Knowing God

RE Verse reading–Hosea 4:1-13b (day six)  “My people are destroyed from LACK of knowledge( yada).  Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as my priests” (vs 6) “One thing you still LACK.  Sell everything. . .and come follow me.”  (Luke 18:22)  The rich young ruler only lacked one thing.  The problem?  It was the most important thing of all.  The eighth century Israelites only lacked one thing.  The same thing.  Intimacy with God.  The Hebrew word yada did not mean “information about”.  It mean’t “intimacy with”.  In Genesis 4 when Adam “knew” Eve and she conceived, the word is yada.  Stange isn’t it?  We can have so much (and do so much) and still lack the one thing that God desires from us–open-hearted, genuine intimacy.  Leave off everything else and gain this and you will be fine.  Skip this and you will have missed the very purpose of life.  It is so good to be home!  I will see you Sunday–Don

A spirit of prostitution

RE Verse reading–Hosea 4:1-13b (day six) “A spirit of prostitution leads them astray” (vs 12)  We are more complex than we imagine.  Our actions are not simple outcomes of conscious choice.  Deep within each of us is a very real spiritual battle–or not, for the soul conquered by sin.  Jesus said, “everyone who sins is a slave to sin”.  (John 8:34)  Paul said, “I see another law at work in the members of my body waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner.” (Romans 7:22)  Hosea wanted the people of Israel to look deep within themselves and see a spirit (real, evil and invisible) controlling their choices.  He wanted them to see their actions as rising from the influence of the Evil One.  Much of our failure is not ours alone.  We have been deceived and used.  Watch and pray, friends.  The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.  The enemy still prowls.

Creation waits

RE Verse reading–Hosea 4:1-13b (day four)  “Because of this the land mourns. . .the beasts of the field and the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea are dying” (vs 3, NIV)  Hosea believed (because the Bible teaches) that creation is connected to the human race.  To the secular mind this sounds like an arrogant myth.  To the spiritual mind it sounds like truth and hope.  When Adam sinned the ground was cursed and death came.  When Adam is redeemed these things will leave!  “The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. . .that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brough into the glorious freedom of the children of God”  (Romans 8:19, 21 NIV)  Our sin is of larger consequence than we sometimes think or believe.  Our sin caused the collapse.  Our renewal will usher in a new balanced, beautiful world.  What a great and gracious God!

Failure of leadership

RE Verse reading–Hosea 4:1-13b (day three)  “they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful.  They feed on the sons of my people and relish their wickness” (vs 7b-8)  Part of God’s condemnation of Israel was especially aimed at the priests.  Priests were worship leaders, moral leaders–at least, they were intended to be.  Many failures.  They had exchanged their glory (their calling, their relationship with God) for disgraceful things (idolatry and immorality).  They had become co dependent on their sinful people.  In a tragic twist, they “needed” the people to be sinful.  It gave them a reason, a purpose.  Rather than leading their people to wholeness, they were stuck in a system with people perpetually ill.  Judgement is certain at such moments.  Along with other spiritual leaders, I am challenged by the question.  Are we committed to the health and wholeness of our people?  Do we preach sermons or do we make disciples?  Our nation’s destiny depends on the answer.

His warning love

RE Verse reading–Hosea 4:1-13b (day two)  “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” (vs 6)  Why would God warn?  Anyone?  Us?  Speaking through Hosea, God say that He has a charge to bring against the people of Israel (vs 1)  It is a legal word.  A word threatening a law suit.  Why?  Why not just act?  The answer is His love.  Like a parent who wants his child to obey, like a friend who sees danger ahead, God is “patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9)  As disturbing as it is to hear, as terrifying as it is to contemplate falling into the hands of the living God (Hebrews 10:31), the reason that God is willing to communicate warning is that He loves us!  If He didn’t, He wouldn’t say anything at all.

