hosea

2 Kings 21, Hosea 14

Today’s readings are 2 Kings 20 and Hosea 14.

This devotional is about Hosea 14.

This chapter is yet another plea from one of God’s prophets to God’s people to repent of their sins (vv. 1-3) and serve God alone (v. 8a-b). Sandwiched between these two elements are the ardent promises of God to “love them freely” (v. 4) and cause the nation to blossom (v. 5b, 7c) and flourish (v. 7b).

With promises like these, repeated over and over and over by God’s prophets, why didn’t God’s people at least try it? Why--with few exceptions--did generation after generation follow idols and forsake the Lord?

The answers are in verse 9: “The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.” The sinfulness, the rebellion that comes naturally to our human hearts causes us to stumble over God’s commands. We are unable to “walk in them” until we are righteous and only God can declare and make someone righteous.

This is the BIG lesson of the Old Testament. God makes promises and teaches humanity his ways but humanity rebels against God and stumbles in his ways unless God breathes new life into our dead spirits. The Israelites should have read the words of these prophets and cried out to God for help to overcome the rebellion of unbelief. Instead, people rejected God’s word or tried to cobble together their own religion of Judaistic “good works” plus something else like Baal worship. Note that before God said the righteous would walk in his ways in verse 9 he first said in verse 4, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely....”

If you find yourself trying to live the Christian life but failing, this is what you need. You need to cry out for the righteousness of God and the new life he gives through the power of the Holy Spirit.

This is what our kids need, our friends need, our neighbors need; it is what we all need. We don’t need to try harder to walk in God’s ways or reduce God’s ways to a list of requirements. We need God’s grace and the righteousness of Christ given to us by faith.

Then we will grow and flourish and blossom and show all the other signs of life and blessing that are described in this chapter. Then God will be glorified in us and we will bless us “like the dew” (v. 5).

2 Kings 18, Hosea 11

Today, read 2 Kings 18 and Hosea 11.

This devotional is about Hosea 11.

Some people look at family life as restrictive. They describe it as being “tied down” or call their spouse a “ball and chain.” Children are, to them, a burden rather than a blessing. Or, if they are children, they think of their parents as taskmasters instead of loving leaders and protectors.

This is how Israel looked at God. It is true that God gave them a number of laws to regulate their worship and their lives. But it is also true that God released them from true bondage, the bondage of slavery in Egypt. In this chapter, God explains his side of his relationship with Israel. In verse 1, he proclaimed his love for Israel like a loving father for his child. God called them out of bondage in Egypt, and nurtured them like a loving parent would to his infant or toddler. Look at the terms of tender love in this passage. God:

  • loved Israel “when Israel was a child” (v. 1a).
  • He called his son “out of Egypt” (v. 1b).
  • He “taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms” (v. 3a-b).
  • He “healed them” (v. 3d).
  • He “led them with cords of human kindness” and “ties of love” (vv. 4a-b).
  • He lifted them to his cheek (v. 4c-d)
  • He “bend down to feed them” (v. 4e)

How did Israel respond to God’s many acts of tender love? They “went away from me” (v. 2b) sacrificing “to the Baals” (v. 2c).

Israel’s idolatry, then, was a refusal of his love. It was like a child who receives his parents’ love and then, when he turns 18, spits on his mom and dad and leaves the house for good.

God explained that he would allow Assyria to rule over Israel because “they refuse to repent” (v. 5). But he also promised not to give up on his people (vv. 8-9). Though they totally rejected him and would suffer the consequences, God would not reject them forever. Instead, he would change them spiritually for good. Verse 10 says, “They will follow the Lord....” This phrase looks forward to the day when Israel will be genuinely converted. They will stop pretending to obey God and instead will love and obey him from the heart.

