These are my notes from my ladies’ Sunday School class this morning. I’ll be posting the notes from my class here each week. Click here for last week’s lesson.
Through the Bible in 2014 ~ Week 30 ~ July 20-26
Hosea, Isaiah 28-43, Psalm 76
An Overview of Hosea
Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel. God used his family life as a picture of what he was prophesying. Hosea married a woman, Gomer, who would later prove unfaithful to him. God also had Hosea give his children names that reflected God’s message to Israel: Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People. But the real story of the book of Hosea is not Hosea or his family, but the love, reluctant wrath, and forgiveness of God towards His unfaithful people.
Everything Israel gave away -as sacrifices to idols, as tribute to foreign potentates, as bribes for foreign armies to come to her aid- everything had been given to her by God.
When sinners persist in their sin long enough, God finally gives them over to what they want. (Rom. 1:18ff). Often sinners think the harshest thing God could do would be to try to stop them from participating in the sin that they love, but His wrath is most poured out when He gives them exactly what they want.
5:6, 15; 7:13-14
Seek the Lord while He may be found (Isaiah 55:6). God was calling Israel to seek Him before He gave them over to a hard heart and a reprobate mind. The Lord is always found by those with a soft heart whose desire is to repent and love Him, but He turns a deaf ear to those who continue in rebellion until it starts raining, only to beat on the door of the ark because they don’t want to die in the flood.
God is not interested in the worldly sorrow that is only grieved over the consequences of sin. That soul still has its eyes firmly fixed on self and how self is affected. The truly repentant heart has her eyes fixed on God and how her sin affects Him.
God doesn’t desire empty rituals, lip service, or going through the motions. He wants worship from the heart.
God will not allow syncretism (the melding of unbiblical worship with biblical worship). He requires, not that He be first in our affections, but that He be ONLY in our affections.
It did no good for Israel to claim that she knew the Lord (2) because she was a) worshiping other gods besides the Lord, b) calling an idol (the golden calves) “God,” and c) not worshiping God in the way He had commanded. None of these were acceptable in God’s sight then, and because He is the same “yesterday, today, and forever” (Hebrews 13:8), it is still not acceptable to Him today.
That’s why false teachers are so dangerous. People like Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen, and TD Jakes may not be fashioning golden calves and calling them “Jesus,” but they are fashioning false gods with unbiblical words and ideas and calling them “Jesus.” This is what Matthew 7:21-23 is talking about when it says:
Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Just as Gomer has betrayed and forsaken Hosea, Israel has betrayed the Lord. She has loved adultery and the fleeting pleasures (Hebrews 11:25) that go with it instead of the true and lasting treasure that comes from loyalty to the Lord (Revelation 11:18).
The golden calf Israel worshiped would be used to pay off Assyria in tribute. God is sovereign. He will ultimately destroy everything that is raised up against Him. Idols, ideas, individuals.
God is not a cruel taskmaster. He led and cared for Israel with “cords of kindness” and “bands of love” as a parent leads a toddler. They didn’t have to live in fear of Him if they were walking with Him. Not so with other gods. With other gods, they could never be certain where they stood. Had they offered enough? Pleased it enough? Would it bless them with fertility or rain for their crops?
With God, on the other hand, His love for Israel came first. It wasn’t a reaction to whether or not their actions pleased Him. His love for them was there even before they knew Him (1 John 4:15-19). It was because He loved them that He lovingly spelled out everything He wanted Israel to do in worship, in daily life, and in their hearts. He also went into great detail about the things they could expect from Him, and He kept His promises time and again. They didn’t have to wonder how He felt towards them or what He required of them or whether He would come through for them. They could know.
It grieved God to destroy Israel as he had destroyed Admah and Zeboiim with Sodom and Gomorrah. God is not a God who delights in executing His wrath, but, rather, does so with a broken heart and only as a last resort.
“Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord God, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Ezekiel 18:23
“The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
When Israel was in Egypt and in the wilderness where she had nothing to depend on but God, she was loyal to Him, but once prosperity came, she left Him, just as Gomer left Hosea for something she thought was better.
It is often only when people have no other choice but to turn to Christ that they do so, but when they don’t “need” anything, they turn away from Him. This is why Jesus said “it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 19:24).
By stripping away everything Israel had and sending her into exile, God was bringing Israel full circle to the neediness she had started out with in Egypt in order to bring her back to Himself.
God’s desire is, and always has been, for His people to repent and be reconciled to Him, and enjoy a loving, father-child relationship with Him. We see this in His post-Eden relationship with Adam and Eve, in His blessing of the earth after the Flood, in His bringing Israel out of Egypt, in bringing Israel out of exile, and in the most important way of all, in saving us out of our sin that we might be permanently reconciled to Him through the precious blood of Christ, to love Him and serve Him forever.
I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.