consequences

H. God’s position

so, where is God during all this? definitely not disinterested bystander, neither is he angry disciplinarian smacking all w/i reach – is going above and beyond to give opportunities for repentance and deliverance (Adam/Eve in Garden)

I would have healed v.1

exposed their sin, not solely to shame but also to show depth of need and his willingness / ability to supply genuine healing

none call upon me v.7, 14

cry out for help to numerous other possible deliverers… to no avail… while God stands in plain view prepared to act the moment they call on him

they do not return v.10

God has repeatedly provided for them, at times when deserved less than others – they knew what it meant to enjoy God’s pleasure, would not repent even though experiencing his displeasure

I will discipline v.12

significant choice of word here – chastise/discipline not destroy; even at this point in their rejection, God still working to change their destructive course, bring them back to him

I redeemed them v.13

“would redeem them…but” – desire is for their recovery, no pleasure in their destruction even when brought on themselves justly

I trained and strengthened v.15

God supplied needs even though they used those supplies to plot against him – devising ways to use his provision in ways that displeased him

they return… but not to Me v.16

God ready to receive all who turn to him in faith and repentance, instead they turn to gods of own making for their help

God not going about this in any half-hearted way; was fully devoted to seeing his genuinely return to him. Didn’t give up on them after 2 or 3 attempts, not even after 2 or 3 generations. Still pursued them, disciplined them, pleaded with them, doing all that was reasonable and more to persuade them. Our task then: follow Christ whole-heartedly, have same desire as him for the lost, don’t give up on them even when they turn against us, do all we can to persuade them to follow Christ. And of course, make sure we are on right terms with Christ; then, must know His Way and follow it ourselves.

What Am I Going to Do with You?

Hosea 6:4-11

Opening line sounds too familiar! For a lot of settings, not just obstinate or thoughtless children. Obviously has somewhat different significance when comes from mouth of God. However… are some important parallels. Let’s consider for moment circumstances and thought processes involved that result in this kind of monologue. An apparent change of speaker from v.1-3 to v.4ff – the prophet giving pastoral encouragement to his people to repent, now prophet acting as God’s mouthpiece.

Can be a helping of impatience / frustration present when parent asks this question… not so with God. He never loses patience, cannot be frustrated by anyone or anything. Might be case of thinking out loud, working through process of figuring out proper next move… not so with God. His plan covering everything from before Creation to beyond Second Coming already unchangeably determined. Can be highly useful teaching tool, at least for attentive students. Gives opportunity to, in this case, get into the mind of God: what are God’s thoughts, God’s feelings, God’s priorities; what is logical sequence leading up to this point, where does it go from here.

Also highlights those things that may be commendable in one being addressed, and things worthy of criticism. Consequences without explanation does not always teach right tihings – may not know with certainty what is being punished, may not understand why/how consequences are just. Talking it through helps to avoid those things… in a receptive audience.

A. God’s heart v.4a-b, 5-6

see Isa. 65:2-5I spread out my hands all the day to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, following their own devices;a people who provoke me to my face continually, sacrificing in gardens and making offerings on bricks;who sit in tombs, and spend the night in secret places; who eat pig’s flesh, and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;who say, “Keep to yourself, do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.” These are a smoke in my nostrils, a fire that burns all the day.”

John Calvin comments, “No language can adequately express this solemn truth, that the Holy Spirit rejoices and is glad on our account, when we are obedient to him in all things, and neither think nor speak anything, but what is pure and holy; and, on the other hand, is grieved when we admit anything into our minds that is unworthy of our calling.” (Eph. 4:30)

“Scripture often speaks of God as being grieved or experiencing grief. This holds true for each member of the Trinity. In Genesis 6:6-8 the Father is grieved because of the sinfulness of the human race. The disobedience of Israel and the church grieves the Holy Spirit (Isa 63:10; Eph 4:30). The Son of God is a man of sorrows, acquainted with grief (Isa 53:3-10; Matt 23:37-39; Luke 13:34-35; John 11:35).” Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology

cannot be patient forever

God is both merciful and just – in tension with one another, yet not so God is paralyzed: he will move to resolution in his time

Ex. 34:6-7 The LORD passed by before him and proclaimed: “The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, and abounding in loyal love and faithfulness,keeping loyal love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin. But he by no means leaves the guilty unpunished, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children and children’s children, to the third and fourth generation.” NET

neither the gentle nor the terrible has availed—they have remained hardened. What treatment can now be tried? CHS

sadness, disappointment, sorrow/grief – experienced when repeated demonstrations of tender lovingkindness are toyed with, then abandoned

call to mind emotions you experience in regard to unsaved loved one, particularly one who is especially close – parent, spouse, child

your love for them already established, you desire them to experience your greatest treasure – they humor you, smile and nod, never get serioius about Gospel

brokenhearted sorrow, know just how hard may have to get for them – what will God have to do to bring to senses?

passionately expressed by apostle Paul, Rom. 9:1-5, perhaps with our text and others in mind – is just a hint of where God is at, profoundly sorrowful because he knows what must come next

Isa. 63:10they rebelled and grieved his Holy Spirit; therefore he turned to be their enemy, and himself fought against them.”

God is committed to fulfilling his purpose, including all means necessary to bring it about – he takes pleasure in ultimate fulfillmlent of his purpose, even if not in each aspect of means required to get there

explain: God’s “personal goal” (if we can say that) is his own glory; he is glorified in display of love, grace, mercy, and also his justice – he takes pleasure in right responses to love, grace, mercy, he takes no pleasure in death of wicked (Eze. 33:11)

don’t forget the goal: mercy (steadfast love, chêsêd), not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not burnt offerings

everything God does is accurate and consistent display of his character – no conflict between who God really is on the inside and his actions on the outside

is that same kind of consistency God desires in his people – that they would love Him as he loves them, with all heart soul mind strength in unity of purpose

action and motivation both count in God’s eyes – note carefully order of priority: God wants our heart and mind first, then actions

right desires toward God and right understanding of God will assuredly result in right action toward God and neighbor

bottom line: God wants our love in return for his, is grieved and disappointed when we don’t respond properly, even though outward actions may appear acceptable

