Category Archives: Hosea

Deadly Ignorance

New TestamentNo activity or human pursuit equals Bible study. In no other field of human endeavor do we find such benefits as one discovers from studying the word of God. No field of study offers more hope to mankind than the Scriptures. Yet, few works are more neglected than personal Bible study. Likely there are many reasons, but none are valid. The lack of Bible knowledge is staggering. To make matters worse, American pulpits are full of shallow streams of spiritual thoughts which promote the drift away from God’s word toward a blend of man-centered thought and empty platitudes. The time to return to God’s word is now.[bctt tweet=”American Pulpits are empty of knowledge and full of empty platitudes. ” username=”Preachers_Study”]

      My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;

because you have rejected knowledge,

I reject you from being a priest to me.

And since you have forgotten the law of your God,

I also will forget your children (Hosea 4:6).

The beleaguered prophet spoke this message from the Lord. Israel, once a powerful people, were now reduced to servants. Why? Because they had forsaken a knowledge of God. As a result, they deserted His loving kindness and blessings for lawlessness. While there is “no knowledge of God in the land” (vs. 1), there is “swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery.” (vs. 2). God’s word is no longer the standard of truth. Instead, they “inquire of a piece of wood and their walking staff gives them oracles: (Hosea 4:12). Instead, Hosea says, they have “left their God to play the whore” (Hosea 4:12)!

The resulting punishment for their idolatry is the reason he declares Israel and Judah destroyed. The root of it all is their lack of knowledge.

Others before me have decried the illiteracy that plagues God’s people today. In an age where knowledge is so accessible, we starve for a basic understanding of The Lord’s plans, intents, and directives for our lives. We have become infected with good sounding false teachings because we do not know enough to discern truth from error.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied (Matthew 5:6).

While cursing and punishments follow the ignorant, blessing falls upon those who hunger for God’s righteousness. In Psalm 63:1, David cries, “O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you.” Later in Psalms, we read of the satisfied soul, “For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things” (Psalm 107:9). As if foreshadowing the Beatitudes the psalmist declares that God satisfies the hungry.

All we know of God’s love, mercy, and grace, we know from the Bible. Salvation is unknown apart from the revealed word of God. In our joy and thanksgiving let us turn to the Scriptures to deepen our knowledge of him. Let us drink deeply from the ever flowing waters of truth and be filled with his knowledge. Only then will we truly appreciate his love. Only then can we discern good from evil. Only then will our lives become saturated with his truth.



handsJesus loves. Jesus teaches love. Jesus is love. No one else teaches love like Jesus. We follow him and so we learn to love like him. It is often a challenge.

Let’s begin with a clear definition of love. Love is a decision to provide the very best for another even at a sacrificial cost. The words of 1 Corinthians 13 argue that love is not self-centered, it does not “seek its own” (vs. 5). When we decide to love someone we are deciding to give of our self even if it’s costly. Jesus and his death for us demonstrates that decision.

It is not hard to love those who love us. We happily give them anything they need regardless of the cost. It’s a two way street in which both sides give to make the relationship work. Parents give to their children and receive love from them, friends love and support one another. It is hard not to love someone who loves us.

Love is not an emotion; it is not a feeling. Love is a decision. Ideally, love is an irrevocable. We do not fall out of love with someone accidentally. It is a commitment and a vow which must be taken seriously. It is heartbreaking to see friendships and even families destroyed because someone changed their mind. I am glad that our Father is not so fickle. He loved the world, sinners all, and continued to act on that decision through the death of his only son (John 3:16).

The picture of perfect love is seen in Jesus. Consider for a moment what we bring into our relationship with Jesus. Sin, wickedness, deceit, rebellion and weakness all define our lives. Yet, in spite of all of that darkness, Jesus just keeps on loving. Even after we have become part of his bride, the church, we still fail. We are the self-centered spouse who seeks our own needs and desires above those of our Lord. But still, Jesus keeps on loving. We are the ones who pattern our lives after our own wants rather than the wants of the one who died for us. Still Jesus loves.

Hosea was a prophet of ancient days used by God to call Israel back to the loving relationship they had enjoyed with Jehovah. But Hosea was also an object lesson. God required him to marry a “wife of whoredom” and to have children by her (Hosea 1:2). She was not the kind of woman a man would bring home to his parents. She certainly was not the kind of woman a man would want to marry. Don’t miss the lesson here. We are the whore. We are the one no one wants – except Jesus. In spite of our ugliness and sin, he marries us anyway and lavishes his love on us.

Hosea’s story is not over. After he marries this woman she cheats! She returns to her life of immorality and Hosea is commanded to go and bring her back (Hosea 3:1-2). One can hardly understand. But God is teaching us about his love. He called to us when we were sinners (Romans 5:8) and continues to call us even when we return to our sinfulness. Notice 1 John 1:9; “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” For Jesus, love is not three strikes and you are out. It is an everlasting commitment to his bride, the church.

