There used to be a Christian radio show that I would listen to when I could
catch it. The premise was that they would send out an interviewer with
a microphone and recorder onto a secular college campus, and interview
"the man in the street" about the Lord, religion, etc. It was usually interesting,
and often disconcerting, but one interview in particular has always stayed
with me. They cornered a young college student and got him on to the subject
of the Old Testament. I do not mean to be irreverent by quoting this man's
opinions, beloved. Here is, pretty much, what he said: "I could never worship
the God of the Old Testament. He is actually quite an inferior being. Spiteful,
angry, and cruel. He is a small individual. He is even inferior to me,
so how could I worship the God of the Bible?"
I guess no one in the Church today and probably few in the world would openly endorse such statements. I wouldn't say them, but I never forgot them. I don't believe God to be evil, or that He used to be evil. But He is misunderstood. And what that young man said helps to prove that God is, to this day, very widely misunderstood. In our current Bible study, a very difficult passage, it may seem hard to understand God's actions and attitude.
The Bible says that the Lord created us in His Own Image. So, I think one clue to understanding God is to think about the fact that we resemble Him in some ways (not that there aren't BIG differences, too!). We were not created to be robotic, and most of us aren't. So it seems plausible that our Master image may not be robotic. I say all this because I believe with all my heart that here in chapter 1 of the book of Hosea the only explanation for what we read is that we are seeing God in turmoil. He is not on auto pilot. He is upset. He is dissatisfied. Yes, He is angry, and if I may say it, somewhat desperate. C'mon, beloved, let's be real. You and I can relate to that, at least from some time in our lives, can't we? Couldn't that be true of God?
Join me now at verse 1:
"The word of the Lord that
came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz,
and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash,
king of Israel."
God's Old Covenant people were divided at this time into a northern kingdom (Israel), and a southern kingdom (Judah). They couldn't get along. That's a sure-fire sign that people aren't getting along with the Lord, either! Hosea was called to the ministry of prophesy in the northern kingdom. We need to get a flavor for the man who was king of that northern kingdom at this time, for his conduct represents the conduct of much of the people. We are told that his name was Jeroboam. I found out recently (after teaching this incorrectly in public once already) that he was actually Jeroboam, the second. The first Jeroboam was the first leader of the northern kingdom when they originally broke away from Judah in the south. Let's look at a quote about that Jeroboam (the first Jeroboam) from another Old Testament source:
I Kings 13:33-34
"After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth."
By the time the second King Jeroboam came along, well, was he any better for the nation? The Book of II Kings speaks of him (the second Jeroboam) this way:
What BOTH these kings had done in Israel was to take a giant step backwards,
spiritually. Instead of shining out like the golden lampstand of the tabernacle
that accompanied their people to this promised land, they returned to worshipping
the gods of their slavemasters in Egypt. That's right, they were bowing
before the image of a golden calf and fornicating as an act of worship.
Now, beloved, if you were the God of the Universe, would this disturb you?
Remember now, these are your own chosen people, not some wild group of
Let's return to our study at Hosea, verse 2 as Hosea undertakes to address the people and his king, Jeroboam, the second:
"The beginning of the word
of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a
wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed
great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
How do you reach the depraved, the sinner, the indifferent soul? How do you TUNE them in again to God's Word? These people were not stupid. They had many accomplishments. Jeroboam, their king, was a conqueror who had won back territory for the northern kingdom. They had wealth and other accomplishments. They weren't stupid and yet they had become unteachable and unreachable. The real problem was, and this is always the worst of all, they had become indifferent toward God.
That rightfully disturbed the Lord. And so he sent out a righteous young man, His prophet, who was young and of marrying age. Who should have been looking for happiness and beauty and true love. Who should have been looking forward to the joy of taking a suitable bride. God sent him down the road to propose to and to marry a whore. WOW, if I were God I would have left this out of the Bible altogether! Let's read on (verses 3-4):
"So he went and took Gomer
the daughter of Diblaim, which conceived and bare him a son. And the Lord
said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will
avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease
the kingdom of the house of Israel."
This child's name means "God will scatter." What a message. And what a way to deliver it! And what an amazing God we all have. Now, verse 5:
"And it shall come to pass
at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel."
If you aren't shaken up yet, just hang on. Did you know that Jezreel is more than the name of this child? It is the name of a valley in the land of Israel with a bloody history. It will also have a bloody future. We call that place today, Armageddon. That's right, beloved. I'm starting to feel that God is speaking to you to me as well as to old King Jeroboam through this little Book. History has labeled Hosea as a minor prophet, but he paid a major price to get this Word through to us, and we need to appreciate this message:
Well, if you're still reading this, beloved, you may be ready for some
good news. And that's how we'll close this study. I am happy to report
to you that God is no longer in the kind of turmoil we had to report in
the days of Hosea. It is my distinct and great pleasure to tell you that
as you read these words, our God is SATISFIED! He's not totally satisfied
with His people today. He's not totally satisfied with me, either, or you.
But God is now completely satisfied with Jesus!
In the beginning of Matthew 17 we read about an attempt by Peter to equate Jesus with the Old Covenant prophets. And a distinct voice from Heaven corrects him:
God is different today than He was back then. He is more at ease and more
content. At least I think that He is. I said at the start that we are made
in His image. But just for us to somehow resemble Him physically wasn't
ever going to be enough to satisfy Him. He wanted us to see His TRUE self.
His Heart. The way He reacts to pain and disappointment. To show us how
to act and react. So that we might TRULY resemble Him in the ways that
REALLY MATTER to Him. In LOVE and in MERCY. Just like Him! Moses and Elijah
could NEVER fully show that to us. So He sent Christ. His TRUE image. That
we might know and, by faith and obedience, bear the image of our Father.
So that NO ONE on earth or in Heaven or in Hell could EVER say that we
were not HIS Child!
I tell you, beloved, we've got a content God today!
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