:) Finally had some time! Next week should be fun... we're heading into some messianic prophecies... :)

Happy studying!

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Hosea Chapter 2

Hosea Chapter 2

vs. 1-3

- God is bringing charges against Israel. She has been brought before the court and found guilty. She is no longer His wife, and He is no longer her husband. She has prostituted herself around enough that He is divorcing her basically...

- And yet He is still full of grace and mercy... He says to “tell her to remove the prostitute's makeup from her face and the clothing that exposes her breasts...” Which doesn't sound so merciful... but then He goes on to say “OTHERWISE, I will strip her as naked as she was on the day she was born...” etc. He's still giving her another chance. Still saying, “I still love you... so if you will do this... I will still withhold My anger... I will still be gentle...”

- However, if she doesn't turn her life around and leave her ways of prostitution, then she will be cast off... and not easily.

- She will be stripped naked. She will have nothing left to her name. Everything will be taken from her. Even the clothes she wears. As she went prostituting herself to the world for worldly pleasures and material things... so they will all be stripped from her.

- She will be left to die of thirst, as if she were living in a wilderness... She will never be satisfied. She will thirst for more things of this world and all the things she used to have... and never be able to have any of them. Can you imagine thirsting, desiring something so much that you can't think about anything else? If you've been outside working in the hot sun, you get thirsty really quickly. When you get something cool to drink... it's like you just can't get enough of it. And it tastes SO GOOD! Even if it's just water...

- Now imagine that thirst... but unquenchable... it's like everything you drink tastes warm... or stale. It's just never quite what you want or need...

- Because of Israel's prostitution, she would worship other gods... and never find peace. She would lust
after material things... and never have enough. She will die in her thirst. She will die always wanting more... die desperate for the things of the world.

- Should we not in turn be desperate for the things of God? If we can be so desperate for the things we desire... should we in turn be desperate for the tings of God? Things that are passing... things that only last a few minutes, a little while... why should they incur our desperation?

- What are you desperate for? What do you find your soul thirsting for? Are they things of God? Or things of this world?

- What does God say about your heart?

- Isaiah 50:1-11; 1:1-5:30
- Jeremiah 15:1-21; 7:16-34
- Joshua 24:14-25

vs. 4-8

- “I will not love her children, for they were conceived in prostitution.” All that Israel has done. All the wealth they have gained, all the treaties they have made... all the cities they have built... all will be done away with... all they did was done in sin. Nothing they had was worth anything in the eyes of God. They maintained peace through treaties with godless nations. They intermarried with pagans. They compromised on everything they were meant to be... just to make themselves more like all the peoples around them. Israel gained... and grew... in shameful ways. It was nothing that honored them or the God they were supposed to be serving.

- Sometimes we get in places like this in our walk. Sometimes it's just lip service. Sometimes we're walking and talking and living the life... while our hearts are so far removed from the things of God... while we're lusting after the things of this world... we're still trying to outwardly live the Christian walk.

- Sometimes... we go past that. After a while... what we do in secret become enough of a habit... that it filters into our daily walk and talk. Israel had reached that point. They gave up trying to keep everything a secret. Instead, they openly walked away from God and lived the lives they wanted to... in open sin. And their sin just increased because of it. It grew worse not only in our minds of what sins are more serious than others... but in frequency and execution as well. Forget prostitution in a secluded place... why not in your home? eh... why not just have a massive orgy in the streets. Everybody's in on it anyway right?

- “She said, “I'll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks.”

- Israel chose to run after other lovers... chose to leave her husband... and not for great things... just for the necessities... she left for the sake of leaving... not because she wanted something better... she didn't run off with a millionaire... she ran to her lovers and asked for no payment past the necessities.

- Because of this... God said that He will fence her in with thorn bushes. He will cut off her paths. He will prevent her from gaining that which she wants. She will constantly lose her path. She will get lost on her way to her lover's. When she tries to chase her lovers down, she won't be able to catch them. She will search for them and not be able to find them.

- God will never force you to come back to Him... but He will put things in your way to convince you of your error...

- Jonah was there... God put a storm in his way... tried to convince him to turn around... and finally had to put him in the belly of a whale... lowest of the low much?

- “Then she will think, “I might as well return to my husband, for I was better off with him than I am now.”

- I knew a lady once... she had this great husband, great family... but she was determined to have an affair... She wanted the excitement. She was bored with her husband and tired of feeling like she was missing out... and despite having many people tell her how bad that idea was... and being in the church... she finally did leave her husband... she moved in with a man who also left his family. Who is a drunk and who beats her. Does she have regrets? Yeah... will she admit it? Not so much...

- footnote- “Just as Gomer would return to her husband if she thought she would be better off with him, so people often return to God when they find life's struggle too difficult to handle. Returning to God out of desperation is better than rebelling against Him, but it is better yet to turn to God out of gratitude for His care.”

