Thinking ‘Bout Hosea

If you want to live well, make sure you understand all of this.

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll learn this inside and out.

GOD’s paths get you where you want to go.

Right-living people walk them easily; wrong-living people are always tripping and stumbling.

Hosea 14:9 (The Message)

I like reading from the minor prophets. Even though they were very specific messages for a very specific group of people, there is so much truth there. I think we have to be careful when reading them because there is a temptation to rip these verses out of their original context and say that they are speaking directly to us. American Christians are often guilty of doing this with promises God make to Old Testament Israel. It’s bad exegesis and it creates bad theology. I guess some people might wonder why I am using The Message if I’m concerned about sound Bible study. I like it for casual reading. I realize it is a paraphrase and I don’t use it for serious study. However, that doesn’t mean I should toss sound exegesis away when I’m reading from it.

We don’t know much about Hosea. According to Hosea 1:1, he prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekia in Judah and Jeoboam II in Israel. That spans at least twenty-five years. We don’t know what he did before he was called by God. Some think he may have been a priest but there is no way of knowing. He did have a thorough knowledge of the religious and political climates of his day and he displayed a wealth of knowledge concerning Israel’s history. The defining event in Hosea’s prophecy is his marriage. At God’s command, he married a prostitute. His message to the northern kingdom would mirror the relationship he had with Gomer.

Hosea is a very interesting book. Hosea is told to have children with Gomer and to give them names which would reflect the relationship God had with His people at the time. Israel was in dire straits and had forsaken God over and over again. Hosea’s marriage and children illustrated just how far Israel had fallen. The main thrust of his message was that Israel had forsaken the LORD and was acting like a prostitute. The verse I quoted above is the final word that God spoke through Hosea. Even though the message had been difficult and condemning, God offered hope to those who would turn back to Him.

I believe that is the application for those of us reading Hosea today. God expects certain things from us and when we disobey, there are consequences. However, if we are truly repentant and turn back to Him, He promises to forgive us. That is the reason Jesus came in the first place. He came to fix the sin problem that we are incapable of fixing. He did the work and He calls us. It’s up to us to respond.

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