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

Happy studying!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hosea Chapter 5 and 6

Hosea Chapter 5 and 6


- People generally follow the example of their leader. If the leader is strong enough and looked up to enough... he/she can cause a lot of people to follow blindly.

- I've been reading a bunch of historical fiction this week set in WW II. There's been a lot on Hitler... but I remember a story about a man, who now lives in Israel writing for “Israel My Glory.” He was a child during WW II. His family was Jewish, but he didn't look Jewish, so they dropped him off at an orphanage. Well, eventually, he was taken out with all the rest of the Hitler Youth for training camp. This Jewish child was upset when he found out that he was too young to be able to go to battle for Hitler...

- The man who was in control of the movement that had taken him from his family, had probably killed the rest of his family... became his leader. And because he was so sold out to this leader, he was willing to go against his own race, his own family... all because of a strong, convincing leader with very good, stirring speeches...

- As leaders, regardless of capacity, we have a responsibility to the people following us.

- So where are you leading your followers? And yes you have followers too. Might be your kids. Might be your spouse. Might be your neighbor, or a co-worker, or the waiter who works in the coffee house you visit on Saturdays who likes to talk with you about the kinds of books you read.

- Even slight acquaintances can become followers of your example. You might not be broadcasting a half hour TV show every Wednesday... but every day, somebody sees an example lived out.

- Have you ever watched the movie “Pay it Forward?” It's about this kid who comes up with this idea of doing good deeds for strangers and then having them “pay it forward” to the next person they meet. So it's this chain of people who have something good done for them, so they in turn, do something good for somebody else. This kid set in motion a wave that he didn't know anything about. Thousands of people ended up “paying it forward” because of this one little kid. (who died at the end of the movie... horrible ending... ugh...)

- People are effected by your example even when it's not you personally there. Your descendants will be effected by your life long after you're dead because the life you live, will be reflected in the lives of your children... who will be reflected in their children... and so on and so forth.

- The leaders of nations or churches may have more people to look after... but the responsibility is not that different... Lead by example and lead with God in the forefront.

- The leaders of Israel and sometimes Judah, had forgotten that. They were doing whatever they wanted and not really worried about the people unless some action of the people effected their personal lives. They worshiped whom they pleased and did whatever they wished. They abandoned God to chase after things of pleasure. Things that fulfilled some personal desire or longing.

- “You have left me as a prostitute leaves her husband; you are utterly defiled. Your deeds won't let you return to your God. You are a prostitute through and through, and you do not know the Lord.”

- They left God for sinful things... and because of it, God said they didn't know Him. Remember in Matthew 25 the story of the sheep and the goats? God said He would separate them out and to the sheep, He would say “well done, good and faithful servant, enter into your eternal rest.” But to the goats, He would turn and say “Depart from me, doers of iniquity for I never knew you.” “But Lord! Didn't we do all these things in your name!?”

- God wants hearts. Not just actions.

- The hearts of these kings and the people of Israel were hardened to God. Their sin had made them see God as nothing more than something needing occasional appeasement.

- footnote- “Persistent sin hardens a person's heart, making it difficult to repent. Deliberately choosing to disobey God can sear the conscience; each sin makes the next one easier to commit. Don't allow sin to groove a hard path deep within you. Steer as far away from sinful practices as possible.”

- As we follow our Leader, we should be prepared to take His example and show it to the rest of the world. Followers becoming leaders, making new leaders of new followers.

- Amos 5:1-6:14
- John 13:12-17
- Titus 2:6-8
- I Peter 2:21-25
- Matthew 13:11-17
- Ephesians 4:17-32


- “When they come with their flocks and herds to offer sacrifices to the Lord, they will not find Him, because He has withdrawn from them.”

- I think in I Samuel, when Saul went ahead without waiting for Samuel and sacrificed to God without the priest being present.... and Saul's excuse was, “well, it was getting late, and we had to do this sacrifice...” And Samuel said no... Obedience is better than Sacrifice. (I Samuel 15)

- Israel had been disobedient. They had walked away from their God in their hearts and then tried to come back with these shows of sacrifices to appease His anger. But God sees the heart. He sees our deepest thoughts. He knows when we're just living the life on the outside.

- “They have betrayed the honor of the Lord, bearing children that are not His. Now their false religion will devour them along with their wealth.”

- There is no hope for those who stubbornly persist in their sin. God will take you back, IF you repent... but if there is no repentance... even the most elaborate outward display of affection and obedience to God won't save your skin.

- “One thing is certain, Israel: On your day of punishment, you will become a heap of rubble.”

- Judgment is coming no matter what. It's just a matter of whose side you'll be on when it comes.

- “Sound the alarm in Gibeah! Blow the trumpet in Ramah! Raise the battle cry in Beth-aven! Lead on into battle, O warriors of Benjamin!”

