Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Hosea 6: 1-5

Hosea 6

The Response to God’s Rebuke
1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
For He has torn us, but He will heal us;
He has wounded us, but He will bandage us.
2 “He will revive us after two days;
He will raise us up on the third day,
That we may live before Him.
3 “So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD.
His going forth is as certain as the dawn;
And He will come to us like the rain,
Like the spring rain watering the earth.”

4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim?
What shall I do with you, O Judah?
For your loyalty is like a morning cloud
And like the dew which goes away early.
5 Therefore I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets;
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And the judgments on you are like the light that goes forth.

For three verses of Hosea 6, the people respond to God's rebuke with words that would indicate a rightness of heart and a renewed acknowledgment of who He is. Three whole verses. Then God speaks, once again, through the conclusion of the chapter, to address the people once again. My study Bible indicates that the people's verses are what Israel will speak at the time of Christ's millennial reign--a reminder that true restoration of God's chosen is still something yet to be.

Regardless, the people's words are truth and indicate the movement of Israel to return to their one true God and Father. The people have been torn--remember last week's lion--but they will be mended up and revived once again. Verse 2 is interesting because it sounds as though they are speaking of Christ and His resurrection. But even though there is a parallel in the timing and action, it is not a direct reference (i.e., Israel is not dead), but a similarity strictly in numbers. But the reassurance that Israel will return to their God and know eternity with Him is a promise reaffirmed here.

"So let us know, let us press on to know the Lord." (vs. 3) That is what we all should be striving to do. To 'know' doesn't just mean by seeing, but by true recognition as that of a follower. How do we 'know'? Maybe by instruction. But, maybe by punishment. Maybe by trial, in which we then, over time, understand more of God's mercy and grace. God's people would discover Him through their captivity at the hands of other nations; through His calling them back to rebuild the temple; and, eventually, through their recognition, their true knowing, of His Son, Jesus Christ, as their Messiah and Lord, at the end times.

The rest of verse 3 is so encouraging--God's presence "as certain as the dawn" and His coming "like the spring rain" at just the time it is needed. Praise be to God for His Word of encouragement to us today! [Especially the part about the rain; I know many of us have been seeking that refreshment and restoration.]

With verse 4 comes God's voice, shifting the reviving sense of the passage back to one of concern for Israel. Do you not picture God shaking His head with the reading of verse 4? "What shall I do with you?" I can hear myself saying this, substituting some words here and there. "For your good behavior is like a morning cloud and like your helpful, kind-spoken nature which goes away early." (italics mine) God the Father is speaking, all right!

Must stop at the phrase, "For your loyalty," as bloggy friend and graphic designer (see sidebar bookmark), Edie, made known something interesting and wordy that fits in beautifully today. Some translations suggest the use of 'lovingkindness' for 'loyalty'. Edie posted yesterday that 'lovingkindness' appears 176 times in the Bible, the Hebrew "meaning, perhaps, 'to bend or bow oneself,' 'to incline oneself'; hence, 'to be gracious or merciful.'" God's point, being, that Israel's ability to bow itself to Him is as a morning cloud, that vanishes with the dawn, or the dew that is evaporated in the sun. Short-lived! Explains why God is continuing to speak here in Hosea 6. [Thank you, Edie!]

Moving on to verse 5, God says, "I have hewn them in pieces," which, again, brings to mind last week's image of the roaring lion and the Lord's tearing Israel to pieces, leaving them alone (5:14). 'Hew' means to strike forcibly, as with an ax, or to chop or sever from a larger whole. The cross-reference verses for verse 5 refer to the story of Samuel and God's disappointment over His selecting Saul to be a king. Samuel, having received a vision from God, directed Saul, as new king, to kill Israel's enemy, the Amalekites. Saul killed everybody but their king, Agag, and he also instructed the people to take the choicest plunder (the animals to be used to sacrifice to God). Samuel and God were disappointed and displeased with Saul's disobedience, and Samuel prayed throughout the night to God. Then, Samuel faced Saul with God's message:

"Samuel said, 'Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and insubordination is as iniquity and idolatry.Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He has also rejected you from being king.'”

--I Samuel 15: 22 & 23

Samuel then asked for Agag to be brought to him, at which time Samuel "hewed Agag to pieces before the LORD at Gilgal." (I Samuel 15:33) Samuel's words needed to be heeded by Israel and Judah, but, as God says, "I have hewn them in pieces by the prophets." Hosea's words would go unheeded, and the nations' rebellion would mark their award of punishment and rejection. God not only severed His ties with His people, but He divided up the tribes as well.

Food for thought, in looking at I Samuel: If we claim to be "in the Lord's army," do we understand what "insubordination" in the ranks truly means? That's a powerful passage right there, and we'll revisit Samuel's words next week as well.