B. man’s heart v.4c, 7-10

to extent sin not mortified (put to death) in us, these issues exist for believer too but in lesser degree

undependable (4c)

quick to come up, just as quick to disappear – make commitment readily to one, then another, and another; chêsêd of people not like chêsêd of God

parable of sower – stony ground, sprout quickly but do not endure and produce fruit; may declare but not show faithfulness

is this that is at root of spiritual harlotry/adultery that God condemns – supposed to be married to God, acting like still dating

disobedient (7a)

original covenant with Adam – promised life for obedience, death for disobedience; life included all blessings associated with it

covenant of redemption further elaborated with Moses – blessings for obedience, cursings for disobedience, ultimate looked to Christ for fulfillment

just like Adam knowingly / wilfully broke covenant, so have all since Adam including God’s people in Hosea’s day

treacherous (7b)

people solemnly promised faithfulness to God (Josh. 24:16-18; Neh. 9:36-38, etc) but… didn’t keep the faith

frequently limited to pragmatic relationship – make promises to get the goodies; once had temporal blessings, then slack off

evil (8)

read Josh. 20:1-9 – Ramoth-Gilead, city of refuge, no longer serving its divinely appointed use: has become haven for violent criminals who commit further evil

actually two evils portrayed here: evil practiced outside and inside the city, evil of a failed justice system further perverted to unjust use

instead of providing refuge for victims, use changed to provide refuge to perpetrators and allow them to continue perp-ing

violent (9)

like above – 2 distinct transgressions: actual harm done to others, perversion of sacred office they held

Shechem an early place of worship (Abram, altar); city of refuge; where Joshua gave final challenge to people; capitol of Israel for a while – basically center of culture and worship

priests take advantage of high traffic area, engage in criminal activity for their own benefit, advancement – evil in its own right

perversion of office – those charged with bringing life to people in their care instead prey upon even to taking of life

immoral (9b-10)

greatest evil of all: spiritual immorality/harlotry used to justify physical immorality – let’s worship this other god whose acts of worship satisfy sinful desires

should not be surprise: fallen man creates god to worship, one that gives him what he wants (not what he needs)

think how grievous must be to God – much of Israel’s idolatry involved uncontrolled licentious behavior – all manner of sexual immorality practiced in name of religious worship

contrast that with God’s model: husband to his wife (Hosea and Gomer), Bridgroom and Bride (Christ and his Church) – is it any wonder God is heartbroken over sin of his people

doesn’t take much imagination to recognize parallels with today across societal spectrum… even, sadly, inside what passes for the church

C. captivity, then restoration v.11

when God has his fill of evil, then is time for judgment… harvest-time – Gen. 6:5-7 (Flood) Gen. 15:16 (sin of Canaanites) Matt. 23:31-33 (Jews of Jesus’ day)

Eliphaz got it right: Job 4:8“Those who plow iniquity And sow trouble reap the same.” – true for Israel, God had appointed time when they would harvest evil they had sown

God’s plan for harvest/judgment would be carried out in their captivity

“The captivities of both Israel and Judah was the START of God’s plan of restoration! This is what is meant in this verse.”

removal of people from land “low point” of their existence – how could God’s plan of redemption continue with them in captivity?

fulfilling prophecy required a return, restoration to provide setting in which true Deliverer would appear – part of God’s plan from beginning

“hardening” is temporary – Rom. 11:25-27

even partial spiritual hardening present among Jews today will someday end – will only last “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in”

God still has plan for his ancient people but… redemption and restoration will not come about apart from Christ

God continues to grieve over his wayward people, continues to reach out to them and call them to repentance, call them to himself

Good reminder: God hasn’t given up on the lost, neither should we. God is grieved by the unbelief of the lost, the unfaithfulness of his people, and so should we.

Let Us Return

Hosea 6:1-3

Good to remember that living parable of Hosea and Gomer and the children came first. Sets tone for remainder of Hosea’s message to God’s rebellious people. Gomer was pursuing life of flagrant sinfulness, Hosea made honest woman out of her. Gomer played the part… for while, then ran away back to former lifestyle. God’s word silent on exactly how Hosea “recovered” Gomer – did he plead with her repeatedly to return, until finally situation so desperate Hosea went and rescued her? If so, should expect God to do same with his people – pleading with them over and over to see error of their ways, come back to one who genuinely has their best interests at heart.

So much of this portion of God’s word at odds with current philosophy, both inside and outside church. Modern definition of love would abandon Gomer to destructive choices – she was born that way, we don’t have right to tell her what to do/how to think. Contemporary methods of evangelism miss mark by wide margin also. Neither “4 Spiritual Laws” or “Romans Road” give clear definition of sin, mention eternal punishment in hell, identify repentance as turning from sin, necessity of obedience. Profound irony: “Have You Heard of the Four Spiritual Laws?” written by Bill Bright speaks of “physical laws that govern the physical universe” and “spiritual laws which govern your relationship with God” but never mentions the “law of God” as expression of God’s moral character and standard for our living.

Abstract of Liberty University Senior thesis (Joshua J. Kellogg)”The Four Spiritual Laws: An Analysis of Campus Crusade’s Method of Evangelism” begins this way – “The Four Spiritual Laws is a method of evangelism that has sold over one hundred million copies and has been translated into many different languages. This shows that the Four Spiritual Laws has been effective in its presentation of the Gospel.” Wow!

Apostle Paul had different idea about evangelism:

Acts 17:30-31 “Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent,because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.”

If we are to be useful to Lord of the Church, effectively present a biblical Gospel, must be clear on certain things: alternative to heaven is not death. Life stinks, then you die is preferable to many – e.g., assisted suicide. Repentance is not faith in Christ instead of self. Like Hosea, we can / should call others to repentance: showing them necessity of it, helping understand God’s word encourages it, providing individual encouragement to do so, declaring promises of blessing upon sincere repentance.