- When the time comes... will you be sounding the alarm? Or will you be reduced to rubble in judgment?

- Isaiah 1:1-31
- Micah 6:1-7:20
- I Peter 1:13-25
- John 3:27-36; 14:12-21
- Ephesians 2:1-10


- “The leaders of Judah have become like thieves.” In Hebrew, this part reads that they have “become like those who move a boundary marker.” Which would be stealing land... or stealing the rights to the land.

- We have no right to sin. We as blood-bought sons and daughters of God, have no right to sin. We have been bought and paid for. We belong to God. We have as much right to sin as we have to murder or steal under a given country's standing legal system.

- When we push the boundaries of sin in our lives and continue to sin, we are forfeiting our rights as sons and daughters of God and aligning ourselves with thieves... We are no longer free men/women.

- “So I will pour out my anger on them like a waterfall. The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by my judgment because they are determined to worship idols. I will destroy Israel as a moth consumes wool. I will make Judah as weak as rotten wood.”

- All consuming fire. Crushed to rubble. Nothing left to salvage. Drowned in their sin. Completely destroyed because of their hard hearts.

- This is not an edict you want to mess with. This isn't something you can bargain around. God says “look, all I want is obedience... in your HEARTS! I just want you to love me! I love you so passionately! Everything I have ever done, I have done with you in mind! I created the earth, just for you. I created the oceans, just for you. I created you in this place where I had everything ready for you to enjoy... I wanted a place and a people to commune with... to talk to... to have relationship with... and yet you walked away! That's all I wanted! And NOW! You have taken that which I created to be good, that which I created to be holy... and have profaned it. You have perverted every good thing to evil. I can't bear to look at it. Your sin raises a stink to my nose. The good things have all been contaminated with evil. So I will destroy it all. I will destroy you and all that you have done on this earth. I will purge out the impurities and once again have a pure people who will worship me and love me.”

- In times previously, sometimes, when God had started to punish Israel for their sins, they had not turned back to God. Instead, they had turned to other nations for help. If they were being attacked by another nation, they called for military help. If they were suffering from a famine, they called for food. Even those nations couldn't help them. They didn't have the cure. The cure was repentance... which the kings of other nations could have no clue about.

- So now... “I will be like a lion to Israel, like a strong young lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces! I will carry them off, and no one will be left to rescue them.”

- Judgment necessarily will come. “It is appointed to man, once to die... and then the judgment.” There's no getting around it. There's no, “well... you could die today... maybe work cleaning the pearly gates for a while... and if you do a really good job, we'll go ahead and let you in.” It doesn't work that way. Your eternity depends on THIS LIFE! You only get one shot at this. Only one chance to prove yourself worthy. Only one chance to get your heart ready to meet your maker.

- No one will be there to rescue you. Nobody to stand up and say “oh yeah! They were a great worker at the soup kitchen!” or “Oh yeah! They were a very religious person.... knew a lot about the bible...”

- It all depends on what your heart has truly been and said and done... And only God sees the true heart.

- What will He see when He looks into the depths of yours?

- Ezekiel 8:5-11:25
- Isaiah 28:1-29
- I Samuel 16:6-7
- Psalm 139
- Matthew 12:31-37


- God still gives second chances. After He brings all this down upon His people... He will still bring them to Him and wait for them to admit their guilt and turn back to Him.

- Ever been in the place that you feel God calling you back? Ever felt like you were being pursued?

- There are times when I feel like my sin is thrown in my face just to remind me that God is still there... and still expecting something else from me. Sometimes God has to use what feels like very bad things in our lives... to make us realize just how much we need Him... and just how much he loves us...

- When we strip away everything that's unnecessary to life... like money, and material things... and sometimes even our health... we can begin to see what has been there all the time... the necessary thing in life... The creator... passionately in love with His creation.

- Our husband loves us. He has been faithful through all things. He has never left us, no matter what we've done... and yet WE... the ones who should be grateful, who should be willing to give up all for God... turn and play the prostitute to the world. We turn and give ourselves away for a few minutes of fleshly pleasure.

- God could cry out against us. “Adulterous! Faithless! Loveless!” But instead, He tries to get us to realize that He's still right where He always was. Problem with this is... a lot of times, we blame God when bad things start happening... but what we don't realize is that we have done it to ourselves.

- As children of God, we are safe in the hands of God... He holds us and protects us. Everything that comes to us, comes through the hands of the Father... “Father-filtered” I've heard it called. He never gives us more than we can bear. And He is always there to pick us up.

- But when we sin... we choose to turn our backs on that protection. We choose to leave that house of honor.

- When we do... God will protect us for a while. He still tries to regain us through His love and showing us that He's still the same God... But a husband will only chase an unfaithful wife for so long. Eventually, it comes down to either forcing her to return to Him in chains... or letting her go. God never forces us to do anything... and so He lets us go. Rather than force us to return to Him, force us to love Him... He lets us go.