Israel will know God through numerous means. The rest of Chapter 6 will provide more instruction to them, not that they will retain what is taught to them at the time. Those first three verses, however, will be revisited, will be spoken, at at time yet to be. And God will respond!

"For His anger is but for a moment,
His favor is for a lifetime;
Weeping may last for the night,
But a shout of joy comes in the morning."
--Psalm 30:5

Chapter 6 concludes.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Hosea 6: 6-11

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Hosea 5: 13-15

13 When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria
And sent to King Jareb.
But he is unable to heal you,
Or to cure you of your wound.
14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away,
I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver.
15 I will go away and return to My place
Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.

To fully appreciate the text of the conclusion to Hosea 5, we need to step back several books of the Bible into II Kings. It's always a blessing to see prophecy framed against history!

Verse 13 says that both Ephraim (Northern Kingdom) and Judah (Southern Kingdom) will recognize their "sickness" or "wound." Some older translations use 'ulcer' instead, with the idea that this is not the kind of sickness that goes away by itself with time, nor is this a surface wound that you could walk around with, waiting for healing. This describes a sore that require a compress [Strong's]. This is a pus-filled sore that is leaking everywhere, contaminating all who come near with infection! The sickness of sin that has run rampant through Israel--as God has presented through the entirety of Hosea 5--requires serious intervention.

Even though verse 13 says Israel sees this wound, she runs not to God but to Assyria! The text here mentions a King Jareb. But, there is no documented King Jareb who ruled Assyria. My study Bible says 'Jareb' means "warrior," and, in fact, other translations use "the avenging king" or "the great king" rather than King Jareb. I like the details I read in the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, so I'm sharing:

"Jareb cannot be regarded as the name of a person, owing to the absence of the article before melek ,'king,' which is always inserted in such a case. It is probably an epithet or nickname applied to the Assyrian king, as is suggested by RV margin ('a king that should contend') and AV margin ('the king that should plead'), being derived from the root reev, 'to strive.' The rendering would then be 'King Combat,' 'King Contentious,' indicating Assyria’s general hostility to Israel and the futility of applying for help to that quarter against the will of Jehovah."
--International Standard Bible Encyclopedia

I also love the parallel with what we have already read in Hosea. Remember Chapter 2? "Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband." (vs. 2) The nation seeks help not from the One who loves her, but from one who would strive to take her over! God even says that the king will not heal them. Of course, He's right! Here's the historical background:

II Kings 15: 17-22 gives us the story of Menahem, who was a 10-year king over Israel, ruling out of Samaria. Menahem was one of those kings who "did evil in the sight of the Lord" and bought his way out of a conflict with the Assyrians by paying the king to "strengthen the kingdom under his rule." (vs. 19) Fifty shekels per man in Israel went to Assyria to keep the country away. Not the way to handle a seeping wounded relationship with God--running to the enemy and paying him off to keep evil on the throne.

Judah was not much better, as we read in II Kings 16: 7-9. Ahaz, the first king to serve in the line of David since Solomon, disgraced the office and God. What's amazing is that God continued to leave Ahaz in his position, even allowing him protection from warring nations. [What God brought forth from the line of David...don't forget!] Surrounded and on the brink of battle, Ahaz seeks help from the king of Assyria. Not only does Ahaz follow Menahem in paying off the king, but Ahaz pays him off with gold and silver taken from the house of the Lord! (vs. 8) Ahaz's allegiance to the king of Assyria brought further changes to the temple and led the people further and further away from their reverence for God.

Is it any surprise that God would present Himself in these last verses of Hosea as a roaring lion? Verse 14, "I, even I, will tear to pieces and go away, I will carry away, and there will be none to deliver." It is a little scary to read this, knowing that I Peter 5:8 describes Satan as a "roaring lion, seeking someone to devour." People in the hands of an angry's not good!

"‘All your lovers have forgotten you,
They do not seek you;
For I have wounded you with the wound of an enemy,
With the punishment of a cruel one,
Because your iniquity is great
And your sins are numerous.
Why do you cry out over your injury?
Your pain is incurable.
Because your iniquity is great
And your sins are numerous,
I have done these things to you.'"
--Jeremiah 30: 14 & 15

Verse 15 of Hosea says, "I will go away and return to My place." God is withdrawing His physical--through the Holy Spirit--presence from Israel. If God had to "return," then it meant He had been present! Israel was to lose this presence! To be torn apart by a roaring lion is one thing. To then be without a Deliverer is something else. Yet, even in this hopeless situation, God says there is a way: "Until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face...." (emphasis mine) It would not be enough for Israel to proclaim, Guilty as charged! Again, looking at other translations, the phrase "bear their punishment" would be a more accurate statement of Israel's responsibility in seeking the only true help.

God added that "in their affliction" Israel will seek Him. 'Early' means not just in the morning, but earnestly and painstakingly, as from dawn until dusk [Strong's].