This did not happen when Jesus came the first time. When God became a man in the person of Christ, “He came to his own but his own did not receive him” (John 1:11). This happened so that the few Jews who did receive Jesus would fan out into the world with the message of salvation for Jews and Gentiles alike. Some day, soon, Christ will return and will fulfill this promise. He will give new life to the people of Israel, saving them and causing them to worship him--finally--from the heart.

For us, it is important to see in this passage how tenderly God thinks of us. John 1 says that those who received Jesus were given the right to be called God’s sons (Jn 1:12). Think about how lovingly God describes himself in relationship to his sons in this passage--teaching them to walk, lifting them to his cheek, bending down to feed them (vv. 1-4). Realize, then, that God’s commands to us are not burdensome regulations designed to weigh us down but they are protections against the pain and ugliness of sin just as your household rules protect your children from injury and exposure to wickedness.

2 Kings 16, Hosea 9

Today’s readings are [2 Kings 16 and Hosea 9] (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=2kings16%2C+hosea8&version=NIV).

This devotional is about Hosea 9:7d-g: “Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, the inspired person a maniac.”

Our society pretends that it has rejected God and our faith because it has advanced beyond belief in anything beyond the natural world. Scientific study has yielded so much truth about things that used to mystify people in the past. So many people to equate our faith with superstitions from the past that should be rejected in this modern age.

This passage confronts that thinking. People reject God’s word because they want to live an immoral, godless life. The verse says that the greatness of humanity’s sins is what causes people to think God’s servants are stupid. People today may have a more secular mindset in general. But they deny historical facts that are biblical, despise the moral commands of the Bible, or laugh at the miracles in scripture because of their sons. 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.

2 Kings 20, Hebrews 2, Hosea 13, Psalms 137–138

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 20, Hebrews 2, Hosea 13, Psalms 137–138. 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 13.

Temptations await us at every point in our lives, in every circumstance in our lives. When we are discouraged or suffering or just discontent, we will be tempted to blame God or to reject him completely. But when we are prosperous, thriving, excited about the future and happy with the present, the temptation we face is to forget God. Israel faced all of these temptations and vast numbers of people in the nation surrendered to them throughout the history of the nation. 

Although the people of Israel complained a lot about the Lord, the truth is that God was very good to his people. He led them out of Egypt  and called them to worship him exclusively (v. 4). He provided for them in the desert—a place hostile to human life (v. 5). Yet verse 6 says, “When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.” Ungrateful for what the Lord did, forgetful of how badly they needed his divine intervention, they took credit for surviving on their own for verse 6 says, “they became proud.” Whenever we think we have succeeded on our own, we think we can continue to succeed on our own. We buy into the myth of self-sufficiency, so we do not praise God for what he’s done and is doing in our lives, we do not worship God based on what he has revealed to us about himself, we do not ask God for help to serve him today, we do not look to God for wisdom in the decisions we make, we do not think about God and what he wants to do in the future. This is the temptation we face when times are good. 

Israel and Judah encountered these temptations as unbelievers, for the most part. There were people who worshipped the Lord from the heart but most of God’s chosen people forgot him because they never knew him in the first place. This is why God brought severe judgment on them (vv. 7-16). Although they had his word, his covenant, they rejected him and put their faith in other gods. Although we have come to know God by faith, we still encounter the temptation that verse 6 described. It happens when our prayer life diminishes during good times; we stop praying altogether or pray token prayers only. As we approach Thanksgiving, it is a good time for us to remember the Lord and evaluate our relationship to him. We need God far more than we realize and it glorifies God when we live in dependence on him.

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.

2 Kings 17, Titus 3, Hosea 10, Psalms 129–131

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 17, Titus 3, Hosea 10, Psalms 129–131. 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 10.

Our reading here in Hosea 10 gave the prophecy of God’s judgment on Israel and we also read about the historical fulfillment of that judgment in 2 Kings 17. God’s people in Israel and Judah committed many sins against him; chief among those sins was idolatry. If Israel had worshipped their God, he would have empowered them to keep the other commands and to offer the sin offerings he prescribed when they failed to keep his commands. But his people did not worship the Lord, therefore, they were slaves to ever other sin and wickedness that humanity can think of. 

