Hosea & Gomer

hoseaRead Hosea 1:1-3:5 – The Message

As you read notice that I have inserted a few of my own comments (in blue). I’m hoping that they will help you to understand what you’re reading a bit more.

Hosea 1

1 This is God’s Message to Hosea son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam son of Joash was king over Israel. This Whole Country Has Become a Whorehouse

2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:

“Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”

What?? God wants Hosea to marry a prostitute? Yep – you read that right. Hosea is a godly man. He is a prophet. Why would God want him to marry a prostitute? . . . Well, here’s the deal – God wants to show Israel (His chosen people) how much he loves them. God loves them even though they are chasing after false gods and doing things that don’t honor him. Israel is acting like a prostitute. God is gonna use Hosea as an example – He’s asking Hosea to love someone who doesn’t love him back. Kinda like the way God loves us.

3 Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son.

4-5 Then God told him:

“Name him Jezreel. It won’t be long now before
I’ll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel.
I’m calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel.
Payday is coming! I’m going to chop Israel’s bows and arrows
into kindling in the valley of Jezreel.”

6-7 Gomer got pregnant again. This time she had a daughter. God told Hosea:

“Name this one No-Mercy. I’m fed up with Israel.
I’ve run out of mercy. There’s no more forgiveness.
Judah’s another story. I’ll continue having mercy on them.
I’ll save them. It will be their God who saves them,
Not their armaments and armies,
not their horsepower and manpower.”

8-9 After Gomer had weaned No-Mercy, she got pregnant yet again and had a son. God said:

“Name him Nobody. You’ve become nobodies to me,
and I, God, am a nobody to you.

OK –  So now Hosea is married to a prostitute and he has 3 kids. Here are their names:

Jezreel (which recalls a sad event in Israel’s history)

Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”)

Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people” – some scholars believe that this was not Hosea’s son but one whose had been fathered by one of Gomer’s customers.)

Whoa – talk about a dysfunctional family!!!

10“But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody. 11Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They’ll choose a single leader. There’ll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!”

Hosea 2

1In that day you will call your brothers Ammi—‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah—‘The ones I love.’ (NLT)

So now it sounds like theirs is gonna be a time when things are gonna be better. Maybe God is hinting that there is gonna be a happy ending to this whole thing.

Now – the next section lists God’s charges against Israel and Hosea’s charges against Gomer (his prostitute wife) I’ll warn you it gets pretty graphic.

2-13 “Haul your mother into court. Accuse her!
She’s no longer my wife.
I’m no longer her husband.
Tell her to quit dressing like a whore,
displaying her breasts for sale.
3If she refuses, I’ll rip off her clothes
and expose her, naked as a newborn.
I’ll turn her skin into dried-out leather,
her body into a badlands landscape,
a rack of bones in the desert.
4I’ll have nothing to do with her children,
born one and all in a whorehouse.
5Face it: Your mother’s been a whore,
bringing bastard children into the world.
She said, ‘I’m off to see my lovers!
They’ll wine and dine me,
Dress and caress me,
perfume and adorn me!’
6But I’ll fix her: I’ll dump her in a field of thistles,
then lose her in a dead-end alley.
7She’ll go on the hunt for her lovers
but not bring down a single one.
She’ll look high and low
but won’t find a one. Then she’ll say,
‘I’m going back to my husband, the one I started out with.
That was a better life by far than this one.’
8She didn’t know that it was I all along
who wined and dined and adorned her,
That I was the one who dressed her up
in the big-city fashions and jewelry
that she wasted on wild Baal-orgies.
9I’m about to bring her up short: No more wining and dining!
Silk lingerie and gowns are a thing of the past.
10I’ll expose her genitals to the public.
All her fly-by-night lovers will be helpless to help her.
11Party time is over. I’m calling a halt to the whole business,
her wild weekends and unholy holidays.
12I’ll wreck her sumptuous gardens and ornamental fountains,
of which she bragged, ‘Whoring paid for all this!’
They will soon be dumping grounds for garbage,
feeding grounds for stray dogs and cats.
13I’ll make her pay for her indulgence in promiscuous religion—
all that sensuous Baal worship
And all the promiscuous sex that went with it,
stalking her lovers, dressed to kill,
And not a thought for me.”
God’s Message!

