Saturday, August 20, 2011

Hosea and his prostitute - August 20th, 2011

Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”   
For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.
Hosea 3:1-5

History and Context:
Hosea is the first of the minor prophets, labeled 'minor' simply because of their shorter length not becaue of importance. Hosea prophesied at the same time as Isaiah in the 8th century BC. As Isaiah prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah, Hosea prophesied to the northern kingdom of Israel. The king of Israel, when Hosea began prophesying, was Jeroboam II, the last powerful king of Israel. In 2 Kings 14:23 - 17:41 we see the history of the period of Hosea's ministry. In just over 20 years there were six different kings, and each king took the kingdom of Israel further and further into idolatry. Hosea prophesied love, judgement, and hope.

The Text:
In Hosea there is a large parallel between the covenant relationship of a husband and wife and the covenant relationship between God and the people of Israel. At the beginning of the book God tells Hosea to marry a "wife of harlotry", specifically a woman named Gomer. This woman is to represent Israel in throughout the book. Already in chapter two this woman has gone back to being a prostitute, violating the covenant of marriage. Here in chapter three God tells Hosea to go out and find her and buy her back. Again this is a representation of God with the kingdom of Israel. The kingdom of Israel committed spiritual adultery by seeking after idols and false gods, but no matter how often they do this He seeks them out and bus them back. We see this throughout the Old Testament and of course it is fully fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His ultimate sacrifice.

The Challenge:
Today's devotion is simply to help you better understand God's love and mercy. God has sought you out in the midst of your sin and bought you back with Christ's blood. As Paul said, "While we were still sinners Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8) How amazing is that! He didn't wait for us to come to Him, He came to us! Now He uses us to come to others. Today be amazed at God's love for you and at His mercy, and don't take it for granted. Love Him back, simply by drawing close to Him, by helping others draw close to Him.

The Prayer:
Lord, I love you! I am only able to love you because of your amazing love for me. You came and sought me out and for that I am grateful. Help me to show my gratitude in my daily life. Help me to seek out those others who you love and to bring them to you. In Jesus' name, Amen!

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