February 9, 2011

Minor Prophets VIII: Tough Love To Change Hearts

Hosea 6:1-11a

Like a good parent God never gives or passes judgment without some type of statement of restoration after punishment. God takes no pleasure in punishing His children just like human parents who are made in His image take no pleasure in punishing their children. As a parent I take no sadistic pleasure in punishing my children but if I do not show that there is a reaction for bad behavior I am by default showing that is essentially okay to behave poorly by not stopping it and showing them what they did wrong. BUT...I always follow up with encouragement and show them love by a hug and a kiss to let them know I chastise and punish in love. Parents that do not chastise their children or punish them when their actions warrant...don't really love their children.

We see Israel's hope in vv 1-3 and how does God respond to it in vv 4-11a?

In (v. 1 & 2) we see antithetical and contrasting statements, regardless of how God punishes of ravages Israel for their sins and unfaithfulness He immediately promises restoration, “He has torn us to pieces but he will heal us”, “he has injured us” but “he will bind up our wounds”. In verse two we see something really interesting in the statement, “After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.”

There is then a subtle shift to meager corrective action (mindset) by His people that appears to be either partial obedience or partial repentance, “Let us acknowledge the LORD; let us press on to acknowledge him” the expected reaction from God would be that is a hopeful return by the LORD, “As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.”. They have realized they are wrong and respond the way the LORD wants them to. The problem is that this repentance seems “forced” since the exact quote in Hosea 5:15 is, “until they have borne their guilt”. They have not fest-up to their sin(s)

God laments the fact that Israel’s faithfulness is fickle or fleeting. It is temporarily there and then it is gone like the morning mist/dew. “Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.” Therefore, God cut them in pieces with His prophets and killed them with the words of His mouth. These descriptions appear in past tense so the prophets had “cut them down to size with God’s words”. We then see why God reacts this way to v.1-3…For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings. God wants a heart change NOT lip service or half-hearted response. You either commit totally to God or go home. He doesn’t want people being namby-pamby. Again we see this reinforce in the next few verses (v.7) they were unfaithful to me, (v.8) Gilead is a city of evildoers, stained with footprints of blood (v.9) they murder on the road to Shechem, carrying out their wicked schemes, (v.10) I have seen a horrible thing in Israel: Ephraim is given to prostitution, Israel is defiled. It reads like a grocery list of half-heart response or outright evil.

Myers, Jacob Martin. "On Defection In High Places." The Book of Hosea ; The Book of Joel ; The Book of Amos ; The Book of Obadiah ; The Book of Jonah . Atlanta, GA: John Knox Press, 1978. 33-36. Print.

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