A. repentance is necessary v.1

call to repentance – 6:1; 12:6; 14:1-2 – even though God has already promised all sorts of bad stuff, has not given up on his people

keeps calling them back… through his word, by mouth of his “prophets” – those called to that office, others he has redeemed

he has torn

is a people who once experienced God’s abundant blessing – have had it torn away from them because of willful disobedience

especially true of Israel, applies to all mankind – everyone has experienced God’s provision on some level, have failed to respond properly to him for it… risk losing it

he has stricken

they were guilty of both failure to obey and active rebellion – did not honor God, did honor others in his place

pursuing all manner of things destructive to self and others (like Gomer), trying to fix self-induced ailments with own solutions

then factor in ailments God has brought on them… to demonstrate consequences of sin, to encourage to leave off sin, to make turning to God less painful than persisting in sin

by God’s decree/design pursuit of sin leads inevitably to death and destruction – absolutely no escape except by God’s appointed means

must do all we can to impress on the lost utter hopelessness of continuing in rebellion against God, and total lack of personal resources to fix problem

even though are angry with God, afraid of God, he is only one who can deliver… means they must turn to him and no other

whether recognize it or not, root problem is spiritual – rest of “issues” stem from improper relationship with God, need to fix root cause in order to make real progress on others

B. repentance is encouraged v.1-2

God promises real benefits for repentance – not a case of “do it because I say so” even though he has that prerogative

Yahweh, God of covenant, remains faithful to his side of the covenant even when his people do not… and he keeps reminding them/encouraging to come back

same is true for “first-time comers”, new to right relationship with God – is sense in which all are “offspring of God” (Acts 17:29)

call of the Gospel, call to repentance goes out to “all men everywhere” (Acts 17:30) – all who come will enjoy benefits

he will heal Isa. 53:5

will be a “day that the LORD bandages His people’s injuries and heals the wounds He inflicted.” (Isa. 30:26)

Anonymous: “What is the most expensive bed in the world? Sick bed… You can employ someone to drive the car for you, make money for you but you cannot have someone to bear the sickness for you.”

most important healing from one who did bear sickness for us – not kind the Pentecostals want us to claim but sin-sickness

may include physical healing… especially if that is means God uses to bring about repentance; yet, God chose not to heal Paul because affliction was better for him

he will bind up Isa. 61:1; Luke 4:18

Lord Jesus is one sent specifically to bind up brokenhearted – definitely an important aspect missing from modern evangelism

rest of Jesus’ message: good tidings to poor, liberty to captives, opening of prison to those who are bound

relevant only to those who recognize absolute poverty: have nothing to contribute to their own salvation

are hopelessly bound in sin, captive to desires, more confined and with less freedom than inmate in SuperMax

clear grasp of true nature of sin, its penalty, what was necessary for Substsitute to experience in order for healing results in broken heart / repentance

less than that minimizes profound nature of sinner’s need, Christ’s sacrifice – iow, it devalues the Gospel and its power

he will revive Rom. 8:11

look closely at those you strongly suspect are lost – how much real life do they show when they think no one is looking? dull eyes, blank or painted faces, quiet (or not so quiet) desperation, perhaps pain/weariness/sorrow

along with liberty comes life – God doesn’t grant repentance to dead people, gives life and liberty to follow in faith/obedience

presence of new life in Christ will be obvious in countenance, speech patterns, behaviors of the one who has repented

he will raise Eph. 2:5-6

God does not leave the one who repents wallowing in same circumstances; at same time, not magic wand presto-chango everything hunky-dory forever and ever

God will at least in part roll back consequences for sin that led to repentance – not immediately, but soon enough to encourage

note: this line a reminder to us of Jesus’ resurrection… and the incredible position/standing granted to believers by it – “raised us up together, and made us sit together in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus”

C. others need encouragement to repent v.1, 3

especially when means going outside comfort zone, “let’s go together” accomplishes way more than “you go”; besides, “us” fits the body model (1 Cor. 12) and “one another” concept in way that “you” doesn’t

let us return

need true view of need – conversion a one-time “event”, repentance is not: saved get headed in wrong direction at times

if we are sensitive to our own sinfulness, will be more effective in expressing need for repentance to others – less apt to come across as superior, more holy… iow, more genuine

let us know/acknowledge

need low view of self, result of proper view of God – another ongoing need… to acknowledge God’s greatness, our need

“we are prompted by our own ills to contemplate the good things of God; and we cannot seriously aspire to him before we begin to become displeased with ourselves….the knowledge of ourselves not only arouses us to seek God, but also, as it were, leads us by the hand to find him. Again, it is certain that man never achieves a clear knowledge of himself unless he has first looked upon God’s face, and then descends from contemplating him to scrutinize himself.” Calvin

let us pursue knowledge

need high view of Scripture to acquire genuine knowledge – “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are hidden in Christ

our sole access to true knowledge of God is through his word the Bible as illuminated and applied by his Spirit

when we seek God where he can be found, he will surely reveal himself and his wisdom to us – is as certain as sun coming up

D. sincere repentance results in blessing v.2,3

we may live (2b)

not simply live, “live in his sight” “live before him” — in his presence, under his watchful care/direction… for remainder of this life and all of the next

genuine repentance leads to eternal life that begins at moment of conversion and never ends

he is faithful (3b)

as certainly as dawn, as surely as seasons, so God is faithful to keep his promises – whatever guarantees are included in his covenant, we can count on

he will come (3c)

God meets us when we seek after him – could remain hidden, distant, unresponsive… but he comes surely and abundantly

What should we come away with from this text? Communicate a clear Gospel. Make sure it includes clear truth about sin and need for repentance. Promise exactly what God does. Appropriate this truth for yourself. Encourage one another by it. Be quick to turn from sin and turn to Christ, striving with his help to live in his presence pleasing to him.

A Disturbing Diagnosis

Hosea 5:1-15

Last week: Breaking All Bounds, nation of people willfully determined to have no externally imposed rules. Not only knowingly breaking laws, trying to remove or redefine remaining laws so as to allow / enable their sin. Are even foundational elements present w/i professed Christian community – strong proponents of 2nd amendment, homeschool activists, for example. “I won’t have someone else threaten me, I won’t have them rule over my children” at times the underlying mindset. Must be sure are doing right thing for right reasons, ones that do not lead into sin.

