Sabbatical 2017

Sabbatical 2017
Pont Aven, France

Monday, July 18, 2016

Chronological reading Plan for July 19, Hosea 1-7

Today's readings are Hosea 1-7. Tomorrow's are Hosea 8-14. 

Hosea has a long career as a prophet, running from early to mid 8th century BC, when Jeroboam II was king of Israel, to early in the 7th century, when Hezekiah was king over Judah. His prophetic messages were delivered primarily to Israel during the 30 years leading up to the Assyrian invasion of 722 BC. He mentions Judah but the main message is to Israel, sometimes called Samaria (the capital city of Israel), sometimes called Ephraim. 

During Hosea's time, which spans much of the same time as Amos, Israel was first ruled over by Jeroboam II. Times were good, the economy was robust, the standard of living, at least for the upper class, was very high and life was good but not godly. The Syrians, always a problem, had been seriously weakened by an Assyrian attack on Damascus in 805 BC. Israel’s kingdom expanded. By any worldly measure, things were great. By the beginning of Hosea's time, even the Assyrians were not much of a threat...not yet. When Jeroboam II died, things slipped into near anarchy with 6 kings in 30 years starting with Zechariah, 4 of them being assassinated.  Hosea lived in or near Samaria, 

Hosea is divided up into three main sections. Chs 1-3 demonstrate Divine love and the extent of its unconditional nature. We see accusations leveled and a call to repent in chs 4-7. In the last half of the book, we see a series of proclamations, probably in the form of songs.

In the first section, Hosea is called to marry a prostitute, something that is highly offensive and distasteful to a Jew. He gives his children names that are part of the message he brings, "Not Loved" and "Not My People". Hosea is likened to God. His wife is likened to Israel. His children are part of the message he bears, "Not Loved" and "Not My People".

Hosea is called to be faithful to his wife even if she is not faithful to him. This is a picture of God's faithfulness and Israel's lack of faithfulness. God speaks to a comfortable, prosperous people through Hosea's actions and the names of his children, a sobering message as Hosea walks through the streets of Samaria. He becomes notorious for marrying a prostitute, even more so for the names of the children he carries. His calling is to speak the truth, not only in what he preaches, but in some of the outrageous things he does, things which are symbolic of Israel’s fate if they don’t repent. Prophets are frequently called to live out their messages as a graphic portrayal of God's truth. 

In the second section, we read all the reasons Israel is unfaithful and see how far they have fallen. It’s a tough message for people that are experiencing prosperity. There is a warning and a call to repent. God grieves over the rebellion of His child and implores him to mend his ways. If not, judgment is coming.  

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