As we have seen over and over again this year, however, God always leaves room for repentance. Although he is just in dealing out the judgments promised in his covenant, his prophets come to warn the people to repent and return to righteous living. Here in Hosea 10 we see one of the most beautiful pleadings by a prophet to God’s people. Verse 12 says, “Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love….” Don’t those words give you hope? Righteousness, of course, means right living according to God’s laws. Do what God says is right and you will reap the fruit of unfailing love. 

Obedience to this command requires some heart-work to prepare for. Verse 12b says, “…break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord….” This is a visual way of describing repentance. The “unplowed ground” refers to the hardness of the human heart. This hardness causes people to seek anything but the Lord—we seek the prosperity or pleasure or protection offered to us by idols. Our idols are our selfish desires for materialism or pleasure or recognition or whatever else competes with the Lord for our full attention. The Lord in this passage calls people to repent of those idols, to “seek the Lord” from a repentant heart. And how long should we do this? Verse 12b: “…until he comes and showers his righteousness on you.” Even in the Old Testament there are passages that show us that God’s righteousness comes as a gift, like the rain showers of heaven that cause plants on earth to grow. God wasn’t commanding his people to try harder to do right; he was calling them to turn to him in repentance, receive his righteousness as a gift, then “sow righteousness for yourselves [to] reap the fruit of unfailing love.” Here is the basic outline of the gospel; the atonement of Christ is not spoken of here, but God’s people knew from the law that their sins needed to be atoned for. We believe and speak the same truths that Hosea held out to Israel. Turn to seek the Lord in repentance preparing the soil of your heart, receive his righteousness like the gift of rain, then plant the seeds of righteous living in your life and watch how God grows them into the fruit of his unfailing love. Do you believe that in Christ God has done all that you need to make this truth a reality? Are you living according to these truths, then, sowing the seeds of righteousness in your life?

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.

2 Kings 16, Titus 2, Hosea 9, Psalms 126–128

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.

2 Kings 13, 2 Timothy 3, Hosea 5–6, Psalm 119:145–176

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 13, 2 Timothy 3, Hosea 5–6, Psalm 119:145–176. 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 5-6.

Throughout the Old Testament, there are clear images that prepare us for the work of Christ. The animal sacrifices required by the law come to mind as they were designated to be life-for-life exchanges where the animal died in the place of the sinner who offered it.

In addition to these images, there are prophecies about the coming of Christ.

Then there are passages that do not explicitly reference the coming of Christ or what he would do, but they seem so clear in hindsight that they are impossible to ignore. One of these is Abraham’s sacrifice of Isaac. It is hard to read that passage and not see an allusion to how God the Father was prepared to sacrifice his Son. Here in Hosea 6 we come to another passage like this. It does not explicitly reference the Messiah or what he would do, but look at verse 2 again: “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” This does not directly reference the resurrection of Jesus and no New Testament author quotes this passage as a predictor of his resurrection, but it is impossible to read that verse without thinking of the resurrection of Christ. I believe this was intentional; through Hosea’s prophecy God was promising new life through the resurrection of Jesus. Jesus death, of course, paid the penalty for our sins but it was his resurrection that gave us spiritual life and allowed us to “live in his presence.” This is something to thank God for today; long before Jesus was ever born, God predicted that he would die for our sins and rise from the grave to give us spiritual life. Take some time today, therefore, to give thanks for Christ’s resurrection and then ask God to help us live in that resurrection power today for his glory.

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.

2 Kings 11–12, 2 Timothy 2, Hosea 3–4, Psalm 119:121–144

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 11–12, 2 Timothy 2, Hosea 3–4, Psalm 119:121–144. 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 3-4.

Hosea 4:6a is probably the best known saying from the book of Hosea: “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” That passage is often quoted like a proverb even in our secular world. They way that it is used in the secular world suggests that more education is the answer for every human problem. If people were just more knowledgable, they would not be “destroyed.” 