Many parallels between current culture – ideas, behaviors, desires – not least being corruption and evil behavior in high places: “Her rulers dearly love dishonor.” (Hos. 4:18) God’s answer: hands-off approach.

May be where we’re at in this country, God has taken away restraints, letting nation go its merry way to hardship and eventual destruction.”

All-knowing Creator supplies his evaluation, A Disturbing Diagnosis – what is and what will be for rebellious people. According to God’s design, are unforeseen, often invisible consequences for persistently sinful behavior. Yet throughout God remains steadfast, never deviating from his eternal character. This kind of material from Bible serves number of useful purposes:

– display God’s overwhelming unfailing love for his people in the face of their rejection of him

– reminder of where child of God came from, what he / she has been spared since conversion

– accurate insight into fallen human condition, equipping for better interaction with unbelievers

Divine assessment of his wayward people: they are unable to change, unable to find what they seek, unable to be cured by their choice of treatment. Good news, though: sickness not necessarily terminal. Finally, knowing this… how we should respond.

A. unable to change v.1-4

opening burst: identifies defendants – everyone! All entities within Jewish society: priests, house of Israel, house of the king

Martin Luther, 1539, On the Councils and the Churches – “The first government is that of the house, out of which come people. The second is the ruling of the city, that is, lands, people, princes, and lords, which we call worldly government. There everything is given, children, property, money, beasts, etc. The house must build this; the city must guard, protect, and defend it. Then comes the third thing, God’s own house and city, that is, the Church, which must have people from the house and protection and defense from the city. These are the three hierarchies ordained by God, and we need no more; indeed we have enough and more than enough to do in living aright and resisting the devil in these three.”

God levels his charges against all three “hierarchies” or institutions – in one or more ways, all were complicit in rebellion that had overtaken the land: leading rebellion, following leaders, giving approval by silence

ones in front knee-deep in slaughter, have greater responsibility because of greater sin, but all come under God’s discipline

no innocent bystanders caught in firefight, no casualties from friendly fire – God’s discipline based on his perfect comprehensive knowledge… nothing hidden from God’s view, including thoughts/desires/motives

good reminder to true believers: don’t stay silent, make voice count in all ways available – conversation, influence, vote

so what’s the deal? have heard truth, confronted by it, know what the Bible says but persist in going their own way in spite of it – sound familiar??

see Jer. 13:23Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the leopard his spots? Then also you can do good who are accustomed to do evil.”

as though the Prophet said, “They are entirely enslaved by their own diabolical inventions, that their inclinations will not allow them to repent.” Calvin

sinful behavior not innocent mistake, something done out of sincere ignorance – comes from mind that is polarized against God

can maybe grasp biblical truth intellectually but… will not embrace it because doesn’t make sense, doesn’t “fit” their situation

in their own strength, cannot clean themselves up and turn to God – are committed to present way of thinking and doing

may through sheer willpower and discipline conform to some external standard (AA, 12-step) – not equal to turning to God

will stay that way until God intervenes and releases from bondage to sin, removes blindness to spiritual truth

how does understanding this change how we converse with unsaved? – ok to remind them of God’s standard of right and wrong

but… need to go beyond “turn your life around” and get to “turn to God” – crying out to God for help is only sufficient long-term solution for persistent sinful rebellion

need to do same in our prayers – go beyond asking God to “help them do right” and get to “convert them, deliver from slavery”

B. unable to find v.5-10

problem actually goes beyond borders of Israel, includes Judah as well; not just American or Canadian or German problem

pride, arrogance ailment common to mankind regardless of geopolitical boundaries, ethnicity; all apart from God suppress truth

pride shows up whenever individual – justifies sinful action or falling short of God’s standard; persists in going own way

“The Prophet here laughs to scorn the hypocrisy of the people, because they thought they had ready at hand a way of dealing with God, which was, to pacify him with their sacrifices.” Calvin

is right about hypocrisy – put coins in machine, turn handle, treats come out – trying to treat God same way, expecting results

not sure about “laughs to scorn” – think Hosea more likely profoundly saddened by truth he was compelled to express

people so thoroughly deceived: thought if they went to church on Sunday, dressed decent, carried Bible, sang all the hymns, said “Amen” in right places, God would respond as usual

instead, they went to church but God never showed up… on purpose – those who seek God only for his benefits will not find him; that would be deceptive, encourage wrong thinking about God

means we need to be careful how we pray for needy unbelievers, what we tell them; don’t want to encourage thinking: God will listen to Christian when they pray for me and I’ll be good

go beyond “I’ll pray for you” and get to “I’ll pray that as you turn to Christ, you will find all your needs met in him”

looking with wrong motives

were simply trying to use the formula to keep one more god pacified, off their back; had no intention of giving up idol-worship, even knowing it displeased true God

not finding God doesn’t mean he is uninvolved; willful unfaithfulness like Gomer’s adultery eventually brings serious consequences – God would judge their sin in his time and way

C. unable to cure v.11-13

direct one-for-one correlation: oppressed and crushed under judgment because determined to pursue human wisdom

judgment not all they deserved; God’s intention to correct their behavior, not destroy them – desired repentance, not retribution

consequences could be fatal, would have symptoms – if ignored or treated wrongly, would eventually destroy

moths in the closet show signs of their presence – holes; if not “evicted”, will eventually destroy clothing

rot in wooden structure displays symptoms: stains, sags, odor; can be removed, building salvaged; will do irreparable damage if ignored, left untreated

know they’re sick, go to wrong doctor

even if didn’t know precise nature of need (that’s debatable!), did know who they should not go to for any kind of help

pattern throughout entire history: true God the only one they needed to go to for help, never to idolatrous foreign nation

time is of essence, terminal illness, needs right attention right quick – Pastor Ron, admitted Monday, surgery Wednesday, estimated 2 months without intervention… by medical personnel with necessary skills

most obvious symptoms of Ephraim/Judah’s sickness external ones – all sorts of hardships, threats from enemies – yet root cause a spiritual one

no power on earth capable of bringing about true spiritual healing that results in total cure – only one true God has necessary resources; other powers maybe address symptoms but can never cure