- This is not God's decision. This is OUR decision. WE choose to push the boundaries too far. WE choose to push God away again and again. WE choose to have God release His grasp on our life... and in doing so... we bring punishment to ourselves.

- “Then I will return to my place until they admit their guilt and turn to me. For as soon as trouble comes, they will earnestly search for me.”

- Basically... the searching, begging husband goes home. He lets go and says “if you want to come home wife, you may. You are welcome here. But I will not force you to come. You must find me of your own volition.” (The thing with that is... God's never far away... Even if we don't see Him... He's hanging around just waiting on us to turn around to get ready to come home... He's right behind us... and when we turn around... we are met with open arms that have so desperately wanted to hold us again... Never do we have to claw our way over miles of hard terrain trying to get back home... God's not waiting in a throne room on us to knock on the door so He can have some cold servant answer the door... He's out there still trying to catch your eye... Even if you don't see Him...)

- “As soon as trouble comes, they will earnestly search for me.” This was God's experience with the nation of Israel. They would turn away. Punishment would come. And as soon as life got a little uncomfortable, or they started to feel like they were being persecuted... they would turn and run back to God begging for salvation... Not because they wanted to come back... Not because they suddenly realized how much He loved them... Not because they wanted to change... Just because life got hard... He was the genie in a bottle.

- “God! I desire to have three wishes granted! And after the third, I'll put you back in your bottle... until I need you again... but for now... I need.........”

- You know people like that? When somebody gets sick, or when something bad happens... they run to church. “Oh God! I need help! This is horrible! Help me! I'll do anything you ask! I'll be a missionary, I'll give all my money away, I'll go to church every Sunday, just grant me this ONE THING!”

- And if God grants the request... within a few weeks, or maybe even a few months... they're right back where they were before. There was no real heart in it. They got what they wanted and then they go right back to living life the way they want.

- “Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces; now He will heal us. He has injured us; now He will bandage our wounds. In just a short time He will restore us, so that we may live in His presence. Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know Him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring.”

- It's kinda like a spoiled rich kid. Whenever they get in trouble, mom and dad bail them out. No matter what happens, mom and dad are there to pick up the pieces, pay all the bills, and get them off the hook... So as soon as the storm comes, they run to mom and dad with “oh please! I promise I'll never do it again...”

- In the meantime... the parents may or may not ever hear from the kid other than when he/she needs something. Months, years... and all of a sudden, “MOM! DAD! I need money!”

- There are stories of kings or rich men who cut their sons off because of such things. Determine that they will have to earn their own way for a while. Grow up. Be a man. Quit acting like a child. Focus on things of adulthood... quit expecting life to be easy and simple.

- And when the son finally comes home? Hopefully... he has learned the lessons his father sought to teach him. Hopefully, he's not just putting on an act so he can gain his father's good graces and once again start living the good life.

- People who put on the act have had no change in their hearts. They cry to God for help... and then turn again to their sinful ways. No change. No difference. Nothing that speaks of a love for their God.

- “O Israel and Judah, what should I do with you?” asks the Lord. “For your love vanishes like the morning mist and disappears like dew in the sunlight. I sent my prophets to cut you to pieces—to slaughter you with my words, with judgments as inescapable as light.”

- They turn away! Again and again! He has spoken to them time after time and nothing happens! It is always the same! They turn again for a little while... until something bright pops up that grabs their attention. Something new, something that looks more exciting... and whoosh! They're running after the things of the world... again... abandoning their husband... again...

- They profess their love and then turn from it as quickly as the words were spoken to go and woo other lovers.

- Ezekiel 23:28-35
- Psalm 18; 89; 25; 86; 100
- II Thessalonians 3:1-5
- Hebrews 2:5-18
- I John 1:5-10


- So what does God want from us? How should the loving, faithful wife respond to the loving, faithful husband?

- “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want burnt offerings.”

- Even though we're not offering up burnt sacrifices today... we are offering up something...

- When I think of sacrificing something to God today, I automatically think about someone selling everything they own and going to the mission field in some small place with no modern utilities. Somewhere out in the middle of nowhere at the mercy of the native savages...

- Well... unless God calls us to that... it's not what He wants from us. We can be the most self-sacrificing people ever... we can give more than our 10% in tithes, and give all our spare time to missions, or the church, and teach every bible study we can and pour ourselves into the work of God... But unless God has called you to that duty... it is lip service. It is just as if you had worshiped alongside the Israelites.

- God wants sold out hearts. Our sacrifice may not be missions. It may not even be working extra with church functions. God might be calling us simply to work in a workplace surrounded with unbelievers. Sound too simple?

