I began a six week sermon series on the book of Hosea this past Sunday. I will be sharing thoughts on the book of Hosea with six different blog posts. Here is Part 1: The Covenant Love of God.
1 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. 2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, j“Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People,2 for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And sin the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
- Author: Hosea (perhaps had a scribe help him)
- Date: Approximately 750 BC
- State of affairs for Israel at the time of Hosea:
- Hosea ministered about 200 years after the division of Israel. The divide took place approximately 930 BC and it was a division between north and south Israel. The ten northern tribes made up Israel or sometimes called Ephraim. The two southern tribes were Judah and Benjamin and they formed the nation of Judah.
- Hosea’s ministry took place when the northern kingdom of Israel was once again prospering and doing very well economically. The problem was that they were far from God. The people were focused on their money, their comforts, and they became very immoral. Does it sound like another country that you know of?
- In order to understand the book of Hosea it is important to understand that Israel was in a covenant relationship with God. In Exodus 19:5 we read this, “Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine.”
We are in grave danger of forgetting that we are part of a divine love story
There is a danger that we face today. We can study and jump from bible study to bible study and actually forget that our Christian faith is all about a love story. God has gone to great lengths to be in a personal, intimate relationship with us. He wants much more than for us to be learning about him, he wants us to grow when it comes to experiencing and loving him.
Did God really tell Hosea, a prophet, to marry an immoral woman?
In verse 2 God makes it really clear, Hosea is to marry a whore to be his wife. It is meant to be shocking! It is meant to make us sit up and wonder ‘what in the world is going on?’ There is no doubt that Gomer was a sexually immoral woman before she married Hosea. She might have even served as a temple prostitute in a local cult religion. So the answer is, yes, God did command his prophet, Hosea, to marry an immoral woman.
What was the point of telling Hosea to marry Gomer?
Hosea 1:2 gives us the reason God tells Hosea to marry Gomer. “…for the land commits whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” God is using the marriage between Hosea and Gomer to reveal that Israel had committed spiritual adultery against him. God’s people were being unfaithful regarding their covenant relationship with God. What do we learn from this?
1- God is revealing that there are consequences for our sin. This is not a popular teaching in our enlightened, progressive culture today. Hosea and Gomer have three children and they are given very strange names (Jezreel=judgment, Lo-Ruhamah=no mercy and Lo-Ammi=not my people). What God is doing through the naming of these three children is telling the nation of Israel, telling you and me, that to continue in sin will bring pain and suffering. God was warning his people but they would not repent. 30 years after these three children were born God raised up the violent nation of Assyria to bring absolute devastation to the people of Israel.
2- Certainly we learn that God’s heart is absolutely broken over the fact that his people pursue other lovers. Think for a moment how you would feel if your spouse was continually unfaithful to you?
3- We also learn that God’s love knows no boundaries. Hosea in many ways reminds me of the story of the prodigal son in the gospels. The younger son has left his father and lives a blatantly rebellious, immoral life. Yet at the end of the story we find that the father is running towards his son because his great grace and love. This gives us sinners great hope to know that we are loved like this. Plus, it motivates us to love people like Gomer in our everyday life. We love the misfits and sinners in our culture because we too have received God’s amazing grace.
We are Gomer
We might be tempted to shake our head at Gomer and secretly wonder how she could be so immoral. If that is as far as we get when it comes to thinking about Gomer we have missed the point of the story. In this story Hosea represents Jesus and Gomer represents the church (you and me). Go ahead and say it, ‘I am Gomer’. I know it is true in my life. In a million different ways I pursue other priorities, passions, and make God second in my life. Spiritual adultery is something we are all guilty of. Spiritual adultery is not just something we do or an act that we commit. First and foremost spiritual adultery happens when we love something, or someone, more than we love Christ.
- What are you passionate about?
- What do you talk about?
- What do you think about the most?
- What are you known for by the people that know you best?
- What worries you or makes you anxious?
The answers to these questions may go a long way revealing false loves (idols) in our life.
A better love is available to us
This chapter ends with good news. In verse 11 we read this, “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.”