D. until…confession and repentance v.14-15

God will not stay hidden forever, only until they acknowledge guilt

God will bring judgment, God will oversee/orchestrate their punishment, God will remain withdrawn and hidden until reach turning point

human nature being what it is, won’t stop trying own/human solution until gets too painful… or becomes impossible to continue – come to end of human resources, have no other option but God

as difficult as it is to see unsaved people we care about experiencing serious hardship, often is precise thing God uses to turn them back to him

God is just, sin must be punished; however, God’s greater desire is confession, repentance and restoration to full fellowship

should be our goal also – not simply pain relief but real cure – confession of sin and turning back to God, seeking him for himself

promise still stands: the one who seeks God diligently with sincere heart and motive, intending to follow him, will find him

E. the Christian’s response

patient compassion for the sinner, righteous anger about consequences of their sin (harm they cause to others)

remember: “there but for the grace of God…” and they are just as helpless as we to way of thinking and living… even though they should – God’s law applies regardless of ability or desire (even most hardened sinner doesn’t have to be that bad)

whatever compassion we show to them should be designed to lead them to Christ, not enable them to remain comfortable in sin

requires great wisdom and discernment – depend entirely on God and fellow believers for guidance in those areas

pray the hard prayer: whatever it takes to bring to faith in Christ; anything less is eternal death sentence!

Breaking All Bounds

Hosea 4:1-19

Lots of moaning and groaning – things going from bad to worse in country. Let’s bring God back to Washington, etc. Yes, things have changed, but… Has to do more with the practice of evil than percentage of evildoers. Number of restraints have been relaxed – cultural, legal, religious – and so outward behavior more closely follows inward condition. Add to that the snowball effect – as restraints come down, evildoers tear down additional ones and wrongdoing proliferates.

Examples abound, not limited to USA. For example, article written by individuals in Netherlands and Belgium:

Organ donation after euthanasia has been performed more than 40 times in Belgium and the Netherlands together. Preliminary results of procedures that have been performed until now demonstrate that this leads to good medical results in the recipient of the organs.

…The dead donor rule states that donation should not cause or hasten death. Since a patient undergoing euthanasia has chosen to die, it is worth arguing that the no-touch time [the wait between cardiac arrest and procurement] could be skipped . . . contributing to the quality of the transplanted organs. It is even possible to extend this argument to a ‘heart-beating organ donation euthanasia’ where a patient is sedated, after which his organs are being removed, causing death.”

Published in international peer-reviewed periodical… Journal of Medical Ethics.

God could level same charge against much of world including America as he brought against Israel. Application not as obvious in previous generations as now because of outward conformity. But remember this: Gen. 6:5-7Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.So the LORD said, “I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth, both man and beast, creeping thing and birds of the air, for I am sorry that I have made them.”

True, don’t have to fear worldwide flood again… but notice underlying reason for flood: “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. Must remember also that God acts in his time and way. Promise of no flood not equal to promise of no consequences for evil. Several categories of defendant here: guilty people, priests and prophets, guilty politicians – and for all, God has a plan.

A. guilty people v.1-3

Hosea as bailiff, God serves as: Judge, prosecutor, plaintiff

all rise, hear the word of the Lord – calling court to order, charges about to be read and accused need to hear so as to respond

defendants identified: “inhabitants of the land” – legal action taken against entire group; entire nation on trial before God himself

the charge (1b)

people as a whole have broken covenant with malice aforethought – the thoughts and intentions behind a wrongful act (including knowledge that the act is illegal)

specific charge: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God”, clear violation of covenant expectations found in Ten Commandments

breach of nearly every Commandment itemized in remainder of chapter and, as find out next verse, all wilfully

man, especially God’s people, created in his image are expected to be image bearers – displaying character of God in all areas of life, especially those aspects particularly related to covenant

“truth or mercy” NKJV “faithfulness or steadfast love, loyal love” – what God communicated in his Name to Moses

to rightly display God’s character requires knowledge of God and his ways, acknowlegment of him as rightful King

the evidence (2)

swearing: #3 – “You shall not take the name of the LORD your God in vain”; lying: #9 – “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.”; killing: #6 – “You shall not murder”; stealing: #8 – “You shall not steal”‘ committing adultery: #7 – “You shall not commit adultery”

break all restraint: knowing the law, refuse to be bound by it, wilfully doing what know to be wrong and pile it up… sin upon sin

primarily sin against others, sin against God enumerated later; likely would be first to cry “injustice”, claim to be working for social justice in community

the sentence (3)

serious hardship, at least withdrawal of God’s blessing… perhaps active punishment from God making conditions more severe

had promised blessing for obedience (Deut. 28:1ff), had also promised cursing for disobedience (Deut. 28:15ff), 1 to 3 ratio of blessing to cursing

summary, the case “in brief”, applies to all people with details to follow

pretty much the opening remarks as prosecutor lays out case against defendant – basics of charge, summary of evidence, sentence that will be requested

B. guilty priests and prophets v.4-10

my case is against you priests” (4)

spiritual leaders who should be setting good example no better than the rest – in fact, were leading the way directly contrary to God and his word

those who should be proclaiming truth that leads to knowledge of God had abandoned it; without truth, no basis for morality – remember time of Judges, “everyone did what was right in his own eyes” (Judges 21:25)

prophets have not done their job either (5)

both prophet and priest stumbling around in darkness of spiritual night – ones charged with bringing light to dark places contributing to spiritual darkness

putting all of soceity at risk: prophets primary target often political and cultural leaders, priests responsible for church and family – would result ultimately in destruction of nation

rejected (wilfully forgotten) the law (6)

people do not have knowledge of God or acknowledge God because spiritual leaders have rejected what they know to be true

refuse to acknowledge truth of God’s law (the Bible) consequently refuse obedience – by word and deed encourage same in people, enable them to sin with less impact on conscience

embraced sin (7-8)

things led to things – more priests must mean doing right thing so lets do more; encouraged people in their sin who encouraged priests in theirs, and around we go

because lifestyle catered to desires, encouraged people to continue idolatry so priests would not have to give up their sin

like people, like priest (9-10)

no one is immune – when spiritual leaders fail to obey God, can be just as immoral and corrupt as worst heathen

reward for both regardless of vocation – pursuit of pleasures will not satisfy, none of plans to prosper will work: needed to learn only true God satisfies and supplies

