Words of the Prophets – Zechariah (2)

When Messiah Comes Again

Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, and thy spoil shall be divided in the midst of thee. For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city.  Then shall the LORD go forth, and fight against those nations, as when He fought in the day of battle.

And His feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the Mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south.  And ye shall flee to the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, and all the saints with Thee.  And it shall come to pass in that day, that the light shall not be clear, nor dark:  But it shall be one day which shall be known to the LORD, not day, nor night: but it shall come to pass, that at evening time it shall be light.

Zechariah 14:1-7 (KJV)

Words of the Prophets – Zechariah

Jerusalem Safely Inhabited

“And it shall be in that day, that living waters shall go out from Jerusalem; half of them toward the former sea, and half of them toward the hinder sea: in summer and in winter shall it be. And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and His name one. All the land shall be turned as a plain from Geba to Rimmon south of Jerusalem: and it shall be lifted up, and inhabited in her place, from Benjamin’s gate unto the place of the first gate, unto the corner gate, and from the tower of Hananeel unto the king’s winepresses. And men shall dwell in it, and there shall be no more utter destruction; but Jerusalem shall be safely inhabited. And this shall be the plague wherewith the LORD will smite all the people that have fought against Jerusalem; their flesh shall consume away while they stand upon their feet, and their eyes shall consume away in their holes, and their tongue shall consume away in their mouth. And it shall come to pass in that day, that a great tumult from the LORD shall be among them; and they shall lay hold every one on the hand of his neighbour, and his hand shall rise up against the hand of his neighbour. And Judah also shall fight at Jerusalem; and the wealth of all the heathen round about shall be gathered together, gold, and silver, and apparel, in great abundance. And so shall be the plague of the horse, of the mule, of the camel, and of the ass, and of all the beasts that shall be in these tents, as this plague.”  Zechariah 14:8-15 (KJV)

Words of the Prophets – Hosea

For Lack of Knowledge

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.  Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.

My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.  They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings. For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.  Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.” Hosea 4:1-11 (KJV)

In Whom You Delight

Behold, I will send My messenger, and he shall prepare the way before Me: and the Lord, whom ye seek, shall suddenly come to His temple, even the Messenger of the covenant, whom ye delight in: behold, He shall come, saith the LORD of hosts. But who may abide the day of His coming? And who shall stand when He appeareth? For He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap: and He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness. Malachi 3:1-3 (KJV)

Haggai refers to Him as the “Desire of All Nations” (Haggai 2:7). Malachi refers to the Messenger of the covenant as the One “In whom you delight”.   When is this going to take place?

He has come.  He came the first time as a babe in a manger.  A few took note of Him.  Many got angry with Him and crucified Him, because He told the truth about who He was, and all our sins and transgressions were laid on Him by the heavenly Father.

He will return again.  All sin will be judged.  Where will you stand then?  Will you stand with Him?  Will you stand against Him?  If you do not stand with Him today you will stand against Him today and tomorrow.

Jesus the Christ was that baby born in a manger, then crucified, buried and risen again. He is risen.  He is the Son of God, and God the Son.  You cannot be saved apart from the revelation that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God (Matthew 16:13-20).

The Day of Small Things

“Who art thou, O great mountain? Before Zerubbabel thou shalt become a plain: and he shall bring forth the headstone thereof with shoutings, crying, Grace, grace unto it. Moreover the word of the LORD came unto me, saying, The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it; and thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent Me unto you. For who hath despised the day of small things? For they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet in the hand of Zerubbabel with those seven; they are the eyes of the LORD, which run to and fro through the whole earth.”  Zechariah 4:7-10 (KJV)

There are a few things in these verses that call for our attention.  One,  it is the word of the LORD.  Two, there is one phrase which goes through all of Scripture, which we do need to remember, and it is this…  “…Thou shalt know…”.  Three, that, small things should not be despised. Four, “…the eyes of the LORD…” (See 2 Chronicles 16:9).

The temple had been rebuilt.  It was smaller, and the people; especially those who were discouraged by its size; needed to realize God’s blessing on them because they were renewing their place of worship with the LORD of all things.

The phrase mentioned above in its total reads… “…Thou shalt know that the LORD of hosts hath sent Me unto you” and is a reference to the “Angel of the LORD” who is the pre-incarnate  Christ who will one day come and build a more glorious temple than even that of Solomon.

Let me leave  you with a study note from the Jeremiah Study Bible on verses 7-10,

4:7-10 The first statement to the great mountain issues a challenge to whatever opposes God’s might.  The latter statement opposes anyone who disdains small things (Neh. 4:2-4).  In both cases, divine truth and perspective are what ultimately matter.  Grace, grace to it! simultaneously extols God’s freely given blessing on the work now completer and implores Him to continue to look with favor on the temple and all that it represented.

Even the small things are things which God works through and uses.

The death of the God Man Jesus Christ on the cross is nothing we like to remember.  It is not a pleasant thing to think about, but for our salvation it was and is the greatest event that has happened on earth, and that is due to the fact of His bodily resurrection.  He went through the pain, agony, rejection and death of the cross, and was buried, and rose again that lost, condemned and dying people might receive eternal life before the face of GOD.

Being Reminded of Purpose

“Then came the word of the LORD by Haggai the prophet, saying, Is it time for you, O ye, to dwell in your cieled houses, and this house lie waste? Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes.” Haggai 1:3-6 (KJV)

The people had returned to Jerusalem from Babylon for the distinct purpose of rebuilding the temple (Ezra 1:1-5).  When we look into the prophecy of Haggai we read that they had become more concerned with building comfortable homes for themselves, more than the house of the LORD.

Now the prophet was not finding fault with them for building their homes, but they were neglecting the temple and its rebuilding.  That was the issue.  They were taking their goods and applying it to their own livelihood rather than to the work of the Lord.

In looking at this prophecy of Haggai there is a word for the people of God in 2017.  What may that be?  We have forgotten our purpose, our calling, and from whence we have been blessed.  I stand guilty.  We live in a nation that spends billions of dollars in the game of golf.  Many more millions are spent on movies; either attending their showing at the theater or buying them for home use.  Understand, I do not condemn these things, lest I condemn myself; but I must ask the question:  Where does God come into these actions?  How much do we give to Him for things that bring honor and glory to His name?

If we are spending more on our entertainment and pleasure and comfort than we return to the Lord, then we have forgotten our purpose.  I am speaking to those who call themselves “Christian”.  We are responsible to God for what we have left over after we give to Him; if we are returning anything to Him what He has blessed us with.

Let us consider our ways.  Let us be faithful with the blessings God has given us.  Give to your local place of worship, your Church, and watch what God can do.  Of course, the first thing you need to give is yourself to attending your local Church.  Be faithful, and remember your purpose is to glorify the Lord Jesus Christ.

Let the Earth Keep Silence

“What profiteth the graven image that the maker thereof hath graven it; the molten image, and a teacher of lies, that the maker of his work trusteth therein, to make dumb idols? Woe unto him that saith to the wood, Awake; to the dumb stone, Arise, it shall teach! Behold, it is laid over with gold and silver, and there is no breath at all in the midst of it. But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him.” Habakkuk 2:18-20 (KJV)

Habakkuk was a prophet like others, and other people who have asked the question “Where is God in the matter of justice?”; or “Why does God not judge wickedness?”  I have noticed in reading these questions, and having asked them myself a time or two, that God never gives a direct answer, but always takes us to Himself.

God had told this prophet that He was basically judging evil, even by using an evil king and nation to do it.  I have learned that if we want to know about evil and justice, then we first need to look inward.

With Habakkuk, the LORD was showing that this nation which He was using to chastise His own people was idol worshipers.  They would one day find out that they were going to experience justice as well; the judgment of God.

Every idol will one day be exposed for what it is.  There is idolatry in every nation on earth; yes, even the U. S. of A.  We have an idol in New York harbor, that we hold more dear than we do the word of the LORD.  We revere the words of physicians over the word of the LORD.  We hold the word of financiers as more valuable than the word of the LORD.  We value science over the word of the LORD.  These idols will one day come crashing down.

However, “…The LORD is in His holy temple…”, and that is speaking of His heavenly throne, and in this world His temple is also within those who have believed in Him through His Son Jesus, and the cross, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Son of God, God the Son (1 Corinthians 6:19-20).  Let the children of God, all Christians, cast off the works of the flesh, and put on the garments of salvation (Romans 13:12, 14; Galatians 3:27), and show forth the glory of Jesus our Lord and Savior.  This would be revival in the truest sense of the word.

When God’s people repent of their sins, and come out of the world, then by the grace and power of God, there will be change in the hearts and minds of the inhabitants of the earth.

 

The LORD is Good

What do you think of when a roaring, howling, powerful storm comes; with flashes, and bolts of lightening, and sounds of crashing, rolling thunder?  It is a fearful thing when we see these things.  Many people have just recently survived such storms, suffering great loss, and we pray for you, and offer condolences to those who have lost loved ones.

I am a strange sort of man I guess; but storms fascinate me.  Lightening is a wonder to behold.  I have been on the edge of a tornado in my car, and kept driving, even though I could not see much past the hood of the car.  It is a fearful thing.  More fearful is to be on the wrong side of God.  Hear the words of Nahum the prophet to the Assyrians, their capital city Nineveh…

“God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries, and He reserveth wrath for His enemies. The LORD is slow to anger, and great in power, and will not at all acquit the wicked: the LORD hath His way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of His feet. He rebuketh the sea, and maketh it dry, and drieth up all the rivers: Bashan languisheth, and Carmel, and the flower of Lebanon languisheth. The mountains quake at Him, and the hills melt, and the earth is burned at His presence, yea, the world, and all that dwell therein. Who can stand before His indignation? And who can abide in the fierceness of His anger? His fury is poured out like fire, and the rocks are thrown down by Him. The LORD is good, a strong hold in the day of trouble; and He knoweth them that trust in him. But with an overrunning flood he will make an utter end of the place thereof, and darkness shall pursue His enemies.”  Nahum 1:2-8 (KJV)

It could be said that Nahum’s prophecy is  a continuation of Jonah’s.  When Jonah went to Nineveh and preached of God’s judgment, the people, the whole city repented; yet that repentance was only one generation, and then God sent Nahum to warn them.

Does God, the LORD judge evil?  That is a question that many people ask; even today.  The answer to that is “Yes!”  God does judge evil.  It just is not always according to our allotted time.  Why can a wicked person live for years without illness, or grief, and seemingly be blessed with the world’s riches, and pleasures and never experience God’s justice?  He/She does, or she/he will.

The LORD is Good.  Let us consider this.  It could be that God in His goodness and grace is allowing that individual time to repent and change their way, coming to God through Christ Jesus.

The LORD is mighty, He is Almighty, He holds the storms of this life in His hand.  He knows the beginning and He knows the end.  This life is not about me, or you, or all those who are suffering from sickness, disease, pain, sorrow; from storms or shooters.  This life is about GOD, and His power and glory to Him. He has made a way for sinful humanity to come into His holy presence; and that is through the cross of Jesus Christ who suffered the most horrendous thing any man could ever bear.  Not only did He suffer the physical pain and agony of the cross, but He the holy Son of God was denied the face of His Father as He bled and died for us.  He in fact experienced Hell for us there.

The LORD is Good.

