Posts Tagged ‘Hosea’

Israel’s Return

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.  Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto his, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.  Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.  I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.

Hosea 14:1-4

As with Israel, when we find ourselves away from the Lord, there is a certain point which we must come to in order to return to Him.  These verses give us an important point we must reach.

First, in verse two, we find that we need to ask the Lord for forgiveness, mercy and favour.  Then, in verse three, we find the need to come to the realization that we can not help ourselves.  I like what the Lord wants the Israelites to say.  They have to realize that Asshur will not save them and their horses will not save them.  They are also not going to worship the work of their hands.  And I like how the verse ends: “…for in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.”

Once a person realizes that he can not help himself and that the Lord is the only source of mercy, they have made a huge step in the right direction.  Once we stop worshipping ourselves, we are free to worship the One Who can help us.  At that point, we can move to verse four:

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”  We all have a tendency to backslide.  If and when we find ourselves in that position, we have a blueprint here on how to return to the Lord.

Who Is Wise?

Who is wise, and he shall understand these things?  prudent, and he shall know them?  for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.

Hosea 14:9

The opening question in this verse is a searching one: “who is wise?”  That is a good question.  It is an important question because the answer to that question determines the answer to the second question dealing with “understanding these things.”  The wise person is able to understand the things of the Lord.

Proverbs 9:10 and Psalm 111:10 both say that “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom.”  If we want to be wise, it all begins with a healthy and reverential fear of the Lord.  That is the beginning of wisdom.  If we have no fear of the Lord, we are not going to obey His Word.  Without that fear of the Lord, there will be no wisdom nor understanding because there will be no fear nor respect of God’s Word, which is the Book of wisdom.  Wisdom also comes from obedience.  And, without a fear of the Lord, there will be no (or at least very little) obedience.

The second half of the verse tells us that “the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them…”  Without wisdom, you can’t understand that.  I like the simplicity of believing God.  I like the simplicity of the statement “the ways of the LORD are right.”  Whatever God does, it is right.  I don’t have to understand it.  I don’t have to like it.  If God makes a decision, it is right.  There is no question and no debate.  The ways of the Lord are right.  And “the just shall walk in them.”  How are we doing walking in the way of the Lord?  How would we be able to answer the question “who is wise?”

Why Would You Want Anything Else?

I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon.  His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon.  They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.  Ephriam shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?  I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree.  From me is thy fruit found.

Hosea 14:5-8

After imploring Israel to return to Him in the first verse, and pointing the way home in verses two and three, God tells them in verse four that “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.”  After “coming home,” God speaks some comforting, loving words to Israel in the remainder of the chapter.

After these comforting words from their God and Saviour, verse 8 tells us that “Ephriam shall say, What have I to do any more with idols?”  Once they have destroyed themselves, felt God’s judgment, returned to Him, and felt His warm embrace, why would they want to stray any more?  Why would we ever want to stray after all God has done for us?  “What have I to do any more with idols?” is a great question that we should be asking ourselves often.

“Idols” can take many forms in our society.  While we may not bow down to an “idol” of wood or stone, we may have numerous “idols” set up in our lives.  Anything that comes between us and the Lord could be considered an idol.  But once we have seen that “the way of transgressors is hard,” (Proverbs 13:15), we can then “taste and see that the LORD is good…” (Psalm 34:8)  Once we have experienced God’s mercy, grace, love and goodness, why should any idol hold any sway over us?  After all He has done for us, our devotion should be unflinching and unfailing!

The Calves of Our Lips

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.  Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.

Hosea 14:1-2

After an entire book of warnings of judgment to the children of Israel, God extends His hand to them once again and implores them to “return unto the Lord thy God…”  Then He gives them some advice as to how to return, which we can also use when we find ourselves needing to return to Him.

Verse two tell us that the Lord wants us to “take with you words…”  We need to ask the Lord to forgive us.  The verse also gives us a good idea of what words and ideas need to be used and expressed: “Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously…”  That is exactly what anyone who is seeking to return to the Lord should say.  That is the exact attitude that we should have.  I John 1:9 tells us “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from al unrighteousness.”  We need that forgiveness and we need that cleansing.  And we probably need it more than we think we do.  “Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously” is always a great prayer.

