110 of 365 - Exile
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine; their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon. Hosea 14:7
Like the faithfulness of Hosea to take his wife back and continue to love her even through her unfaithfulness, God is willing and eager to take us back and restore our relationship with Him when we go astray.
Through many different people, and in many different ways, God is trying to get the attention of His people. He is slow to anger, patient, and quick to forgive, but we bear some responsibility to ask for forgiveness and come to Him.
Hosea tells of the beautiful restoration that is possible when we repent of our sins and seek Him. He wants to take care of us and watch us bloom, abundantly sharing the unique gifts and purposes He created us for.
Hosea is the last prophet of the Northern Kingdom prior to their defeat and capture at the hands of the Assyrians. Most of the people were deported to Assyria, no longer part of a free sovereign nation.
Even when it looks dismal to us, God is always working His plans and purposes. God was so patient with them giving them so many warnings under different kings and prophets and methods. Restoration will come, but this is a season of consequences for the people of the Northern Kingdom. The Messiah is still part of the plan. But for now, the people wait in exile.
The Bible is God’s message to us today. Like the Israelites, we need to take His word seriously. He is patient with us, but a final judgment day will ultimately come. Will we be found faithful?
Challenge: As believers, we often long for Jesus to come back and make everything right again, but we should be thankful that God is patient and waiting. Many people have yet to believe in Him. Who can you pray for today to know Jesus before He returns? What can you do today to reach out to them?
109 of 365 - For I Desire...
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. Hosea 6:6
The life of a prophet wasn’t an easy one as they spoke God’s truth and lived out His messages. Hosea can definitely vouch for this fact. God tells him to marry an unfaithful prostitute. Hosea knows she will betray his trust and break his heart, but he obeys God and marries Gomer. Hosea’s life becomes a metaphor for the relationship between God and the Israelites who, like Hosea’s wife, cheat, wander, seek worldly possessions, and rebel.
God wants the people to see how they are being spiritually unfaithful to Him; how they quickly turn their backs on God, chasing the pleasures of the world around them. Over and over again.
Even Hosea and Gomer’s three children, named by God, are part of the story…God will Punish, No Mercy, and Not My Children. The offspring of a broken relationship.
The Israelite people are going through the motions of following God – sacrifices, celebrations, rote prayers – but their heart is not in it. They check these things off their “religious” list and then going about their day following the false gods and idols of the culture around them. They have lost their love for God…the thing He desires most.
But through the faithfulness of Hosea to Gomer, despite her wandering and unfaithfulness, God wants them to see that He loves them so much and desires them to come back to Him. He will not abandon them, though they abandon Him. He keeps going after them. He desires to take care of them and live in a beautiful relationship with them if they will just come home.
Question: What do you think about how God is using the prophets and His people to tell His story?