If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 16, Titus 2, Hosea 9, Psalms 126–128. Click on any of those references to see all the passages in one long page on BibleGateway. If you can’t do all the readings today, read Hosea 9.
Israel had a unique relationship to the Lord. God chose Abraham and made an unconditional covenant with him. All of God’s promises are based on that covenant; many of Israel’s laws, particularly those that have to do with worship practices, are based on that covenant. The penalties, likewise, are based on that covenant. We need to remember these things and deal carefully whenever we are interpreting and applying passages from the Old Testament to ourselves. Our nation is not Israel or a new Israel; the church is not the same as Israel either.
Yet there are many commands, promises, and warnings in the Old Testament that can be applied to us indirectly if we handle the scriptures carefully. God’s nature is unchanging, so his moral laws are always the same and, as creator, are always binding on humanity. Human nature, likewise, is unchanged from the days of the Old Testament.
Verse 7 of today’s reading in Hosea 9 provides us with a good example of the interpretation issues I described in the previous paragraphs. The verse begins by saying, “The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this” (v. 7a). Because the United State is not Israel, we cannot and should not apply this to our nation the way that Hosea applied it to his nation. God’s promise of punishment was for military invasion and defeat for the nation of Israel but defeat and exile are not promised to America for our sins. The principle embodied in this passage is still true—punishment is coming, but not necessarily to us as a nation in a military or political sense. In the end times God will punish every individual and every nation for sin, so the principle in Hosea 9:7a is true and applicable to humanity today but not the specific warning.
The second part of the verse is more immediately relatable to us: “Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired person a maniac.” In any culture where God’s word was once reverenced but is now ignored or ridiculed, it is the result of sin and hostility toward God. People may have a more secular mindset in general, deny historical facts that are biblical, despise the moral commands of the Bible, or laugh at the miracles in scripture but the greater the sin and unbelief, the stronger the negative reaction one will have to the commands of God’s word.
The cure for this is not to emphasize the points where some unbeliever might agree with the Bible or show how wise advice from the Bible makes for better living. The cure is more of God’s word; that’s what God gave Hosea despite the fact that prophets were considered “fools” and “maniacs” in Hosea’s day. Although sinners try hard to suppress the truth of God’s word, God’s word is like a hammer that breaks hard hearts and fire that melts them down (Jer 23:29).
The same is true for us believers. Although our faith in Christ inclines us to receive and believe God’s word, our sin nature at times may cause us to react to some of God’s commands as crazy. In those moments we need to immerse ourselves deeper in scripture, not sit in skepticism toward it. May God give us the grace to receive his word obediently ourselves, hold it out unflinchingly to the world around us, and find some who will believe it and obey it for eternal life just as we have.
Now for your thoughts: What stood out in your Bible reading for today? What questions do you have about what you read? What are your thoughts about what I wrote above? Post them in the comments below or on our Facebook page. And, feel free to answer and interact with the questions and comments of others. Have a great day; we’ll talk scripture again tomorrow.