She did all this stuff and never even thought about her husband. Remember: Israel was doing this stuff to God too. Have you ever gotten so caught up in what you were doing that you didn’t even think about God? Have you ever decided to do something that you knew you shouldn’t do and ignored God?

Now go back and read verse 8 again. Notice that even when we’re misbehaving, it’s God who is allowing it. Even in our sin, God loves us. (Check Romans 5:8)

This next section describes how much Hosea loves Gomer in spite of how bad she has treated him. (God loves his people in the same way.)

To Start All Over Again

14“And now, here’s what I’m going to do:
I’m going to start all over again.
I’m taking her back out into the wilderness
where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.
15I’ll give her bouquets of roses.
I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.
She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,
those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

Wow!! The day will come when he’s gonna take her back to where they first dated and remind her of how good he has been to her. He will remind her of the life they had together before she ran off and got into the whole mess.

16 When that day comes,” says the Lord,
“you will call me ‘my husband’
instead of ‘my master.’[g]
17 O Israel, I will wipe the many names of Baal from your lips,
and you will never mention them again.
18 On that day I will make a covenant
with all the wild animals and the birds of the sky
and the animals that scurry along the ground
so they will not harm you.
I will remove all weapons of war from the land,
all swords and bows,
so you can live unafraid
in peace and safety.
19 I will make you my wife forever,
showing you righteousness and justice,
unfailing love and compassion.
20 I will be faithful to you and make you mine,
and you will finally know me as the Lord.

21 “In that day, I will answer,”
says the Lord.
“I will answer the sky as it pleads for clouds.
And the sky will answer the earth with rain.
22 Then the earth will answer the thirsty cries
of the grain, the grapevines, and the olive trees.
And they in turn will answer,
‘Jezreel’—‘God plants!’
23 At that time I will plant a crop of Israelites
and raise them for myself.
I will show love
to those I called ‘Not loved.’

And to those I called ‘Not my people,’
I will say, ‘Now you are my people.’
And they will reply, ‘You are our God!’”

When things get better between Hosea and Gomer, everyone else will benefit too. Their kids (Jezreel, “not loved,” and “not my people”) will become blessed again too.

Hosea 3
In Time They’ll Come Back

1 Then God ordered me, “Start all over: Love your wife again, your wife who’s in bed with her latest boyfriend, your cheating wife.
Love her the way I, God, love the Israelite people,
even as they flirt and party with every god that takes their fancy.”

2I did it. I paid good money to get her back.
It cost me the price of a slave.
3Then I told her, “From now on you’re living with me.
No more whoring, no more sleeping around.
You’re living with me and I’m living with you.”

4 The people of Israel are going to live a long time
stripped of security and protection,
without religion and comfort,
godless and prayerless.
5But in time they’ll come back, these Israelites,
come back looking for their God and their David-King.
They’ll come back chastened to reverence
before God and his good gifts, ready for the End of the story of his love.

This last section is my favorite. Check out verse 2, “I did it. I paid good money to get her back. It cost me the price of a slave.

Whoa! Imagine that scene. He loved her, cherished her, took care of her, and provided for her. She runs off and becomes a prostitute. She get into all kinds of junk. Lives a party lifestyle – lots of different men, lots of hotel rooms, lots of drinking and drugs. She finally hits bottom and is being sold as a slave on an auction block. Probably stripped naked and standing in front of a crowd of people, she is being sold to the highest bidder – and no one is bidding. No one wants her.

Then, from somewhere in the back of the crowd, she hears a voice, “I’ll take her.” She sees the crowd begin to part as the stranger makes his way to the front.

Her eyes meet the face of the man she ignored and treated so badly. It’s Hosea. In her horrible broken condition, he buys his own wife back. He takes her just as she is. He loves her just as she is. We know he’s planning on taking her back to the place they first dated –  reminding her of they life together and his amazing love, care, & protection.