I am so thankful for his love. When I think of where I have been and where I am now I rejoice in the purity and patience of his love. I am the wife taken from whoredoms. I am the unfaithful one that he so gently retrieves from sinfulness.

What is love? Jesus!


It can be painful to reach out to someone caught up in sin. Sometimes, despite our best efforts, they reject us and our plea for Christ. It’s doubly hurtful when that person is a dear family member; maybe a son or daughter who has gone astray draws even further away after our pleadings. Their rejection causes us to plead even more earnestly and they draw even further away. It becomes a cycle of encouragement and rejection.

A preacher once reminded me that not even Jesus saved all those he reached out to. Scores walked away from Jesus as soon as his divine commands become too hard or too controversial (John 6:66). One of his chosen ones, Judas, betrayed him to his enemies (John 18:1-11). The Lord himself says most will be lost (Matthew 7:13-14). It is not what people say but what they do that matters (Matthew 7:21-23) and even those who invoke the name of Jesus may not be true followers. If a man rejects Jesus we can be assured that some (many) will reject our overtures.

The frustration of reaching out only to seemingly push people away is not limited to mankind.

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. But the more I called Israel, the further they went from me. They  sacrificed to the Baals  and they  burned incense to images.” (Hosea 11:1-2 NIV).

“My people are bent on turning away from me, and though they call out to the most high, he shall not raise them up at all” (Hosea 11:7).

Those are God’s words and reflect how he felt about Israel’s rejection.  I see a couple of lessons here and you may see others. First, God didn’t give up on them. Hear his tender words just a few verses later.

“How can I give you up, Ephraim?  How can I hand you over, Israel?  How can I treat you like Admah?          How can I make you like Zeboiim?  My heart is changed within me;  all my compassion is aroused.  I will not carry out my fierce anger,  nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim.  For I am God, and not man—  the Holy One among you.  I will not come in wrath” (Hosea 11:8-9 NIV).

Although Israel had rejected him and his encouragements, he would not give up on them. He loved them immensely and always sought their redemption.

We mustn’t give up on people. Our hearts ache when children reject the faith that saves. We are pained when friends persist in unrighteousness. But let us always work to bring them home (Galatians 6:1).

A second lesson is harder to accept. God allows people to make their own choices and decisions. In the case of Israel, God blessed them, he punished them, he sent prophets and he pleaded with them. Yet God did not remove their own ability to choose.

His choice persists from Eden. There God allowed Adam and Eve to either obey or reject him (Genesis 2:16-17). Joshua called upon Israel to choose the Lord (Joshua 24:1-15). Today, people have similar choices. No one is forced to follow. No one is compelled to serve.

While God surrounds all of us with magnificent blessings he always leaves the decision to us. It’s hard to watch a loved one choose a life of sin. But we must allow them the same choices God allows. We never give up and we always plant good seed. But ultimately each makes his own decision. It gives me some strength to know that even our heavenly father knows the pain of rejection.

God the Remodeler

Have you ever remodeled a home or office? It’s a mess. We’re doing some remodeling at the Eastern Shore church at the moment. Before anything new can be built the old stuff has to be torn away. Old ceiling, cabinets, walls, flooring; it all has to be torn down before the new materials can be added.  It’s a messy process but needed.

The same happens to the Christian. The old ways have to be destroyed before the regeneration (remodeling) can begin. God’s prophet Hosea said it this way:

“Come let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up” (Hosea 6:1).

We don’t normally think of God as one who destroys or tears down. We don’t think the Lord would strike us down. But Hosea says otherwise and other Scriptures support the idea.

In Romans 6:6 Paul says “our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing…” Our destruction comes before our reconstruction. In Ephesians 4:20-24 the apostle says we were taught to “put off your old self which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds.” Again, destroy the old so we can be renewed.

One more: “Do not lie to one another seeing you have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator” (Colossians 3:9-10). Clean out the old before putting in the new. It seems clear that there must be some tearing down and trashing of the old man before he can be remodeled. No one lays a beautiful new Berber carpet over a 1970’s era orange shag carpet. The old must go!

Hosea recognized that God can and will bring us down before building us up. It is often in the depths of our despair that we come to know God. Only when there is nothing left do we really see his love for us. Even Paul had trouble understanding this idea until he had begged for deliverance from some unknown “thorn in the flesh” (2 Corinthians 12:1-10). His conclusion was:

“I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God’s greatest leaders have always been broken before they could be used. Noah spent 120 years laboring over a boat; Abraham wandered as a nomad; Moses fled luxury to tend cattle; even Jesus suffered in the wilderness. In fact the Bible says Jesus “emptied Himself” (Philippians 2:7) so that he could redeem mankind. Like these great men, let us surrender to God so that he might first break us and empty us before rebuilding and refilling our spirit.

When trouble comes, could it be the Lord working to tear us down so that he can rebuild us? It is a frightening thought but one that leaves behind the prospect of a God-built spirit. Remember the words of the psalmist: “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain…” (Psalm 127:1).