- As bad as it sounds... God wants the best for us... even if it means putting us through the worst first... When we are stubborn and refuse direction... sometimes it takes drastic measures to get our attention.

- There have been times that I know where people are at and they're drifting, or they've completely turned their backs on God and are walking away... that the family sits down to pray about them and we pray that God will bring them back... no matter what it takes...

- that's a hard prayer. Especially if it's family. Or someone you really care for. Praying that God will do whatever it takes to wake them up from their rebellion... sometimes means a lot of pain... and not just for them... but for everybody around them... It's definitely not a prayer to be prayed lightly. There's been times that I have prayed about praying that prayer... because I was afraid that it was going to mean that my life was going to take a hit... I had to really search and make sure that I could pray that prayer and be sure that whatever happened... I myself was ready to help that person through whatever God allowed to happen... or that I was ready to accept whatever came my way as a consequence of that prayer...

- But I have a feeling that somewhere at some point, somebody probably prayed that prayer for me... and I would hate to think that somebody I loved would end up forever lost... just because I was afraid to face what it would mean in my life... me being selfish should not be the cause for someone else's eternal loss...

- But in all this... Israel finally turning back to God out of desperation and saying... “well... might as well go back... cause life can't get any worse...” God says “she doesn't realize it was I who gave her everything she has—the grain, the new wine, the olive oil; I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.”

- Everything we have is a gift from God. Everything we gain... even in our sin... is a gift from God... think about that for a second. Even when we are far from God... even when we are rebelling... even when we are running away from God... He still gives us good gifts. But when we're in that place of rebelling against God... we turn and give our gifts to other gods. It may not be Baal in this day and age... it may be that we give our gifts to the god of money, or greed, or lust... there's a hundred things that we can worship in this world...

- What are you worshiping? What do you see as important enough to spend time on? What do you make times for?

- What kind of gifts has God given you? Have you passed over some of them? Thinking of them only as little things, or deserved things?

- What have you done with those gifts? Have you given them over to the worship of other things? Or have you used them to in turn worship the Giver of all good gifts?

- Psalm 78
- James 1:12-18
- Galatians 5:13-26

vs. 9-13

- But God says that now, He will take everything away from her. The ripened grain, the new wine... the wool and linen clothes... “I will strip her naked in public, while all her lovers look on.”

- Everything exposed. All the secrets you ever thought you could keep... out for everyone to see. No rescue. No escape. Only you... at the mercy of the hand of Almighty God... thankfully... He is full of mercy and grace... : )

- God says that He will put an end to the festivals, new moon celebrations, and Sabbath days... all the things that they used to celebrate other gods and other religions. He will destroy all the things that they claim their lovers gave them... that really came from Him... “I will let [the grapevines and fig trees] grow into tangled thickets where only wild animals will eat the fruit.”

- Nobody will want this when it's all over. Only the wild animals will want the fruit that is produced by your gifts... they won't be useful for anything else. It will be punishment for all the times Israel burned incense to Baal. All the times she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for lovers and forgot all about her husband... now she will be the deserted one.

- Ezekiel 16:1-63; 23:1-49
- Jeremiah 2:1-6:30

vs. 14

- But God is faithful... “I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there.”

- That doesn't sound very romantic... when I think of a man wooing a woman... I think flowers... and dinner... and sweet things... not dragging her out to the middle of the desert...

- However... the desert is a place of seclusion. It's a place where there would be no worldly distractions to pull you away from each other... The desert is the place Jesus went to do his 40 day fast. It was a place of solitude and concentration. He was able to seek the will of God. Granted Satan came to tempt Him... but it was after a time of preparation. After a time of falling in love with the father.

- footnote- “God was promising 1. to bring the people to the desert, a place free from distractions, so He could clearly communicate with them, and 2. to change what had been a time of trouble into a day of hope. The Valley of Trouble is the site where Achan had sinned by keeping forbidden war plunder (Joshua 7). He had brought great disaster to Joshua's troops when they were attempting to conquer the land. God uses even our negative experiences to create opportunities to turn back to Him. As you face problems and trials, remember that God speaks to you in the “desert” and not just in times of prosperity.”

- When there's a drought... plant roots have to go deeper to search for water. When there's a drought in your life... you have to go deeper to find nourishment just like the plants. Deeper in the Word, deeper with Christ... So sometimes... the desert is a good thing... even though it doesn't look like it.

- Isaiah 51:1-12

vs. 15-23

- Once He has Israel in the deserts, He will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble... into a gateway of hope. (see footnote above)

- Then because of His affection and love. Because she will see how much He adores her and STILL loves her and wants her, she will surrender herself to Him... just as she did when she was young and recently freed from captivity from Egypt.

- “When that day comes... you will call Me “my Husband” instead of “my Master.”

