December 7, 2021

Hosea 6:1–9:17

What a beautiful invitation Hosea opens chapter 6 with:

Hosea 6:1–2 (NKJV) “Come, and let us return to the LORD; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. 2 After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.”

Gracious words to Israel, to all who have sinned, who’ve drifted from God, even defied the Lord – although He’s disciplined He will not deny us, if we return with a repentant heart. He even offers the resurrected life! Notice in Hosea 6:3 the way God responds:

Hosea 6:3 (NLT) “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.”

He is willing and waiting to bless us with showers from heaven…as sure as the rising of the sun.

But Israel and Judah did not respond to the warning of Hosea. He identifies in detail their many, many, sins.

They were unfaithful (Hosea 6:4) and very religious, but without heart (Hosea 6:6). Their spiritual harlotry was horrible (Hosea 6:10).

We see the same indictment in chapter 7. As we’ve read, God is willing to restore the repentant, to heal the sick (Hosea 7:1) but the iniquity of Ephraim and the wickedness of Samaria continued. What were they thinking in doing such things? I have a hunch they weren’t thinking at all.

Hosea 7:2 (NKJV) “They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face.”

Adulterers, alcoholics, full-on friends with the world, so much so that foreigners had devoured their strength (Hosea’s 7:8). It was obvious that they were headed for trouble, but they were too proud to get right with God.

Hosea 7:10 (NKJV) “And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.”

Things like this can happen in different degrees. It might be someone who is obviously in a backslidden condition, or someone who is backslidden in heart (Proverbs 14:1; Isaiah 57:17; Acts 7:39).

When the hard times inevitably hit, who do we turn to? The best thing is for us to return to the Lord, but we read in Hosea 7:11-16 how Israel turned to Egypt and Assyria for help and not God.

They did not cry out to God (Hosea 7:14)

They did not return to the Most High (Hosea 7:16)

As a matter of fact, they fled from God (Hosea 7:13)

Hosea advised the people to blow the trumpet (the shofar), in order to signal the impending battle, the invasion of the Assyrians. Their idolatry was their downfall. 

Idolatry is a common temptation. A person can be engaged in the worship of other gods, praying to statues or saints, or simply putting someone or something before God. I always have to ask myself, “Is God truly first in my life?”

1 John 5:21 (NKJV) “Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.”

Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

Tragically because Israel worshipped the calf (Hosea 8:4) and the Baals and everything else under the sun, they planted seeds of sin and were about to reap a horrible harvest. They had sown the wind, and were about to reap the whirlwind (Hosea 8:7). It’s true, we reap what we sow.

Galatians 6:7–8 (NKJV) “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.”

I can honestly say that one of the greatest gifts God has given to us is the Bible. It’s obvious to me that it’s truth from the top, it’s the perfect precepts and principles for all people; it’s the revelation of God. The Bible has proven itself in numerous ways, especially in the aspect of fulfilled prophecy. Jesus Himself validated the inspiration of the Old Testament and guaranteed the inspiration of the New (John 16:13). It makes perfect sense to me that if there is a Creator God (and there is) He would put the important things in “writing.” The reason I bring all this up is because of Hosea 8:12:

Hosea 8:12 (NKJV) “I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing.”

God has written for us His wonderful Word. But the people of the world consider it strange, foreign, alien, and weird. I was talking to someone the other day and to say that they considered me strange, would be putting it mildly. It was exactly what Hosea 8:12 declares.

This section might be summarized in:

Hosea 8:14 (NKJV) “For Israel has forgotten his Maker, and has built temples; Judah also has multiplied fortified cities; but I will send fire upon his cities, and it shall devour his palaces.”

Hosea 9 continues the declaration of judgment upon Israel. Some would return to bondage in Egypt, most would be carried away to Assyria (Hosea 9:3).

It’s hard, if not downright impossible to get right with God if the people despise the true prophets of God…but that’s what happened in Israel!

Hosea 9:7–8 (NLT) “The time of Israel’s punishment has come; the day of payment is here. Soon Israel will know this all too well. Because of your great sin and hostility, you say, “The prophets are crazy and the inspired men are fools!” 8 The prophet is a watchman over Israel for my God, yet traps are laid for him wherever he goes. He faces hostility even in the house of God.”

Before God judged Israel, He had clearly warned them. Hosea 9:9 tells us that things were so sinful, it had reached the stages of Gibeah. If you cross reference Judges 19:22 you’ll find that this is in reference to times of blatant homosexuality. What we find is any society who turns their back on God, will experience more and more of this type of sickening sin, because God no longer restrains them, but allows them to have their way (see also Romans 1:26-27). It was an abomination (Hosea 9:10).

Hosea 9:17 (NKJV) “My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.”

And that’s exactly what happened not many years later.

3 John 1:1-15

When I was a young Christian I remember learning the different books of the Bible, and their themes, with some very creative flashcards. According to these particular flashcards the theme of 2 John was, “Close the Door,” and the theme of 3 John was “Open the Door.” When you read through these 2 letters you understand the reason for the simple synopsis – in 2 John we are taught to “close the door” to false teachers, and in 3 John we are taught to “open the door” to true teachers of God’s Word.