The story of Hosea’s love for Gomer is also the story of God’s love for us. We are the prostitute. He is the lover. It doesn’t matter how bad things have gotten or how far you’ve gone away from God. It doesn’t matter what kinds of things you’re into or how bad things have gotten. God loves you just as you are. He has paid the price (His own’ son’s blood) to have you back. He has redeemed you from your old life.

God is redeemer. His love is AMAZING!

5 Life-Changing Experiences – Israel

holy-lands-journal_page_011February of 1996. I was 26 years old. I had been a youth minister for 8 years. Full-time for 4. The youth had all gotten together for my birthday and given me $$ to go skydiving (on my bucketlist of things to do). My Pastor, Mike Mathews, (He is now my Father-in-Law) was organizing a trip to Israel and came to me saying he’d arrange for me to be able to go for free, but I’d still need some $$ for a passport, food, etc. I decided to skip the skydiving experience in favor of the trip. It was one of the best decisions of my life!

We got to walk in Jesus’ footsteps for 9 straight days. We saw Jerusalem and the temple mount, the wailing wall, the empty tomb of Jesus, Golgotha, Lazarus’ tomb, Bethlehem, & Nazareth. We rode a boat across the Sea of Galilee, hiked Masada, and explored Qumran. Seeing these sites was truly remarkable! I now understand why robbers placed themselves on the road between Jerusalem and Jericho. (It’s a steep road and travelers would be too tired to fight them off.) I will never read the scriptures the same way again. Phrases like “Land of milk and honey” and “Armegeddon” have new meaning!

When Mike described the experience to me, he said that I’d feel like I had gone “home” when we got there. I didn’t believe him. How could I feel “at home” in a strange country, where most spoke another language, and machine guns were seen regularly? He was right! I did feel “at home.” There’s something about that place that goes beyond description. Well, it’s not “something” – it’s someone, and His name is Jesus. If you love Jesus, you will love Israel. Some have called it the “fifth gospel.” Just like the other four, Israel has as story to tell about Jesus, the land itself testifies to His glory!

I hope to go back one day. You should consider a trip too. It will change your life.

If you’re interested, here’s a link to my journal entries from the trip.

The Holy Lands – Through the eyes of Steve Corn (Just right click and select “save as” to download.)

PS – My beard, hair, and clothes crack me up these days.

Dispensationalism

Hourglass_2OK – So dispensationalism is the method of theology that I would subscribe to. Here are some the basics for this ideaology:

1. A consistently literal interpretation of the Scriptures.

2. A definite difference between Israel and the church. (Covenant theologians say that the church replaced Israel as God’s chosen people.)

3. The main theme of the Bible is God’s glory. (Covenant theologians say it’s salvation of man.) I don’t understand how anyone could really think the world revolves around man instead of it being about God. I mean, does the watchmaker make the watch for Himself or for the sake of the watch?

Here’s how it works:
From the beginning of history God has been showing off His glory. One way He has done that is by saving man. That salvation has always been by grace through faith, but it has looked a little different throughout the ages. Each of these eras is called a dispensation. This is the most popular way of dividing up the dispensations:

1. Innocence – Before Adam’s fall. (Gen 1:28-3:6)
2. Conscience – Roman’s 2:15 shows that God dealt with man through his conscience after the fall. Man was to respond in faith based upon the convictions of his conscience. (Gen 4:1-8:14)
3. Government – Noahic covenant comes in here. God dealt with man by a government which included animals’ fear of man and capital punishment. (Gen 8:15-11:9)
4. Promise – God dealt with man (the patriarchs) by making promises to them and expecting them to respond in faith (Gen 11:10 – Ex 18:27)
5. Mosaic Law – God dealt with man by instituting the sacrificial system in which man was to respond in faith to God through the sacrifice. (Ex 19:1 – Acts 1:26)
6. Grace – This current dispensation is sometimes called the “church age.” God has dealt with man through a special grace offered to him through Jesus Christ. Man expresses faith by responding appropriately to the substitutionary death of Christ. (Acts 2:1 – Rev 19:21)
7. Millennium – God will deal more directly with man during the Millennial reign of Christ on the earth. (Rev 20:4-6)

Notice that man is asked to express faith in each dispensation. (It just may be a different way of expressing it from one dispensation to the next.) Salvation is always by grace through faith.