- This is not a relationship that is forced... it is God proving that He still loves you... and you responding in turn to love Him.

- There was a Jane Austen book that centered around this girl who found this man she thought was perfect. They didn't know each other very well... but basically she had a huge crush... and wasn't very concealed in her affection... At the end of the book, the statement was made that “his affection originated in nothing better than gratitude, or, in other words, that a persuasion of her partiality for him had been the only cause of giving her a serious thought.”

- Now in a romantic story... that seems a little cold. But the point is... when we know someone truly and deeply cares for us... it's hard not to return that affection. Knowing that God loves us so much that He cares for even the smallest of things in our lives... just makes Him all the more irresistible.

- When we come back to God... He erases the past. No more do we have to worry about what we have done or who we have been. In doing so, He claims us as His own precious, clean, spotless wife. No matter where we've been or what we've done... how many times or how many ways we've prostituted ourselves to the world... everything disappears. (Granted it may take some time for us to realize that and really believe it's true... but that's exactly what He does.)

- “I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips, and you will never mention them again.”

- The thing with repentance is... you can't go back. This is not a decision you can only half make.

- Our Pastor this morning read an excerpt from an editorial by A.W. Tozer from “That Incredible Christian.”

- It said there were a few ways to look at the question of “what must I do to be saved.” But all too often, we get stuck on the “just accept Christ” idea. Which is great... except that “It shows Christ applying to us, rather than us to Him. It makes Him stand hat in hand awaiting our verdict on Him, instead of our kneeling with troubled hearts awaiting His verdict on us. It may even permit us to accept Christ by an impulse of mind or emotions, painlessly, at no loss to our ego and no inconvenience to our usual way of life.”

- This walk is not about us. It's about Christ... “There is no craven decision of offices whereby we may acknowledge His Saviorhood today and withhold decision on His Lordship till tomorrow.”

- The problem Israel had was that, yeah, they wanted God in their lives. They wanted His protection and prosperity... but they didn't want to have to follow any of His rules. So they tried to half it. In times of desperation, they would cry out to Him... every other time... they stayed and worshiped their golden idols... because they didn't require anything extra from the people. They didn't require them to go outside of their comfort zone... or outside of their desires. They (the idols) make a way for you to earn your own salvation and leave you in control. It's all about you.

- Our relationship with Christ should be “all-exclusive.” Where He is the center just as the sun is center of the universe... and our lives revolve around Him... not the other way around...

- This is a new beginning. A new start. The past is wiped away and all things become new creations. Imagine... Gomer... starting over as if a new bride. We have that same choice. Will the prodigal come home for his welcome? Or will he stay in the pig pen?

- our Pastor this morning when he was talking about people wanting God in their lives, but also wanting to continue living their own way... compared it to the prodigal, wanting to come home for his welcome and redemption... while staying in the pig pen... it doesn't work that way... We have to let God pick us up out of the muck, clean us up, and bring us home... to stay.

- If we do so, then “I will make a covenant with all the wild animals that scurry along the ground so they will not harm you. I will remove all weapons of war from the land, all swords and bows, so you can live unafraid in peace and safety.”

- God was promising to restore Israel and bring her back to the safety of His wings.

- “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.”

- To KNOW God... not just know about Him, but intimately KNOW Him... inside and out... Wow... To know and be known...

- There have been times when I wonder if anybody really SEES me... I mean I have friends, people know me... but do they really SEE who I am. See everything that I see and know in myself... I don't think I would count many people at all that KNOW me that well... Not in every aspect anyway...

- But GOD! SEES me... and loves me anyway... If only we could SEE God the same way. Not necessarily physically... but in understanding... in knowing His character so well that we can predict His sentences... in knowing His ways so well that we know exactly what He'd do in this situation... in loving and being loved so much that it just poured out automatically to everybody we ever had any contact with at all...

- In that day... God says He will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds... the sky will answer the earth with rain. The earth will answer the thirsty cries of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees. They will in turn say “JEZREEL!”- God plants!

- “At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites and raise them for myself. I will show love to those I called “Not loved.” And to those I called “Not my people”, I will say, “Now you are my people.” And they will reply, “You are our God!”

- Is God Lord of your life? Are you growing in Jezreel? Or are you still hoping for rain while keeping God on the peripherals?

- Can you say “Jesus is my LORD!” And really mean that you are submitting fully? Or are you still trying to keep things back from Him?

- God is calling out to you, His people. He is asking us to meet Him in the desert. Will you come for the wedding of a lifetime?

- Isaiah 32:1-20; 54;1-56:8
- Leviticus 26:1-46
- Job 5:8-27
- Zechariah 7:4-8:23
- Joel 2:12-32
- I Corinthians 9:24-27; 15:30-34
- Matthew 25:14-30
- Luke 15:11-32

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