The end of the verse tells us that, by doing this, we will “render the calves of our lips.”  The Israelites were supposed to be offering literal sacrifices, but it had become just an outward show.  And, in captivity, they could not have literal sacrifices.  God wanted their hearts, not just their robotic formalities.  And He wants our hearts.  And He wants praise and thanks and petitions for His mercy to come from our lips.  When we do those things, we are offering “the calves of our lips.”  And that is a sacrifice that God will honor.

The Call to Return

O ISRAEL, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.

Hosea 14:1

As I have been reading through the prophets, so far from Isaiah to Hosea, I have noticed that most of their message is one of coming, impending judgment.  The nation of Israel had rejected the Lord and had wandered from Him.  So, in love for His people, God sent the prophets to warn the people of what was coming.  For the most part, the books of the prophets are not encouraging.  Outside of glimpses here and there of God’s mercy and grace, the majority of chapters and verses deal with God’s judgment on both His people and the nations around them.

However, another thing I have noticed about the prophets is that there is a constant call to Israel to “return.”  There are so many times I have noticed that the Lord gives His people the call to return.  It would be an interesting study to see just how many times in these books that that call is given.  Here again we find a verse that tells Israel to “return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.”  I find these verses encouraging.

Despite all that the children of Israel had done, despite all of the times they had rejected the Lord, despite all of the straying and wandering that they had done, God was still calling to them.  He still hadn’t given up on them.  And He doesn’t give up on us.  When we stray from Him, and disobey Him, He could immediately destroy us.  But He doesn’t.  He keeps working on us, calling us to return to Him.  As the Psalmist said, He is truly “longsuffering.”  I am thankful that our God is merciful and longsuffering!


The Problem and the Answer

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help.

Hosea 13:9

What a great verse describing the whole human condition!  You could substitute “humanity” for “Israel” in this verse and have a timeless truth.  You could substitute “America” or “Canada” or “England” or “Nepal” or any other country for “Israel” and it would be just as true.  You could go so far as to insert your name or my name or anyone’s name and it would still ring true.

Israel had destroyed herself.  God had given them everything and done everything for them that could possibly have been given or done.  Yet they still rejected Him and sinned against Him over and over again.  It was not God’s fault that Israel had rejected Him.  When a nation, any nation, rejects God, it is not God’s fault.  America drifting away from God and forgetting God and rejecting God is America’s fault.  As individuals, God does not force us to sin.  When we go our own way, refuse Him and sin against Him, it is our fault.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  We destroy ourselves.  On our own and left to ourselves, that is exactly what we will do; over and over; every time.  “All we like sheep have gone astray…”  “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.”  That is what we do.  That is the bleak position in which all of humanity finds itself.


“…but in me is thine help.”  There is help for us!  We don’t have to continue to destroy ourselves.  There is hope and there is help.  “In me…”  Jesus Christ is our help.  We destroy ourselves, He heals us.  We sin, He cleanses us and forgives us.  We need help, He is our help.  Everything we are not, He is (and more)!

What a great verse and what a great Saviour!

Failing the Test of Prosperity, Part II

Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.  I did know there in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.  According to their pasture, so were they filled; and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten me.

Hosea 13:4-6

We looked yesterday at the fact that one of the reasons for God’s judgment on Israel was their forgetting Him in the time of their increase.  I was reading further in the book of Hosea and found these verses which repeat that reason for judgment.

I think it’s interesting that God tells them that “I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.”  When they were destitute in the wilderness, God knew them and they knew Him.  They were totally dependent on Him for everything.  They were “in the land of great drought.”  They depended on Him for their guidance (in the form of the pillar of the cloud and the pillar of fire); they depended on Him for their food and water.

In the wilderness, God knew them.  But the next verse says that their pastures were filled, and their hearts were exalted.  Pride started to creep in.  In exalting themselves, the Bible tells us that “therefore have they forgotten me.”  That is a sad statement.  There is nothing wrong with material possessions.  But when they start to make us exalt ourselves and forget the Lord, they become the objects of our downfall.   If the Lord has blessed and prospered us, we should praise Him and thank Him for it.  But we should never let those things come between us and the Him.

On a positive note, even in the midst of impending judgment, God reminds them that He is still their God and He is their only hope.  He is the only Saviour!  “…I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but me: for there is no saviour beside me.”

