Saturday, August 25, 2007
1. Promises of restoration (6:1-3)
2. God desires mercy and knowledge, rather than sacrifices (6:3-6)
3. List of Israel's wrongs (6:7-7:16)
1. There is a repeating imagery of the dawn in v.3-5. What does it mean?
According to v.3, the imagery of the dawn symbolizes certainty of God's restoration. Yet the mood changes in v.5, where the light of dawn symbolizes judgment. In other words, even though God restores people with a new day, their love disappears almost immediately with the rising son and hence leads to new judgment.
This is an imagery of Israel never learning from its mistakes.
2. What new accusations does God bring against Israel (not yet mentioned in ch.1-5)?
Hosea mentions problems within leadership and Israel's desperate attempt in diplomacy in chapter 7.
3. What does verse 6 mean?
The Hebrew word "hesed" translated as "mercy" by NIV has two main meanings : steadfast (loyal) love and kindness (or mercy). Hebrew has two words for love (ahab and hesed) and one for mercy (raham). It is important to see the difference between the three. Ahab is the love between people (husband and wide, parent and child, friends) or of people toward God. Mercy (raham) is the compassion followed by action. It is an act of either withdrawing the punishment or helping someone in need. Hesed is best translated as kindness but not in the modern English sense. Hesed means acting in the best interests of another person. While hesed is often translated as love or steadfast love in the OT, kindness per se can appear very unloving, when pain and hurt are in the best interests of the other person.
In the OT, hesed is almost always used to refer to the love of God toward his creation, and less often as kindness (mercy) of people toward each other. It is never used for love of people toward God (ahab is used in this case). Hence when God says there is no hesed in the land (Hosea 4:1), that Israel's hesed disappears as the morning myst, that He desires hesed from Israelites rather than sacrifices, he talks about kindness and loyal love of the Jews toward each other, not toward God. That is also why after God mentions a lack of hesed in Hosea 4:1, he goes on to demonstrate it by quoting violations of several (of the ten) commandments that refer to relationships between people.
The second part of the v. 6 says that God prefers the knowledge of God rather than offerings. By knowledge Bible usually implies intimate knowledge of something or somebody that results in appropriate action. For example, to know ones wife is to have sexual relationship with her.
The knowledge of God is best defined as understanding of his deep desires, which would naturally bring our desire to fulfill them. What are the God's desires? He has many! Here are just a few that He mentions in connection with sacrifices (these things are better than sacrifices):
1 Sam 15:22 (Obedience)
Psalm 50:7–15; (Confession and praise)
Psalm 51:16 (broken spirit and contrite heart)
Psalm 147:11 (in those who fear him and put their hope in God's unfailing love)
Prov 21:3 (To do what is right and just)
Isaiah 1:17 (do right, seek justice, encourage the oppressed, defend the cause of fatherless and widows)
Jeremiah 9:24 (kindness, justice and righteousness)
Mark 12:33 (Love God and our neighbors)
Important aspects of the knowledge of God:
a. Understanding that what pleases God is us treating others with kindness:
Jeremiah 22:15-16 (NIV)
15“Does it make you a king
to have more and more cedar?
Did not your father have food and drink?
He did what was right and just,
so all went well with him.
16 He defended the cause of the poor and needy,
and so all went well.
Is that not what it means to know me?”
declares the Lord.
b. Understanding why we need to obey:
Proverbs 2:1-6 (NIV)
Moral Benefits of Wisdom
1 My son, if you accept my words
and store up my commands within you,
2 turning your ear to wisdom
and applying your heart to understanding,
3 and if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
4 and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
5 then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
6 For the Lord gives wisdom,
and from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.
Just understanding what a command mean is noJews probably understood God's commands too literally and hence often did not know the meaning behind. For example, Jews probably brought sacrifices to God and thought that now God owes them. But when God did not provide rain on time or allowed poor harvest, they would immediately abandon him and run to idols that promise better harvest or more rain. They saw sacrifices as a way to earn God's favor.
Isaiah 58:2-9 (NIV)
2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.
3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.
4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.
5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the Lord?
6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?
7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter—
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
9 Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
Without understanding, there is no enduring solution. If we fail to understand the root of the problem (e.g. the fact that they didn't understand the principle behind the commandments), we might repent of our sin because of bad consequences but not because we are really sorry.
4. Can we now understand what Matt. 9:13; 12:7 means?
It should be trivial by now.
1. Jews, while tried, utterly failed to really understand what pleases God. How can we, as Christians, do that?
Things that pleased God then are the same things that please Him now. New Testament has not really provided any new examples of God's desires. But we must avoid the trap that the Jews were constantly falling in.
First, we need to understand another reason why God did not desire sacrifices.
Hebrews 10:1-10 (NIV)
Christ’s Sacrifice Once for All
10 The law is only a shadow of the good things that are coming—not the realities themselves. For this reason it can never, by the same sacrifices repeated endlessly year after year, make perfect those who draw near to worship. 2 If it could, would they not have stopped being offered? For the worshipers would have been cleansed once for all, and would no longer have felt guilty for their sins. 3 But those sacrifices are an annual reminder of sins, 4 because it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins.
5 Therefore, when Christ came into the world, he said:
“Sacrifice and offering you did not desire,
but a body you prepared for me;
6 with burnt offerings and sin offerings
you were not pleased.
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am—it is written about me in the scroll—
I have come to do your will, O God.’ ”
8 First he said, “Sacrifices and offerings, burnt offerings and sin offerings you did not desire, nor were you pleased with them” (although the law required them to be made). 9 Then he said, “Here I am, I have come to do your will.” He sets aside the first to establish the second. 10 And by that will, we have been made holy through the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.
We need to understand what verses Matt. 9:13; 12:7 really mean. If sacrifices in the form of offerings were all that were required from us, some of us could have claimed that they've done it, they have satisfied God's standards. Yet when we see that God's real standards are mercy and intimate knowledge of Him, we will never be able to say, We have done it. When a lawyer tried to more clearly define what the first two commandments mean (parable of a good Samaritan), Jesus intentionally extended the boundaries so that it becomes clear we cannot never satisfy them.
Only to a degree that we understand and admit that we cannot please God by our actions, he will come and teach us how to really please Him, through the work of Holy Spirit within us. This process is called sanctification. We are sanctified by faith through the work of Holy Spirit, (2 Thess 2:13; 1 Pet 1:2). For more details, see this:
Ezekiel 36:22-27 (NIV)
22 “Therefore say to the house of Israel,
24 “ ‘For I will take you out of the nations; I will gather you from all the countries and bring you back into your own land. 25 I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your impurities and from all your idols. 26 I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.
It is through faith, e.g. trusting in what God has done through Jesus and also his promises, we can consent to God's will. Our soul allows itself to be treated according to God’s good pleasure for, clinging to God’s promises, it does not doubt that he who is true, just, and wise will do, dispose, and provide all things well. And God accomplishes it with the help of Holy Spirit.