"Who say to a tree, ‘You are my father,’
And to a stone, ‘You gave me birth.’
For they have turned their back to Me,
And not their face;
But in the time of their trouble they will say,
‘Arise and save us.’"
--Jeremiah 2:27 (emphasis mine)

The people respond! What can they say? Chapter 6 begins.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Hosea 6: 1-5

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Hosea 5: 8-12

8 Blow the horn in Gibeah,
The trumpet in Ramah.
Sound an alarm at Beth-aven:
“Behind you, Benjamin!”
9 Ephraim will become a desolation in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure.
10 The princes of Judah have become like those who move a boundary;
On them I will pour out My wrath like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
Because he was determined to follow man’s command.
12 Therefore I am like a moth to Ephraim
And like rottenness to the house of Judah.

Blow the horn! Sound the trumpet! More place names!! Please don't run off, which is what our text from Hosea 5 is suggesting Israel do. The map has it all spelled out for us toda--not to worry.

Gibeah, Ramah and Beth-aven are all on the map above. Start with the red arrow at Gibeah and look northward. Gibeah and Ramah are actually in Judah (Southern Kingdom), on its northern border with Israel (the Northern Kingdom). Beth-aven, which we read about earlier in Hosea 4:15 (" not...go up to Beth-aven and take the oath: 'As the Lord Lives....'"), is actually in southern Israel. (North, South, Israel, Israel--the people; it does get confusing, doesn't it?) My study Bible explains that all three were important defense cities, places to thwart attacks. (You can see Mizpah there, too. Remember from last week, it means watchtower.) It would make sense for warning alerts to be issued at these points.

"Behind you, Benjamin!" (vs. 8)

As Ephraim is the name of one of the 12 tribes of Israel, so is Benjamin. In this case, Benjamin is used to represent the whole Southern Kingdom. The King James' translation helped me with understanding the meaning: "After thee, O Benjamin!" It's like watching an episode of Scooby Doo and hearing Fred say, "They're getting away. (Hops into the Mystery Machine) After them, guys." [Ah, a week with the nephews and nieces!]

Israel is under attack, by the Lord Himself! The Lord is after you!! The day of rebuke, which God has been laying out through this chapter of Hosea, is coming, and Ephraim will know His wrath. Benjamin, the enemy surrounds you! Watch out! How about this colorful metaphor:

"Behold, the Lord has a strong and mighty agent;
As a storm of hail, a tempest of destruction,
Like a storm of mighty overflowing waters,
He has cast it down to the earth with His hand.
The proud crown of the drunkards of Ephraim is trodden under foot.
And the fading flower of its glorious beauty,
Which is at the head of the fertile valley,
Will be like the first-ripe fig prior to summer,
Which one sees,
And as soon as it is in his hand,
He swallows it."
--Isaiah 28: 2-4

If there were any doubt about who is in control of Israel, God makes His Name sure in verse 9: "Among the tribes of Israel I declare what is sure." (emphasis mine) He also declares what will be "swallowed."

Challenging what was believed in the political arenas at the time, God says the princes were not the ones in power. Though they possessed the earthly position of power, they did not possess the Godly know-how to properly use their power. They were greedy, and turned a blind eye to the ways of God. They had become "like those who move a boundary." (vs. 10) Though this may not sound significant, as princes might well conquer lands and change boundaries, again, it was a question of under whose authority they did such deeds.

Read God's law on the moving of stones in Deuteronomy, 19:14--

“You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the ancestors have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess."

Boundary stones came with inscriptions that bore the name of the owner of the property. If someone moved your stones, it was equal to stealing your property. The princes of Hosea's day were considered guilty before God of stealing "property." What was God really saying in verse 10? See the point in the Amplified Bible's take on the verse: "The princes of Judah are like those who remove the landmark [the barrier between right and wrong]." The apostasy of the princes made null God's law in the eyes of the people, leading to and giving credence to their own apostasy.

As Christians, we need to recognize that we still have spiritual stone boundaries.

"As you come to him, the living Stone—rejected by humans but chosen by God and precious to him—you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For in Scripture it says: 'See, I lay a stone in Zion, a chosen and precious cornerstone, and the one who trusts in him will never be put to shame.'”
--I Peter 2:4-6

Christ's name is on that cornerstone, and woe to those who try and move our boundary stones! Israel rejected the law as well as the relationship with the creator of the law, leading to verse 11's pronouncement that God's people will be "oppressed, crushed in judgment," in following "man's command." "Put to shame," to use Peter's words. My study Bible notes that ancient translations use the phrase "follow nothingness."

Therefore, God becomes "like a moth" and "like rottenness" to His people. (vs. 12) God would become the destructive force that would bring Israel to desolation, in rebuke, in discipline--truly, in a form of "tough love" that continues on, even now.

