Read Hosea 12
he pursues the east wind all day
and multiplies lies and violence.
He makes a treaty with Assyria
and sends olive oil to Egypt.
2 The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah;
he will punish Jacob according to his ways
and repay him according to his deeds.
3 In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;
as a man he struggled with God.
4 He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
and talked with him there—
5 the Lord God Almighty,
the Lord is his name!
6 But you must return to your God;
maintain love and justice,
and wait for your God always.
and loves to defraud.
8 Ephraim boasts,
“I am very rich; I have become wealthy.
With all my wealth they will not find in me
any iniquity or sin.”
ever since you came out of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
as in the days of your appointed festivals.
10 I spoke to the prophets,
gave them many visions
and told parables through them.”
Its people are worthless!
Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal?
Their altars will be like piles of stones
on a plowed field.
12 Jacob fled to the country of Aram;
Israel served to get a wife,
and to pay for her he tended sheep.
13 The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt,
by a prophet he cared for him.
14 But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger;
his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed
and will repay him for his contempt.
In the book of Hosea, we find Israel in a state of chaos. They have gone through king after king after king over the past thirty years and now they are living under one of the worst kingships in history. They were desperate and were relying on their political alliances with other nations to save them. This passage alludes back to Genesis 32:24-30 and how the people of Israel in their current circumstance need to be reminded of what Jacob did (and what God asks of His people). As we read, we find an ongoing list of the sin that has easily entangled the people in the land. They are marked by fraud, injustice, love of money, idolatry, bitterness, unfaithfulness, and self-reliance. Hosea is being purposeful in his highlighting of the stubbornness of the people of Israel in hopes to display the unconditional love, kindness, and endurance of God. .
In verse 6 we see the command “return.” This is a call of action to leave all idols and sin. Jacob worshiped God and cast out all idols from his family. Hosea is saying, “Now you do so too!” They have refused to hold fast and wait for the Lord and have sacrificed their knowledge of God. God desired not just intellectual knowledge of him, but a personal relationship with him. Hosea reminds Israel that this is God’s discipline and punishment on them, but if they were to surrender their own ways of life and “return” that God is waiting with a tender embrace.
How sweet to be reminded so many years later that our God is the same God. He has watched with patience even as we have embodied the same habits as Israel: relying on political parties to save us or our land, marking our life by fraud because we have continuously been someone we are not, and grown to be dependent on our self (or our money) to make us successful. God is not surprised–in fact, He has been here before. Yet, his posture is the same: a tender embrace waiting on us to surrender to His ways that are far better than our own (Isaiah 55:8-9).
- Does your theology have room for both His discipline and tender embrace? Is that hard for you to comprehend?
- What does this chapter teach you about God’s patient pursuit of you?
- What action can you take today to leave the idols in your life and surrender to God’s way?
Tim Keller says this to combat idolatry and sin:
“The secret to freedom from enslaving patterns of sin is worship. You need worship. You need great worship. You need weeping worship. You need glorious worship. You need to sense God’s greatness and to be moved by it—moved to tears and moved to laughter—moved by who God is and what he has done for you.”
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