Redeemed

By Rick Phipps

A few definitions are in order to really help our understanding of what’s happening in Hosea…

Adultery…sexual unfaithfulness of a married person

Jesus would later redefines (Matthew 5:27) that in God’s standards lust by sight and heart counts.

Prostitute…to offer indiscriminately for sexual intercourse especially for money; to devote or corrupt for unworthy purposes; a woman who engages in promiscuous sexual intercourse especially for pay. 

I give these definitions because it hit me just how low Gomer (Israel, people of God) had fallen. She (they) not only was a willing participant in adultery but also implied willing participant in prostitution. She was with another man (another God), not her husband (not their God), while still married (cared for, loved, desired by God) thus an adulterer (living outside the covenant with God). This man (sin, idols), as it says in 3:1, loved her (probably not a heart love but for sexual moneymaking, “what can you do for me kinda love”). However, their sin or lust, or just blindness to the sacredness of the marriage bed (true worship/respect for God), or maybe even the total lack of hope from such a great disconnection from God has Gomer involved in prostitution. And it would seem that is was a willing involvement. Sin has no boundaries, no restraints, no line where one can’t go any farther, it just keeps on calling one deeper and deeper into its abyss. So it would seem that Gomer had a lover but also a pimp (addictive sin; hopelessness). How lost she was…perhaps hoping that the next lover/customer would be the one to rescue her (this idol/god)? Bring her a love she fantasized about (provide an easy life)? Yet in the deepest darkness of her life who comes back for her? Hosea (God)…now it would seem that Gomer (Israel) was also past her money making prime for the amount Hosea paid for her, as one commentator remarked, ‘was pitifully small. Gomer was no longer worth much to anyone except Hosea’. Yet Hosea paid it! Hosea took her back…God’s use of Hosea paints a picture that no matter how low we sink He is willing to buy us back–to redeem us–and to lift us up again.  

Like prostitution, any sin, once it has its teeth in us, takes extraordinary will and strength to escape. For it brings us down to a state of hopelessness, shame, a feeling that there is not way out, that this is ‘just the way my life is suppose to be,’ then justification chains one to it even more… 

Romans 3:22-26: This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. God presented Him as a sacrifice of atonement through faith in His blood. He did this to demonstrate His justice, because in His forbearance He had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished–He did it to demonstrate His justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.  

So, when you are tempted to feel like we’re no longer worth anything to anyone, let alone God… know that Jesus paid the price to buy us back by His sacrifice on the cross. Now we stand in Christ as His’ redeemed.

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Perfectly Rooted

by Adam Reiss

We often think obedience is a burden. There’s what we want to do THEN what we are told. We have our life separated into neat sections and subheadings; some containing desires; some our responsibility to God. Love sometimes includes a process of turning away and returning before we realize how intricately obedience to God and our desires interweave.  The beauty in Hosea is God’s constant drive to get us back. 

As Hosea’s wife was going elsewhere for something she could have purely gotten from him, so the Israelites strayed from the original Source. Hosea didn’t just forgive her, though.  She didn’t write him a nice little note that got him to accept her back; he found her in prostitution and BOUGHT her back. His love for her was stronger than propriety and social convention. 

With God, repentance is perfect and everlasting.  As many times as we fall away, He is there to take us back.  This is of course not to give us permission to sin but to realize the importance of obedience.  It gives us a chance to see the beauty which God’s commands pour into our lives in our own time and in full understanding. We fall away and stumble and God does not wait for us to beg. He actively seeks us. 

The natural metaphors in the last chapter are beautiful. God declares the abundance he has for those who obey him using the imagery of other botanical objects made by His hands. The trees he mentions are all so beautifully displayed in the open air, the breeze, and the sun while being perfectly rooted exactly where they need to be. In much the same way, God invites us to be rooted in Him.

Today’s Reading: Hosea 9-14

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This Weekend: Join us at The VINE at 9:15 AM on Sunday in the Chapel as Stacy Sanford brings us thoughts and a challenging word from Hosea. 

I stand accused…

Love is difficult… especially when it’s not reciprocated. It’s even worse when the love you extend is rejected, mocked, even taken advantage of. How do you respond? How far do you extend yourself? How do you hang on to hope that anything can eventually be any different?