Just because a dispensation is over, does not mean that everything has changed. Some requirements found in an older dispensation may still be in effect – others may be abandoned or modified.

It’s also interesting to note that history of the dispensations is pretty cyclical. First, God sets up a dispensation and tests man’s obedience to it. Second, man fails. Third, God judges man, and eventually He arranges for a new plan/dispensation. The picture is one of stewardship. God (in His authority) gives man a duty which he is responsible for carrying it out. When and if he fails, the Master has the right to judge man and hold him accountable for his actions.

Anyway, there you have it – Dispensationalism all rolled up into one page.

My life will be lived differently in regards to how I relate to Israel. I can maintain a genuine respect and love for them as God’s chosen people. I will continue to share the gospel with them, but knowing that God has a plan for them beyond this dispensation helps me to be more appreciative of their stance in holding on to the promises of God.

Can’t Buy me Jeremiah???

Tonight was the last night of my Old Testament Prophetic Literature class. For an hour and a half of it we watched the movie Jeremiah, which covered his life. Clearly there had been some speculative licenses taken for the purposes of film making, but in general, it was pretty good. It followed the Biblical account pretty well and of the films we’ve seen in these classes, I’d say this one was the best. Patrick Dempsey played the role of Jeremiah, and he was great – the only problem I had was that I kept thinking of him from his other role in the movie “Can’t Buy me Love.” He plays the part of a teen boy who would do anything to serve his own desires for popularity. In Jeremiah, his role is completely the opposite – he would still do anything, but this time it’s not for his desires, but for God’s. Anyway, in spite of my own problems with seeing him as the teen movie star, I’d say his performance made the whole movie work.

I especially liked the scene from Jeremiah 27, where he breaks in wearing a yoke around his neck, declaring that the yoke of slavery was coming to them as they would serve Babylon.

In the film, it becomes clear how difficult the life of a prophet really was. God had even told him that the people would attack him (1:19), and yet he still spoke as God had commanded him. No matter what they did to him, he still continued the speak what God told him to. I must admit that my own weaknesses would have probably caused me to quit pretty early on in the process.

In Jeremiah 38, he is thrown into a cistern. He has already been hit, knocked to the ground, held in a cage, and repeatedly mocked. How much should a man of God suffer? How often does the Word of God bring suffering? It’s also interesting that he suffers for the message that God gives him even though sometimes the message is one of restoration and peace for the people. (Jer 31:31)

Another powerful scene occurs at the very end when Jeremiah looks on the ruins of the temple and declares that it will one day be rebuilt again.

Whoa Jonah!!!

Jonah_2 I just found out last night that the Book of Jonah is not about a guy running from God, getting eaten by a whale, preaching to an ungodly nation, and then going into depression. This was a surprise to me, but God didn’t send Jonah to Ninevah to save the Ninevites. God sent him there to save Israel and bring them to repentance!!! If you’re like me, you’re saying, “Huh? I don’t see anything about Israel when I read it.”

OK – here’s how it all works: First of all, let’s make it clear – I believe that the story of Jonah is a REAL story. It’s an actual historic event. In the same way that Ezekiel laid on his side for 390 days to show Israel that God would bear their sin for 390 years, I believe that what happened to Jonah, was allowed by God so that He could show Israel a few things.

Another bit of understanding you need before we launch in to this explanation is this: Over and over the OT prophets have resounded one specific message. “Repentance and obedience leads to restoration and life, while disobedience leads to death.”