C. guilty practice v.11-13, 15

spiritual unfaithfulness (11-13)

pursuing wrong thing leads to irrational thinking, enslavement – become dependent on things that only increase dependence

drugs of whatever form – substances, sex, thrills – require larger portion to provide same pleasure that lasts for shorter time

same is true of idols – always require greater sacrifice for no result; what takes place that belongs to true God… that is the idol

probably in view here: both spiritual “immorality” and actual – unfaithfulness to God, chasing after other gods a form of promiscuity (adultery, harlotry)

and, nature of idolatry practiced included sexually immoral behavior as part of worship; behaviors spilled over into daily life

learn from your siblings (15)

just because neighbors, former brothers and sisters, behaving sinfully and maybe appear to prosper, don’t fall for illusion

applies to Christians and the church today – don’t get sucked in to wrong ways of doing church and life because professing Christians “do it”, try to persuade you it’s ok

D. guilty politicians v.17a, 18-19

the whole nation (Ephraim) including leaders (17a)

get the impression Hosea might be nearly the only voice speaking truth, reason in nation completely corrupt; certainly only small remnant of faithful left

corrupted desires as well as action (18)

“dearly love their shameful behavior” – so much so they refuse to give it up, instead pursue with vigor and intensity

primary characteristic of behavior – rebellion: willfully going contrary to what they know the law to be, redefining if necessary

“sow the wind and reap the whirlwind” (Hos 8:7)

Chris’s birthday cake – reach a point where takes on life of its own, becomes uncontrollable unless God somehow intervenes

E. God’s plan v.14, 16, 17b

I will not correct

in this case, God purposes not to intervene – they are doing wrong, people are gonna get hurt, God will not hinder or correctc

let them forage

seems like good deal – wide open spaces, no boundaries, that’s what they want anyway, so God opens door

problem is: lambs are totally defenseless… and dimwitted – will not “stay safe”, cannot provide for own needs, will get into serious trouble without any bounds

God’s actions here are punishment, not reward; keep in mind, with people and nations, God sometimes lets them have their heads

let him alone

to make sure punishment is effective, God warns off all who might intervene and try to minimize effects; God wants them to feel full weight of consequences

May be where we’re at in this country, God has taken away restraints, letting nation go its merry way to hardship and eventual destruction. Whether he has or not, we must be good lambs, follow the Good Shepherd wherever he leads.

 

Honey, Come Back

Hosea 3:1-5

Misconceptions abound: nature of love, marriage relationships, ordo salutis. Each have place in what is pictured in this chapter of Hosea. Each are so closely connected with human experience, have little difficulty relating to events and emotions undergone by Hosea and Gomer. Like with many other things, must not fall into trap Professor Kaman set – which came first, chicken or egg? In relation to our text, which is first in importance: details of Hosea and Gomer’s life or what it represents?

Strong temptation for many to pull this chapter out of Hosea, slap it down in middle of “marriage encounter weekend” or a pastoral counseling session. Overwhelming use of text is to apply it to human relationships, evils of immorality, male headship in the home, and the like. That is categorically NOT how God intended it to be used when he spoke to Hosea. There is application in principle for sure, but… marital relationships is absolutely wrong starting place. When we give in to temptation to focus on that primarily/exclusively, we set up wrong standard and insult God in process.

We do that all the time – confuse the example with the standard. Can and should: set proper example, follow good examples. Goal should not be achieve to level of example set for us (Jesus excepted, of course). Goal should be to follow example so we achieve level of standard. Let me explain: we should set good example for others, they should be able to follow our example and strive toward standard Christ set. Same is true for Hosea and Gomer – is much we can learn from them about human relationships, is much more we should learn about a more significant relationship/person.

What is of prime importance – what God is saying / Hosea and Gomer are showing about God’s love for his people. Three things we learn from Hosea and Gomer’s story: God’s love is purposeful and sacrificial; is unconditional; seeks after good of others.

A. God commands Hosea to love Gomer again v.1 — God’s love is purposeful and sacrificial

Hosea told to intentionally set his love once again on someone presently not very lovable, in fact right now very unlovable

all indications: they stood for opposing values – devoted and faithful vs. disloyal and mercenary; valuing the relationship vs. focused on tangible benefits

Hosea not given simple command to go get a wife, not even go get his wife back; specific and direct: go love a woman

go show love to person who presently is showing utter disregard for you, consumed with someone else instead; don’t base relationship on her response

should not overlook seriousness of Gomer’s actions – compounded sin that is an affront to everyone including God – rejection of covenant, pursuit of other lovers, and prostitution

yes, it is adultery, but is far worse – adultery for hire, that continues while being pursued by rightful lover

God makes explicitly clear to Hosea, all those watching, everyone who reads prophecy – here’s what this human drama is really about: Hosea is to act toward Gomer just as God acts toward his people

human story is picture of real story, and… is our story as well – the story of hope, the story of redemption played out between God and each one of his children

no sinner pursued by God is any less sinful than Gomer – in fallen condition, will pursue idols and pleasures while rejecting God

sad part is: all just as oblivious to truth as Gomer, just as consumed with love for what is destructive, just as determined to follow own way apart from God, just as unlovable, just as unwilling and unable to change circumstances

God sets love on individuals purposefully, for reasons known only to him; does so knowing what price will have to be paid for their redemption, what will be required to gain their loyalty

God does all necessary, making all the moves, pursuing each individual; does not allow personal affront to overrule purposeful love; defers justice while continuing to act in loving mercy

B. Hosea restores Gomer as his wife v.2-3 — God’s love is unconditional… sort of – conditioned only on gracious attitude of one loving

big issue today: human trafficking, trade in human beings that involves some form of exploitation… economic, sexual, other

in many ways is form of slavery, is serious problem, not anything new; has really been around since the Garden

