Tag Archives: Hosea

Valley of Trouble

There I will give her back her vineyards,
    and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
    as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
Hosea 2:15 (NIV).

When from sin you need set free
When God’s hope you cannot see
When from Satan you must flee
Enter the Valley of Achor

When all you desire are sun’s rays
When you don’t know how to live today
When there’s nothing left but to pray
Enter the Valley of Achor

When the horses of anguish lope
When you need faith just to cope
When you’re seeking the Lord’s hope
Enter the Valley of Achor

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How Much Does God Love Us?

As part of my Bible-in-a-year schedule I’ve been going through the Old Testament again. As I read, I am reminded of the relationship between God and the nation of Israel. One thing that has occurred to me is that Israel in the Old Testament as an archetype of the present day believer. The whole story of Israel’s relationship with God has several important characteristics:

  • Israel becomes God’s own people and they follow God beginning with Abraham and his descendants
  • God watches over Israel by providing for them in Egypt when famine comes to their land
  • Israel is rescued by God and delivered from Egypt after the Egyptians enslave them
  • Israel turns away from God and worships a golden calf of their own making when they feel lost and don’t know what happened to Moses
  • God chastises them through Moses and they repent and return to God
  • Israel complains about their lot in the desert and say they were better off in Egypt
  • God provide them with food and water in the desert, but because of their grumbling their time in the desert is longer
  • God finally brings them into the promised land and they have an abundant life where they worship God
  • Israel enjoys prosperity and wealth in the land the Lord gave to them
  • Israel, under the rule of various kings, strays from God and begins to worship the pagan gods of the nations around them
  • God becomes angry and punishes them with defeat by their enemies and eventually exile from the promised land
  • Israel returns to the worship of the One True God and God brings them back from exile and restores them to the land they were promised

It is a  recurring theme of Israel straying from God in both good times and bad, then God would chastise and punish them, but then they would repent and He would save them. Through it all, Israel never ceased to be His people. He never ceased to love Israel. The prophet Hosea recorded the word of the Lord regarding His anger towards unfaithful Israel and His undying love for her:

Hosea 2

 13 I will punish her for all those times
      when she burned incense to her images of Baal,
   when she put on her earrings and jewels
      and went out to look for her lovers
   but forgot all about me,”
      says the Lord.

The Lord’s Love for Unfaithful Israel

 14 “But then I will win her back once again.
      I will lead her into the desert
      and speak tenderly to her there.
 15 I will return her vineyards to her
      and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.
   She will give herself to me there,
      as she did long ago when she was young,
      when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the LORD,
       “you will call me ‘my husband’;
       you will no longer call me ‘my master. ‘
17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips;
       no longer will their names be invoked.

  23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
       I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one. ‘
       I will say to those called ‘Not my people, ‘ ‘You are my people’;
       and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ “

So how is this like the present day believer? There is a point in the life of each believer when we first accept Christ as our Lord and Savior. But as time goes on, we forget the initial joy we had when God saved us from the state we were in. We might encounter trouble and complain that God is not there for us. We turn away from God and seek our own answers, our own gods to worship such as power or money. Then God will somehow show us the error of our ways as those other gods truly fail us and we repent and are restored in our relationship with Him.

At other times, we may be prosperous and living a life that is going better than we ever imagined. We may forget God’s hand in our prosperity and pride may cause us to turn from God and worship our own abilities and strength. But because He loves us and is more concerned about our relationship with Him and our eternal destiny, God may not allow the prosperity to last as a means to bring us back to Him.

For some believers, this may happen several times throughout our lives as we, like Israel, forget what God has done for us and how much He loves us.

But once sealed with the Holy Spirit we will remain God’s chosen ones, we will remain His beloved people. As Paul wrote to the church at Ephesus:

And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession—to the praise of his glory. Ephesians 1:13-14.

Just as He did with Israel in the Old Testament, God will do whatever it takes to bring us back to Him because He loves us even when we are unfaithful, because “if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13. He has given us His Holy Spirit to teach us and convict us of sin so that we will return to Him when we stray. Israel had only the law to keep them in line with God’s will, but we have the Holy Spirit and the power of His grace to keep us safe and in His will.

Do you know how much God loves you? Do you continue to worship and love Him only in good times and bad? Do you hear His Holy Spirit say to you “you are My people” and will you always respond “You are my God”?

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The Third Day

Tonight I am going to go see the Christian band Third Day in concert. I love their music! Having seen them in concert before, I know that what lies ahead is a wonderful evening of praise and worship of our Lord.

I’ve always assumed that the band name is based on the fact that Jesus was raised from the dead on the “third day” after His crucifixion. Since I have VIP tickets for a before-concert Q&A session with the band, maybe I will get a chance to ask whether that assumption is accurate. But in the meantime, I decided to do a search on www.biblegateway.com for the phrase “third day” to find the scriptures about this glorious event and write about Jesus’ resurrection. To my surprise, my search yielded more than a few Old Testament passages referring to something that occurred on the “third day.”

Genesis 22:1-19 is the story of when Abraham was tested by God to sacrifice his only son Isaac. Before he actually sacrificed Isaac, God provided a substitute sacrifice. This story is an example of Abraham’s complete trust in God. Verse 4 says, “On the third day Abraham looked up and saw the place in the distance.” The place referred to is the mountain on which he would perform the sacrifice.

In Genesis 42 is the story of when Joseph’s brothers came to Egypt looking for food. Joseph had put them all in jail because of a “stolen” chalice in their bags of grain.

On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. Genesis 42:18-20.

In Exodus 19, we find part of the story of Moses and the Israelites in the desert. They have come to Mt. Sinai and Moses has spoken with God.

And the LORD said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes and be ready by the third day, because on that day the LORD will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Exodus 19:10-11.

The book of Ezra is the story of the Israelites returning to Jerusalem from exile in Babylon. Their return and the rebuilding of the city and the temple were assisted greatly by King Darius who believed in the Lord, the God of Israel. It took a long time for the work to be completed, but finally it was.

The temple was completed on the third day of the month Adar, in the sixth year of the reign of King Darius. 
Then the people of Israel—the priests, the Levites and the rest of the exiles—celebrated the dedication of the house of God with joy. Ezra 6:15-16.

Hosea is one of the minor prophets. When we say he is a “minor” prophet, that does not mean his writings are less important than the major prophets. Rather, the book that bears his name is one of the shorter prophetic writings in the Old Testament. Chapter 6 of Hosea begins like this:

1 “Come, let us return to the LORD.
       He has torn us to pieces
       but he will heal us;
       he has injured us
       but he will bind up our wounds.

 2 After two days he will revive us;
       on the third day he will restore us,
       that we may live in his presence.

 3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
       let us press on to acknowledge him.
       As surely as the sun rises,
       he will appear;
       he will come to us like the winter rains,
       like the spring rains that water the earth.”

Hosea is the last Old Testament book to include the phrase “third day.” The next time we see this phrase, Jesus is predicting His own death and resurrection in Matthew 16:21.

As I read through these passages, I saw a common theme. The third day is a day of redemption, a day on which God is powerfully present. It is a day of celebration of the wonders of our God. It is a day to be in awe of God’s mercy, of His power and desire to restore us through the death and third-day resurrection of Jesus.

Now when I recite the Apostles’ Creed in church, when I say with my fellow believers “On the third day He rose again,” it will have more meaning.

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