Preacher for the People

Let me say this up front, then, you can and will decide if you want to finish reading this or not.  The preacher who preaches to please the people, the largest groups, does not please God.  The Preacher of God; the prophet of God preaches what God says, not what men say.  Having said that hear the prophet Micah…

“Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy: they shall not prophesy to them, that they shall not take shame. O thou that art named the house of Jacob, is the Spirit of the LORD straitened? Are these His doings? Do not My words do good to him that walketh uprightly? Even of late My people is risen up as an enemy: ye pull off the robe with the garment from them that pass by securely as men averse from war. The women of My people have ye cast out from their pleasant houses; from their children have ye taken away My glory for ever. Arise ye, and depart; for this is not your rest: because it is polluted, it shall destroy you, even with a sore destruction. If a man walking in the spirit and falsehood do lie, saying, I will prophesy unto thee of wine and of strong drink; he shall even be the prophet of this people.” Micah 2:6-11 (KJV)

Micah lived during some of, if not most of the time of Isaiah (See Isaiah 1:1 and Micah 1:1); they were in the era of the same kings.  Isaiah had told the people…

Which say to the seers, See not; and to the prophets, Prophesy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophesy deceit… Isaiah 30:10

I have always heard that you can catch more flies with honey. I have always wondered why you would want to ruin good honey by catching flies in it.  Besides I am offended at the thought that a human being is thought of as a fly.  People with a mind, who can think.  People can see the peril they are headed toward if they are warned of it; and that is what a prophet/preacher of God actually does.  Remember this; God’s warnings are also God’s promises.  He does fulfill every word He speaks – the negative and the positive.

Let me give you a study note from the MacArthur Study Bible then I will close this lesson…

2:6-11  False prophets, commanding Micah to cease prophesying, would certainly not prophesy against the people’s evil doings; they would not confront them with the divine standard of holiness.  Rather their false message (v. 7) had stopped the mouths of the true prophets and had permitted the rulers to engage  in social atrocities (vv. 8,9), leading the people to destruction (v. 10).  They didn’t want true prophecies; therefore, they got what they wanted (cf. Is. 30:10). It is best to understand that Micah speaks in v. 6 and God in vv. 7-11.

Who will you listen to?

If you truly love Jesus the one who died for your sins, was buried and rose again; then you will listen to His words.  “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15

…From the Presence of the LORD

“Now the word of the LORD came unto Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and cry against it; for their wickedness is come up before Me. But Jonah rose up to flee unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD, and went down to Joppa; and he found a ship going to Tarshish: so he paid the fare thereof, and went down into it, to go with them unto Tarshish from the presence of the LORD.” Jonah 1:1-3 (KJV)

In the presence of the LORD there is joy, peace, hope, and life.  Out of His presence there is fear, dread, and chaos.

Jonah was an actual man who lived during the reign of Jereboam 2 of the Northern kingdom of Israel (2 Kings 14:25).  He is also mentioned in a teaching by Jesus in the New Testament (Matthew 12:39-41), and Jesus was not referring to a parable, but using Jonah as factual history, and his being in the belly of a great fish/whale.

The central character of the book of Jonah is not Jonah.  It is God.

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh.  It as a foreign nation which he knew did not believe in Jehovah/YHWH; and Jonah was a patriot of Israel; so he fled, and “went down to Joppa”  hoped on a ship going to Tarshish, paid his fare, and “went down into it.”

It is quite possible that Jonah sold all his possessions to flee.  He was leaving any family he may have had, friends, home, etc. behind to flee from God’s will for his life.

This was one time when this prophet had no intention of obeying God.  Did he know about God’s richness of mercy?  Most certainly he did.  It is probably why he chose to flee.  He did not want to see a hated enemy repent and experience the mercy of Jehovah God of Israel.

Notice the common thread of all who “flee from the presence of the LORD”.  The “presence of the LORD” is the only place of contentment, peace, rest, and fulfillment.  The “presence of the LORD” is the will of God for our lives (those who are in the faith of Jesus Christ).

Please notice the path of fleeing from the presence of God:  Every step is a downward step:

  1. “Went down to Joppa”  (v. 3);
  2. “Went down into it [the ship] (v. 3);
  3. “Was gone down into the sides of the ship…” (v. 5)

Twice in verse three its says, “…from the presence of the LORD”.  There is warning there for everyone who would step out of God’s will for any reason; no matter how reasonable it may seem.

It is shocking to find how easy it is to find the means to flee from God’s will for our lives.  A ship was at Joppa.  It is very possible that Jonah purchased the whole use of the vessel – he being the only passenger, and the other men being the captain and the crew.  We can always find means to flee, but we rarely find the means to do His will.

Did Jonah think he could go some place where God could not find Him? It is not likely.  For Jonah to flee was pure rebellion against the sovereignty of God in his life.  For any one who openly rebels against God’s will they flee “…from the presence of the LORD”.  We all must learn that where God calls us is going to be the place where we are content, at peace and joyous in the LORD.  That all begins by believing what God tells us about His Son Jesus who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again the third day.  Call on Him and begin your life living in the presence of the LORD.

 

Deliverance for Mount Zion

“But upon Mount Zion shall be deliverance, and there shall be holiness; and the house of Jacob shall possess their possessions. And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the LORD hath spoken it.”  Obadiah 1:17-18 (KJV)

The shortest book of the Old Testament with a very blunt message for a arrogant a prideful people of Edom.  Edom was a nation who had Esau as its father, its founder.  Esau was the twin brother of Jacob, and there was a sibling rivalry from birth… Jacob had grabbed hold of the heel of Esau at birth (Genesis 25:24-28).  It turned out that Edom always hated the people of Jacob/Israel.  Take note of what God says through the prophet Obadiah above.

  1.  Mount Zion shall be delivered; they will be holy, and the people will possess their possessions – living in their land, in their own homes, growing their own crops, having their own government; and not ruled over any other.
  2.  The people of Jacob – will be a fire and Joseph a flame.  They will be a people to fear, to follow, and to dread the offending of their God, YHWH.
  3.  There will be an end to the house of Esau.  In their pride and arrogance they assumed they were safe in their mountainous homes, and the land they inhabited; yet God sent the Babylonians against them; and by the time of the New Testament they are no more.

Lesson for people today.  God never forsakes His people forever.  He will always get His people where He wants them to be.  You become His people through the new birth of coming to Jesus Christ as the Savior who died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and arose the third day.  There is salvation for all who will call on His name.

Surely the Lord GOD…

“Shall a trumpet be blown in the city, and the people not be afraid? Shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it? Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, but He revealeth His secret unto His servants the prophets. The lion hath roared, who will not fear? The Lord GOD hath spoken, who can but prophesy?” Amos 3:6-8 (KJV)

Amos was a contemporary prophet with Isaiah, Hosea, and others.  It is not known if they all knew one another or not, but I would not be surprised if they did.  They were burdened for their people.  I want us to think about these words written by Amos.  Like most of the prophets of God no one wanted to hear what they had to say, but a prophet of God has a mandate from God to speak the word of God, whether anyone will listen and hear or not.

Trumpets were used in Jerusalem for various reasons.  Warning for which the prophet speaks above.  Calling assemblies.  Calling the tribes together, and they would give a distinguishing sound for each purpose; and the people recognized and knew which sound was for what.

Warning was what the prophet Amos was giving.  He was the sound of the trumpet.  There is a time to be afraid.  The time for the people of God to fear is when we get away from God, because we no longer love Him, His Son, and no longer hear and do His commandments; in that order.  Hear what Jesus the Son of God, God the Son; our Savior says about this…

If ye love Me, keep My commandments. John 14:15
If ye keep My commandments, ye shall abide in My love; even as I have kept My Father’s commandments, and abide in His love. John 15:10

It is not good for the child of God to fear; but when we get away from God, loving Him and His commandments, then we had better fear, be afraid, and get on our knees in repentance; then we can get up and face the wicked world without fear.  We can know that God has it all in hand.  We will know that the evil, and calamity, afflictions, injustices, lack of peace, are all in His hands, and that He will work it all out for His glory and our good.

We can know too, that everything that God will do, or is doing His prophets will will be speaking forward to His people.  Besides that; most of what God; if not all of what God is doing in the world is revealed to us through the written book called the Bible.  There is no new word from God.

People of God… It is best that we fear God, or we will fear everything else.  When we fear God, we will fear nothing else.

God has made a way for us to enter His holy, righteous presence; and that is through the death of Jesus His Son on the cross, His burial, and resurrection.  You have sinned against holy God.  Receive His gift of salvation, and come into His presence.

The Roar from Zion

Many times looking at Scripture, even looking at the prophets of the Old Testament we get a rather gloomy picture of Judah and Israel.  However, gloom and doom is not the total picture.  We must see from the beginning to the end, and that is why God gave us the Scriptures and His only begotten Son.  He does have a purpose, and an expected ending.

Today we hear from the prophet Joel…

“The sun and the moon shall be darkened, and the stars shall withdraw their shining. The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter His voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of His people, and the strength of the children of Israel. So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, My holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.”  Joel 3:15-17

To those who love this old earth, and all its ways the above verses sound gloomy, and believe me, if you do not know the LORD God, then it will not only be a gloomy day for you, but it will be your doom as well.

One of the things we can learn from the Bible is that God will have people know that He is the LORD God of hosts.  That is what He is working toward today.

The following is the study note form The Prophecy Study Bible page 939…

“3:15-16  The earthquake and blackout seem parallel with events described in Zechariah 14:4-5, which describes an earthquake that restructures a valley near the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.  This remodeling of Jerusalem will be accompanied by signs in the heavens, as God powerfully defends and vindicates His people Israel.”

Get ready.  Jesus is coming soon.

There is chaos, pain and sorrow in the world today; but through Jesus Christ, His death, burial, and resurrection there is hope for the future.  Hope in this life, and then, eternal life with Him.  That “Roar from Zion” will be the voice of the “Lion of the tribe of Judah” the returning Christ Jesus.

Knowledge is the Answer

The move of our society and culture which we live in is that science is the answer for all our ills, or problems, even our sicknesses.  Is science the answer?  If we are to understand things then we must learn; and learning gains us knowledge, and knowledge is science.  If I am wrong tell me.  Does the word “Science” not mean “Knowledge” or “Know”?

What we need to know, however, is not the intricate workings of the universe, our world; but God; the One who created the universe and all that is in it.

Today we will look at the word of God spoken to and through Hosea, a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel.  His ministry was during the ministry of Isaiah (Read Isaiah 1:1 and Hosea 1:1).  The Jereboam mentioned is the second Jereboam, not the first king of the Northern Kingdom.  Hear the word of the LORD…

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.” Hosea 4:1-6 (KJV)

Who among you have a time with God, where you spend time in His word (Not a devotional reading), His word, where He speaks with you, you pray for understanding and knowledge, and you reach an understanding with Him concerning what He says?  It appears to me sometimes that people professing to know God are ignorant of His word.  There are many who profess Christ Jesus as their Lord and Savior, and some who do not, who believe phrases such as “The Lord helps those who help themselves” is a Biblical reference.  It is not.  What about the phrase, “Cleanliness is next to godliness”?  It is not found in Scripture either.

When we hear things such as this it is no wonder that professing Christians, due to ignorance, are relishing a life of sin, just like the rest of the world.

This ignorance is what Hosea is speaking of, and what the LORD is warning us about in His word through the events of the Northern tribes, and that of Judah in Isaiah.  The phrase “Ignorance is bliss” comes to mind as I write.  Ignorance is not bliss.  It is doom for any people who choose to remain ignorant about God, His word, His ways, His Son, and His redemption available because of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus His only begotten Son (John 3:16).

Truth, mercy and the knowledge of God are necessities for the child of God. Ignorance is why there “Swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood” in any land; including the United States of America.

Get out of your ignorance and get into God and His word.  Knowledge is the Answer through the cross of Jesus Christ.

Christmas Day Ninety and Three

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want everything I say and do today to be for the honor and glory and praise of God my Savior Jesus Christ; and for others to come to Him.

“Thus says the LORD of hosts: ‘In those days ten men from every language of the nations shall grasp the sleeve of a Jewish man, saying, “Let us go with you, for we have heard that God is with you.” Zechariah 8:23 (NKJV)

Christmas Day Ninety and Six

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to live as though my whole body and being is the temple of the Lord; that He dwells in me; and that I am to keep it holy, for His honor, glory and power.

