Friday, August 25, 2017
Daily reading assignment – Hosea 1-7
Today’s scripture reading is the first seven chapters of the Book of Hosea, written by Hosea, the first of the “minor prophets”. There is general agreement among scholars that Hosea’s public ministry spanned 58 years beginning in 748 B.C. and continuing to 690 B.C., concluding just prior to Assyria conquering Israel and leading the people away into captivity.
As God’s prophet, Hosea was tasked with the responsibility of preaching to the northern ten tribes known as Israel. Having rejected God’s commandments, the rebellious nation had turned to worshipping and sacrificing to idols. The Book of Hosea records the ministry of one faithful man who courageously warned his nation of God’s imminent judgment should they continue in their wickedness and rebellion.
Hosea 1 opens with a disconcerting command; comparing the spiritual condition of Israel to whoredom, the LORD illustrated His unfailing love for Israel and commanded Hosea to take a prostitute named Gomer as his wife (Hosea 1:2). Gomer would bear three children of Hosea; a son named Jezreel (meaning “God scatters” – 1:4), a daughter named Loruhamah (meaning “love withdrawn” – 1:6), and another son named Loammi (meaning “not my people” – 1:9). The names of Hosea’s children conveyed the spiritual condition of the nation and their estranged relationship with the LORD.
Hosea 3 uses the prophet’s scandalous marriage to Gomer, a prostitute, as a parallel portrait of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. In spite of Hosea’s tender love for his wife, she left him and returned to prostitution (Hosea 3:1), in the same manner Israel left the LORD and committed spiritual whoredom with the gods of her pagan neighbors.
Illustrating the LORD’s longsuffering and compassion for Israel in spite of her spiritual harlotry, the LORD commanded Hosea to take Gomer back as his wife (Hosea 3:2 states he purchased her out of prostitution for “fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley” (3:2). Taking back his adulterous wife and promising to restore their marriage covenant (3:3), Hosea demonstrated God’s unconditional love and compassion for wayward Israel.
Hosea 4 paints a picture of a nation that is in the midst of a precipitous moral decline. Preaching the “word of the LORD”, Hosea declared “there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood” (4:1-2).
Hosea confronted priests who had failed the people as spiritual leaders warning, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children” (Hosea 4:6).
God turned the nation’s “glory into shame” and warned, “I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings” (4:9); “they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD” (4:10).
What a tragic time! In the hour the nation was desperate for a clarion call to repent and turn back to God, the spiritual leaders were themselves engrossed in wickedness (4:6-11). They had failed the people and doomed the nation!
Hosea warned Israel the opportunity to repent and turn back to the LORD was fleeting and the nation would soon fall victim to an enemy described as a “thief” (7:1). “Strangers have devoured his strength…yet he knoweth not” (Hosea 7:9) describes the decline of the nation. As the clouds of judgment approached, rather than return to the LORD, the nation appealed to Egypt to save her from Assyria (7:11-16).
On a practical and personal note, the annual readership of this devotional blog is read by citizens of some 170 nations, many of who are following the spiritual and moral decline of America in the news and from their own vantage point. President Trump’s call to “Make America Great Again” resonated with the populist of America when he was elected November 2016; however, I know of no politician who has addressed the core issue of this nation’s decline…SIN!
The spiritual harlotry of Israel and the failure of her spiritual leaders to confess and confront the sins of the nation should serve as a warning to America’s spiritual leaders. Sadly, a generation of preachers fill the pulpits of America’s churches and Christian schools who are failing to, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine” (2 Timothy 4:2-4). Fulfilling the apostle Paul’s dire warning, the 21st century church has become a people who “will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4).
The founding fathers of these United States were well aware the greatest danger to America’s future as a nation would be her own internal struggles. Sounding more like a prophet than a politician, Thomas Jefferson, the third president of the United States, warned: “I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, that his justice cannot sleep forever.”
Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith