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

Happy studying!

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Hosea Chapters 3 and 4

Hosea 3 and 4

vs. 3:1-3

- Hosea's wife has left again. She has gone after other lovers.

- God tells Hosea to go and love her again. Go get her, bring her home, and love her.

- Now the command to love is not an easy one. We don't have an on/off switch for our feelings. Especially one like love. God was asking Hosea to look at someone who had wronged him, had betrayed him, had broken a solemn covenant with him... to go get her, bring her back... and LOVE her...

- Man, we have a hard time sometimes loving our own family... when they do simple things... we get mad over the smallest things sometimes... and here's Hosea... being asked to love his wife... after a BIG thing. And she's not crawling back on her hands and knees begging either... He, the one who has been wronged, has to go and ask her forgiveness so to speak. Wow. What a picture.

- footnote- “God asked Hosea to do something almost unthinkable—to buy back his adulterous, unrepentant wife and to continue to love her! When those who knew about Gomer's adultery heard Hosea say that God loved idolatrous Israel as much as Hosea loved Gomer, they must have been amazed. The people had heard God's words many times, but they felt the impact of those words when they saw them acted out in Hosea's merciful love for his wife.”

- This is Grace in action. And Hosea did put it in action. He went and payed 15 pieces of silver, five bushels of barley, and a skin of wine, to buy back his wife.

- He brought her home and said “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.”

- There was a price to pay for retribution. She had to give something up... she in essence, had to repent. She had to turn from her ways and make a change in her life...

- Okay, follow me for a minute down the road of speeding... lol (since this is something I have experience with... unfortunately...)

- So this week, I got pulled over... again... At least this time it wasn't that bad... But I was panicking anyway... and he let me off with a warning... and I just about cried when he did... I don't really know why... I mean it wouldn't have been such a huge deal... but mainly... all at once, I got this HUGE picture in my mind of the Grace of God to us all... and that, more than anything hit me like a rock...

- When the cop pulls you over... your life, for that moment, is in his hands. He can choose to exercise grace, and let you go with a warning. Or he can be really mean and nasty and jack up the speed on the ticket... (which has also happened to me)... Or he can follow all the rules and give you your just punishment.

- No matter what happens... he's in charge. Sure you can go to court and contest the ticket or the speed or whatever... but more than likely... the law officer will win out... Simply because it's your word against his... and you're trying to get out of paying a ticket... you'll probably say anything! He really has no reason to lie... so more than likely... the court will rule in the law's favor.

- Now... we as law abiding citizens have a responsibility to follow all the rules. But why? Sometimes the speed limits just seem a little ridiculous. I saw a sign once for a 13 mph speed limit... what in the world is that for!? And whoever heard of a 55 mph on an interstate highway! Geesh!

- However... the limits are there for a reason. They not only protect you from killing yourself... they also protect the other drivers around you. At higher speeds... if random things happen... like an animal running out in front of you... or a tire blowing out... or the battery suddenly deciding to die... or unexpected weather conditions... it's hard to maintain control. There have been times in the winter that even 25 mph is pushing the limits of my being able to control my car on the ice and snow conditions on the road...

- So when the cop pulls you over for texting while driving... or for speeding... or for having a brake light out... it is for your protection... and ultimately for the protection of your family and people you don't even know...

- God's laws are the same... They protect us from ourselves... and others from us... When we sin, our sin effects not only us, but those around us... sometimes people we don't even know...

- And so when God catches us going over our limits (not that He doesn't ever know...) but when He does finally pull us over, He has the same decision to make as our cop from above does. He COULD be really mean... but that's not His character...

- So that leaves us with just punishment, or a warning.

- Grace is that warning. We are always so far over the speed limit that we should lose our license... or have some jail time even... and yet God always chooses to give us a warning and send us on our way with an “I'll be watching” tone...

- Grace is undeserved favor... we never deserve it, but God always gives it...

- Eventually however, we run out of chances. You can only speed along for so long without something bad happening... You hit an animal, or a tree, or miss a turn, or hit an icy patch... and before you know it... you die while speeding along this road... and then... Grace can't save you. Grace is for the living. If you accept the gift of Grace here on earth, then you maintain it after death... but if you continually throw it away... well... you will have to finally face the courtroom... and it will be a righteous judgment. And the court, as I said... always rules with the law.

