HOSEA 10:1-14:9 | JUDE 1:1-25 | PSALM 127:1-5 | PROVERBS 29:15-17
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Hosea must surely have been getting somewhat tired with this job of being the prophet of gloom and doom.
Israel was a stubborn people who didn’t seem to realize or even care about how grave their offenses were and how far they were getting away from their God. Hosea pleads with his people in this way:
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
for it is time to seek the LORD,
until he comes
and showers his righteousness on you.
Would that we would also heed that cry today and every day. May it always be a personal goal and motto that we adopt. It is time to seek the Lord.
Hosea goes on to ask the rhetorical question:
9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
Today, the God of Israel is our God as well. The coming of Christ has ensured that we are all entitled to call him our own God.
By faith in the great work accomplished on the cross some 800 years after this prophecy was made, it became possible for each person on the face of the earth present at that time — and for the ages to come — to become a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ.
A personal relationship with God produces an intimate association of the type where a line like this one uttered by God through the voice of Hosea suddenly takes on a special meaning as though it was meant only for you. It is the image of a parent tending to his child — caring for it by bathing it, clothing it, and feeding it.
God says: I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.
And here’s one verse that made me pause to consider it in some detail: I am like a green pine tree; your fruitfulness comes from me.
This verse brought to mind the most popular image of this Christmas season: the Christmas tree. Yes, I am aware of the origins of this pagan winter festival, but it still doesn’t take away from making other associations one may wish to. I choose to believe Hosea’s account of God’s promise to the people of Israel when he likens it to a pine tree.
God’s love is like a green pine– evergreen and everlasting! Wouldn’t you agree?
We turn now to our reading in the New Testament, and find that the book of Jude is a very small but interesting one. Jude offers a history of God’s faithfulness over the generations, and closes with what is most likely one of the most commonly given benedictions around the world:
24 To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Next, we turn to our reading of the Psalms, and find that David opens this psalm with a great truth right in the very first verse:
1 Unless the LORD builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
And then, these verses that affirm the truth that children are a blessing from the Lord. David says:
3 Children are a heritage from the LORD,
offspring a reward from him.
4 Like arrows in the hands of a warrior
are children born in one’s youth.
5 Blessed is the man
whose quiver is full of them.
They will not be put to shame
when they contend with their opponents in court.
Finally, a few verses from the book of Proverbs, authored by Solomon, wise king of Israel, worthy of record and rumination:
15 A rod and a reprimand impart wisdom,
but a child left undisciplined disgraces its mother.
16 When the wicked thrive, so does sin,
but the righteous will see their downfall.
17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace;
they will bring you the delights you desire.
May God bless the reading and reflection of His Word. Amen.