~ Click on this link for today's readings ~
Hosea 1:1-3:5 ~ 1 John 5:1-21
Psalm 124:1-8 ~ Proverbs 29:5-8
Old Testament - Allright, today is a big day! We start The Book of the Twelve, or the Minor Prophets. Basically, this means we are in the last 12 books now of the Old Testament, and all of them are pretty short books by various prophets. These 12 prophets were contemporaries of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel and their books parallel these three books. These 12 aren't called "minor" prophets in that they were "lesser" than others - but, they are called "minor" because their books are shorter. The first prophet of The Book of the Twelve we start today is Hosea. Hosea prophesied in about 750 B.C. in the northern kingdom of Israel - which was rare. Most of the prophets were in the southern kingdom of Judah. Hosea lived during the final / last days of the northern kingdom, which ended in 722 B.C. Below is an image of Hosea with the five kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, Hezekiah and Jeroboam, and with his wife, Gomer, from a 14th century illuminated Bible:
~ Hosea ~
Date: Eighth century B.C.
Content: The book of Hosea consists of two unequal parts, the first containing Hosea’s life (chapters 1-3) and the second containing Hosea’s messages (chapters 4-14). Hosea was a prophet to the northern Kingdom of Israel prior to its fall in 722 B.C., and his ministry spanned some forty years. He was a contemporary of Amos, Isaiah, and Micah. Hosea’s unhappy marriage life depicted symbolically the state of affairs in his nation. Just as his wife left home for a life of prostitution, so Israel had left God to seek after false gods. But as Hosea continued to love his wife and finally brought her home again, so God continued to love Israel and promised to restore her someday.
Theme: Two things stand in marked contrast in the book of Hosea: the love of God and the waywardness of Israel. God is depicted as faithful, caring, forgiving, kind, and loving. God’s unfailing love is the theme of the book. Israel is seen as faithless, straying, sinful, rebellious, and wanton. She is characterized by ignorance of what God requires and total lack of desire to please God. However, just as Hosea’s love triumphed in the end, so will God’s love work a miracle of transformation in Israel. (Above commentary is from Tyndale Publishers “The One Year Bible Companion” p. 15) A wonderful commentary on the book of Hosea by Hampton Keathley IV is at this link. Below is an image for the traditional tomb of the prophet Hosea near the Jordanian mountain called Jabel Osha (Osha is Arabic for Hosea):
Hosea chapter 1 certainly stands out right away - with God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer. The purpose of this relationship is to parallel Israel's unfaithfulness to God. You'll note that the names of the children born to Gomer get progressively worse for the people of Israel - 1. Jezreel, or "God scatters" 2. Lo-ruhamah--`Not loved'- 3. Verse 9 provides the worse name that could be bestowed to symbolize God's relationship with Israel: "And the LORD said, "Name him Lo-ammi--`Not my people'--for Israel is not my people, and I am not their God." Ouch.... This is about as bad as it can get for Israel. Below is an image of Hosea, Gomer and their 3 children:
Fortunately, we see redemption in verse 10: "Yet the time will come when Israel will prosper and become a great nation. In that day its people will be like the sands of the seashore--too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, `You are not my people,' it will be said, `You are children of the living God.'" Whew! This applies to most of us reading this as well - Gentiles. This is the beginning of the mission to the Gentiles after the time of Jesus. Do you we believe we are part of this promise? That we are parts of the sands of the seashore? That we are children of the living God?
Chapter 2 is a powerful "legal case" against Israel and her unfaithfulness to God. Verse 8 stood out to me in this chapter today: "She doesn't realize that it was I who gave her everything she has--the grain, the wine, the olive oil. Even the gold and silver she used in worshiping the god Baal were gifts from me!" Do we realize that everything we have comes from God? Everything? Do we misuse any of these gifts from God in our life in ways that would not be pleasing to God? Could God bring a "legal case" or "lawsuit" against us today for misusing his gifts to us?
Chapter 3 brings us redemption again for Israel. Verse 5 I believe applies to us today - we who are in the last days (all the days after the life of Jesus) - "But afterward the people will return to the LORD their God and to David's descendant, their king. They will come trembling in awe to the LORD, and they will receive his good gifts in the last days." Have you returned to Jesus? Jesus who is from the line of David? Is Jesus your king? Are you receiving God's good gifts through your awe and faith in God through Jesus?
New Testament - We finish the book of First John this today! What a great book it has been for me this year. I hope it has been a blessing for you as well. Verses 3 & 4 in 1 John chapter 5 are powerful: "Loving God means keeping his commandments, and really, that isn't difficult. For every child of God defeats this evil world by trusting Christ to give the victory." Do you love God by keeping his commandments? Do you trust Jesus to give you the victory over evil in this world? Does your trust in Jesus make keeping God's commandments not difficult?
Verses 14 & 15 are good reflections on how we should pray - and that we should pray: "And we can be confident that he will listen to us whenever we ask him for anything in line with his will. And if we know he is listening when we make our requests, we can be sure that he will give us what we ask for." Do you pray confidently, asking God for things that are in line with his will? Do you know that God is listening to your prayers? Are you sure that he will give you what you ask for, if it is in line with his will?
And verse 21 is a powerful end to this book of 1 John: "Dear children, keep away from anything that might take God's place in your hearts." Is there anything in your life that might take the place of God in your heart? Will you turn this idol over to God? Will you keep away from this idol? Will you allow God to take the primary place in your heart and your mind?
Psalms - I read in a commentary that Psalm 124 was likely a call and response from a Levitical priest and worshipers. Verses 1 through 5 were likely spoken by the priest and verses 6 through 8 were the response of the people. Great way to read this Psalm! Even though this Psalm title says it is a "Psalm of David", some commentaries believe this Psalm is post-exile from Babylon based on verse 8: "We escaped like a bird from a hunter's trap. The trap is broken, and we are free!" Though, I could see that verse apply to Davidic times too. Verse 8 is a joyful response that hopefully each one of us can sing confidently: "Our help is from the LORD, who made the heavens and the earth." Amen and Amen!
Bible.org's commentary on Psalm 124 titled "The Lord is on Our Side" is at this link.
Proverbs - Today in Proverbs chapter 29 verse 7 we read: “The righteous care about justice for the poor, but the wicked have no such concern.” Do you care about justice for the poor? Are you involved in caring for the poor locally and internationally on a regular basis? Do you contribute financially to organizations that care for the poor? Do you volunteer with organizations that care for the poor? For some reason this Proverb reminds me of the Martin Luther King Jr. quote: "Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love."
Comments from you - What verses or insights stand out to you in today's readings? Please post up by clicking on the "Comments" link below!