“Now therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways. Ye have sown much, and bring in little; ye eat, but ye have not enough; ye drink, but ye are not filled with drink; ye clothe you, but there is none warm; and he that earneth wages earneth wages to put it into a bag with holes. Thus saith the LORD of hosts; Consider your ways.” Haggai 1:5-7 (KJV)

“What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.” 1 Corinthians 6:19-20

Christmas Day Ninety and Seven

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always be mindful of the negatives and the positives in God’s Word; and I want Christians all over the world to realize that without the negatives the positives do not have any use; keeping in mind “The Day of the LORD”

“Be silent in the presence of the Lord GOD; for the day of the LORD is at hand, for the LORD has prepared a sacrifice; He has invited His guests.” Zephaniah 1:7 (NKJV)

Christmas Day Ninety and Eight

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to always be aware, watching and knowing that the answers God gives to life’s perplexing questions are of greater value than any that men, women or their philosophies can give.

“I will stand my watch and set myself on the rampart, and watch to see what He will say to me, and what I will answer when I am corrected.” Habakkuk 2:1 (NKJV)

Christmas Day One Hundred One

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want peace to reign always in my heart; and in my home, family, friends, and in the world; I want the world to know the peace that comes only through faith in Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, and that He is coming again and all will be made right.

But in the last days it shall come to pass, that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established in the top of the mountains, and it shall be exalted above the hills; and people shall flow unto it. And many nations shall come, and say, ‘Come, and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, and to the house of the God of Jacob; and He will teach us of His ways, and we will walk in His paths.’ For the law shall go forth of Zion, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem. And He shall judge among many people, and rebuke strong nations afar off; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruninghooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war any more. But they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree; and none shall make them afraid: for the mouth of the LORD of hosts hath spoken it.  For all people will walk every one in the name of his god, and we will walk in the name of the LORD our God for ever and ever.” Micah 4:1-5 (KJV)

Christmas Day One Hundred Five

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be blessed by God in telling someone about Jesus Christ, and His cross, death, burial and resurrection; and to see that person call on the name of the Lord for salvation, receiving eternal life.

Therefore thus will I do to you, O Israel; because I will do this to you, Prepare to meet your God, O Israel!”For behold, He who forms mountains, and creates the wind, who declares to man what his thought is, and makes the morning darkness, who treads the high places of the earth— The LORD God of hosts is His name.” Amos 4:12-13 (NKJV)

“Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Matthew 11:28 Jesus (KJV)

Christmas Day One Hundred Eight

What do I want for Christmas today?

I want to be a blessing to those around me; to be an encourager, to be a friend to all I meet, and to instill in them the desire for living right, to always point them to the Creator; our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon.” Hosea 14:4-7 (KJV)

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 358

What do I want for Christmas?

I want to be more like Jesus in that I not be a “respecter of persons”, and to learn to be just, and merciful to all no matter their economic, living, health, or cultural situation in the world; to be faithful to the Lord in all situations dealing with them.

“My brethren, do not hold the faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of glory, with partiality.” James 2:1ff

“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 (NKJV)

What Do I Want For Christmas? Day 362

What do I want for Christmas?

For the Christians of the United States of America to know, understand, to see, and recognize the judgment of God when His judgment is here and present with us.

Part of our getting right and being right with Him is recognizing His judgment, and  falling on our knees in repentance, and asking His forgiveness.

“Hear the word of the LORD, You children of Israel, For the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 4:1 (NKJV)

 

 

Thus saith the LORD of hosts… 012514

“Thus saith the LORD of hosts; ‘In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, ‘We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.'” Zechariah 8:23

Thus Saith the LORD… 012114

“Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, ‘We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places;’ thus saith the LORD of hosts, ‘They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever. And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, ‘The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.'”  Malachi 1:1-5

The Redeeming Love of GOD – Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

The Redeeming Love of God

The Healing Love of GOD

Hosea 13:1 – 14:9

In the study of Hosea we have seen that the doom of Israel/Ephraim was certain.  They had rejected God’s ways for their lives, and their nation’s continued prosperity.  Instead, they began to trust their prosperity and abilities, and began  to build their own gods.  God sent prophets to warn them.  Certainly, there were individuals who turned [repented], but as a whole the nation was corrupt.

We will find in this message that the indulgence of sin has eternal consequences.  Sin has the power to destroy forever, a nation, or an individual.  God in His grace, however, provides a way to defeat the power of sin.  Sin’s power could destroy Israel forever; however, God was not through with them.  He would raise them up to fulfill His glorious purpose.

“When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. And now they sin more and more, and have made them molten images of their silver, and idols according to their own understanding, all of it the work of the craftsmen: they say of them, ‘Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves.’ Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney.”  Hosea 13:1-3 (KJV)

Ephraim has been used throughout Hosea to represent the total land of Israel.  Now it appears to be speaking of the tribe.  They have gone from glory to shame.

Ephraim was a respected tribe, and spoke with authority.  Joshua the son of Nun was of the tribe or Ephraim (Numbers 13:8, 16).  He, as you may remember, was Moses’ successor who would lead the people into Canaan, the land of promise.  He would lead them in battle, and the settling of the land.  By this tribe’s faithfulness to God they were exalted among all the people.

When Israel split as a nation, Jereboam also of the tribe of Ephraim, led the people into the worship of false deities, and rejected the true Go.  Because of this they would die.

Molten images, the work of their own hands, became the object of their worship.  Because of this they would soon disappear, as the chaff of whet, smoke from the chimney, the early dew, and the morning cloud.

“Yet I am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt, and thou shalt know no god but Me: for there is no saviour beside Me. I did know thee in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me. Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.”  Hosea 13:4-8 (KJV)

God would go from being their Saviour; to being their Destroyer.

From the time that Moses came back to the land of Egypt to the time of Canaan God brought them through.  He worked powerfully  in their deliverance from Egypt.  He fed them, gave them water to drink, even when there was no water He was their source of supply.

God blessed them abundantly in the “Promised land”, and they soon forgot Him.  They began to neglect the reminders of His deliverance for other things.  Afterwards, they began to reject God’s will and way for them.  Finally, they would forget God and be destroyed.

God would become to them as ravenous beasts seeking its prey.  The lion is strong and brave.  The leopard is an animal of stealth and speed, sometimes lying in wait to surprise its helpless prey.  The mother bear is extremely dangerous, especially, if she thinks her cubs are in danger (Proverbs 17:12).  They would be torn and ripped to pieces because of their sin.

There is hope for them. Because there would be a remnant left from which to accomplish  God’s purposes.

“O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help. I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities, and thy judges of whom thou saidst, ‘Give me a king and princes?’  I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.”  Hosea 13:9-11 (KJV)

They went away from God as King to destructive leaders.

Israel, was destroying themselves.  It began when they determined to be life “Other nations” and wanted a king (1 Samuel 8:1-7).  God was their King.  In their unbelief they rejected God as King, and chose to have a foolish, and obstinate man rule over them.

Sure, God anointed Saul as king, but Go also knew that Saul would be representative fo the majority of the kings in Israel.  In his rebellion and pride he rejected God’s way.

“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes. Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels. Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”  Hosea 13:12-16 (KJV)

The judgment of God is not fro revenge, nor only punitive.  In judgment He seeks to redeem.

“The iniquity… is bound up” is communicating to us that God has a record of Israel’s/Ephraim’s sin.  They cannot hide it (v. 12).

God likens their judgment to that of a woman giving birth to a child.  He is a stubborn child.  Unwilling to be born into what God desires, causing greater pain for his mother.  The child represents the individual – the mother Israel.  Before the nation can be healed, the individual must repent and accept the ways of God (v. 13).

“Death ultimately involves eternal punishment in hell (‘The second death’) for those who refuse God’s redemption (Revelation 20:13-15).  Taken together in the larger biblical context, Sheol and death picture sin’s power to demand the penalty of eternal death.  In the case of the people of Hosea’s day, Sheol and death would be the power of their sin to destroy them forever as God’s  people.”  John Traylor page 120.

God was determined to redeem Israel.  He would ultimately do that through the death of His Son Jesus on the cross.  Placing all the sins of mankind upon Him, God put the power of sin to death.  Romans 8:3 says, “For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh.”  (NKJV)

The law of God demands eternal death because of sin.  God says, “I will ransom them from the power of the grave.”  See 1 Corinthians 15:55-56.  God would raise Israel up once again.  God would have compassion  on them (v. 14).

Death, through judgment would have to come before resurrection.  This shows the power of God to redeem.  When there is no hope that appears, there is hope and possibility in God.  He is the God of resurrection – of New Life.

“O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, ‘Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips. Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, ‘Ye are our gods: for in Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.'”  Hosea 14:1-3 (KJV)

God calls for Israel to truly repent.

Forget the rituals, the gifts of offering, and sacrifices.  Offer to God “Words”.  Not empty and vain words, but “Words” of a heart that is truly broken and repentant.  Life that is changed, turned around, by God is true repentance.

Israel had to turn around to realize there was no hope in anyone or anything, but God.  In God is mercy, grace, and hope.

“I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for Mine anger is turned away from him. I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, and his smell as Lebanon. They that dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon. Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do any more with idols? I have heard him, and observed him: I am like a green fir tree. From Me is thy fruit found.”  Hosea 14:4-8 (KJV)

After true repentance great things begin to occur.

Remember, God has brought them to repentance.  God heals their backsliding hearts. Now, they cling only to Him.

Israel would experience the fullness of God’s love.  There will be no need for His anger any longer.  God is their source of refreshment, and blessing.  The bringing forth of this fruit is the result of their trusting in God.

“Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? Prudent, and he shall know them? For the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein.”  Hosea 14:9 (KJV)

The word of, and the way of the Wise.

The Wise receive the redemption of God, and stop depending on false gods.

Hosea points the one who is wise to the love and joy of our Saviour.  There is life in God’s way.  Death awaits the foolish who reject God’s way of life.  Jesus said,  “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man [no one] cometh unto the Father, but by Me.”  (John 14:6)  Someone once said, “Without the Way there is no going; without the Truth there is no knowing; without the Life there  is no living.”  The way is hard it is not easy.  The truth is all you can trust.  The life is eternal through faith in this One who died for our sins.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 11:1 – 12:14

GOD’S Compassion for His People

Hosea 11:1 – 12:14

Concern and Compassion took a cruise on an ocean liner.  While they were out looking over the outer railing someone fell overboard.  Concern cried out, “Man overboard”.  Compassion cried out, “Man overboard”, and dived in to rescue the imperiled man.

The above story shows the difference in concern and compassion.  One cries out, but does nothing.  The other cries out gets involved, and commits themselves to the task.  God’s greatest compassion was shown to us by Jesus Christ His Son dying on the cross.  He [Jesus] was committed to t he task of dying for your sins and mine; redeeming us forever unto GOD.

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called My son out of Egypt. As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images. I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them. I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.”  Hosea 11:1-4 (KJV)

God’s love and compassion is demonstrated in His care for Israel despite their deceit and departure from Him (Romans 5:8).

Verse one of this text is mentioned in Matthew 2:15 as a prophetic verse pointing to Jesus Christ coming out of Egypt. The life of Jesus is a kind of parallel of the journeys of the descendants of Abraham – except of course for their doubts, fears, and unbelief, their sin.  Jesus’s life showed them; and us that life can be lived for GOD.

As Israel came out of Egypt, though, they determined to turn away from God and to worship Baal.  It was God who led them by their arms (as a father teaching his child to walk).  It was He who healed them, and delivered them out of the bondage, and slavery of Egypt.

GOD worked in the life of the nation drawing them to Himself through human bondage.  “Cords of a man” while loving them to bring them out to be His own purchased possession.  He would remove the yoke of bondage, and feed them in His grace and mercy (v. 4).