Satan exploits those enslaved to him, using them to further his evil agenda, selling from one agent to another w/i closed system

paid her ransom

half in money, half in produce = price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver; perhaps Hosea’s financial circumstances such that it took all his money, some of his food to cover her ransom

was determined to release her from slavery whatever the personal cost, not conditioned on any positive response to his advances

emphasize: purpose is to release from slavery, not transfer ownership from one slave-driver to another; is paying price of freedom

notice any parallel here?? value placed on Gomer’s freedom equiv. 30 pieces of silver; value placed on one who freed us from slavery… the same

four expectations

1 – remain at home

first thing necessary for faithfulness – contentment; really the opposite of what happened as result of Fall… frustrated desire

all too often attitude even among Christians – that one over there looks just a little better, more desirable, more satisfying

contentment something we learn – in dependence on God, he helps his child learn the wisdom and goodness of His provision

one effective way to learn: be required to restrict attention to what is good, have no exposure to what might tempt – stay at home, not forever, just for many days, until learned to devote all attention to one who redeemed

2 – reject prostitution

exclusive relationship here, no “God shelf” mentality – God expects undivided loyalty, that his child will abandon old life

David prayed for undivided heart – Psa. 86:11Teach me Your way, O LORD; I will walk in Your truth; Unite my heart to fear Your name.

one of most difficult things for someone “starting over” – do what is right while surrounded by reminders of old life; former sinful desires usually don’t immediately disappear

second component of repentance – turning to something, being devoted to it, requires rejection of what is turned away from

not simply “going back home”, taking up right lifestyle while still attempting to maintain ties with old ways

Paul instructs “put off… put on” – Eph. 4:22, 24put off, concerning your former conduct, the old man which grows corrupt according to the deceitful lusts …and that you put on the new man which was created according to God, in true righteousness and holiness.”

3 – regain proper focus

what is really important often cannot be recognized because bright and shiny promises of the world interfere

Gomer was pursuing what she thought would satisfy her desires, primarily considering what was obvious on surface

only when all that was taken away could she come to understand her real need, recognize what of substsance would meet her need

just like an addict (regardless of “substance”) – convinced the substance is what they need, what will satisfy, nothing else will do, always takes more to maintain same level of pleasure

withdrawal is tough, painful, may think you’re gonna die and probably wish you had before it’s over, but is absolutely essential for “recovery”

not simply substituting something less harmful, even good, in place of what would destroy – needed change of worldview

had been pursuing perceived benefits without concern for relationship with benefactor – that had to change

4 – recognize grace – for her good, not his pleasure

Hosea didn’t buy Gomer back for his own benefit; most people would say “if that’s how she’s gonna be, good riddance!”

purchase out of slavery intended to keep her from self-destructing – no one leaves off consuming sinful behavior without outside intervention

sometimes God uses human agents as part of his rescue operation, he always is personally involved – of necessity and desire

Hosea could have commissioned agent to do the deal – instead wanted Gomer to see extent of personal love for her

God does the same – he redeems his people from slavery because he loves them, not for how they will benefit him

were no preconditions – gotta hit bottom first, ask for help, show sincerity, start cleanup: God at time of his choosing went and got her, was hers to respond to his purposeful, sacrificial, unconditional love

C. The illustration is applied to Israel v.4-5 — God’s love seeks after good of others

many days without, but there is hope… afterward

probably two large scenes in view here: Babylonian captivity and subsequent return, captivity in sin and deliverance by Messiah

is message with serious consequences: will be extended period of being subject to whims of earthly rulers, spiritual drought

doesn’t end there: afterward, will be time of blessing, experiencing and desiring God and his goodness – strong message of encouragement and hope

message of hope applied to ancient Israel, to all the “children of Israel” – remember Jacob’s name changed at wrestling match

those who have same faith as Israel/Jacob considered his true descendants (Rom. 9:6-8), can take courage from God’s promise

consider how far into sin Israel went – rejecting God and embracing false gods, assimilating all their sinful practices – and still God loved them

God hasn’t changed – is still pursuing his people, down to very bottom of barrel of sin, redeeming and establishing them in relationship with him

God’s love as expressed on world stage has his own glory in view and is displayed/directed to bring about good for his people

This scene in drama of Hosea shows clearly how God works in salvation: no mention made of Gomer having interest or desire to go back home. Gomer wasn’t looking toward home, on her own she never would; instead would have rebelliously persisted in trying to satisfy herself her way. Only reason for change in her life/heart – her Redeemer made first and all the other moves. He was initiator and director in each step of her redemption, and if verse 5 is any indication, she responded… appropriately.

Same is true for one lost in sin – will stay forever lost unless loving God makes the moves. Once he makes those moves, as soon as fog of sin is sufficiently lifted sinner will respond to God’s love. That God loves and redeems his children sufficient reason for us to proclaim his truth to any / all who will listen. Perhaps God will be pleased to use us as he did Hosea, his agents to participate in his work of saving sinners.

 

Restored to Favor

Hosea 2:14-23

Most of the time, news is not good – “they’re separated, you know”. Assume that before long, will be followed by rest of the story including divorce. Every once in a while, doesn’t work out that way – what seemed headed for sad end turns out positively. God is pleased to restore a marriage that were sure would fail. What are necessary ingredients for that kind of happy ending?

Must be change of direction by at least one of parties, also needs to be change of affection. The one(s) moving away need to move toward the other. And the one(s) whose affection was directed away must purpose to set affection on the other… and receive their affection in return. In human relationships, change is often needed on both parts, at the same time, toward the same goal: reconciliation and restoration. And so frequently, both he and she refuse to make the first move.

Not so with God, and his emissary Hosea. They each rightly could have said “not my fault, I’m not moving; she’s gotta come back.” Yet neither did that. God is center stage in our text this evening, Hosea in chapter 3 next week. Is God who makes the moves, takes the initiative, Gomer/Israel who responds. As drama unfolds, we see love restored, marriage put back together, covenant once again in force, and return to place/time of blessing.

Is important to keep in mind: just because “therefore” written in sequence of three, does not necessarily mean first, then second, then third. In fact, rather than sequential actions, all three probably simultaneous – as God of necessity bringing discipline to bear on his people, at same time seeking to persuade them to return to him. As soon as they will respond in repentance, corrective action will end while restoration continues. For Israel’s restoration to even be possible, God must make first move. For Gomer to come back home, Hosea must go and woo her back, redeeming her from slavery if necessary (see ch. 3!)

