Today’s Bible Reading: Hosea 1-3:5; 1 John 5:1-21; Psalm 124:1-8; Proverbs 29:5-8
Today we begin to read the minor prophets, the term “minor” referring to the relatively short length of each book (compared to the major prophets: Jeremiah, Isaiah, and Ezekiel). The purpose of Hosea’s ministry was to expose Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.
Israel’s unfaithfulness was like an adulterous spouse. So God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute who would be unfaithful to him, just as Israel was unfaithful to God (Hosea 1:2). Throughout the Bible the relationship between Jesus and believers is compared to a marriage with Jesus being the husband and us being the wife. Anytime we let something other than God take over our life it is as if we have committed adultery.
We all do this at times. Work takes over. Even volunteer work can take over. But none of these things should ever become more important to us than our relationship with God.
A recurring theme in the Bible is that we (people) are rebellious and in need of discipline. But God’s discipline is never meant to permanently terminate our relationship with Him. It is meant to bring us back to Him. After every disciplinary act, God promises restoration (Hosea 1:11). Of course, whether that restoration happens or not is dependent on us.
Its easy to think that God is forever mad at us and because bad things have happened in our life that we did not want to accept. But that is the result of Satan’s trickery. God is constantly working to establish and maintain an eternal relationship with each of us. We are the only ones who can permanently break it.
Sin always looks like a good deal (Hosea 2:5b). But it is a bait-and-switch tactic from Satan. What starts off as seemingly pleasurable ends up hurting us, and possibly others too. The key is to realize that sin is a no-win situation. But too often we keep doing the same sin over and over and over thinking someday it will pay off. The ones who eventually realize this end up turning back to God (Hosea 2:7b). Those who don’t end up separated from Him forever.
When we get caught in sin God’s first reaction isn’t to whack us. He patiently tries to get our attention by putting up roadblocks to keep us away from it (Hosea 2:6-7). If you ever find yourself pursuing something in life that you never attain, this might be the reason. Perhaps it is not something that God meant for you to have in the first place. Meanwhile, His amazing blessings will continue (Hosea 2:8). But if we don’t get the message He will have to take harsher action (Hosea 2:9-13). God’s goal is not pay us back but to win us back.
God ordered Hosea to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him in order to teach Israel a real-life lesson. God then orders Hosea to go back to his wife to demonstrate that He still loves Israel and is willing to take her back (Hosea 3:1). The lesson for us today is the same. No matter how badly you have screwed up – and we all have… No matter how adamantly you have rejected or ignored God… No matter what you’ve done… He is willing to take you back.
We hear all the time that the world needs more love. That is true. But we can’t summon up love from within ourselves. Love doesn’t happen because you put a bumper sticker on your car. The only way to be able to love other people is to love God first (1 John 5:1). When we love God we can receive His love. When we receive His love we can pour His love out on others.
How do we know if we love God? We can tell who loves God if they keep God’s commandments. Love is not a feeling. Lust is a feeling. So-called love songs are really lust songs. Love is outward action, not inward emotion. If we really love God we will obey what He tells us because what He tells us is not too difficult for us (1 John 5:3).
Trying to please others is burdensome. Other people put way more demands on us than God does. So does religion. Man-made religions such as Catholicism, Islam, Hinduism have many more rules than God does. Jesus, who was God, told us that there are really on two commandments: “Love God and love everyone else” (Matthew 22:36-40). If we do these two things everything else will fall into place. The reason the world is a mess is because people don’t love God (most are believing in a god who doesn’t exist) and cannot, therefore, love others.
Anyone who does not believe in Jesus are essentially calling God a liar (1 John 5:10). The aforementioned false religions call God a liar by not truly believing in Jesus. God has given us great testimony about His Son. There is no reason to disbelieve. God is trustworthy and always tells us the truth. He wants us to believe because only those who believe in Jesus will see heaven. Anyone who does not will not (1 John 5:12).
If God were not present in our lives this world would be an even bigger mess than it is (Psalm 124:1-5). God is the only thing keeping things from getting out of hand. So it is to be expected that if we were to distance ourselves from God the world would become a less peaceful and less safe place. And that is exactly what were are experiencing. As the United States, and the planet, have pushed Jesus further away we’ve seen a rise in immorality and crime and a decrease in the quality of life. No surprise for those of us who know the Bible as God has been warning us about this for thousands of years.
But this is nothing. Its going to get even worse as we’ll see when we get to Revelation, beginning next week. Right now we are distancing ourselves. That’s bad enough. But it will soon get to the point where God will distance Himself too. Then things get really bad.
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