“He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return. And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels. And My people are bent to backsliding from Me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt Him.” vv. 5-7

Despite Israel’s rebellion deceit and fraud toward God He still promises not to completely destroy them; but to restore them.

In these verses we see the results of Israel’s rejection of God’s love.  First, they would go into Assyrian captivity (v. 5).  Those who would flee to Egypt would die there (See 9:6).  The second result was the continued desolation of Israel, and their land (v. 6).  They had rejected God and chosen to seek the foreign gods.  The third and most tragic was their rejection of God’s love led them to a persistent and fixed state of rebellion (v. 7).

Every time a person hardens their heart against God, by rebelling against His authority, His Word the heart only gets harder.  Remember Pharoah of Egypt!  He hardened his heart for the last time, until God hardened it.  Woe to the one whose heart is hardened by God.

“How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim? Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together. I will not execute the fierceness of Mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city. They shall walk after the LORD: He shall roar like a lion: when He shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west. They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.”  vv. 8-11

God’s love is persistent and consistent toward His people.

God’s thoughts had somehow been toward destruction.  His heart was/is broken with compassion.   These questions are powerful.  We do not understand the mind of God, so let us not get in a titther over these thoughts.  He could have destroyed Israel, but the thought of it brought compassion, and would cause Israel to stop and think.  They, like the rest of humanity, deserved destruction.  They did not deserve God’s compassion.

God says that His is not like man.  Man’s ways are to destroy all that is against him and his way.  God’s way is to change the heart of man.  In His compassion, grace and mercy He would bring them to Himself, and  put them back in their own land (v. 11).

“Ephraim compasseth Me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints. Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt. The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will He recompense him. He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto Him: he found Him in Bethel, and there He spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”  Hosea 11:12 – 12:6

GOD calls for a change.  There is nothing new with God.

There is still a spark of faithfulness in Judah.  Israel has gone too far.  They have gone beyond “the point of no return”, but for God’s grace.  When sin is finished, and life is ruined God’s grace continues (Romans 5:20).

The wind (12:1) offers no nourishment, just as surely as there is no spiritual life in worshipping idols.  There is no hope for Israel/Ephraim in Assyria.

Israel practiced deceit and treachery against God.  There is a horrible portrait of Israel in Judas Iscariot betraying Jesus to be crucified.  They would rather live without God than to obey Him.  They would find out the tragedy of life without God.

God remained faithful as He always does.  He never changes (Hebrews 13:8).

Jacob was born rebellious and deceitful.  His name means “Supplanter” or “Deceiver”.  He used deceit and trickery to take that which he wanted from his brother Esau (Genesis 25:24-34).  “Jacob prevailed with God and men only when he yielded himself to God.”  TRAYLOR

God changed Jacob from deceiver; seeking God his own way to Israel meaning “Prince of God”.  The nation of Israel was spoken to by God through the man Israel, formerly Jacob.  As God changed Jacob’s heart to trust the Lord He also would change the heart of the nation.

There are three truths stressed in verse six about being changed:

  1. Turn from sin to God;
  2. God’s expectation is that those who turn to Him live with kindness [mercy] and justice [judgment]. Practicing the qualities of God;
  3. Have a personal relationship and experience with God.

“A merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress. And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin. And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast. I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets. Is there iniquity in Gilead? Surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields. And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep. And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved. Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall He leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.”  vv. 7-14 (KJV)

The nation had reached a point where being a “Kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:6) counted as nothing to them.

What happened?  They had gotten so engulfed in being an economically blessed nation they became more concerned with business, rather than a personal relationship with the God of heaven.  A merchant rather then priestly they even practiced deceit with one another in order to grab all they could [“balances of deceit”]. They then added denial to their sins (v. 8).  Their goals of life were corrupt.  They had changed from the incorruptible to that which corrupts.

God says that He will still make them “…To dwell in tabernacles”.  This is a promise of return.  He has spoken so through His prophets.  Their Feasts would be restored, and there would be joy in the land, and they would walk in God’s ways.  The prophets of God always warned of impending judgment, and with the words of judgment they also included words of promise and hope.

Because of his iniquity Jacob fled to Paddan-Aram to escape the wrath of his brother Esau.

Just as surely as Jacob suffered for his sin the nation of Israel would be chastised, and rebuked, and learn of the emptiness of self-seeking, serving ways.

Jacob became a “Slave” of his uncle for a wife, and  he was deceived.  You do reap what you sow.  He served his uncle Laban, then as a shepherd to get the wife he had chosen.

The nation of Israel would go into Assyrian bondage in order to become the people God desired them to be.

Moses was the prophet who delivered Israel from Egyptian bondage.  By this same prophet Israel was fed, protected, and refreshed.  The is a greater Prophet who will deliver all from the bondage of sin when He is believed and followed.  This greater Prophet is Jesus (See Deuteronomy 18:15;  Acts 3:20-23).

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 8:1-14

Reaping the Whirlwind

Hosea 8:1-14

When the people of God will not heed; and when His Word is not obeyed, and His promises not believed; judgment is imminent and unavoidable.

There can be much learned from watching the work of a farmer.  The Scriptures, both Old and New Testaments place farming as a picture of warning and hope.  Farming is the world’s oldest profession.  From this profession we learn the eternal law of sowing and reaping.

When a seed is planted in the ground you reap likewise.  A seed of corn brings a harvest of corn;  of wheat, wheat; of barley, barley and so on.  One kind of seed does not produce another kind of harvest.

What kind of seeds had Israel sown?  Seeds of sin and destruction.  The seed sown does not immediately bear fruit, but harvest eventually comes.  As the harvest comes with corn and wheat, so too does the harvest come with sin.  See Galations 6:7.

It has been said, “Some go and sow their wild oats (Debaucherous and wild living), then pray for crop failure.”

“Set the trumpet to thy mouth. He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed My covenant, and trespassed against My law.  Israel shall cry unto Me, ‘My God, we know thee.’  Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him.”  Hosea 8:1-3 (KJV)

Some of the people of Israel never looked at he possibility of fruits of sin, or sin’s harvest.  People in the 21st century do not realize that there is a harvest for rejecting God and His Word.
The prophet is told to warn the people. “The trumpet” is the rams horn, also called “Shophar”, and was used for calling assemblies or to warn of an approaching enemy, as in this case.

The warning is certain.  Judgment is certain.  The “Eagle” is the Assyrians swooping down upon them carrying them away captive in the clutches of its talons.  Why?  Because they did not listen to God and “Transgressed against My covenant, and trespassed against My law”.

Although Israel would cry out to God, “We know thee”, the enemy would still come.  The words they spoke and the life they lived were a contradiction.  Compare this verse with John 8:33-47 especially listen to Jesus as He says, “He that is of God heareth God’s words: ye therefore hear them not, because ye are not of God.”  That would certainly mean, “No matter how loudly you proclaim otherwise”  You find yourself in complete opposition to God.  Claiming to know God, or being in the right bloodline (physically) does not mean you know God.  The fruit you bear is evidence.  Living by the Word of God empowered by God’s Spirit.

The people’s rejection of God is shown in verse three as God says, “Israel hath cast off … good.”  Forsaking the good to do evil the enemy shall come.

The enemy is likened to the eagle; which can also be a vulture.  This enemy would come silently, devouring the dying and helpless, snatching in its mighty talons anything that could be carried away.  This is the harvest of rejecting God.

“They have set up kings, but not by Me: they have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; Mine anger is kindled against them: how long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”  verses 4 – 7

There is also the harvest of self-will.  That is the harvest we bring on ourselves because we refuse to follow the way God is leading.

If you were to look back in 1 Samuel 8:4-22 you would be reminded of Israel’s [the undivided nation] insistence upon having a king, “That we also may be like all the nations.” (1 Samuel 8:20).  It was a thing that displeased God and Samuel (See verses 6-7 of 1 Samuel 8).  God gave them their request.  For another time God gave them their selfish request see Psalm 106:15.  Requests of self-will, and it brought great harm to the nation.  Sometimes God gives us the leaders we desire, and then too late find out that was not a good deal.

Individuals and nations often set up kings of their own like and making.  The king in one’s life or nation is a reflection of that nation’s or individual’s heart.  Yes, God is sovereign, completely in charge; He does give us what we ask for sometimes to correct us, and draw us to Himself.

Jeroboam as the first king of the divided Israel [Northern kingdom] disobeyed God and set up golden calfs – probably similar to the calf Aaron built at the request of the people while Moses was on the mount with God – and led the people into worship away from God.  The tragedy is, that no king of the Northern kingdom ever turned from this worship of  self-will in the calfs.  Jeroboam went so far as to call people as priests who were not of the Levites; “He [Jeroboam] made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were  not of the sons of Levi.”  (1 Kings 12:31 NKJV).

These were not God’s ways.  It was completely contrary to the LORD’s direction.  It was the worship of Self-will.

In the New Testament book of Galations 6:7 the Lord spoke through His servant Paul saying, “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.”  There is no exclusion in this verse for anyone.  This is the equivalent to verse seven of our text in Hosea.  What ever you sow is returned unto you many times over.

The next verse in the Galations text says, “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galations 6:8).  These are both with a harvest many times over the seed that has been sown.

To sow to the wind, they would reap the whirlwind [manifold].  The wind can be gentle and deceptive.  The whirlwind is nothing of the sort.  It destroys everything that gets in its way.  They [Israel] sowed the wind of idolatry, now they would reap the manifold harvest of the whirlwind of Assyria.

The worship of Baal and the fertility rites that go with it would prove to be fruitless as far as crops of grain and children.  The only harvest would be one of destruction – after all, is that not what they had sown?  The destruction is the harvest of the self-will.

“Israel is swallowed up: now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. Yea, though they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes.”  verses 8 – 10

Embracing pagan allies and their practices also brings a harvest.  A bear hunter looking for a good fur coat for the Winter compromises with the bear who needs a meal.  The hunter gets his winter coat, and the bear gets his meal.  That is the destination of people who play with sin, and compromise with it.  That was the destination of the people of Israel as they gave up God for pagan allies and deities.

In obstinacy and rebellion they seek the aid of Assyria.  Instead of calling on the LORD to be dependent upon Him they go to another nation which is also under the sovereign hand of God.  This obstinacy is seen in the use of “A wild ass alone by  himself.”  Alliance with another nation for defense was another “Lover” added to their lists.

The very nations they had called on for defense would be the nation God would use to correct, rebuke, purge, and bring them back to Him.  How foolish it is to embrace others for defense instead of God, and reap a severe harvest of shame.

“Because Ephraim hath made many altars to sin, altars shall be unto him to sin. I have written to him the great things of My law, but they were counted as a strange thing.  They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of Mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will He remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt.”  verses 11 – 13

Pet Rattlesnakes, pet Alligators,  are a dangerous thing.  How many times have I heard of someone having a “Pet snake” in the house only to end up being bitten, or their child being bitten then the adult or the child die as a result.  The same is true with “Pet Tigers” or “Pet Bear”, etc.  You may think you have them under control.  “Pet sins” are the same way.  You cannot control sin.  Sin enslaves us when we let it stick around.  That was the tragedy of Israel.

John Traylor writes in the study book, “‘Though I wrote for him ten thousand precepts of My law’ (v. 12 NASV) means that God made known His will in many different ways.  In spite of this, the people regarded God and His laws as strange and foreign.”  The law, to them was restricting and God was only trying to keep them from being “Happy”.  They had fallen victim to Satan’s lie to Adam and Eve.  “Yea, hath God said…” and “You shall not surely die…”  Believing that God was only hindering them, they want what they want, Now.

Israel continued to offer their burnt offerings, while in fact, they knew not God.  They were near the point of harvest for false and licentious worship.  Because of the sexual sin they would get diseases unknown to them before.