- Put it this way... if you are not in the center of God's will for your life... you are living out a life of partial sacrifice. If you are keeping parts of your life back from allowing God to work in them... you are failing to know the heart of God.

- God wants us first to Love Him and Know Him. In doing so, we become better acquainted with what God wants to do in our lives and with our lives.

- Yeah, I could go sacrifice myself to the mission field in some far off country... but would it do any good? I would be very tired. I would be very disgruntled. I wouldn't be happy. And I probably wouldn't make much difference. Oh God could still use me there... but not to the extent that He would like. And if I'm not careful... stepping out on my own could hurt my witness rather than help it. And it will, through sheer disappointment and stress most likely hurt my relationship with God as well.

- For now, He has placed me in a music classroom at the elementary level. That is my place right now. Those are the people I am to speak to. Those are the people I am to love.

- If I stepped out and said “God... this isn't enough. I'm not reaching enough people teaching music to little kids... So I'm going to... Mexico.” I would be running after glory for myself and turning from the very obedience God is asking of me.

- Nobody else may ever be able to reach the kids I teach. This may be the ONE time in their lives that they see me, meet me, get to know who I am, and eventually... maybe even get to know my God. Working in a public school system, sometimes that seems entirely far-fetched... but even in my classroom, we have had discussions about God. Very blunt discussions. Because the kids don't want sugarcoated answers. And once a question is raised, they very rarely let it go without a solid answer. And when I see them outside of school, and they ask questions? Or when I see their parents at the park or school things? Or when we go to community events and they see different aspects of my life? Everything (I hope) speaks with a witness to those kids... and when they get older, I hope they still remember those things.

- There's a saying that says “we are the only bible some may ever read.” Our lives speak volumes... and sometimes... it's right where we are. We don't have to sacrifice great things to be God's vessel. We just have to be willing where we are.

- The sacrifice, most often, is not of worldly things... but of pride, and self-consciousness, and popularity.

- Remember the story of the widow's mite? A rich man came to the temple and gave a bunch of gold... Right after him, came this widow... and she only had a coin or two to give. But she gave it. And the disciples were kinda saying, “well that guy gave so much more than she did!” And Jesus said no... she gave all that she had... and he gave a little our of his abundance.

- If we are obedient in our little... God sees it as great.

- Israel had tried to continue in the sacrifices. They brought the lambs and goats and birds to God at the specified times. They celebrated Passover and all the festivals. They looked to God when they needed Him... But they didn't ever really get to KNOW Him. They didn't take the time to even try. They kept Him at a distance and continued to do whatever they liked.

- “Like Adam, you broke my covenant and betrayed my trust.”

- Have you betrayed God's trust? Are you running after worldly things? Are you seeking your own enjoyment and pleasure rather than His?

- Do you KNOW God? Or are you depending on the little you know to be enough in the long run. The bare minimum.

- Galatians 5:16-26
- Deuteronomy 5:7-10
- Matthew 5:13-16, 43-48; 22:34-40
- John 10:1-18


- “Gilead is a city of sinners, tracked with footprints of blood. Priests form bands of robbers, waiting in ambush for their victims. They murder travelers along the road to Shechem and practice every kind of sin. Yes, I have seen something horrible in Ephraim and Israel: My people are defiled by prostituting themselves with other gods! “Oh Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.”

- “I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.” God's heart is always for His people... but our stubbornness and our willingness to turn against Him... disallows this. But God's character is never changing. He always wants the best for us... no matter what we do.

- footnote- “Gilead was once a sacred place, but here it was corrupt. Shechem was once a city of refuge designated by Joshua (Joshua 20:1-8); Gilead was a region that included Ramoth, also a city of refuge. At this time these areas were associated with murder and crime, with bands of evil priests lying in wait to murder travelers passing through the territory.”

- footnote- “So that the people of Judah would not become proud as they say the northern kingdom's destruction, Hosea interjected a solemn warning about God's “harvest.” God's temple was in Judah (Jerusalem), and the people thought that what happened in Israel could never happen to them. But when they had become utterly corrupt, they, too, were led off into captivity (II Kings 25).”

- Again... judgment is coming... God won't change His mind. He is a just God. He doesn't sugarcoat anything. There's nothing fickle in Him. So because of sin... judgment will come. It's just a matter of when and to whom.

- Israel had taken the cities of refuge, the holy cities... and made them places of darkness and fear. Even in the holy city of Jerusalem... there would be judgment for sin.

- So where will you stand when Judgment comes? Will God have seen His heart reflected in yours?

- There is still time to turn around... God is right behind you waiting to accept you into open arms... will you turn with your whole heart? Will you allow God to restore your fortunes to you?

- Psalm 32; 94
- Hebrews 13:8-9
- Romans 5:1-8:17
- I Timothy 1:12-17

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