A Current Bible Study:
Hosea, Chapter 1
"God in Turmoil"

        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."

     Are you getting a sense of the level to which things were falling at that time? These were supposed to be God's people. His light in a dark world. What would you call this, ironic, morbid? What can you say when the highest position reserved for any man is being dolled out for anybody with 5 bucks or on a whim? If you wanted to put God in turmoil, this would surely be the way!

        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:

 II Kings 14:23-24
"In the fifteenth year of Amazziah the son of Joash king of Judah (in the south) Jeroboam (the second Jeroboam) the son of Joash king of Israel (in the north, and I guess we're learning that there were two Joashes at that time, also, so hang in there, beloved) began to reign in Samaria (in the north), and reigned forty and one years. And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all (not some) the sins of Jeroboam (the first Jeroboam) the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin."

        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 strangers.
        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:

Verses 6-7

"And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen."
    The Word interprets this daughter's name for us, and what a picture it paints. Every time they called her in for supper the neighbors were reminded to repent! Notice that though God is disturbed and in judgment mode, unlike men, He does not get hysterical and out of control. Judah in the south shall be spared for now. Their righteousness when compared to the current conduct of the northern kingdom will delay their judgment. Anyone in the north who was following all this may have realized that they would have been better off if God's people hadn't split up in the first place. I've found that to be true for God's people today, too.
        The north had quite an army. They trusted in it. Maybe that is why they became so brazen toward the Lord. Well, they were going to have to painfully watch as the Assyrians would come in and conquer their every defense. Meanwhile their rivals, Judah, in the south would be spared, not by military, but by miracle. That's a bitter lesson for a people to learn.

Verses 8-9:

"Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived and bare a son. Then God said, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God."
        She was having alot of kids, wasn't she? I don't want to go too far here, beloved. But can you see it in this boy's name? Hosea was having some uninvited help in fathering these children. That's right. One of them looked something like him and one didn't. The other looked like the delivery man. Do you see? And remember Hosea was a righteous man. He did NOT sin. It's no sin to marry. No sin to give your heart to another and to try and start a family. This poor, sincere young man. I believe he must have openly wept at times. And when those people saw the shame in his eyes and knew of his heart sickness, they were looking at the face of their God. Up yonder in Heaven, where they couldn't see, God was crying, too. God's heart was broken, too. For God had a marriage Covenant with them. It meant little to them. No more than sex meant to Gomer and her lovers. But it still meant everything to the Lord.
        If anyone ever deserved to ask for a divorce, it was Hosea. And God wanted a divorce, too. A divorce from physical Israel. In the midst of chaos and failed relationships, God has Hosea prophesy a shining vision of a bright moment to come:

Verse 10

"Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God."
        In my opinion this verse is a clear reference to our Covenant with God in Christ. And the next verse a reference to Christ Who can bring us into a relationship with God that is more perfect than the people in Hosea's day could fathom:

Verse 11

"Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel."
        WE have been told to watch for OUR day of Jezreel.  To wait for Armageddon. It will usher in and establish the TRUE and ETERNAL ISRAEL!

        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:

"THIS is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye 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!
 

May Jesus Christ richly bless you-JKD 03/27/07


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