God would not forget their sin.  It would be remembered (v. 13).  The word “Remember” is used here in the same sense as that of Jeremiah 31:34 when God says, “I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”  In Hosea God says He will remember their sin and judge them for it.  They shall return to captivity, because of their licentious [sexual perversion] behavior they reap a manifold harvest.

“For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, and buildeth temples; and Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof.”  verse 14

Forgetting God has a manifold harvest.  Rejecting God and His Word, thumbing your nose at it leads to forgetting Him.

Everything they depended on in God’s stead would be destroyed.  The idols cast down, their walls, buildings and fortified cities wiped out.  What is the reaped harvest of forgetting God?  DESTRUCTION.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God – Hosea 7:1-16

The People Deceived and Deceitful
Hosea 7:1-16

Can you imagine the actions of Gomer when Hosea came to redeem her from the slavery she was in?  “I have no need of deliverance” (Proverbs 30:20).  Hosea had her best interest at heart.  She was relishing her “Freedom”.  His interest was Gomer and her healing.  Eaten up and ensnared by pagan practices, and worship, which destroyed her relationship with God.

Remember Gomer is representative of the nation Israel, and Hosea is representative of God.

“When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: for they commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without.”  Hosea 7:1 (KJV)

The message is God’s to Israel.  “I would have healed you.”  His mercy was waiting to work.  Even though redeemed they refuse to turn from their evil ways.

The death of Jesus on the cross was the price paid to redeem and heal all mankind, yet people persist in sin refusing to let God do a work of grace and redemption in their hearts and lives.
Because grace is rejected evil continues to work like leaven [yeast].

“And they consider not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about; they are before My face.” verse 2

Israel was continuing in sin and rebellion against God believing He would not see, He would not punish or chastise.  They were dealing falsely with God.  If one can be deceitful, and operate falsely with God they can, and will with their fellow man as well.

To think that we can hide our sin and disobedience from God, or to think He does not take notice is completely ludicrous.  The psalmist wrote, “Thou hast set our iniquities before Thee, our secret sins in the light of Thy countenance” (Psalm 90:8).  Only the wicked can believe that God does not, or cannot see our sin, and does not punish it.  Ezekiel heard God speak saying, “Son of man, have you seen what the elders of the house of Israel do in the dark, every man in the room of his idols?  For they say, ‘The LORD does not see us, the LORD has forsaken the land’” (Ezekiel 8:12 NKJV Also see Psalm 10:2-11).

God does “Remember” sin.  He does not turn away, but it is judged.  All sin was for all time judged in God’s Son Jesus Christ.  He who rejects God’s Son rejects God’s love, and can expect judgment for his/her own sin – the price is eternal.

“They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.  They are all adulterers, as an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until it be leavened.  In the day of our king the princes have made him sick with bottles of wine; he stretched out his hand with scorners.  For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; in the morning it burneth as a flaming fire.  They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto Me.”  verses 3-7

There was a familial delight in evil deceit, debauchery and anarchy.  Instead of a family or house of God delighting in holiness, and seeking Him; there was a family of deceit.  Seeking to seduce and lead others away from, rather than toward the Lord God.

It even seems tha the rulers, both the religious and civil were “Glad” with the wickedness.  It is quite likely that there was great financial gain through wickedness.  Why else would they be “Glad”?  Except for their  evil indulgence.

Their passions burned within them; keeping them “Banked” until the time was right – until sin reached its height.  Then, like the baker, the fires were stirred and the fires burned hot.  Their lust is pictured as an hot oven.  Lust is pictured as a burning fire; also in the New Testament.  Paul writing to the Corinthians said, “But I say to the unmarried adn to the widows: It is good for them if they remain even as I am [unmarried]; but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry.  For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9 NKJV).

When the time for the putrid party begins the baker [initiator] stirrs the fires, and it becomes a “Flaming fire”.  Its leaping, dancing, gyrating flames alluring, inviting the masses to join in.

The ruler are bought and paid for by the wicked.  They cannot rule justly.  They cannot judge rightly or mercifully.  The judges, the kings have fallen.  Fallen to their own lusts and greed.  Fallen from the way of mercy and justice.  They all seek their own way.  God says, “None… calleth unto Me.”

“In terms of human relationships, adultery is the ultimate act of deceit, betrayal, and treachery.”  (John Traylor).

Evil became such a way of life that anarchy began to prevail.  Kings died by assassination, and judges perished by same.  If God pulls back his hand, his “Hedge” of protection, and lets man have his own way anarchy rules.

“Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not.  And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek Him for all this.” verse 8-10

Israel turned from the Law of God, and accepted heathen practices.  It is hard for many of us to see the picture portrayed in verse eight, “A cake not turned”.  The picture is like a pancake, similar to like mothers or cooks prepare everyday for children or visitors to restaurants.  A pancake left unturned by its cook.  It burns on one side, and is left as dough on the other.  It is unfit for consumption, and the best thing to do is toss it out.

They have given themselves to evil.  They lose their strength of youth without even realizing it.  He has lost his power, because of turning from God to serve self, and does not even notice, that, God is no longer upon him.  Sin so blinds that the direction headed, and the direction turned from cannot be seen.  It is a great tragedy for the child of God to go on in sin and not realize that God’s Spirit, power and strength has departed.

Even though God continues to reach out to Israel, in pride they reject Him.  Their pride is a testimony against them (5:5).  We can handle it ourselves while we head to destruction.  The LORD hates “A proud look” (Proverbs 6:17).

“Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard.”  verses 11-12

Have you ever had a bird in your house, or caught in any building?  It flies into the windows, the walls, ceiling, and frantically searches for a way of escape.  The door can be open, but it wants its own way out.  Most times you have to catch the bird, carry it to the door, and then release it.  The “Silly dove” is a picture of Israel seeking her own way.  Mankind seeking his own way.  You seeking your own way.  In order to be delivered God must capture her, and show her the way out in His hands of chastisement.

“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me: destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against Me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me.  And they have not cried unto Me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against Me.  Though I have bound and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against Me. They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.”  verses 13-16

Again God’s heart cry for His people is shown.  They flee from God to seek evil, and to their own destruction.  They lie about God, and to Him.  They “Lie against” God in two ways;

  1. By denying that Hosea’s message is from God;
  2. By attributing the blessings of their past to their worship of idols, and a possible third;
  3. By making God equal with all others.

Even though God has redeemed them they still persist in denial of God’s deliverance and power.

They are returning to ritual.  Ritual has no holiness requirements.  It has no power to change lives.  It makes many other requirements but provides no personal relationship.

Like an archer’s bow that is not true, and curved rightly it will not hit its target, even with the best of archers.  The bullseye is missed.  The bullseye of God’s glory; “For all have sinned, and come short [missed the mark] of the glory of God.” Romans 3:23

There are seven reasons given for the destruction of Israel [Ephraim];

  1. They were set in their rebellion (v. 13);
  2. They were set in false witness against  the LORD (v. 13);
  3. Their insincerity in calling upon the LORD (v. 14);
  4. The committed apostasy in the way they sought for yields or better yields of their crops (v. 14);
  5. The people “devised evil” against the LORD (v. 15);
  6. The Israelites did not seek God (v. 16);
  7. The scornful speaking of the rulers of Israel (v. 16).

“Woe unto them! For they have fled from Me”  Beware children of God when you are getting so close to culture, and society you begin to identify more with them than with God.  When we begin to call good evil, we are in disagreement with God and in agreement with the world.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 5:1 – 6:11)

Rebellion and False Repentance
Hosea 5:1 – 6:11

To love God is to hate evil (Psalm 97:10).  “The fear of the LORD is to hate evil (Proverbs 8:13).  So declares the inspired Scriptures.

The problem with Israel as much as with people today, in general, even professing Christians, is that, we claim  to love God, and hang onto evil as well.  That cannot be, if we love God.  God says so, and it is so often ignored.

God’s desire for His people is that we learn.  Learn His ways, walk His paths of beauteous splendor.  But, there is such (what seems like) an unwillingness to learn, such desire for ignorance, rather than for a knowledge of God.

Many times in Scriptures the words “hear”, “give heed”, and/or “listen” are verbalized with great vehemence, that God cries out for their attention, but they do not give it.  Maybe I  ought to say “We do not give it” just to be fair.

The Word of God has been rejected and despised by the priests and rulers of Israel.  They have captured the people for their own gain.  The priests, the common people, and the king are guilty before God.  They all must repent and seek God.

“Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon Tabor.  And the revolters are profound to make slaughter, though I have been a rebuker of them all.”  Hosea 5:1-2 (KJV)

Many times God cries out through His messengers, the prophets, for His people to “Hear”.  Sometimes they listen and hear and turn form their path of destruction; many times they do not.

The judgment is toward all who are in the land.  As a response to hearing the Word some will turn, but will still suffer in judgment along with the nation.  Like we are told in Scripture “It rains on the just and the unjust” (Matthew 5:45), and that includes blessing and judgment.

The leaders; the priests, the king, tribal leaders had ensnared and exploited the people.  The nobles and leaders were not only indulging in the practiced sin of the nation, but were also profiting from the immorality.  They did not want to cease from their sin.  There was too much profit, and an extravagant amount of pleasure to lose in doing so.  As long as there is enjoyment in sin there is no chance for repentance, and no blessing from God.

There was much bloodshed “slaughter”.  Slaughter of innocence.  The baby to the fire, the elderly “No longer useful to society”, those who cry out against audacious and vile decadence.  This will be judged.  There are many people today who worship at the fiery idol of “Choice”.

“I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hid from Me: for now, O Ephraim, thou committest whoredom, and Israel is defiled.  They will not frame their doings to turn unto their God: for the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD.  And the pride of Israel doth testify to his face: therefore shall Israel and Ephraim fall in their iniquity; Judah also shall fall with them. They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find Him; He hath withdrawn Himself from them.  They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children: now shall a month devour them with their portions.” Hosea 5:3-7

Rebellion and impenitence is the theme of these verses.

When a lost soul turns to God for salvation, that same soul has turned away from sin and the path of Hell.  There has been a change of heart and of life, and of lifestyle.

This is what God was wanting for Israel.  Israel’s problem is that, they wee caught in a trap.  They were enslaved to their won devices of sin, and could find no way out.  In fact they did not want out.  That is the blindness of sins darkness.  Jesus spoke of the bondage of sin and its darkness in John 3:19-20.  He said, “And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.  For everyone practicing evil hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed.” (NKJV).

In verses three through seven God cites five reasons He would chastise Israel, and ultimately Judah.  There were probably some in Hosea’s audience who would not believe Israel could or would be destroyed, thus, the five reasons.

  1. Ephraim had prostituted herself, and Israel stood defiled (v. 3);
  2. The Israelites deeds would not allow them to return to the Lord their God (v. 4);
  3. They in their pride had rejected God’s appeal for them to turn to Him for help (v. 5);
  4. They, instead, turned to the fertility gods for help (vv. 5b-6);  “The real tragedy is that their sin had so blinded them that they thought they were seeking God by the sacrifices, and other rites at the fertility shrines.”  Traylor page 56.
  5. Their treachery against the Lord God (v. 7).

On the part of Israel was betrayal, rebellion, and an intensity to sin.  On God’s part, He remained faithful.  The result of Israel’s continued rebellion against God was destruction.  Who are we to think that it cannot happen to us when we want to hang on to our sins?

“Blow ye the cornet in Gibeah, and the trumpet in Ramah: cry aloud at Bethaven, after thee, O Benjamin.  Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: among the tribes of Israel have I made known that which shall surely be.  The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: therefore I will pour out My wrath upon them like water.  Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked after the commandment.  Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness.  When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then went Ephraim to the Assyrian, and sent to king Jareb: yet could he not heal you, nor cure you of your wound.  For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, and as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.  I will go and return to My place, till they acknowledge their offence, and seek My face: in their affliction they will seek Me early.”  Hosea 5:8-15 (KJV)

Judgment would come from within and without.  For those today who say, “Well, God wouldn’t do that” you better get a new thought.  God does not allow His children to sin successfully.