- Remember the story of Jonah? He went to Ninevah (finally...) preached, spread the word... and they repented. And God withheld His judgment... for a time. But eventually, judgment did come 70 years later. There was a temporary revival of the heart. They were afraid of death... and so they repented of their ways... but 70 years later... they had yet again become the same sinful city as previously. Their sins, old and new, had to be spoken for.

- In Genesis 6:3, God said that His Spirit would not strive, or put up with man for forever. He cut down the lifespan to 120 years... God will fight for your soul... but ultimately... it's your decision as to where your soul will spend eternity.

- Jesus once talked about laying up our treasures in heaven. Godly things that we strive for and accomplish... the things which our heart longs for... those things will be stored up in heaven. The earthly things we possess and desire... will die with us here on earth. They are not eternal.

- So when we throw away or pass over the gifts that God is giving us... we are not storing up those eternal things. We are rather holding onto things that will pass away with us.

- Matthew 6:19-21

- So are you accepting Grace? Are you letting God give you a warning and deciding to change your ways?

- Or are you determined to forever push the boundaries to see how far you can make it?

- Will you store up the heavenly things? Or the things that are fleeting?

- Micah 6:1-7:20

vs. 3:4-5

- Hosea taking back his wife and not allowing her to have sexual relations with ANYONE.... was to show that Israel would go for a long time without a king or a prince... without sacrifices, sacred things, or priests... they wouldn't even have their idols.

- After this time... they will turn and devote themselves back to God and David's descendant (Jesus).

- footnote- “The northern kingdom had rebelled against David's dynasty and had taken Jeroboam as their king (I Kings 12-13). Their rebellion was both political and religious. At that time, they reverted back to the worship of golden idols. “David's descendant, their king” refers to the time of Messiah's rule when all people will bow before Him in humility and submission. Those who won't accept Christ's blessings now will face his power and judgment later. How much better is it to love and follow Christ now than face His angry judgment later.”

- Ezekiel 24:11-31
- Jeremiah 7:1-11:17

vs. 4:1-7

- God is laying out His charges against Israel as you would in a law case. These are His charges:

- There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in the land. They have made vows and broken them. You kill, steal, commit adultery. Violence is everywhere, murder after murder.

- “That is why your land is in mourning, and why everyone is wasting away. Even the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the fish of the sea are disappearing.”

- As I read that part... I was struck with a comparison that I just can't seem to get away from.

- I know some of you may be in other countries, but in the USA lately, there have been these unexplainable things going on...

- There have been thousands of birds just dying randomly... No real cause... They just suddenly drop out of the sky. Thousands of fish turned up dead in one of the bays. Again... no cause can be found. There have been hundreds of tornadoes in the last few months... in places where tornadoes are very uncommon... or have never happened before. Oil spills galore. Hurricanes of massive proportions... In our state, the deer have started to get this disease... a literal wasting away disease. Mad cow disease has been here. It's becoming common to hear of children having horrible diseases and cancer... seemingly with no real environmental cause. We can't turn on the TV without hearing of something horrible... Mothers and fathers killing their children. Children killing their parents. Neighbors killing each other. Random acts of violence. People do horrible things to children... who are supposed to be the innocent ones...

- How much can we relate to that little verse of scripture? How much do we see every day that shows us we are falling, as a nation, farther and farther away from being a nation of God. We have taken prayer out of our schools. We have taken away our children's right to speak as they please to their friends at school. We can't have Christmas programs without somebody thinking we have an agenda. We are held in contempt everywhere we go and seen as raving mad individuals.

- Do you feel like a prophet of old yet? Everybody thinking you're crazy and nobody wanting to listen... even for a second?

- Our world as a whole is turning its back on God. Those in power have their gods of money, of power, of ego... Those wanting to be in power... are worse... Those of us not in power of any sort... have our gods of indulgence, of desire, of sloth, of lust. We can get at anything we want easily and quickly. There is no waiting for anything. The internet has opened up a thousand gateways to new temptations. If only in the form of wasting time away from things that we should be more focused on.

- Proverbs 28:2
- Isaiah 24:1-23
- Zephaniah 1:2-2:3

- In I Timothy 5:18 it says that the workers deserve their pay... And just pay at that... We are a world working toward gaining that which we desire... not toward the things of God. Because of it... our world... is falling apart. Tsunami's of massive proportion. Earthquakes everywhere. Fires raging through forests and towns. Natural disasters galore.

- Somewhere I heard once that the pestilence talked about in Revelation was not a pestilence of insects... but rather that the Greek word spoke of natural disasters... Man are we ever having those...