"But did not My words and My statutes, which I commanded My servants the prophets, overtake your fathers? Then they repented and said, ‘As the LORD of hosts purposed to do to us in accordance with our ways and our deeds, so He has dealt with us.'”
--Zechariah 1:6

Chapter 5 concludes with a stop in Assyria.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Hosea 5: 13-15

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Hosea 5: 1-7

Hosea 5
The People’s Apostasy Rebuked
1 Hear this, O priests! Give heed, O house of Israel!
Listen, O house of the king! For the judgment applies to you,
For you have been a snare at Mizpah
And a net spread out on Tabor.
2 The revolters have gone deep in depravity,
But I will chastise all of them.
3 I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you have played the harlot,
Israel has defiled itself.
4 Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God.
For a spirit of harlotry is within them,
And they do not know the LORD.
5 Moreover, the pride of Israel testifies against him,
And Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity;
Judah also has stumbled with them.
6 They will go with their flocks and herds
To seek the LORD, but they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn from them.
7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD,
For they have borne illegitimate children.
Now the new moon will devour them with their land.

When it seems like God is repeating Himself, you have to consider two things: 1. It's REALLY important, and, 2. What else is being said that wasn't said the first time He said it. If it seems like Chapter 5 is saying more of the same as what we have read, you're not wrong. So, it's probably REALLY important, and there are probably some things we could find that are new.

Verse 1 addresses the priests and the nation of Israel, which we have already read about. Note, though, the addition in this address of the "house of the King." Hosea now has a message going to those in the earthly positions of political power. There is no one excused from the receiving of God's Word. Hearing God's Word is another story entirely.

Verse 1 also introduces two new place names: Mizpah and Tabor, which my study Bible says were, likely, additional places of false idol worship. Mizpah lay east of the Jordan River. In Hebrew, it translates to mean "outlook" or "watchtower" [Strong's]. Growing up, we used to end our Sunday School worship time with a benediction that was called a mizpah, based on a passage in Genesis in which Laban and Jacob are departing from this location: May the Lord watch between me and thee, while we are absent, one from another. (Genesis 31:49) As with other significant Jewish spiritual landmarks, this "watchtower" became disreputable in God's eyes.

Tabor, located southwest of the Sea of Galilee, or Mount Tabor (see above picture), also has deep history as being a place of pilgrimage for worship as well as a place of significant meetings. Tradition even holds that it is the location for the Transfiguration. It is not insignificant that God chooses to reference such places here in Hosea 5.

The use of 'revolter' in verse 2 is not what we would think. Those who stage revolts nowadays do so for their personal reasons or motives. Its use here is specifically to indicate "one who turns from right" or one who "sins" against God. [Strong's] It begs the question of whether we see ourselves as revolting against God when we turn from what we know is His right. Also, the phrase "gone deep in depravity" can be translated as "waded deep in slaughter." Powerful phrasing!

"For now," God continues in verse 3--saying first, "I know Ephraim," and He knows and holds its very future--Israel (Ephraim and tribes) has chosen the path of revolution. "Their deeds will not allow them to return to their God," says verse 4. The ultimate saving of Israel is to come, but their deeds at the moment will blind them from seeing God's plan and grace. No one is saved by deeds, but our works are clearly important in being able to have a fruitful relationship with God.

"For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds."
--Titus 2: 11-14

What is bringing this ruin to Israel? "The pride of Israel testifies against him." Pride--the root of so much sin and "stumbling," as verse 5 says. "They will seek the Lord but will not find Him. He has withdrawn from them." How painful for the Father, who led this people by fire and cloud, and mercifully provided for them through countless obstacles and stumbling places, that He should have to withdraw His presence! The sheep, seeking to return to their shepherd, only to be roaming and lost in a big field. "Can the LORD now pasture them like a lamb in a large field?" (Hosea 4:16)

“So when you spread out your hands in prayer,
I will hide My eyes from you;
Yes, even though you multiply prayers,
I will not listen.
Your hands are covered with blood.
--Isaiah 1:15

Verse 7 concludes with ideas of earlier verses. "Illegitimate children" is a reminder of Gomer's children of Chapter 2--a representation of Israel's harlotry with false idols. God says the "new moon will devour them," a reference to Israel's organized new moon festivals and sacrifices, which were no longer tolerated by God due to their lack of focus on Him. The last phrase, "in their land" may also be translated "with their portions," as in the King James' and other versions. 'Portion' in the Hebrew is not just a segment of land but also "inheritance." [Strong's] Did Israel understand what was being lost?

"Whom have I in heaven but You?
And besides You, I desire nothing on earth.
My flesh and my heart may fail,
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever."
--Psalm 73: 25 & 26

Lots of place names next week. Wading through more from Chapter 5.... 'Til next Wednesday!


* * *

Next week: Hosea 5: 8-11

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).