This blowing of the “Ram’s horn” is a warning to invaders.  There is a need for sounding a warning of invaders when people forsake God, and refuse to return to His way.  The warnings, as with Israel, often go unheeded, and the people continue to live a life of indulgent sin.  Wanting the blessings, of God, and yet clinging to godless living.

Judgment is inevitable when people hear the Word of warning, and refuse to turn.  The judgment comes due to  the lack of care.  Complacent, and apathetic toward the warnings; the enemy then comes in tearing and ripping and killing fulfilling the rebuke of God to turn His people from their sins.  Who can rescue one who is under the judgment?  God says, “No one can.”

God leaves His children to face their own sin, and its fruit. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Galations 6:7).  He will not come to their aid until they confess their evil and repent of it.  God’s judgment upon His people is always redemptive.  Do not deceive yourselves; there are consequences to your sin.  You will reap the harvest of those sins.

“Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up.  After two days will He revive us: in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight.  Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.”  Hosea 6:1-3

By all appearances  these verses seem to be a sign of true repentance.  At least what the Lord requires of His people for His promise to be fulfilled.  Let us keep them in context with the verses which follow.

How long does it take us to learn that we cannot fool God?  He knows our heart.  He knows our thoughts.  He knows when we are truly penitent, and when it is false.

Sorry they had been discovered, their sin found out, they want to avoid the judgment that was about to fall upon them.  Notice, there is no mention of forsaking their evil ways, only seeking to return in order to get blessing again.  They want healing, revival, and the rains, but God knows the heart.

“O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? For your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.  Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of My mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.  For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.  But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against Me.  Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.  And as troops of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent: for they commit lewdness.  I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.  Also, O Judah, He hath set an harvest for thee, when I returned the captivity of My people.”  Hosea 6:4-11

God will, and does judge His people to produce godly knowledge, and loyalty to Him.

The two questions of verse four are very penetrating.  They imply with force, “Why do you deceive Me?”  The repentance of “Ephraim” is only fleeting.  Clinging to their sin, loving their sin, they cry for forgiveness.  The “Morning cloud” appears until the light and heat of the sun hits it, then, it is gone.  The “Early dew” lingers on the leaves, grass, flowers, and the fields until the light of day causes it to evaporate into nothingness, and it is gone.  The describes the repentance of Israel.  Sadly, it also describes the feeble cries of repentance; if there are any; in the Church of the 21st century.  While wanting the blessings of God we also want to cling to our sin that separates us from God.  Wreaking havoc upon ourselves, our Church, our nation, and the world, sin continues while God calls us to repent.  God’s people are to be a stabilizing force in society, and culture by being unmoved by passions of lust and greed.

The Word of God in written form, and from the mouths of His prophets inflicts wounds to cut out sin.  “For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12).  The Word of God is the Law which shows the way of freedom.  Sin is an evil, and cruel master destroying life, and godly relationships.

The LORD God desires permanence in our loyalties.  His frustration is with words that have no commitment, no devotion, no perseverance.  When judgment comes it is as a light revealing pitfalls, stumbling blocks, and dead-ends.  Judgment shows that departure from God to sin has taken place.

False repentance is eager to sacrifice money, maybe time, and even attendance at worship, programs and feasts, but not personal commitment to change, to show mercy and kindness, to love as God loves – loving “God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength; and our neighbor as we love ourselves”- to know God, and not just ritual.

The vileness of man’s heart continually transgresses God’s Law.  Acts of treason are committed against Him daily.  Treachery, the act to deceive, and  that which destroys trust, is committed by refusing to obey what has been agreed to by all parties.  God has no other choice but to judge.  Remember our God is holy.

Bloodshed, robbery, harlotry seem to be permanent encroachments upon the land.  God says, that it is “A horrible thing in the house of Israel.”  The house of Judah will not be exempt.  None who turn from God to serve self are exempt from God’s wrath.  Is there hope in that?  Those who experience God’s judgment, and confess their sins, and turn from their sins [repentance] to Jesus Christ, God’s holy Son will experience His mercy and grace.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:11-19)

God’s Controversy With His People 3

This will be the final study for chapter 4.

“Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart.
My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God.”  Hosea 4:11-12 (KJV)

The Amplified Bible says of verse eleven, “Harlotry and wine and new wine take away the heart and the mind and the spiritual understanding.”  The Living Bible paraphrases, “Wine, women and song have robbed My people of her brains.”

Does anything ever really change?  It does not seem so.  The problem of Israel is a problem within the United States of America today.  Alcohol and the use of alcohol; maybe I should say abuse of alcohol; drug consumption.  The over active, perverse and uncontrolled sex drives of humanity; along with the abuse of alcohol and other drugs robbing the mind of control, influencing the decision making process, having people doing things they would not normally do.  With a clear mind – clear of drugs at least – one can be expected to make rational decisions.  Under the influence of beverage alcohol no one wants to take responsibility; and no one wants to point out the blame, or take blame for their actions.

This is how verse twelve reads in The Living Bible,  “For they are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do.  ‘Divine Truth’ comes to them through tea leaves!  Longing after idols has made them foolish.  For they have played the harlot, serving other gods, deserting Me.”

Instead of taking their heart ache to God they seek a bottle.  Instead of a lasting, fulfilling, and meaningful relationship through marriage (One man, one woman), God’s way they follow their own lust, and go to destruction.  It is not only destruction of the person, it destroys the family, the State, the Nation and the World.

“They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms, because the shadow thereof is good: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery.  I will not punish your daughters when they commit whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery: for themselves are separated with whores, and they sacrifice with harlots: therefore the people that doth not understand shall fall.” Hosea 4:13-14

Men need to learn that their wives and children soon follow their example.  In this way wives and daughters of Israel became polluted.  The fathers had not taken their God-given leadership roles in leading their families to righteousness; instead they led them to perversion, and their immorality would be their judgment.

“Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, ‘The LORD liveth.’  For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer: now the LORD will feed them as a lamb in a large place.  Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone.  Their drink is sour: they have committed whoredom continually: her rulers with shame do love, ‘Give ye.’  The wind hath bound her up in her wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.” Hosea 4:15-19

“Listen up Judah.”  Hosea probably sees some of the Judeans in the crowd at the gates, and warns them of the plight of Israel.  For clarity “Ephraim” is another name for the Northern kingdom of Israel.

Bethel is now called “Bethaven”.  The place had gone from “The house of God”,  to the decadence of “The house of deception”.  Gilgal and Bethaven were places of calf worship.  To go to these places of idolatry, and declare, “The LORD liveth” was an evil act of hypocrisy, and was despised by God.

They loved their shame rather than the glory of God.  Their glory is God.  They refuse the way of God, thus, they incur the wrath of God upon themselves.

Paul the apostle writes to Timothy; a young pastor, “Let everyone who names the name of Christ depart from iniquity.”  Let those today who claim “I am a disciple of Christ” or “I am a Christian” depart from this iniquitous society.  How can we do that?  By not participating in the wicked, mind killing, mind stealing acts of the world and society.

If you have been in this way of life there is hope for all who will trust in the finished work of Christ on the cross – His death, His burial and His resurrection.  He has promised also to come again.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:4-10)

God’s Controversy With His People 2

“Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest.  Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to Me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.  As they were increased, so they sinned against Me: therefore will I change their glory into shame.  They eat up the sin of My people, and they set their heart on their iniquity.  And there shall be, like people, like priest: and I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings.  For they shall eat, and not have enough: they shall commit whoredom, and shall not increase: because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.” Hosea 4:4-10 (KJV)

Verses 4 through 6 as well as the following four verses are directed toward the priests and prophets.

The priests and the prophets were told not to accuse the people, because they, themselves were at fault.  This, by no means takes any personal responsibility away from the people, for they too are guilty.  The greatest fault lies with the priests and prophets, because they had failed to teach the Law of God.  Why?  Because they rejected God’s law.  Their “Mother” [Nation] would be destroyed.  Church leadership which fails to proclaim the Law of God, the Word or God with its rebukes and warnings; as well as its blessings and promises is remiss in doing the work and will of God; thus rejecting God and His Word.

The preacher/prophet may fail to meet the expectations of the people, but if he fails to proclaim God’s Word he wreaks havoc upon himself, and the people.  If the priests (Every born again believer) fails to warn the lost of his/her condemnation, and fails to pray for the lost to be reconciled to God, then, we bring shame on ourselves and eternal havoc and ruin on those whom we have failed to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In verses 7 through 10 the condemnation continues upon the priests.

It appears that as God blessed the priests (and nation) they began to be comfortable, and sin against God.  It is not sin to be comfortable, or to live in comfort.  The sin is while in comfort we forget, forsake, and do not praise the LORD.

The priests received offerings from the people.  Possibly a sin offering is implied by verse eight.  These meat offerings were to be eaten by the priests, and their families – as a means of support – and rather than rebuking the people for their sin, encouraged them to continue in sin.  Maybe not with words, but in the absence of words of rebuke.  So, just as the priests are condemned because they reject the law of God, the people are condemned because of their willful ignorance of God.  They loved their sin too much to find out what the will of God was.

There would be no satisfaction, no fulfillment in their indulgence of sin.  They would not be a fruitful people.  Even though they thought that enjoying the fulfilling of their lust through hedonistic temple acts would guarantee many children and bountiful harvest; it would not be so.  The reason God gives is, “Because they have left off to take heed to the LORD.”

There is much sin within the churches of the United States of America in the 21st century.  Yet, we have an awesome and wondrous Saviour.  His name is Jesus.  He died for us because He loves us.  He loves us too much to leave us the way we are.  He will do whatever it takes to make us holy.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 4:1-3)

God’s Controversy With His People 1

As we begin our study of Hosea 4 we find Hosea speaking in the gates of the city.  This is the place where civil and religious meetings were held.  There were probably some who were from the Southern kingdom present here as well.

The LORD is presented as having a “Controversy” with the people.  The MIRRIAM/WEBSTER Dictionary defines “Controversy” as being “a clash of opposing views: DISPUTE”.  It must of necessity be concluded that the one who opposes God is the one who is in error.  The New International Version of the Bible uses the word “Charge”.  The New American Standard uses the word “Case”.  These latter two imply court actions.  If then this is a court scene we see GOD as the offended party; and He is also the Judge, the Prosecutor; and since there is no defense mentioned He would also be their Defense.  God has a legal case against Israel.  It is a case He will win.  A case where the guilty will in brokenness confess their guilt, turn from their evil, and seek His face, receiving His forgiveness.

In verse one through three God says all are guilty, then the priests and prophets are responsible for rejecting the Word of God, rather than teaching it, living it, and proclaiming it (vv. 4-6).  They are all condemned for leaving God to follow the harlotry of Baal (vv. 7-10).  The men are then told of their responsibility for the corrupting of their wives and daughters (vv. 13-14).  Judah [the Southern kingdom] is then called on to heed the Word of Go, and not to forsake God and His ways following other gods (vv. 15-19).

“Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.  By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.  Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away.”  Hosea 4:1-3 (KJV)

The land is greatly polluted.  Sexual perversion and immorality always pollute the land of any nation.

God still contends with evil.  He is contending with evil even now across the United States of America, and in all nations of the world.  Sin is just as destructive today as it was in Hosea’s day; maybe more open and with greater influence; but “where sin abounds grace does much more abound”.

“Truth” is faithfulness.  Faithful to God, His Word, and His ways.  To walk in them is to walk in truth.  To walk in truth is to be faithful to His Word.  To depart from truth is to cease being kind.  “Mercy” is kindness.  When God’s people forsake His way sexual immorality increases, murders increase, all crime and criminal activities increase, and education slips into amorality.  Evil becomes good, and good becomes evil.  Because of this there is no knowledge of God in the land.  God is seen only as non-existent, unavailable, or contained in a box to be used at our own discretion and for our own pleasures.  Because of evil god is made in our own image.  He is viewed as tolerating evil, and never judging it; putting Him on equal basis with the gods of men’s hearts.  His Holiness, Righteousness, mercy, and grace are forgotten.  What need is there of mercy and/or grace if God tolerates all kinds of evil?

When people depart from God to serve the gods of their hearts “Everyone does that which is right in their own eyes” (Judges 21:25), the land becomes “Bloody”.  The commandments of God become useless, despised, and rejected; tossed aside as fables.

In verse two Hosea declares that at least five of the Ten Commandments had been severely broken.

There are also ecological consequences to sin.

The land cries out to God for mercy (Romans 8:22).  The man of God’s creation willfully sinned against God.  Sin causes the creation to groan.  Unless God keeps His hand of mercy on the land, then the land judges us.

The environmental crises that are known today; the upheaval of weather  patterns, in the USA, and around the world; are evidences of a gross spiritual problem.  God’s people have forsaken Him to serve the idols of pleasure, entertainment, and the sirens of comfort.  Many of the gods of our day are science, technology, money and finance.  All idols of man’s own making; leading to our destruction.

The world may laugh at such a simplistic answer, but the Bible is clear on the matter, and it is right.  Someone has said, “The heart of the human problem, is the problem of the human heart.” (Matthew 15:16-20).  The heart of man can only be righted when man confesses his sin/departure from God, repents, and asks for, and receives God’s forgiveness.

It is not gun-control we need to stop murders, or condoms to stop STD’s and/or AIDS.  It is self-control, and especially Holy Spirit initiated self-control.  To make it real the world needs the grace, mercy, and love of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the forgiveness only His atoning death, burial and resurrection supplies.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 3:4-5)

No Love Like God’s Love 3

“For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their King; and shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.” Hosea 3:4-5 (KJV)

The children of Israel are still in this stage of being without a king or a prince.  From the time of the return of the exiles from Babylon Israel ahs not been given to idolatry, they have not had a king or a prince; since the destruction of the temple (70 A.D.) their sacrifices have been abolished, and they have not had a Levite or a priest.

Hosea had placed Gomer in the disciplined lifestyle:

  1. Providing circumstances for her to respond to his love;
  2. “To convey through prophetic symbolism the deprivation into which God would bring Israel.”  From the STUDY BOOK.

This would make it possible for Israel to respond to God’s unconditional love.  While there is enjoyment in sin there is no opportunity of turning to God.

God would remove the false as well as the true.  “For many days” in verses three and four, imply a long period of time.  Probably as long as would be necessary to prepare them to return to God.

There is victory in God’s redemption.  Each of these first three chapters speak of Israel returning to God for full and completer redemption and forgiveness.  This is God’s purpose and plan for Israel and for His Church.

“Afterwards” – after the days of discipline.  After days, years, centuries, even millenniums “Israel shall return.”  There are not “Ifs” or “buts” about it.  They shall return.  They will “Seek the LORD their God”, and turn to “David their King” [fulfilled in Jesus Christ].  See Luke 1:32-33.

This prophecy has yet to take place.  It will in the Lord’s appointed time come to pass just as the prophecies forth tell.  When?  “In the last days.”

Jesus is the King of kings; rules over all the earth.  He is Lord of lords and has all things in His hands.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 3:2-3)

No Love Like God’s Love 2

“So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: and I said unto her, ‘Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.” Hosea 3:2-3 (KJV)

Obedience must be the heart of the prophet.  Hosea obeyed.  He bought his wife and freed her from the licentious, debaucherous  bondage she was in.

The price was steep.  What price is too high to pay to redeem what you love?  The price God would pay to redeem all mankind was high as well.  It cost Him the life of His only begotten Son.

Hosea was not told to wait and love Gomer after she straightened up her life.  He was commanded to love her unconditionally.  It is hard to love the unlovable, the unloving, the unkind.  It is hard to love when that love is not returned.  That is what real love is.  Hosea did.  God does.  His children do, else they are not His children (1 John 4:8).  We are able to love, because we are God’s purchased possession (1 Corinthians 6:20).  We are forgiven, and indwelt by the Spirit of Christ.

Just as Hosea paid a price for Gomer’s redemption, and God pays a price for Israel’s and our redemption, so too, it requires a price for us to love unconditionally.  The price we pay is openness; our lives opened up to hurt, rejection; when we love we open our lives to those we love.  The price we pay is giving; giving ourselves, our time in order to see that one we love set free from their problem, trials and bondages.  The price we pay is tough love; chastening is not pleasant; it will be hated at times by the one we love.  The price we pay is forgiveness; someone must pay, and it will be the one who forgives.

Redemption is always at a high price.  Forgiveness and cleansing are not free.  Someone must pay.  In Gomer’s place Hosea paid the price.  In Israel’s stead God pays the price.  “The Redeeming Love of God” for all people is through the death, burial, and resurrection of God’s Son Jesus Christ (1 Peter 1:19; 2:24;  John 3:16).

Accepted redemption, such as Gomer’s must have made, requires and gives a change of life, and life style.

There was to be a period of cleansing discipline for Gomer.  She would not go back to her “Lovers”.  She would not “Play the harlot”, or would Hosea have another woman.

When God redeems us there is a time for cleansing – it is called life.  There will come a day when we will be with Him; and when we stand in His presence we will be clean, by the blood of Jesus.

-Tim A Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (Hosea 3:1)

No Love Like God’s Love 1

“Then said the LORD unto me, ‘Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.'” Hosea 3:1 (KJV)

The LORD again speaks to Hosea concerning his wife.

Hosea received command from God.  “Hosea, love your wife again.”  She is still in an unlovable state, yet God says, “Love her again”.  He was obedient in putting her away.  He was obedient in the naming of his children, and seeing God at work in his family situation.  Would he obey in this as well?  He would.  He would follow wherever the LORD led.

Notice who God tells Hosea to love.  Another woman?  N0!  The same Gomer who was entangled, and involved in temple prostitution, adultery against God and her husband.  When is he to love her?

  1. While she still has other lovers;
  2. While she is still practicing her lewd ways.

Why is he to love her?  He is to love Gomer to illustrate God’s love for unfaithful Israel.

God may withdraw His hand of grace, His protecting hedge about His people; for awhile, but it is always redemptive in purpose.  He never forsakes His people.  He loves His people and always knows what is beneficial for us.

“Woman loved by a lover” is equivalent to “Who look to other gods”, since Gomer represents Israel and Hosea – God.  “Is committing adultery” is equivalent with “Love the raisin cakes [flagons of wine KJV] of pagans”.  “The expression ‘And love raisin cakes’ describes the reason for their apostasy.  ‘Loving raisin cakes’ is equivalent to loving sexual sin.  ‘Raisin cakes’ were dried raisins pressed together for sweetmeat.  Participants in the licentious Baal rites ate ‘Raisin cakes’.  These delicacies symbolized to them the sweetness of their participation in the Baal fertility rites to satisfy their lusts, and to increase productivity throughout the land in every area of life.  Such sin may indeed be sweet for a season like ‘Raisin cakes’ in the mouth, but it turns within the stomach ‘to the venom of cobras (See Job 20:14).”  From the Study Book by John Traylor.

The “Raisin cakes” imply enjoyment of their lewd practices; and their neglect, and rejection for hearing the words of the LORD.  Sin can indeed be enjoyed, but only for a short period, and it pays “Loan shark” interest rates.

Like has been said, “Sin will take you farther than you want to go; Sin will leave you longer than you want to stay;  Sin will cost you more than you want to pay.”  But you will pay.  By the love and grace of God our sin debt was paid by the blood of Jesus Christ on the cross, He was buried and He rose again.  He is alive.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (2) continued…

GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife (Continued…)

The conclusion of this study will include verses 14 – 23 of Hosea 2.

 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.  And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.  And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call Me Ishi; and shalt call Me no more Baali.  For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name.  And in that day will I make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven, and with the creeping things of the ground: and I will break the bow and the sword and the battle out of the earth, and will make them to lie down safely.  And I will betroth thee unto Me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.  I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.”  Hosea 14-20 (KJV)

There are many times that we think of God’s judgment as only being punitive – to punish.  It is so much more.  It is also redemptive.  It is God’s desire to have His people in the place of blessing, and He gets His people to blessings by both punitive and redemptive judgment.

In verse 14 God says He will “allure her”.  This is  to attract her to Himself (Romans 2:4).  Why would God, who is “Beautiful in holiness”, rich in glory, and worthy of praise, want to attract this people who were in effect, in a state of whoredoms against Him?  That is what His grace is all about.  Loving the unlovable.  Cleansing the unclean.

How would God “allure”, attract her?

  1. By taking here as His “Wife” again;
  2. By speaking “comfort to her”  [these would be words of love, romance, telling her of her beauty. This loving comfort would even cause her to forget her former lovers];
  3. By restoring her fruitfulness.

“The Valley of Achor” is the place of Achan’s sin (See Joshua 7).  God had commanded Israel not to take any accursed thing for themselves; as they conquered Jericho.  The silver, gold, and vessels of bronze and iron were for the LORD’S treasure house.  Achan disobeyed and kept a “Babylonish garment” and a “Wedge of gold” which he buried in his tent.  Because of this rebellion by one man, and his family the nation lost a battle that should have been won.

We learn from this story that harboring sin is futile to God’s people.  Taking to ourselves what God forbids is harlotry against God.  Yet God says through Hosea, that “The Valley of Achor [is] as a door of hope”.  “When Israel embraced the Baals, she took what God had cursed just as Achan did in taking the spoils of Jericho.  Their sin had brought terrible destruction upon them, their children, and their land.  Its transformation would be a token of the eternal blessings they would enjoy from now on.”  (From Hosea: God’s Reeeming Love by John Traylor pp. 23&24).

A place where a man and his family judged for sin becomes “A door of hope”.  There was a man who was judged that is our place of hope.  The cross of Jesus, and ugly, despicable judgment, is the only hope mankind has.  Because Achan died Israel became victorious.  Achan died for his own sins.  Jesus “Became sin” for us (2 Corinthians 5:21), and died, making victory possible for all who will believe.

What love God has for His people.  In verse 2 God said, “She is not My wife, nor am I her Husband!”  In verse 16 He says, “You will call Me ‘My Husband’ and no longer “My Master’.  Before Israel in their harlotries were recognizing God equally with the Baals.  Baali equals “master”, making her a slave [a slave to sin] (See Romans 6:16).  God says, “You will no longer be a slave, you will be My Wife, and I  your Husband.”

God was going to make their love for Him so great that they would forget about the Baals, and their names.  God’s covenant with Israel would be an eternal covenant.  Their land would be blessed.  The beasts of the field would even be a blessing to them (v. 18).

She would no longer be unfaithful, but holy and righteous unto God.  It is God’s work, and they would know that God is the LORD (Ephesians 2:8-10).

“And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; and the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel.  And I will sow her unto Me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not My people, ‘Thou art My people; and they shall say, ‘Thou art my God.'” Hosea 21-23 (KJV)

God declares that He is God over the earth.  He controls the rain, the wind, the plague, and the harvest – good and bad.  For some reason many Christians have stopped believing this, and it is partly due to our technology; whereby  we are sadly mistaken.  Technology is good as far as it goes; but God is still God.  Not one meteorologist or scientist can make our weather or take it away, they can only make predictions and maybe explain how it happened; nothing more.