Hosea is prophesying that there will be ‘one head’ in the future. This is a reference to the fact that Jesus Christ will one day, approximately 750 years later, arrive on earth. Jesus, our Messiah, was prophesied of old and one of his many names was Immanuel (God is with us). Jesus is the fulfillment of these two verses, and Jesus is the one to whom you and I can have a deep, intimate, loving relationship.
*The video and sermon outline came from Irving Bible Church. The sermon(s) I preach are mine!
“Now the birth of Jesus Christ took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit.” -Matthew 1:18
Does the incarnation inform and teach us about the mystery of Jesus Christ being both God and man?
Does the incarnation give us an example of how we are to live as followers of Jesus Christ?
I think the answer to both questions is yes.
The gospel makes absolutely no sense if Jesus was not both God and man. The incarnation is a core doctrine of the Christian faith. Hebrews 9:11-14 makes it clear that our sins are atoned for because of the shed “blood of Christ”. The shedding of blood requires humanity. But this blood has the power to atone for all sins for all time precisely because Jesus was God. The incarnation informs and teaches us about the nature of Jesus and how he needed to be both God and man for his sacrificial work on the cross to be redemptively effective.
The incarnation also gives us some clues about how the body of Jesus Christ (the church) should conduct itself in the world today. Paul says in Philippians 2:4-8, “Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.” Paul is telling us to look at the birth of Jesus Christ and use it as an example of how we are to live.
Paul is not saying that we can “do incarnation.” Only Jesus Christ, as God-man, can do incarnation. Although we as mere humans can not duplicate the incarnation we can and should emulate the humility that Jesus demonstrated through his birth (God becoming a baby, scandalous marriage, poor, running from the law, etc…).
A few questions to consider this Christmas season…
Jesus came to earth as a weak, vulnerable baby. He came to serve others and die so that others may live. How should this impact the way that you approach everyday life?
Jesus boldly went into the broken, sinful, and dangerous world that He created. Jesus was not obsessed with personal comfort and safety. How should this challenge the love affair many American Christians have with safety and comfort?
Have you ever communicated the story of Christmas as an exciting rescue mission that Jesus went on to save all those who are lost in their sins? How might this change the way our kids think about Christmas?
How does the incarnation challenge the the tendency that the American church has to sit back and wait for people to show up on Sunday morning?
How might the truths of the incarnation of Jesus Christ lead you into a deep sense of gratitude and worship this Christmas season?
I have come to understand that there is not one passage of Scripture, Old or New Testament, that makes any sense unless it is seen in the light of Jesus Christ. I might be able to unpack and explain a passage in Ruth, but unless I see it’s connection to the gospel I will fail to understand it fully or have the power to live it out in daily life.
With that said, I find myself enjoying the Gospel Transformation Bible. Here is an excerpt from the introduction (viii)…
It is important to remember that the ‘redemption’ component of biblical history begins unfolding long before the crucifixion narrative in the Gospels. The Bible reveals the dawning light of redemption near the very beginning. Immediately after Adam’s and Eve’s sin, God says to the one who tempted them, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel” (Gen 3:15). Bible scholars refer to this verse as the “first gospel.” It is God’s first promise to redeem his world and people-broken by Adam’s sin-by the divine provision of One who would come through a human source to defeat Satan while also suffering an awful attack from him.
This early verse in Genesis sets the stage for all that follows in the Bible. The rest of human history will be played out on this stage. Thus, every piece of Scripture that follows has a redemptive context. Our goal as Bible readers who are interpreting as God intends is not to try to make Jesus magically appear in every text, but to show where every text properly stands on this redemptive stage. Jesus is the chief and culminating figure on this stage. The stage is set for him; all that transpires on the stage relates to him; and we do not fully understand anything on the stage until we have identified its relation to him.
It should be emphasized that placing every text in the redemptive context does not mean that every text mentions Jesus. Rather, every text relates some apsect of God’s redeeming grace that finds it’s fullest expression in Christ. Ultimately, we understand who he is and what he does by how he “fleshes out” the message of redemption that unfolds throughout the Bible.