Jonah = Israel – He was given the responsibility to take God’s message to Ninevah (Assyrians) just as Israel is supposed to represent God to the entire world. Israel chooses to follow after other gods ignoring their calling. Jonah runs from his calling and ends up on a ship full of foreigners. When the storm came, these foreigners cried out to their gods and sought their help while Jonah slept down below still ignoring God. When the men ask Jonah what they should do, he knows that all that is required is his repentance and obedience, but he chooses to die instead and asks them to throw him overboard. (Remember: in the OT he is “saved” simply because He is a Jew. The law wasn’t given to save them, (they had already been promised a Kingdom), but it was meant only to set them apart and make them holy among the nations of the world.) Anyway, as soon as the fish swallows him, Jonah already knows he’s been saved. When he prays in Chapter 2, he already knows he’s saved. Notice verse 2:8 – He also knows that like him, Israel has chosen death over repentance, but as for him, he now chooses repentance. When Jonah goes to Ninevah (Assyria) the Assyrians repent and are saved. Again, foreigners who are seeking God while Israel is ignoring Him.

Assyria = the great fish – Because they sought God while Israel (Jonah) ran from Him, God allows Assyria to “swallow” Israel in the captivity.

After Assyria is saved, Jonah again chooses death over repentance, just like Israel had been doing for years.

Plant = Jeraboam – God appointed a “little plant” to grow up and offer temporary comfort to Jonah. In the same way, Jeraboam was given a little success to comfort Israel temporarily.

Worm = Tiglath Pileser – He destroys Jeraboam

East Wind = Assyrians – The Assyrians come from the east and overtake Israel swallowing them up into their own kingdom.

Remember, this whole story happened before the events of the captivity had occurred. These prophecies and parallels are remarkable considering that. When Jonah gave this message to Israel, they would have picked up on these symbols rather quickly as there are other prophets who had been speaking of these things too who used many of the same phrases and language. (Check Amos and Hosea)


In the end, we can conclude that Jonah was sent to Assyria not to save them, but to bring Israel back this message which was meant to lead them to repentance/obedience and renewal/life.

Awesome School Stuff

Wow! I really love going to class on Tuesday nights. Right now I’m in "Special Issues in the Old Testament – Historical Literature." Anyway, last night, Dr. Loken gave us an overview of Genesis. There are lots of things he covered which I knew, but quite a bit that I learned too. Check out some of the stuff that was new to me:

——————————————————————————————-

6_day_war_lands_1 Here’s the first:

There was a 6 day war between Israel and the Arab states of Jordan, Egypt, and Syria in 1967. Israel was attacked on three different fronts simultaneously. Israel had a secret operative who had worked his way into the ranks of the Syrian army and on their battle front, it was very hot and there were lots of mosquitoes. The secret operative explained that if they would plant eucalyptus trees they’d have shade and the mosquitoes would stay away. The Syrian army purchased these trees and planted them near their bases. The secret agent contacted the Israeli bombers who then proceeded to bomb the trees. They didn’t need coordinates, ’cause they could so clearly see these trees which were so out of place in the desert. Pretty funny!!!! Syria loses the battle ’cause they couldn’t stand the mosquitoes or the heat.

By the way, Israel not only won the war on every front, but they also gained quite a bit of land from each of their attackers. On the map, the light tan is what they occupied at first and the green area are what they gained afterwards.

—————————————————————————————-

Here’s another:

In Genesis 17:9-14, God institutes the sign of the covenant – circumcision. Since the covenant was about Abraham’s seed/offspring it was very fitting that every time a male went to procreate, he would see himself and be reminded of the promise regarding his seed/offspring. It is also very interesting to note that there were many other cultures which circumcised men, but it was not common in Ur where Abraham was from and it was completely unique that Israel circumcised babies. Another miraculous thing is that the Lord instructs them to circumcise babies on the 8th day after birth. Doctors today have discovered that Vitamin K (which helps in clotting) spikes in men on the 8th day of life and then never reaches that level again. Without modern Vitamin K injections, doctors recommend the 8th day for circumcision even now because it’s the safest day in a man’s life for such a thing. Interesting that God instructed the people for their own safety even when their knowledge of medicine was lacking. Clearly this was not revealed to them by other men, but only by God.

