Friday, July 20, 2012

July 20, 2012 … Choices !!!

Chronological Bible Reading Plan - Day 202 

Passage of the Day: Reference of Today’s Chronological Bible Study: Hosea, Chapters 1-7 [NIV] To study these chapters, go to this link

Highlight Passage: Hosea 8: 1-4; 13-14 :[NIV] … 1 "Put the trumpet to your lips! An eagle is over the house of the Lord because the people have broken my covenant and rebelled against my law. 2 Israel cries out to me, 'Our God, we acknowledge you!' 3 But Israel has rejected what is good; an enemy will pursue him. 4 They set up kings without my consent; they choose princes without my approval. With their silver and gold they make idols for themselves to their own destruction. … 13 Though they offer sacrifices as gifts to me, and though they eat the meat, the Lord is not pleased with them. Now he will remember their wickedness and punish their sins: They will return to Egypt [figuratively into captivity - this time by the Assyrians]. 14 Israel has forgotten their Maker and built palaces; Judah has fortified many towns. But I will send fire on their cities that will consume their fortresses." 
Highlight Passage #2: Hosea 9: 7; 15-17 :[NIV] … 7 The days of punishment are coming, the days of reckoning are at hand. Let Israel know this. Because your sins are so many and your hostility so great, the prophet is considered a fool, … the inspired person a maniac. … 15 "Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal, I hated them there. Because of their sinful deeds, I will drive them out of my house. I will no longer love them; all their leaders are rebellious. 16 Ephraim is blighted, their root is withered, they yield no fruit. Even if they bear children, I will slay their cherished offspring." 17 My God will reject them because they have not obeyed him; they will be wanderers among the nations.
Highlight Passage #3: Hosea 10: 1: 12-14 :[NIV] … 1 Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones. … 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. 13 But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors,14 the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated …  
Highlight Passage #4: Hosea 11: 1-4 :[NIV] … 1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son. 2 But the more they were called, the more they went away from me. They sacrificed to the Baals and they burned incense to images. 3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by the arms; but they did not realize it was I who healed them. 4 I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love. To them I was like one who lifts a little child to the cheek, and I bent down to feed them.
Highlight Passage #5: Hosea 12: 6: 9; 13-14 :[NIV] … 6 But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always. … 9 "I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt; I will make you live in tents again, as in the days of your appointed festivals…. 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.
Highlight Passage #6: Hosea 13: 1-3 :[NIV] … 1 When Ephraim spoke, people trembled; he was exalted in Israel. But he became guilty of Baal worship and died. 2 Now they sin more and more; they make idols for themselves from their silver, cleverly fashioned images, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of these people, "They offer human sacrifices! They kiss calf-idols!" 3 Therefore they will be like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears, like chaff swirling from a threshing floor, like smoke escaping through a window.
Highlight Passage #7: Hosea 14: 1; 9 :[NIV] … 1 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God. Your sins have been your downfall! 2 Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: "Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips.” … 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. 

My Journal for Today: Today, we finished out the prophesies of Hosea in chapters 8-14; and I know that the length of such a reading assignment can be daunting; but I hope you’ll at least read through the passages I’ve highlighted above and take in these final comments I’ll make as I went through these chapters today in Hosea.

Hosea, as one of God’s prophets, really had a tough gig. He was called on to paint comparative canvases of truth before the rebellious children of Jacob (renamed to be “Israel”); and at this time in their history, the 12 tribes had separated into two geographically separated and spiritually divided cultural groups. One of them was the northern tribes, referred to in scripture often as “Israel” or “Ephraim,” depending on your Bible translation. These northern Jews had been terribly and almost irrevocably infested by paganism, idolatry, and selfish greed, carrying out all kinds of ungodly living/worship practices. Judah, on the other hand, located where God’s temple was in Jerusalem, further south, had, to some degree, maintained some of the disciplines and practices of the faith they had gotten from Moses, the Priesthood, and the Prophets, the teachers and spiritual shepherds whom God had provided to remind Judah of what was written for them in God’s Book of the Law by Moses. But even Judah began to choose to move toward selfish and sinful practices, forgetting what God had led them to understand was His will and His ways and CHOOSING to disobey Yahweh.

“Choices,” which is the title of my journal entry today, is really the subtext of the last six chapters in Hosea; and in these writings, the Prophet pours out God’s documentation of the waywardness and sinfulness of His chosen people, whom the Lord had delivered from Egypt decades earlier than Hosea was living. But in these chapters, as you can read above, we also see God, in his ever-loving mercy, continually returning to the plea for any of those recalcitrant Jews to repent and turn back to the ways of God, written in the Book of the Law and preached by the Prophets.

Even though God was about to discipline the nation of Israel (both northern and southern kingdoms) for their collective rebellion and sinful worship of idols and lascivious lifestyles, as a culture, Yahweh always provided a choice which involved repentance, forgiveness, and restoration. And back and forth, you see that balance in reading through these last chapters in Hosea. Finally, as we close out the Prophet’s book, in Chapter 14, this choice becomes blatantly apparent; … as God’s children we can CHOOSE to live by God’s ways, seeking and following His will, clearly spelled out in His word; … OR … we can turn away from our Savior and seek the selfish ways which will be clearly laid out for us by Satan and his minions in the world.

Israel, as a nation in Hosea’s time, chose the latter; and we see what happened to them. America, as a nation, is following suit; and can you be prophet to predict, based upon God’s word, what might happen to us in our country’s future – if we, as a nation continue on this path? Duh!

But you and I don’t have to follow the sinful ways of idolatry, selfish greed, and injustice which Hosea and other prophets of God preached about, do we? We can CHOOSE to follow God and to live out what Jesus commanded His disciples to do (that verse I’ve probably quoted more often than any other in my journaling), as our Lord said, If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me.” 

 If you’ve read with me today, our CHOICE is clear … self or Savior!

My Prayer Today: … I choose Your way, Lord! Amen

No comments: