Hosea: The more Israel increased, the more they built altars to other gods that God will destroy. In their punishment, they will languish for a king but don’t fear God. They mourn for the loss of the calf idol carried to Assyria. During their destruction they will cry for the mountains to on them. The Lord will punish them at Gibeah as he pleases.
The Lord tells Ephraim and Judah they must yield to his control and plow so they can have righteousness and steadfast love. But they plowed iniquity and reap its fruit. They will have war against them brutally killing women and children.
When Israel was a child, the Lord called his son out of Egypt. However, they turned away to idols. The Lord guided them with kindness and love. Now, though they call to the Lord they don’t return to him, so they will be sent to Assyria.
It breaks the Lord’s heart to do this because of his compassion. In the future, he will not destroy them again, but they will turn to him and the Lord will restore them. However, now Ephraim is inundating the Lord with lies while Judah is still faithful.
The Lord will indict Judah for their deeds. Jacob will pay for striving with his brother, angels, and God. By the Lord’s memorial name, he will restore Jacob.
Ephraim has become rich by deceitful business practices. He thinks no one will discover it. But the Lord will turn them around to dwell in tents. The Lord sent prophets, but they continued to sin. The Lord will repay him for his wickedness.
Because of Ephraim’s continued sinning with Baal, the Lord will make them like the morning dew that goes away. There is no God besides the Lord and no other savior. He saved them in the wilderness but when the came into prosperity they forgot God. He will punish them like a bear protecting her cubs. He will destroy Israel. Their kings and rulers won’t save them.
The Lord asks if he should save them from Sheol or hide his compassion from them. The Lord will bring punishment on them. Samaria must bear its guilt.
He again calls for Israel to return to the Lord. They must let the Lord take away their sins through the sacrifices. They must admit Assyria can’t save them and repent of calling their idols their God. Then the Lord will heal their apostacy and love them without anger. He will make them flourish and he will protect them.
The Lord pleads with Ephraim to understand that he is not an idol, but he supplies all their needs. The ones who understand this are wise and will walk with the Lord. But those who transgress this will stumble.
Psalm: All our labors are unproductive if the Lord isn’t in them. If he is, then we can do it and he will give us peaceful sleep without being anxious.
The Lord also provides children. They are a blessing to those who have them. They give him confidence when confronting enemies.
Proverbs: Wise disciple includes physical as well as verbal correction because no discipline results in a child that brings shame to his family. When wicked people increase so does sin in society. However, righteous people will eventually see their demise. You will have rest and joy when you discipline your children.
Jude: Jesus’ servant and half-brother, Jude, writes to everyone who is called and loved by God and kept safe for Jesus. He asks for us to have mercy, peace, and love abundantly.
He was going to write more about our salvation but instead decided to write about the need to defend our faith that was preached to us. The reason is that some ungodly people who were destined for hell sneaked into the church and pervert the grace of God for sensual purposes and deny Jesus, our Lord and Master.
He reminds us that Jesus saved people out of Egypt and killed those who didn’t believe. He also keeps fallen angels in eternal chains until the day of judgment. Sodom and Gomorrah, with all their sexual immorality and unnatural lusts are an example of eternal punishment in hell.
These ungodly people rely on their dreams to do all sorts of evil and blaspheme angels. The archangel Michael didn’t even pronounce judgment on the devil when he guarded Moses’ body. Instead, he called on the Lord to rebuke the devil. But these ungodly people put down anything they can’t understand. They ignore the things they should understand from instinct causing them irreparable damage. They act just like Cain, seek riches like Balaam, and rebel against God like Korah. They are sore spots when you gather together for church-wide pot-lucks when everyone should love each other. They only look out for themselves going where they want and not providing any good to others. They are useless and their shame bubbles up like the foam of the sea. They are doomed to hell.
Enoch who was the 7th generation from Adam prophesied that the Lord would come with myriads of angels to convict and judge all these ungodly people for their behavior and their blasphemy against him. They are grumblers and malcontents among other sinful things.
Remember, the Apostles said these scoffers would come in the last days. They follow their own passions. But we must build ourselves up in the faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. We need to keep on loving God and waiting for the Lord Jesus who gives eternal life by his mercy. We should have mercy on doubter, save others from hell, and show mercy with fear to sinners but hate the sin.
