Today we finish the Book of Hosea, the longest of the books in the collection known as the ‘minor prophets’.
The 12 minor prophets are named ‘minor’, not because they are less important, not because they are in any way in a ‘minor league’, but because their books are shorter than the ones written by Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. (Daniel is considered part of the Ketuvim- the Writings). We will quickly read through the remaining 11 books of the Minor Prophets in the next few weeks!
Hosea traces the sad history of Israel’s rebellion from its earliest days. The prophets likened Israel to a vine, planted by the Lord. It spread to bring forth fruit, yet rather than glorifying God for its prosperity, it honored pagan deities. Israel built altars to foreign gods and robbed the One True God of the glory due His Name. They became like the idols they worshiped – dead driftwood on the surface of the waters (10:7).
Hosea 11:1-2 1 When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. 2 The more they called them, the more they went from them; They kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning incense to idols.
Where Israel failed to honor God’s call to obedience, Jesus succeeded. We see how Jesus is the truer Israel (‘ruled by God’). He is the obedient Son that Israel failed to be. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 in Matthew 2:15, indicating that Jesus was the greater Son. He would not turn aside.
The relentless pursuit of our loving God is seen as He poses the question:
Hosea 11:8 8 How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled.
Admah and Zeboiim were cities that God had overthrown together with Sodom and Gomorrah (Deuteronomy 29:23).
We have seen in the history of Israel that they were seeking God for favors. They wanted Him to save them out of trouble, rather than from their sins. Their self-deception is evident in their boasts:
Hosea 12:8 8 And Ephraim said, “Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors they will find in me no iniquity, which would be sin.”
God’s relentless pursuit of Israel is also seen in that He feeds His people the words they can use to repent. He gives them the words to say in prayer:
Hosea 14:2-3 2 Take words with you and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity and receive us graciously, that we may present the fruit of our lips. 3 Assyria will not save us, we will not ride on horses; Nor will we say again, ‘Our god,’ To the work of our hands; For in You the orphan finds mercy.”
Hosea prophesies what the Lord would accomplish through the atoning death of the Messiah that would bring a full propitiation for our sins.
Hosea 14:4 4 I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.
The Book closes with a summary of the entire prophecy- Turn from the wrong way and love the true God:
Hosea 14:9 9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right, And the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them.
We read the Epistle of Jude today. Jude is the brother of James and the half-brother of Jesus.
Jude’s letter focuses on apostacy—when people abandon their faith in the apostles’ doctrine and adopt false teachings. Apostacy is the rejection of the good news of Who God is and what He has done in the person of His Son (as revealed in the canon of Scripture). False teachers crept in unnoticed and began to contradict what has been clearly taught by the apostles and the Old Testament Scriptures.
Jude reminds his readers that the kind of behavior demonstrated and advocated by these false teachers brought severe judgment in the Old Testament- the unbelief of the children of Israel caused them to perish in the wilderness, although they had been delivered from Egypt. Rebellion brought judgment upon the angels (1:6). Immorality and perversion caused judgment to fall on Sodom and Gomorrah (1:7). Like Balaam, these false teachers, sought material gain from their religious deception (1:11; Numbers 22-24). Jude warns his readers to consider the reality of a future judgment and punishment with eternal fire (1:7).
This letter is a warning of the dangers of entertaining the false teachings of the Gnostics who rejected the truths of the Incarnation and the call to Christian ethics.
Jude also warns that scoffers will come and ridicule those who pursue holiness according to the Word of God (1:18). The false teachers will also work to bring division in the church (1:19).
He gives these strong marching orders to the church:
Jude 1:20-23 20 But you, beloved, be:
- building yourselves up on your most holy faith,
- praying in the Holy Spirit,
- keeping yourselves in the love of God,
- waiting anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to eternal life.
- And have mercy on some, who are doubting.
- save others, snatching them out of the fire;
- and on some have mercy with fear, hating even the garment polluted by the flesh.
Jude closes his letter with an inspired benediction:
Jude 1:24 24 Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy,
How wonderful it is to be reminded that ‘unless the Lord build the house, its builders labor in vain’ (Psalm 127:1).
Let us never forget that we are workers together with Christ and He is the supervisor, architect, project manager, and chief builder. His presence is brought on site by the Holy Spirit. This enables us to rest. We show up and make ourselves available. He underwrites the entire project.
He gives us rest. He said that He would guard the city, so we can sleep.
Verses 3-5 speak of the blessing of families- sons and daughters. They soften the hardest hearts and can even contend with enemies at the gate.
TODAY’S READING FROM THE BOOK OF PROVERBS- PROVERBS 29:15-17
Proverbs 29:15-17 15 The rod and reproof give wisdom, but a child who gets his own way brings shame to his mother. 16 When the wicked increase, transgression increases; But the righteous will see their fall. 17 Correct your son, and he will give you comfort; He will also delight your soul.
PRAYER FOR THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
- Pray for Godly leaders to arise in churches, government, and society.
- Pray for national repentance of sin, immorality, and selfishness.
- Pray for an outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Church, bringing another Great Awakening.
PRAYER- Father, what a wonderful plan of salvation, and what an expression of perfect love You have shown to us in Christ! You have taken the burden of our waywardness upon Yourself. You have given us Your Son to reverse the curse and heal our condition as hell-bound rebels subject to the kingdom of darkness. Jesus’ perfect obedience on our behalf, His sinless living and substitutionary dying, has won our freedom from the curse of the Law. We choose to magnify Your mercy and the Name that is above every other Name, the Name of Jesus, our risen, Living Savior. We are so blessed to be Your children. Thank You for Your discipline and care. May Your Holy Spirit have free course to express Your love through us today. In Jesus Name. Amen.