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Hosea 2-3

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The main theme of Hosea 2 is God confronting the unfaithfulness of Israel, symbolically expressed as a failed marriage.

Exegesis:

  1. Here are curses promised to Israel if she does not turn from her life of harlotry
    • Divorce
    • Be stripped naked, like on the day of her birth, so that everybody can see her lewdness
    • Make the land like a wilderness, without water
    • No compassion on her children
    • Hedge her way with thorns, wall up her path, to prevent her from going to her lovers
    • Take away grain, wool, wine, flax
    • No festivities - end to all celebrations and festivals
  2. Here is the aspects of restoration promised:
    • Bring her back
    • Give back the vineyards
    • Remarriage
    • No more idolatry
    • Peace
    • Restoration of the quality of the land
    • Relationship of love
    • Covenant

3 The curses and restoration that Israel has received are similar to those promised by Moses for breaking the Sinai covenant.

Blessings if obey:

Deuteronomy 28:11 (NIV), Deuteronomy 28:12-13 (NIV)

Curses if disobey:

Deuteronomy 28:18 (NIV), Deuteronomy 28:24-25 (NIV), Deuteronomy 28:38-40 (NIV)

Restoration after curses:

Deuteronomy 30:1-10 (NIV)

4. Why did God choose these kinds of curses and not some others?

The key to this is to understand that Baal was a weather god associated with thunderstorms. Baal was said to appoint the season of rains. Rain was important to Canaanite agriculture, and Baal was consequently a god of fertility—a prodigious lover as well as the giver of abundance.

My taking away rain, food, pleasures, protection, God sees to severe Israel's ties with its idols. In other words, if God can take these things away, he must have been the giver of all these things in the first place. This is in contrast with Israel's belief that these were her pay from her idols: Hosea 2:12

By bringing her to a desert, God hopes to further insulate Israel from its idols Hosea 2:14

5. What is the nature of restoration promised? Did it already happen?

Some aspects of restoration are simply reversals of the curses - return water to the land, give back the vineyards, remarriage. We can say that these have been at least partially fulfilled when Jews returned from exile. Other aspects, such as peace with animals and no wars, have not happened yet. So the prophecy is clearly looking into the future.

It's interesting to consider the verse Hosea 2:16

The Hebrew word for Baal is exactly the same as Lord, which is also synonym for husband. Hence the double meaning of this verse. First, God does not want to be just a god, he wants to be the God. He does not want to be confused with anybody else. Second, He would like us to think of himself not as a husband-ruler but as a husband-lover.

Application.

1. Idolatry seems to be the main problem in the OT. Does this problem still exist today?

You shall have no other gods before me

“You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5 You shall not bow down to them or worship them;

Different denominations are split on whether this is one commandment or two. Jews and Catholics treat it as one, evangelicals as two. But in either case, for Jews the main way to have other gods before God was through idolatry. Yet, it is possible to have something as God and worship him, without actually making an image.

Paul widens the meaning of idolatry (Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:5) to include greed (or service of money god).

I believe to us this means that idolatry means putting anything, money, career, even family, above God. Anything that that we worship and serve can become our god.

2. From this passage we can see how God tried to solve the problem of idolatry in the OT. How do you think he might try to solve it in our lives?

Probably the same way, by cutting our connections with the idols. As C.S. Lewis puts it,

“God whispers in our pleasures, but shouts in our pain". Or as John Newton puts it in his famous hymn "Prayer answered by Crosses",

Lord, why is this?" I trembling cried,

"Will You pursue me to the death?"

"It's in this way," the Lord replied

"I answer prayer for grace and faith."

"These inward trials I employ,

from self and pride to set you free,

and break your schemes of earthly joy,

that you may find it all in Me."

If your career became an idol and you serve it to get recognition and financial stability, God may make you lose your job to remind you who is really in charge of your finances and recognition. You may have made an idol of relationship. Any time you want something too much and cannot get it, it does not necessarily means it's bad for you - maybe God does not want you to make an idol out of it. Sometimes letting something go is the best way to receive it.

3. So, do we just wait and see until God removes the idols from us? What can we do to change?

  • Know what your idols are. Taking away an idol will feel like your life is shattered.
  • If you try to get rid of idols, they tend to come back. Try to fill the void left after denouncing the idols. As Thomas Chalmers says (edited):

It is seldom that any of our tastes are made to disappear by a mere process of natural extinction... A boy may cease to be the slave of his appetite, but it is because a manlier taste has now brought it into subordination. The youth ceases to idolize sexual pleasure, but it is because the idol of wealth has become the stronger and gotten the ascendancy. Even the love of money ceases to have the mastery over the heart, but it is because drawn into politics and he is now lorded over by the love of power. There is not one of these transformations in which the heart is left without an object. Its desire for one particular object may be conquered; but as to its desire for having some object or other, this is unconquerable....

  • Fill your heart with the pleasures of God and beauty of the gospel. The reason our hearts turn to other objects of beauty and satisfaction is because we do not find satisfaction and pleasure in the gospel of Jesus Christ.

John 3:26-30

Here is how C.S. Lewis puts it:

If you asked twenty good men to-day what they thought the highest of the virtues, nineteen of them would reply, Unselfishness. But if you asked almost any of the great Christians of old he would have replied, Love. You see what has happened? A negative term has been substituted for a positive, and this is of more than philological importance. The negative ideal of Unselfishness carries with it the suggestion not primarily of securing good things for others, but of going without them ourselves, as if our abstinence and not their happiness was the important point. I do not think this is the Christian virtue of Love. The New Testament has lots to say about self-denial, but not about self-denial as an end in itself. We are told to deny ourselves and to take up our crosses in order that we may follow Christ; and nearly every description of what we shall ultimately find if we do so contains an appeal to desire. If there lurks in most modern minds the notion that to desire our own good and earnestly to hope for the enjoyment of it is a bad thing, I submit that this notion has crept in from Kant and the Stoics and is no part of the Christian faith. Indeed, if we consider the unblushing promises of reward and the staggering nature of the rewards promised in the Gospels, it would seem that Our Lord finds our desires, not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.

 

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