- We as an international group of people... have been the unfaithful wife. We have turned our backs on the Husband who loves us... and have gone after our other lovers.

- We have no one to blame but ourselves. WE have the unfaithful hearts... God has continually been faithful to us...

- “Don't point your finger at someone else and try to pass the blame! My complaint, you priests, is with you.”

- Oh so it's the preacher's fault... no... lol sorry... still can't pass the buck...

- I Peter 2:5-9 talks about us being priests. A priest is to be a mediator between the people and God. We as Christians are become that mediator to the lost. Through Christ, we “offer spiritual sacrifices that please God.”

- We are in a place as children and followers of Christ to mediate for the lost... But we don't do our jobs... we get scared of being thought of as the crazy prophet prophesying doom and gloom. We don't think about the consequences to others. Yeah, we might be saved. We have a relationship with God and we'll get to heaven... but that's not what this walk is about.

- Our responsibility as believers is to go to the lost. The Great Commission in Matthew 28 says go to ALL the world and preach the gospel. That was our order. It was given to be followed... Not looked at as a “well if you have time, you might want to do this.”

- We are often lax in our fulfilling of that order. We get comfortable with our lives... we start thinking only about our needs and wants... We get selfish. And we do not tell the people we meet about the love of God. We instead, ignore their need for spiritual salvation and let them continue on their path to eternal destruction.

- “So you will stumble in broad daylight, and your false prophets will fall with you in the night. And I will destroy Israel, your mother.”

- We will fall in front of everyone. Because we have been lax in our priestly duties, we will fall publicly. And those who have been false prophets, have told us that all would be well, have told us that we are in the right to keep to ourselves... they will fall with us. And our nation, will be destroyed.

- God says that “His people are being destroyed because they don't know Me.” All people are God's. He created them all... holds each to be dear... and because they don't know Him... they are dying in their sin... irreparable damage. Beyond His reach as a God of justice. And it's our fault. We have failed to speak as God's mouthpiece.

- Because we refuse to know God as He is and because we fail to take on our duties with zeal... God will no longer recognize us as His priests. “Because you have forgotten the laws of your God, I will forget to bless your children.”

- “The more priests there are, the more they sin against me. They have exchanged the glory of God for the shame of idols.”

- Hosea here, was writing about golden idols. Idols with temples... but this applies to anything we put in the place of God. Anything we focus our time on.

- I don't want to be the priest that gets cast off because of not fulfilling my duties. I don't want to be found out to be an idol worshiper... a worshiper of money, or material things, or even people.

- I have always thought it odd that, in English, the word “idol” is a homophone (sounds the same as) with the word “idle”. To think of idol worship as being an idle thing. It is something that sometimes is just an idle pastime. Something that we don't even realize we are making an idol... just something that we use to waste away the time with.

- And in the end... it profits nothing... it has just been a waste of time...

- So here we are... exchanging the glory and awesomeness of God... for the idleness and commonality of idols...

- Acts 15:7-21
- Romans 5:12-6:23; 8:31-11:36
- Galatians 5:1-26
- Ephesians 2:1-10
- Titus 3:3-8

vs. 4:8-10

- God next goes on to relate some specifics of the sins of Israel's priests.

- “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed. So the priests are glad when the people sin! And what the priests to, the people also do.”

- The leadership of the priests was lacking. They were sinning... and the people were following the priests. When the people brought their offerings to the temple for their sin... the priests got to eat... so they were glad that the people were sinning... it meant that they got paid basically...

- It would be like your pastor, taking you to a bar... getting you drunk... and then guilting you into paying him so he could ask God to forgive you... because you sinned... and “you don't have the right to ask God for forgiveness when you sin...”

- We as priests have a responsibility to lead people to truth. Not to sin.

- “So now I will punish both priests and people for their wicked deeds. They will eat and still be hungry. They will play the prostitute and gain nothing from it, for they have deserted the Lord to worship other gods.”

- footnote- “God accused the religious leaders of keeping the people from knowing Him. They were supposed to be spiritual leader, but they had become leaders in wrongdoing. The people may have said to one another, “It must be OK if the priests do it.” Spiritual leadership is a heavy responsibility. Whether you teach a church Sunday school class, hold a church office, or lead a Bible study, don't take your leadership responsibilities lightly. Be a leader who leads others to God.”