Give glory, majesty dominion, and authority to the one who keeps us from stumbling. He will bring us into his glory without blame and great joy. This is God our Savior who does this through Jesus Christ our Lord.
What Stood Out
Hosea: “Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy” (Hos 14:3).
Psalm: “It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep” (Ps 127:2).
Proverbs: “The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child left to himself brings shame to his mother” (Prov 29:15).
Jude: “To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen” (Jude 24-25 NIV).
Hosea: Israel (Ephraim) had a big problem. They turned everywhere except to the Lord for their salvation. They made idols, the work of their hands, to provide for them. They turned to Assyria to save them.
The difference between them and the people of today is that we think our government or our own abilities should provide for us physically. One extreme thinks the government should make sure everyone has what they need. The other extreme thinks everyone should take care of themselves. Everyone in between the two extremes still do not acknowledging that God is the one in control and we should depend on him.
For eternal needs, people of today are also divided. One extreme ignores the issue and tries to tell us we are just animals that cease to exist when we die. The other extreme thinks that if we are just good enough or work hard enough at whatever path we believe, we will have eternal life. The latter leaves room for all religions except for that intolerant one that says there is only one way to God and that is through Jesus Christ.
The solution to our problem is the same as the solution to Ephraim’s problem. They needed to be wise and understand what God was telling them. We need to understand the same thing. There is only one God, and yes, there is a God. He is in control and the one that provides and forgives sin. We need to repent and give up our other Gods and look to the Lord to take away our sins. The only way to him is through Jesus who paid for our sins so that we can come to the Father.
Psalm: I’ve seen people struggling with their work trying to get rich. They work at a regular job and also pour their hearts into schemes that promise riches as well. They are promised if they follow the plan, they will make millions. After a few years, they realize that the ones making the millions are the ones that are telling them the lie. They don’t have rest during that time but are anxious in their toil.
God promises a good night’s sleep when we are aligned with his plan and his plan is, “Now there is great gain in godliness with contentment, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content” (1 Tim 6:6-8). Paul goes on to say that people who want to get rich only run into trouble, especially from a spiritual standpoint.
This isn’t to say that God doesn’t lead some people into riches, but we must follow Jesus first and determine what he want us to be doing in this world. Then we don’t have to be anxious and can sleep well.
Proverbs: Proverbs 29:15 could very well apply to our spiritual lives as well as raising children. The Lord uses physical hardships and trials to get our attention as well as to correct us when we are going astray. He uses reproof through the Bible and others to let us know the correct direction as well as the consequences of going astray. When we are heeding these things and letting the tough times develop godly character, we will not bring shame on the name of Jesus.
Jude: Jude is a fantastic short letter that probably raises more questions about angels, the devil, and even Enoch which can divert us from the main message. The main theme is obviously to watch out for these pretend Christians that have invaded the church. It should be easy to see them given the description Jude paints. He doesn’t leave any doubt as to their spiritual condition. They are going to hell. We should make sure we aren’t in the same boat with them. However, we must do what we can to confront them by contending or defending the faith.
Before we engage in this we must be strong in our faith. We must be praying in the Holy Spirit. If we aren’t prayed up, as some say, we will not be able to be effective. We must know what we are talking about because they really don’t understand the gospel. In contending for the faith, we must try to save them from the very fire of hell. But we also have to be careful. Some people simply have doubts and we can help them. We don’t have to hit them hard but be gentle and merciful with them. Other, whew, we must love the sinner but hate the sin. That isn’t always easy.
One thing that will help us not only contend with these but help us be confident in our salvation is Jude’s benediction in Jude 24-25. We can remember that it is our God who keeps us from being like those Jude has condemned. Though Jesus, we will be presented before the Lord blameless and without fault. We will be perfectly holy before a perfectly holy God. We won’t have any fear of punishment, but we will have great joy. All the glory goes to God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit not only now but in all ages and the future.
I need to be one who can bring reproof to those going astray in a way that will help them avoid temporal consequences of sin. That way they won’t bring shame in the name of Jesus. I need to be able to knowledgeably proclaim the gospel to the lost. I also need to be one who can defend the faith to those who don’t know Jesus and are even hostile to Christianity.