Failing the Test of Prosperity

As they were increased, so they sinned against me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.

Hosea 4:7

…I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content.

Philippians 4:11

The book of Hosea is book of judgment in which God is telling His people both that He is going to judge them and why He is going to judge them.  We looked at one of the reasons yesterday: they “had no knowledge.”  They had rejected Him and had rejected the knowledge of Him.  Of course rejecting Him will bring judgment.  But why had they rejected the knowledge of Him?  I think this verse gives us an idea.

“As they were increased, so they sinned against me…”

The Israelites failed the test of prosperity.  They were God’s chosen people.  God had helped them, blessed them, brought them out of Egypt, gave them their own land flowing with milk and honey, fought their battles for them, drove out their enemies before them, fed and clothed them in the wilderness, and made them into a great nation.  What more could He have given them or done for them?

They had everything.  But in the midst of all of that prosperity and increase, they started to forget the God Who gave them everything.  Their forgetting God led to refusing and rejecting Him, which led to ever increasing sinning, which ultimately led to their destruction.  Sometimes it is easier to trust the Lord and follow Him when you don’t have anything than it is when you have seemingly everything.  The church of the Laodiceans the book of the Revelation had this problem.  They thought that they were “rich and increased with goods” and that they had “need of nothing.”  However, in all of their material increase, they also forgot God, Who found Himself on the outside. (Revelation 3:17-20)

In Philippians, Paul tells us that he had learned “both how to be abased”  and “how to abound.”  That is a lesson that many of us (especially Americans) need to learn.  There is much wisdom in the words of Proverbs 30:8b:

“…give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me”

Destroyed for Lack of Knowledge

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children. 

Hosea 4:6

The book of Hosea is a sad book, dealing with God’s impending judgment on His people.  But, as I Corinthians 10:11 tells us: “Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come.”  We can look at what happened to the children of Israel and learn from it.  A wise person once said that you need to learn from the mistakes of others because you won’t live long enough to make them all yourself.  The children of Israel here made a huge mistake, and we would be wise to learn from it.

The reason that they were being destroyed was a “lack of knowledge.”  That might not seem like something drastic enough to destroy an entire nation for, but it was.  They didn’t just have a lack of knowledge in the sense that they simply hadn’t learned certain things yet.  According to this verse, they had “rejected knowledge.”  Rejecting knowledge goes beyond simply lacking knowledge.  They had the knowledge available to them and they refused it.  Does that sound familiar?

I know that I have had the knowledge of God and His law right in front of me for basically my entire life.  And I know that I have refused and rejected that knowledge far, far too many times.  These are convicting verses.  God destroyed His own people for refusing knowledge.  Thinking about that makes me so thankful for “the blood of Jesus Christ his Son” which “cleanseth us from all sin.” (I John 1:7)

We should use these passages to motivate us to not be like those who refused His knowledge.  We should be always striving to grow closer to Him and grow in our knowledge of Him.  The Israelites were destroyed for lack of knowledge.  We don’t have to be.

Mercy, Truth and Knowledge

Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.

Hosea 4:1

When God begins a chapter with “Hear the word of the LORD…,” it is probably something that we should pay attention to.  And when He follows that with “…for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land…,” it is definitely something that we should be focused on.

The reason that the Lord had a controversy with the children of Israel was the fact that there was “no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God” there.  Those three things were vitally important to the children of Israel, as the lack of them caused the nation to be destroyed.  Those three things are vitally important in our Christian lives today.  Truth, mercy, and a knowledge of God.

When you think about it, they work together and one naturally leads to the another.  We start with truth.  Do we have truth today?  Some would say that there is no absolute truth, but I am not among them.  I know that there is absolute truth.  It is in the Bible.  We have truth and can know the truth.  When we look in the Bible to find the truth of God’s Words, we see ourselves for what we are.  We are sinners in desperate need of a Saviour.  And we also find the truth that there is a Saviour, Jesus Christ.  He is merciful to us, and tells us that we should, in turn, be merciful to others.  Now we have mercy.  Mercy was shown to us, and we show it to others.  And as we allow the Lord to work in us, continuing to look in His Word for His truth, we find a knowledge of God.

The children of Israel were destroyed for a lack of truth, mercy, and a knowledge of God.  We have all three available to us every day.  May we not miss that opportunity.