A. restored love v.14-15

surprise! were expecting more consequences/corrective discipline, weren’t you?? instead, turns into display of God’s irresistible affection

 I will allure her

 begins with language of courtship – using variety of means to persuade “her” that I want her to be exclusively mine and I will be exclusively hers

 had already said – Ex. 6:7I will take you as My people, and I will be your God. Then you shall know that I am the LORD your God who brings you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians.”

 notice: God does this after Israel had broken his heart by breaking trust, rejecting him, going back to previous lovers

 I will bring into the wilderness

 no distractions, no alternatives – her false lovers take her away from what is good so can take away what is good from her

 true lover takes away from what is destructive, puts in safe temporary surroundings – makes possible to have undivided attention, bring about change of mind / priorities / loyalties

 human nature such that individual often unable to see situation clearly while still in it – need change of circumstances to be able to reorient and move in right direction

 is this also God’s way of announcing an upcoming renewal of vows? was there in wilderness where covenant w/Israel instituted

 I will speak tenderly (comfort) – literally “speak to her heart”

 God’s intention to win her back – nothing in what he says or tone of voice that shows displeasure; not bringing up her past to shame into change of behavior

 not the setting for condemnation; instead, words of tender compassion and encouragement seeking to bring about repentance

 is the kind of conversation, may be mostly one-sided, includes lots of unspoken language; results in change of thinking, feeling, believing

 I will give (return) vineyards

 hopeless situation turned into future and hope – promise of return to productivity as soon as corrective discipline has achieved goal

 is significant that was God who took away vines and fig trees, is God who returns them; did not expect her to find her own

 true for us also: if we pursue goals instead of God and he withdraws his blessing, only God can restore; our best efforts will come up short

 here’s part we don’t like… but should be immense comfort: “I will make the Valley of Trouble a door of hope”

 there is way out of the valley, and it leads to hope – you in valley of trouble? if you are following God, a door of hope ahead

 know someone who is in valley of trouble? perhaps of similar making as Gomer’s? encourage them to seek God and his door of hope

 she will sing

 joyful response – brought about by God speaking to her heart, convincing that there is genuine hope of forgiveness and reconciliation

 are some who wear “I’m too far gone for God to save” as medal to pride; are others Satan has convinced with that lie – need to hear deliverance is possible to one who repents

 backslidden believer or new convert, both rejoice when no longer enemies of God, no longer under weight of his displeasure

 B. restored marriage v.16-17

 call me husband

 given past behavior, might think it enough to bring the unfaithful wife back home, in the back door, let her sleep on the couch

 not good enough for God – not his intent to transfer her from one form of servitude to another; he intended full reconciliation

 restores her to position of full favor; doesn’t put her on probation, expecting her to work her way back into his good graces

 no pre-conditions for renewed fellowship: come back and earn trust again, reestablish a track record, then I will…

 no longer master

 yes, Paul writes in Rom. 6 about slaves of sin vs. slaves of righteousness, slaves of God – don’t for moment think is same kind of slavery in both relationships

 we are slaves of God because he is the one we obey; however, the full scope of our relationship with God not that of slaves

 slavery Gomer/Israel experienced was that of hopeless bondage from which only One could redeem – has been God’s intent all along to redeem his people from bondage to sin, from ruined condition

 no more remembered

 sometimes memories of previous lifestyle / treatment can be paralyzing, debilitating; when God delivers, he also sanctifies memories

 remember lessons, use them to help others and praise God; no longer remember fondly, wistfully, with desire to return

 once God has done that, those memories/relationships/choices don’t need to be obstacles in the marriage any longer

 C. restored covenant v.18-20

 relationship broken by sinful behavior restored

 covenant back in force – obviously more in view here than simply marriage covenant, yet includes that: once she calls him Husband again, no reason for covenant conditions to be withheld

 has broader application – includes nature and government

 God not looking only at present conditions, has future firmly in view – what is pictured here is restoration to fuller blessing than what they enjoyed earlier

 promise of peace

 certainly within context of covenant family there should be peace – foreshadowing and foretaste of what still lies in the future

 permanent restoration based on God’s benevolence

 not based on Gomer coming to her senses, choosing to come back home; Gomer not the one taking the initiative, God is

 given behavior, God would have been justified in permanent rejection; instead he chooses permanent reconciliation – why??

 I will commit myself to you forever; I will commit myself to you in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and tender compassion.I will commit myself to you in faithfulness.”

 has greater fulfillment in New Covenant (v.20b); remember Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, more in a minute

 one of conditions promised in New Covenant period: Jer. 31:33-34I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. No more shall every man teach his neighbor, and every man his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them, says the LORD.”

 changes seen and experienced now foreshadow full restoration in new heavens and earth

 rollback of effects of curse on relationship between man and nature something foreseen by Paul: Rom. 8:21creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God”

 D. restored blessing v.21-23

 following renewal of vows, God gives “wedding gifts” to his bride again

 conversation between God and heaven and earth to begin their “normal” activities again under his sovereign direction

 earth and sky cooperate and produce

 all that was taken away as part of corrective discipline now restored and more – new level of cooperation and production… these are “special” gifts after all

 God’s blessing accompanies renewed productivity

 God’s people fruitful also – he will plant them as his own, and what God plants also produces according to his wise design

 as profitable and productive as their trip into worldly lifestyle, can’t hold a candle to what takes place under God’s blessing

 includes gracious renaming

 looks forward 750 years to Gentile inclusion – Rom. 9:23-26 Paul declares including Gentiles in the church what God refers to

 Throughout whole scene, is clear God had specific purpose in mind as he engaged his people Israel. That purpose included Jewish people of OT but was by no means limited to them. His covenant with Abram foretold blessing for Jew and Gentile alike, reinforced here in Hosea. If we are to receive God’s blessing, experience his favor, must be exclusively devoted to him – seeking to have him satisfy our needs and desires. When we do, can expect him to keep his word, pour out abundant blessing on us.