Another sidenote to the circumcision thing: Joshua 5 records that after they had crossed the Jordan river and before they attacked Jericho, Israel rededicated themselves to the Lord and each man was circumcised. This would have debilitated them and left them virtually helpless in case of attack. They were incredibly vulnerable sitting debilitated between the Jordan river and Jericho. This was an incredible act of faith on the Israelites part. It is because of this act of faith that God takes away the disgrace of their Egyptian captivity, and they become a nation which others fear. 


Here’s the last thing I’m gonna write about today:

First read the Scriptures about Jacob and Esau’s birth:

Genesis 25:21 – Isaac prayed to the LORD on behalf of his wife, because she was barren. The LORD answered his prayer, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 The babies jostled each other within her, and she said, "Why is this happening to me?" So she went to inquire of the LORD.

23 The LORD said to her,
       "Two nations are in your womb,
       and two peoples from within you will be separated;
       one people will be stronger than the other,
       and the older will serve the younger."

24 When the time came for her to give birth, there were twin boys in her womb. 25 The first to come out was red, and his whole body was like a hairy garment; so they named him Esau. [e] 26 After this, his brother came out, with his hand grasping Esau’s heel; so he was named Jacob.

OK – now here’s what I learned. Dr. Loken said that he had a student who was also a pre-med student one time who explained this phenomenon called (I forget but I’ll guess) "Twin twin transfusion" where the stronger twin dominates the mothers blood supply and when he is born he is stronger and usually red colored. The weaker is pale. Kind of the "runt" of the litter so to speak. By the way, the word/name "Jacob" was a wrestling term used when someone grabbed another’s heel and tripped him up throwing him to the ground.

Anyway, this explains why Rebekah, the mother, loved Jacob more. It’s kind of a mother’s role to care and nurture the weaker of the two. It also explains why Isaac like Easu – he was a man’s man – the kind of guy you’d want as an heir. Also – after what God said in verse 23, when you look at chapter 27:27-29 (knowing that Isaac thought he was talking to Esau), you realize that Isaac was trying to reverse the curse – going against what God had said. Check it out:

26 Then his father Isaac said to him, "Come here, my son, and kiss me."

27 So he went to him and kissed him. When Isaac caught the smell of his clothes, he blessed him and said,
       "Ah, the smell of my son
       is like the smell of a field
       that the LORD has blessed.

28 May God give you of heaven’s dew
       and of earth’s richness—
       an abundance of grain and new wine.

29 May nations serve you
       and peoples bow down to you.
       Be lord over your brothers,
       and may the sons of your mother bow down to you.
       May those who curse you be cursed
       and those who bless you be blessed."

This was just something I had never thought about – cool stuff.

Bricks and the Sabbath

06-10-10Here’s some stuff I learned from a podcast with Rob Bell regarding Sabbath.

Sabbath is a “gift” from God. It’s not about this day or that day or the details of how you spend it (Anytime legalism enters the picture, it becomes a “duty” and not a “gift” anymore.) God gave Israel the Sabbath when they left Egypt. While in captivity, Israel was judged and given worth solely on how many bricks they could produce. If you couldn’t produce any bricks, you could be killed. You were “worthless.” The slave master says, “Your worth is based on what you can produce,” but God says, “No! Rest today and realize that you are loved and valued. You are worthy simply because of who you are – not what you do.”

Abraham Joshua Heshel says, “Sabbath gives the world the energy it needs to exist another six days.”

What is the day of the week that you turn off your cell phone? When you don’t produce or create? When your work is simply to “be?”

Rob Bell says, “I think your soul dies without it; you may still be living but. . . .” He also says, “I ask God to put me back together on that day so I can go another six days.”

Sabbath is full scale rebellion against western/American culture.

You also have to prepare for it all week. Jews today invite the “spirit of Sabbath” in. As you prepare for it, you are reminded again that God loves you for who you are and not just what you do – the Sabbath “leaks” and “bleeds” into the other six days.

Our western/American bodies are addicted to the adrenaline rush of our lives. If you can only pray a few minutes, maybe it’s not that you don’t love God, but that your body simply doesn’t know how to focus on one thing. We have trained our bodies and minds to multi-task, but this is contrary to Sabbath. Our brains are so used to being in 100 places, that when we ask it to be in one place, it doesn’t know how.