Once again we have John the Beloved Apostle writing as an Elder, this time to a brother named Gaius, who appears to be a one of John’s “children,” in the sense that John may have been instrumental in leading him to the Lord. Someone had testified to John that Gaius was walking in the truth, and I echo his sentiments with enthusiasm, that there is no greater joy! As a parent and a pastor I agree wholeheartedly…there really is no greater joy than to see our children, honestly and genuinely in love with Jesus! I can have the most successful career or ministry, or be blessed financially, but if my children didn’t know the Lord, it would be tough if not impossible to experience the fulness of joy.

John writes this letter to let the church know that it’s good to welcome faithful ministers and missionaries into their homes, and then to send them out on their way with prayers, words of encouragement, and even financial support at times. John mentions in 3 John 1:7 that they didn’t receive donations from non-believers (a good attribute), so the believers should show them hospitality, and send them forward in a manner worthy of God.

Apparently there was a man in the church named Diotrophes who liked to have preeminence and power, who wasn’t allowing the people to help genuine servants of the Lord. Diotrophes even opposed John! John said that when he arrived, he was going to deal with Diotrophes and discipline him, because he spoke maliciously, didn’t receive the brethren, and forbade others to do so. What a drag to see some disciples so pridefully divisive. John had learned his lesson, he had a vision for the entire body of Christ (see Luke 9:51-56).

John encourages the church not to imitate (mimic) what is evil, but to imitate what is good – this is the fruit, the evidence of salvation. If a person only does evil, they simply are not born again!

John mentions a man named Demetrius who had probably been rejected by Diotrophes. John tells the church he’s a good guy, it’s okay to receive him, to show him hospitality, and to support his ministry. He had been recommended by the Apostle himself.

One of the things I’ve learned over the years is we need to know the truth well enough, so that we know when to divide, and when to unite.

Again, John is hoping to visit them…it’s always better when it’s done in person (if possible).

Psalm 126:1-6

Scholars are not sure on the exact background to this Psalm. Some take it at face value and see it as a time when Israel was brought back from captivity, while others say it was when the LORD defeated the Assyrian army which had surrounded Jerusalem.

Whatever the occasion was, it was like a dream come true for the people. 

Have you ever experienced anything like this? When God moves and blesses in such a glorious way that it feels like you’re dreaming?

We see it, others see it, and even say it, “The LORD has done great things for them. The LORD has done great things for us, and we are glad.”

The Psalmist prays for God to move again. It may have even been a time of tears (Psalm 126:5). Since this was a song of ascents, (they would sing this Psalm on their way to Jerusalem) the songwriter knew, we frequently go through hard times. It’s just a reality of life because we live in a broken world. Has it been hard for you lately? Have you been sowing in tears? Don’t lose heart my friend, cling to this promise:

Psalm 126:5 (NKJV) “Those who sow in tears shall reap in joy.”

God is aware of every tear (Psalm 56:8), He has a purpose for every pain, and a harvest for every hurt.

Psalm 30:5 (NKJV) “For His anger is but for a moment, His favor is for life; weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.”

Proverbs 29:12-14

Proverbs 29:12 (NKJV) “If a ruler pays attention to lies, all his servants become wicked.”

It could be the lies of his advisors, it could be the lies of the reporters. We now live in the land of lies more than ever, fake news with diabolic agendas; and even if you’re not busy with that occupation, the population is just as bad. People are simply believing what’s being fed to them or what they want to believe, by whoever they choose to listen to. It’s almost as if they can’t think for themselves.

“If a ruler takes the advice of liars, then he encourages wickedness in the people around him. But if he instead rewards honesty then it will be encouraged and falsehood will be punished (cf. 20:8, 28).” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

The rule of a ruler is to only rule on those things he knows to be true…has the information been validated? Is it completely true or only partially true? A rumor? A possibility? Be careful.

“They are so because they deceive him, and they become so; for instead of saying the truth which the ruler does not wish to hear, they seek to gain his favor by deceitful flatteries, misrepresentations, exaggerations, falsehoods.” – Keil & Delitzsch

Proverbs 29:13 (NKJV) “The poor man and the oppressor have this in common: the Lord gives light to the eyes of both.”

We usually see the poor man as right in God’s sight, and the oppressor on the other extreme, but God’s common grace covers them both – with light to see. The question is, what do we view with those eyes? May that common grace (creation) lead to special grace (salvation).

Proverbs 22:2 (NKJV) “The rich and the poor have this in common, the Lord is the maker of them all.”

God not only gives light, He gives life!

Jesus calls us all to show this common grace – even to our enemies!

Matthew 5:44–45 (NKJV) “But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, 45 that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Proverbs 29:14 (NKJV) “The king who judges the poor with truth, his throne will be established forever.”

God has a special place in His heart for the poor (the poor are prominent – mentioned 35 times in the Proverbs). God raises up rulers with a responsibility to look after those sincerely struggling financially.

“Fairness (cf. v. 7) toward those least able to care for themselves (the poor, dal, “feeble, weak, helpless”; see comments on 10:15) is a mark of a good king (cf. v. 4) whose throne is therefore secure (cf. 16:12; 20:28). God blesses rulers who are concerned about the poor, and people appreciate such rulers.” – Bible Knowledge Commentary

How do I treat those who can “help” me the least? A true test of character.

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