- And not just in these things only. Leading in your home can be the most important thing you ever do. Leading with your friends. Leading in your workplace... Even if you're not a pastor, or in a leadership position of teaching at your church... you are still a leader to others.

- I feel that I must say however, that it does not always depend on the leadership. Looking at your pastor and following in his footsteps is fine... but when he messes up... just because it's him... doesn't mean that you need to follow him. If you know something is wrong, you have no excuse for following into sin. You still have a personal relationship to maintain with your own Husband... your pastor, or you parents, or your Sunday School teacher, cannot keep your relationship up for you...

- Ezekiel 34:1-10; 14:1-16:63
- Zechariah 11:4-17
- Malachi 1:6-4:6
- I Peter 5:1-11
- I Timothy 3:1-13

vs. 4:11-14

- “Wine has robbed my people of their understanding. They ask a piece of wood for advice! They think a stick can tell them the future!”

- footnote- “The “stick,” or divining rod, was a way of attempting to tell the future....”

- They have numbed their senses with wine... or other substances... they have gone so far in trying to live life the way they want it without having to think about consequences... that they have dulled their senses. They ask wood for advice. They turn to earthly, man-made things and put them in the place of God. They ask divining rods to look into the future...

- I knew a lady once whose house and burnt down. Everything was gone... except two angel figurines. So in her new house... she had angels everywhere. They were going to protect the house... She literally ended up with hundreds of them.

- She was clinging to something that was fleeting. She let those angels take the place of God, Who is our protector in all things.

- I have nothing against angel figurines... but to set them up as having the power to protect you... is basically setting them up as an idol.

- Today we think “idol” and we think of little fat statues of Buddha with little food offerings piled up in front.

- But an idol doesn't always have to be something that the world sees as a god... An idol is anything we put our trust in outside of God Himself.

- It talks about the people of Israel longing after idols so much that they prostituted themselves...

- “That is why your daughters turn to prostitution, and your daughters-in-law commit adultery. But why should I punish them for their prostitution and adultery? For your men are doing the same thing, sinning with whores and shrine prostitutes.”

- footnote- “The chief Canaanite gods, Ball and Asherah, represented the power of fertility and sexual reproduction. Not surprisingly, their worship included rituals with vile sexual practices. Male worshipers had sex with female temple prostitutes or female priests, and young women wishing to bear children had sex with male priests. But God said their efforts to increase fertility would not succeed.”

- “Longing after idols has made them foolish.”

- They were turning to sin in order to worship their idols better... Instead of looking to the giver of all things... the God Who had proven Himself oh so many times... they turned to worship a piece of wood... all so they could fulfill their fleshly desires without the feeling of guilt.

- Judges 17:1-18:31
- Habakkuk 2:18-20
- Matthew 11:25-27
- Romans 1:18-32

vs. 4:14-19

- Because they refused to understand their acts of sin and expected repentance... God said He would destroy them.

- They had proven themselves to be stubborn. They were determined to have their own way no matter the consequences. So should God reward them for their rebellion? No! “Should the Lord feed her like a lamb in a lush pasture?”

- Israel had married herself off to idolatry. She had run from her true Husband only to turn and marry a man she herself built. It's like building a robot and marrying it...

- Israel loved shame more than honor. She turned her affections to her robot god... and left Christ, standing at the altar, awaiting His bride's hand in marriage.

- “So a mighty wind will sweep them away. Their sacrifices to idols will bring them shame.”

- Judgment comes whether we're ready or not. God is not going to let you off after death. There is no pleading your case. “The mighty wind” will come... are you going to have a foundation that does not shake?

- verses 15-17 is a message to Judah and in turn... also to us. Basically God said, please, don't follow in Israel's footsteps. Avoid idolatry. Don't join in the false worship of other things. Leave Israel to herself. Leave her to her sin... Instead, please follow Me. Stay faithful to your Husband.

- When you stand before God, Grace has been offered... will you be in possession of it still? Will Christ step forward and say, “no Father, this one is mine. This one has been bought and paid for and has come home to dwell with Me forever. This one is my faithful wife.”

- Or will the room be silent as God asks “Does anyone speak in this person's defense? Is there any reason that I should not condemn him for his grievous sins?”

- Where will you stand?

- Isaiah 59:1-21
- Jeremiah 5:20-6:21
- Psalm 78; 81
- Matthew 12:31-37
- Hebrews 9:11-28
- II Peter 2:1-3:15

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