What we have not become

RE Verse reading–Amos 4:1-13 (day one)  “There is no faithfulness, no love, no knowledge of God in the land” (vs 1)  The place where our sin is most obvious is what we are not!  The laws that we break are only part of God’s charge against us.  Our failure to become like Him is even larger.  Hosea 4:1-13 is a clear statement of this controversy  from God against His people.  The word “charge” in vs 1 means dispute or controvery. It is a legal word.  A marriage ending up in court. Never good.  In chapter 1-3, God compares their behavior to spiritual adultery.  In chapter 4, He presents the most damning evidence of all.  Faithfulness, love and knowledge of God are ABSENT in the land.  Interesting.  It is not what we have DONE that breaks God’s heart.  The greatest sin is what we have NOT DONE, what we have NOT BECOME. “For all have sinned and fallen short.” Lord, make us hungry for righteousness!

In that day

RE Verse reading–Hosea 1:1-11, 2:16-23, 3:1-5 (day seven)  ” ‘In that day’, declares the Lord, ‘you will call me my husband. . .In that day, I will respond’ ” (Hosea 2:16, 21)  The Hebrew word for respond means “answer”.  It speaks of a day when God will answer the deepest longings of our hearts, the most desperate prayers of our lips.  It is not this day.  Gomer’s return is a partial recovery at best. The answers we receive are partial as well.  Hosea resolves the sad regret of his life and the deep questions of his faith by looking forward to a day of promise.  It is the way all the prophets found courage.  As Paul says, “the sufferings of this present hour” (even including a painful marriage) are not worthy to be compared to the glory that will be revealed” (Romans 8:18)  The Lord teaches us the same lesson. “Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength.”  May we be faithful.  That day is coming.

The Great challenge

RE Verse reading–Hosea1:1-11, 2:16-23, 3:1-5 (day six)  “Go, show your love to  your wife again, though she is . . .an adulteress.  Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites.” (3:1)  When Jesus asked Peter “do you love me?”  (John 21) He was asking the most important question of all.  It is the center of God’s purpose for us that we learn to love, that we not continue to receive and receive and receive without gratitude or responsibility.  When Jesus commanded Peter to “feed my sheep” He was expressing the second greatest question.  Will you love others because you love me?  It is called the Great Commandment.  It really is the Great challenge.  God loves people who do not deserve His attention.  His love for us is proof.  The great challenge for us who have received His love is to turn that grace gift outward toward others who are equally undeserving.  May the Lord give us courage to do so.  It is the great challenge.

Humbled and home

RE Verse reading–Hosea 1:1-11, 2:16-23, 3:1-5 (day five)  “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” (3:3)  In the Hosea story, we are Gomer.  When she arrives home, her pride destroyed by the consequences of her sin, it is a picture of us when Christ first comes to adopts us, or when He comes to restore us after a period of disasterous rebellion.  Humility is a good thing even when gained through painful experience.  Gone is Gomer’s arrogance and independence.  Pray ours gone as well.  The rules are now simple and strict.  She is to be sexually faithful.  We are to have no other loves but Him.  The promise is huge.  He will live with us!  May the Lord help us all to appreciate what a gift this offer is.  May the hard years remind us to be happy that we are humbled and home.

A long obedience

RE Verse reading–Amos 1:1-11, 2:16-23, 3:1-5 (day four)  “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea. . . during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah” (1:1) Hosea is a reminder to us.  The work of God often takes years.  Like a patient artist, the Great God shapes the human soul.  He does not rush.  We can measure it historically.  From Uzziah to Hezekiah was nearly 100 years.  Even if Hosea’s ministry only briefly overlapped the first and the last, it was over 40 years long.  We can measure it emotionally.  One year of a bad marriage is painful.  40 years can hardly be described.  Even so, Hosea was faithful.  Like the God he served, he became “long-suffering”, (Philippians 1:29) conquering every hurdle and heartbreak with an eternal love.  I remember the words of Christ to Paul.  “I will show him how much he must suffer for my sake” (Acts 9:16).  Not what we imagine.  The way home is sometimes long.  May the Lord make us faithful.