Readings for the day: Hosea chapters 1-6
These trails are tough. I feel like I’m climbing “The Priest”, Virginia’s steepest climb of the AT. According to author Zach Davis “the trail log at the Priest Shelter also serves as a satirical- confessional whereby hikers “confess their trail sins to the Priest.” How appropirate as we wade through the passages of Hosea and read about the sin of the nations of Israel. Once I tried, actually twice, to read the novel, Redeeming Love, (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/11422.Redeeming_Love) a fictional story inspired by the book of Hosea. And twice I had to put the novel down because it was so depressing. I find myself in this same rut, feelings of hopelessness and despair. I search for meaning among the text. God switching back and forth, “I love you, I love you not”.
The writings of Hosea, were written during the time period of the Assyrian Conquest. The kings that we have studied thus far, reigned during the time period of Hosea’s prophecies. God spoke to him, and asked Hosea to do some very difficult things, much more difficult than our previous prophets. He purposefully married a prostitute because God spoke, “Go a marry a prostitute”. His three children with this woman were given despairing names, reminders of God’s love removed from the nation of Israel. Hosea was the longest living prophet. He lived among at least four living kings, the last being our righteous King Hezekiah. I have to wonder and provide a small bit of my own interpretation of scripture…. could some of God’s mercy upon Judea came about because of the honorable virtue of some of their kings ? During this time period, Israel never broke from their sinful acts. There is no glimmers of hopeful humanity provided, like we have seen in Judea. Interesting note, as we journey towards 40 days to our Lord’s resurrection, Jesus was from the Judean line. David was also. We know that later the people of Judea were also help captive. However, it does give hope that handfuls of leaders still loved the Lord, even when their surroundings were so destitute.
Charles Spurgeon brought the best glimpses of understanding to this very difficult text, and why God provdied Judea mercy during this time period. Spurgeon was a very famous British preacher in the 1800s. He strongly opposed slavery and at times was controversial. His sermons are archived and read by theologians all over the world. One of his famous sermon series was about the book of Hosea. Bare with me as I share a paragraph from his sermon. This sermon is from NO. 2057. given on Thursday, August 2nd, 1888 at the Metropolitan Tabernacle. In this sermon, Spurgeon is attempting to explain Hosea 1:7, “But I will show love to the people of Judah.”
“The Lord makes distinctions among guilty men according to the sovereignty of his grace. “I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will have mercy upon the house of Judah.” Had not Judah sinned too? Might not the Lord have given up Judah also! Indeed he might justly have done so, but he delighteth in mercy. Many sin, and righteously bring upon themselves the punishment due to sin: they believe not in Christ, and die in their sins. But God has mercy, according to the greatness of his heart, upon multitudes who could not be saved on any other footing but that of undeserved mercy. Claiming his royal right he says, “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy.” The prerogative of mercy is vested in the sovereignty of God: that prerogative he exercises. He gives where he pleases, and he has a right to do so, since none have any claim upon him. We are all under his rule, and by that rule we are under condemnation; and if he should leave us there, it would be strictly just; but if any be saved it is an act of pure, undeserved grace, for which he is to have all the praise.”
Continue to trek through the passages of Hosea. Start with chapter 1 and travel through the pages til you end at 6. Reflect on God’s mercy. Reflect on how God has shown mercy to you in your life. The trails may not be easy, the journey often hard, but try as we may to continue forward, gaining a little understanding a day at a time.
One of my favorite things about writing a series like this is immersing myself in new Christian music. This week I found this great band called Rend Collective. Two of their albums are titled “Campfire I and II”. How fitting for our series on the trails of the OT. They do covers of some great songs, and “Oceans (Where feet may fail)”, is one of my favorites. Enjoy this one, a little Mumford and Sons vs. the Lumineers feel. Have a little fun today. You will need it as you read through Hosea.