I do think that knowledge is important and, perhaps, you could extend the application of this verse into a principle that ignorance in general is damaging. But that is not the immediate message the Lord was sending through Hosea. The knowledge God's people lacked was the knowledge of him, their God. This verse comes in the larger context of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and their covenant with him (3:1, 4:1b-2). Toward the end of verse 1, the phrase “no acknowledgment of God in the land” could (should) be translated, “no knowledge of God in the land” as in the ESV. One of the charges the Lord brings against his people, then, is that they do not know him (v. 1). The consequence of not knowing him in v. 5 is that “my people are destroyed.” 

And why did the people lack knowledge? Verse 6b says, “Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests; because you have ignored the law of your God, I also will ignore your children.” The Lord traced the ignorance of his people back to the unfaithful teaching of the priests. One of the role of the priests was to teach God’s law to his people but the priests had “ignored” God’s law. Whatever they were teaching was so much less than the greatness of God for verse 7 says, “they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.” 

I don’t talk much about church history, but tomorrow is October 31 which is the day that Martin Luther nailed his 95 theses on the door of the church in Wittenberg. These 95 theses were points of debate that Luther, a committed Catholic monk at that point in his life, wanted to discuss. You can see the 95 Theses, translated into English here. They were mostly about the sale of indulgences. Instead of seeking true repentance from the heart, the church was teaching that people had to do penance for their sins and that penance could be done by buying indulgences. Some of Luther’s theses complained that the church was neglecting the teaching of God’s word in order to teach about indulgences. Some of his language echoes the thoughts we read here in Hosea 4:6-8. Theses 53 and 54 read, “53. They are the enemies of Christ and the pope who forbid altogether the preaching of the Word of God in some churches in order that indulgences may be preached in others. 54. Injury is done to the Word of God when, in the same sermon, an equal or larger amount of time is devoted to indulgences than to the Word.” 

It seems that spiritual leaders in all ages and eras can be tempted to move away from teaching about God to teaching something else—idolatry, indulgences, relational skills, health & wealth, psychology, or whatever. The result is that God’s people no longer know him; having been deprived of his word, they have no means by which to know what he is truly like.

This is why it is important to teach God’s word in our churches and to read God’s word on our own. I hope these daily readings (most importantly) and my devotionals have helped you know God better. I hope today’s message will do that, too. Are you planning to be here to hear it?

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.

2 Kings 9, 1 Timothy 6, Hosea 1, Psalm 119:73–96

If you’re following the schedule, you should read these chapters today: 2 Kings 9, 1 Timothy 6, Hosea 1, Psalm 119:73–96. 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 1.

The Lord told some of his prophets to do difficult things. He allowed others to experience painful things as a result of their prophecies.  The ministry he called Hosea to do has to have been among the most difficult; his marriage was to serve as a metaphor for the Lord’s relationship to Israel. As we saw in today’s reading, God commanded him to marry a woman and told him in advance that she would be unfaithful to him. Then, when she bore children, each child was given a difficult name. His firstborn son, Jezreel, was named after a valley (v. 5) but it was a valley where Jehu killed and where Israel would suffer a great defeat. His daughter was named “Not Loved” and his final son was named “Not My People.” Imagine the jeering his children took from other kids because of their names; imagine how difficult everything about Hosea’s family life must have been.

Despite this difficult object lesson of judgment, however, chapter 1 ends with words of hope: “In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” Although Israel was unfaithful to God through their idol worship and that unfaithfulness would cause separation in their relationship with God, the separation would be temporary. True to his word, God re-affirmed his commitment to Israel and promised again that he would complete the promises of his covenant.

Let this encourage you if you are feeling defeated by sin and wondering if God will forgive you. God’s nature is to be faithful and loving and that means he is forgiving to those who claim his promises by faith. So, claim his promises and turn to him for forgiveness.

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.