As we continue our summer study series in Hosea, strong charges are brought against Israel in the next part of the story (Hosea 4-8). The people are indicted by God through the message of the prophet Hosea as having ignored God’s law, engaged in prostitution with foreign idols, as being unfaithful, without understanding, stubborn, rebellious, and arrogant. What a list! Who could imagine what it would take for God to continuing to love when so much had been done to destroy the covenant relationship that had been established between with the nation of Israel?

What kind of betrayal would it take for you to be pushed completely over the edge to a place where a relationship you have had seems irreconcilable? If anyone ever had reasons to give up, they seem pretty clear in this text as the unrepentant nation stands accused.

One of the most difficult and intriguing parts of this ordeal for Hosea, was that his own story paralleled what was happening with the nation of Israel. He was married to a woman who had so scorned his love for her, that he actually had to go and buy her back from a life of prostitution to which she had turned (see Hosea 3:2). In the midst of a huge amount of betrayal and rejection of the covenant of marriage, Hosea’s love still continued to hope, trust, and redeem. It’s an incredible picture of the heart of God and how far He is willing to go for the people He loves.

Just as Hosea’s own story was a constant reminder for him of how difficult and real this messy business of love and reconciliation really is, our own stories of our sin, rebellion, and even sometimes contempt for God’s love are also constantly in the foreground of our view on this whole situation. On our own, it seems there’s no way back. But God has made a way through Jesus. As we believe, trust and follow him we see how the words of Hosea 6:1-3 can actually be true…

“Come, let us return to the Lord. He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us; he has injured us but he will bind up our wounds. After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence. Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that cover the earth.”

Today’s Reading: Hosea 4-8
Key Verses: Hosea 4:1,6 Romans 9:25

Summer Study Series: An Introduction

Today marks the beginning of a journey that will take us through each of the minor prophets this summer (Hosea through Malachi). The truth that the “minor” prophets brought forth was anything but minor. The only reason they are called minor is that they are much shorter than the prophecies of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, which are sometimes called the “major” prophets.

As we move through this study, we’ll have opportunities to hear from the voices of the prophets of old, and we’ll also have opportunities to hear testimony from voices of today and we’ll see in both how the truth of God’s word continues to challenge and transform lives. This week we are beginning with the book of Hosea. Approximately three days a week throughout the summer there will be blog posts that will help guide our reading and study together. On Sunday mornings’s at The VINE, after our week of reading and studying, we’ll engage together as a group in getting to the heart of the message of each book.

Recognizing the power of God’s work among his people, this study is a collaborative, effort and your participation is key. If you’re interested in signing up to research and write one of the weekly study entries as we go along, you’ll be able to do so at The VINE beginning this Sunday morning, and help will always be available along the way.

I’m so looking forward to the transforming power of the truth of God’s word shaping our lives together as we journey together this summer.

Nick

Introduction to Hosea:

Hosea was a prophet that lived and prophesied to the northern part of God’s divided kingdom of Israel (sometimes referred to as Ephraim), around the time just before they were defeated by the Assyrian Empire (755-715 BC).

Hosea is in essence about a painful love story. It begins with a personal illustration of Hosea own marriage relationship that involves his adulterous wife, who acted like a prostitute despite Hosea’s continual loyal faithfulness, passionate provision and continual pursuit.

At the time of Hosea’s prophecy, Israel had become pretty distracted from the heart of God. They had become greedy in the midst of prosperity, committed all kinds of injustices against the poor, and had turned to foreign idol worship, which Hosea referred to as adultery against the Lord their God. Throughout Hosea’s prophecy, we see very vividly the painful suffering love of the Lord for his people, even in the midst of their unfaithfulness. God’s fury, His jealousy, and His own passion for His people, are on display through Hosea’s words and through his life.

Hosea shows us that God’s concern for His people in the midst of their idolatry, sin, and rebellion are not just about some vague religious matter, but about something deeply personal. God doesn’t want to be involved in the lives of people in a distant impersonal way, but uses this incredibly powerful illustration of the love of a husband toward his wife to show how much He loves them.

Reading for Monday & Tuesday:

Read chapters 1-3 of Hosea which compare Hosea’s marriage to Israel’s relationship with God. Pay special attention to 3:1 which says, “The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress…” As you read, think about your own relationship with the Lord and how His grace, love and faithfulness are constant even in the midst of our wanderings.