Because of Israel’s departure and adultery God had withdrawn His blessings, mercy and grace so they might see His grace, and their evil ways more clearly.  Now, God is preparing to return His blessings upon them; the blessings of mercy and grace.  They had no mercy, but they will;  they experienced no grace, but now they would receive it and see it.  They would be His people; who were not a people.  They would proclaim “You are my God.”

“The love of God is greater far, than pen or tongue can ever tell.”

The ultimate and final blessing for Israel is yet to come.  Even so Come Lord Jesus.

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of God (2)

GOD Pursues the Redemption of His Wife

GOD is on a persistent quest to redeem the lost spouse (Israel), and reclaim her to Himself.  Through the gift of His Son Jesus He paid the ultimate sacrifice to redeem all who will hear His voice believe the gospel of Jesus Christ and be saved.

“Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.  Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not My wife, neither am I her Husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.  And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.  For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.'” Hosea 2:1-5 (KJV)

God calls on Judah and Israel to refer to one another as brethren “Brother” and “Sister”.  There is a contending on God’s part, with Israel.  God has put away Israel: “She is not My wife”  “I am not her Husband!”  There is punitive judgment here – for the purpose of punishing and restoration.

If Israel would not quit hers sins then God would “Put them away” in order to show them, that is was He who was providing bountifully for them; not her “lovers” who are the Baals of pagan, godless worship.

“Wife” in the text, as is Gomer is representative of the corporate people [Nation] or land of the North.  “Children” are representative of individuals within the nation or land.

There is a storn indication that there was a small group [remnant] within the nation who were not participative as individuals, but said or did nothing about it.  Their toleration in essence; was approval for the actions of others while they were selling the nation to godless whoredoms and all kinds of immoralities.

In these verses God pleads with Israel (v. 2);  He warns them of judgment (vv. 3-4); and the people obstinately reject God’s plea (v. 5).

“Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.  And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; and she shall seek them, but shall not find them: then shall she say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.’  For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.”  Hosea 2:6-8 (KJV)

We are told by some Scriptures that God puts a “Hedge” about His people keeping them from harm, and from evil.  Here the hedge has a different purpose.  God says now how He will bring them back to Himself.  He will build a hedge of thorns and “wall her in”.

By doing this God accomplishes three things;

  1. She would no longer be able to find the “Paths” that lead to the shrines and idols of Baal (v. 6);
  2. In seeking the idols they would not be able to find them (v. 7);
  3. They would begin to realize that they had it much better when they were worshipping God and Him only.

In God and in God alone they would realize the blessings they had received were from GOD alone (vv. 7-8).

“Therefore will I return, and take away My corn in the time thereof, and My wine in the season thereof, and will recover My wool and My flax given to cover her nakedness.  And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and none shall deliver her out of Mine hand.  I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.  And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, ‘These are my rewards that my lovers have given me:’ and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.  And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat Me, saith the LORD.”  Hosea 2:9-13 (KJV)

We can see by these things that God is on a relentless pursuit of His wayward “Wife”.  He lovers her.  Real and true love is harsh with a wayward loved one.

How would God pursue?

  1. Take away the grain at harvest;
  2. Take back the wool and the flax (linen);
  3. He would remove His hand of protection, and put on her a hand of judgment, which no one could deliver her from;
  4. All celebrations, feast days, would cease; along with laughter and joy;
  5. He would destroy her vines and fig trees, because she had given praise to the Baals for the fruitfulness of the land.

This judgment was God’s.  She had gone after other gods following the paths of pagan cultures clothed in expensive jewels and dress.  God says, “She forgot Me”.

This is a sad commentary about God’s people.  The very fact that Israel was worshipping Baals shows they had forgotten, and departed from God.  Any time any of God’s people begin to look to their wealth, blessings, or pleasures as coming because of their own goodness, or from anything , but God; she has forgotten God.

Has the United States of America depended upon idols?  Is the pagan deity Baal still worshipped in the USA? Pleasure, wealth and convenience seems to be the cry of today’s society and culture.  The saddest part of that is that many professing Christians have lined up with the world in these things too.

Yet our answer for freedom from sin and this world is the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus.  Hear Him, believe Him, repent and be saved.

When evil is in the world, and the world is in the Church; evil is progressing toward its maximum potential, and its end.
More on this chapter next time…

-Tim A. Blankenship

The Redeeming Love of GOD

Hosea’s Call, Circumstances, and Marriage

Several years ago I did a study of Hosea.  I spent a few days in the church I pastored teaching in special services for that purpose; and I was also invited by my home church to come for a week of services to teach the book of Hosea.  It was the year that our Convention – the Southern Baptist Convention – had Hosea as the Winter Bible Study.  This was a study i thoroughly enjoyed, was encouraged by, and prayerfully have grown through; and more since that time.

We will be in this study for some time.  I will endeavor to keep the studies readable and short.  I pray God’s richest blessing on you, as you read and hear the word of the LORD.

“Hosea was the second of God’s spokesmen known as eighth-century prophets.”  Amos was the first, and he and Hosea were contemporaries, both preaching in the Northern kingdom also know as Israel, or Ephraim.  Isaiah and Micah preached to the Southern kingdom, usually called Judah, during this same century.

There are two main divisions to the book: 1) Hosea’s marriage, and 2) Hosea’s message.  There are four prominent themes:  1.)  God’s love,  2.)  the sin of God’s people,  3.)  God’s judgment, and  4.) hope.

“Hosea 1-3:5 emphasizes God’s faithful love in spite of the people’s unfaithfulness to Him.  Hosea 4 – 7:16 shows God’s indictment of the sins of unfaithful Israel.  Hosea 8 – 10:15 stresses the sure judgment that awaited Israel because of their stubborn refusal to repent.  Hosea 11 – 14:9 presents the hope that God’s healing love will eventually lead some to repentance and renewal.”  From the WINTER BIBLE STUDY for this study.

Let us begin by reading chapter 1 verse 1,

“The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.” Hosea 1:1 (KJV)

If you will note the kings of the kingdom of the South – Judah; Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah.  Three of these kings “did what was right in the eyes of the LORD”; one did not – that was Ahaz (2 Kings 15:30-34; 16:1-4; 18:1-3).  Joash, fit in with Ahaz.  For those who might think leadership in the nation does not have anything to do with morality, or blessing beware.

Sometimes hearing the Word of the LORD is through our circumstances.  The spiritual and moral attitude of Israel was one of not only spiritual adultery against God, but adultery of the flesh as well.  Because of this it might have been quite difficult for a man to find a woman who was morally and physically pure.  Does that sound relevant to our times?  Through these circumstances of life Hosea heard the Word of God.

“The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.  So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.”  Hosea 1:2-3 (KJV)

The Northern kingdom was a kingdom which had departed from the LORD from their inception (1 Kings 12:16-33).  If you were to study the kings of the Northern kingdom there is not one king of whom the Scripture says “Did right in the eyes of the LORD”, not one.

Remember, also, the moral circumstances of the land in that day.  There was much idolatry; all connected to Baal worship.  There was temple prostitution, used in “worship” of Baal, pleasure oriented god who was made after the image of man.  The  prostitution was both male and female; or heterosexual and homosexual abomination.  The people of the era believed these adulterous practices would bring s harvest of bounty, the rains would be plentiful.  Many a young woman and many a young man was convinced that to present themselves as a prostitute for Baal was her duty and an honor.  Many a married – betrothed woman would go to Baal’s temple and engage in this behavior believing that to do so would make her womb fruitful and bear many sons.

Hosea loved a woman named Gomer who – possibly after the wedding –  began these pagan rites of worship.  God definitely used this  in speaking to Hosea.  Hosea learned in this the pain, the heart break of God in Israel’s departure from Him.

“And the LORD said unto him, ‘Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.  And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”  verses 4-5 (KJV)

As a result of this marriage there was a son born to Hosea and Gomer.  God told Hosea to name him Jezreel.  Jezreel means “God sows”.  In this case God is saying that He is going to sow judgment.  Jezreel is a city approximately 55 miles North of Jerusalem.  It is in an area known as the “Plain of Jezreel [Megiddo]”.  A place where much blood has been shed, and much will yet be shed in that plain (See Revelation 19:11-21).

At this time the house of Jehu will be judged, because of their father’s sin (See 2 Kings 10:29-31).  It seems that Hosea has no doubt about Jezreel being his son.

And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, ‘Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.  But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.’
Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.  Then said God, ‘Call his name Loammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God.'” verses 6-9 (KJV)

The next child that was born was a daughter.  Lo Ruhamah means “No mercy”.  Do you suppose Hosea may have began to realize that his wife was unfaithful at this time.

Then Gomer had a third child, and God called him Lo Ammi meaning “Not My people”.  Was Hosea coming to understand the heart of God?  His heart- ache, pain, and anger with adulterous affairs, with worldliness among His people?

“Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, ‘Ye are not My people,’ there it shall be said unto them, ‘Ye are the sons of the living God.’  Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” verses 10-11 (KJV)

Speaking through the circumstances of Hosea’s day God has spoken words of judgment and rejection.  However, we see in these last verses of the chapter that there is hope.

In these verses God promises that He is not through with Israel.  This is truly a hope and promise of THE REDEEMING LOVE OF GOD.

What does God promise?

  1. They shall be “accountable – without number” (v. 10);
  2. …Those “Not My people” declared to be “Sons of the living God” (v. 10);
  3. …There shal be a gathering of Judah and Israel (v. 11);
  4. …They shall have one head – “The root of David” (v. 11; Jeremiah 30:8-9);
  5. …They are told to refer to one another as “brother” and “sister” (2:1).

We will look at number five further in the next study.

When we look at Israel, the Northern kingdom, God’s promises to them; then we can know and rest in the assurance of God’s promises that His Word is being fulfilled; even today.  The whole law and the prophets is revealed fully in the person of Jesus Christ.  He suffered the agony, suffering, rejection of death, was buried, and rose again bodily from the grave; justifying all who will believe Him.

-Tim A. Blankenship

Once a Curse… Spurgeon

The following is from Bible Gateway daily,

Once a curse but now a blessing

‘And it shall come to pass, that as ye were a curse among the heathen, O house of Judah, and house of Israel; so will I save you, and ye shall be a blessing: fear not, but let your hands be strong.’ Zechariah 8:13

Suggested Further Reading: Romans 11:13–24

In the dark ages, to be a Jew was to be deserving of all scorn and cruelty, and of no pity or consideration. To what exactions, to what fines, to what imprisonments and tortures, have not the sons of Jacob been subjected by the professed followers of the Messiah? It is perhaps the greatest of all modern miracles, that there should be one Jew upon earth who is a Christian, for the treatment they have received from pretended Christians has been enough to make them hate the name of Jesus; it has not been simply villainous, but diabolical. Devils in hell could not be more cruel to their victims than professed Christians have been to the sons of Abraham. They have been a curse indeed. Among all nations they have been a hissing and a byword. But the day is coming, and is dawning already, when the whole world shall discern the true dignity of the chosen seed, and shall seek their company, because the Lord has blessed them. In that day when Israel shall look upon him whom they have pierced, and shall mourn for their sins, the Jew shall take his true rank among the nations as an elder brother and a prince. The covenant made with Abraham, to bless all nations by his seed, is not revoked; heaven and earth shall pass away, but the chosen nation shall not be blotted out from the book of remembrance. The Lord has not cast away his people; he has never given their mother a bill of divorcement; he has never put them away; in a little wrath he has hidden his face from them, but with great mercies will he gather them.

For meditation: We should thank God for the Jews; through them he gave us his Word (Romans 3:2; 9:4) and his Son (Romans 9:5); he still has blessings to give to the world through them (Romans 11:12). If you blame them for Christ’s death, remember that he died for sinners, and that you, as a sinner, were also responsible.

Sermon no. 543
6 December (1863)

O what a blessing the Jewish people have been to the Christian and the world.  They have been used by God to provide us the Word of God, and our Lord and Saviour has come through them.

-Tim A. Blankenship