Bible reading for weekend Oct 29 -- 31
Oct 29 -- Hosea 2 and Psalm 119:97-120
Oct 30 -- Hosea 3-4 and Psalm 119:121-144
Oct 31 -- Hosea 5-6 and Psalm 119:145-176
"I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings." (Hosea 6:6)
ISRAEL'S ADULTERY (ch 2). Marital infidelity, along with sexual promiscuity, is no laughing matter. Hosea experienced this pain first hand. Human sexuality is a gift from God meant to be a dimension of a life-long covenant relationship between and man and a woman. Israel's idolatry -- which often included sexual activity in pagan worship -- was a breach of trust between God's people and himself. They took the blessings God gave them (crops, wealth, and prosperity) and offered it to foreign gods. Israel "...did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal" (v 8). This is true of all of us -- we breathe the air God gives, and eat the food he provides, and enjoy the health he gives, and use the strength he provides -- and how often we think that we ourselves have done this and can offer them to whomever we wish. But this is God's world, and it is God who graciously gives his blessings, even while people mindlessly pour out their love on other things.
THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD (ch 3-4). Hosea must buy his wayward wife back from slavery, and with this there is a promise that the Lord will restore his wayward people. In chapter 4, God says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge..." (v 6). The people are untaught, ignorant, and immoral. Those who should have known better, the priests and prophets, have failed to speak and teach truth about the Lord (vv 4-6). The idolatrous practice of cult prostitution was destroying the nation. "Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone" (v 17). ("Ephraim" is another name for Israel, specifically the northern kingdom. Ephraim was the son of Joseph, one of the twelve sons of Jacob; and the Ephraimites were a prominent tribe within the northern kingdom.) As this chapter ends we see the tragic state of the nation -- there's nothing more to be done. The people were committed to their sensual passions and lifeless gods, and now they were abandoned to inevitable destruction, coming at the hand of the Assyrians in 722 BC.
"COME LET US RETURN" (ch 5-6). Judgment is coming, and chapter five ends with the Lord saying, "I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me" (5:15). Chapter six opens with a call to return to the Lord (6:1-3). And yet, are the people serious about this? Israel's love is like the dew, so quickly evaporated. It was a superficial religious show. Their zeal ultimately catered to their own personal desires within their idolatrous (read: pluralistic) culture. God says, "I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings" (6:6). Judah, the southern kingdom, would likewise share in the "harvest" of judgment upon Israel (6:11). The Assyrian invasion did much damage to the Judean cities and countryside. Such humiliation is a necessary means to bring about the restoration of God's people.
KNOWING GOD. As I read Hosea I'm impressed with how strongly the Lord desires our complete devotion and faithfulness. He is our covenant partner. All of life is his. We are his. He is not one god among many. He is unimpressed with mere formalism or superficial emotionalism. He wants us to know him really, deeply, and truly. And he desires that knowledge to result in real change, real commitment, and real virtue. So, we must ask ourselves, are we serious about knowing the Lord and all that this means?
"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." (Psalm 119:105)
PEOPLE OF THE BOOK. This beautiful acrostic poem of 176 verses extols the blessings of God's word, and of knowing and obeying it. Both Jews and Christians are "People of the Book". In the OT believers looked forward to God's work of eternal salvation (v 123), while in the NT we look back on God's work of salvation through our Lord Jesus. Loving the truth of God's word means that we also will hate all false ways (vv 128, 163; cf Rom 12:9). The "unfolding" of his words (v 130) refers to the meaning of the Scriptures being opened to us in teaching, study, and ministry of the Holy Spirit. The NET Bible translates it, "Your instructions are a doorway through which light shines. They give insight to the untrained" (v 130 NET). As we study the Bible we should always pray for the illumination of the Holy Spirit to help us understand and apply the Word, and that we might feel its power and truth (Eph 1:17-18; Heb 4:12). His word is eternal, and eternally fresh: "The sum of your word is truth, and every one of your righteous rules endures forever" (v 160).
MY TAKEAWAY. It is vital that we think about what God has said, recalling his words again and again. Christians down through history have often practiced daily Bible reading and reflection, variously called "quiet times" or "Bible devotions" or the "morning watch". In the ancient world oil lamps would cast just enough light for you to see where your next step should be (v 105). God's word is the light to our path to keep us from stumbling in the dark. From time to time I meet Christians who feel that it is too legalistic or rigid or childish for them to read Scripture regularly. "I don't need to read the Bible everyday," they say. Yet, neglect of reading the Scriptures surely indicates a low view of the value and necessity of God's word. Jesus said, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God" (Matt 4:4). Further, we should ask, how long does it take you to forget something important from God's word? How long does it take before you are tempted in some way? How long before you are faced with a moral dilemma? How long before you face fear or doubt or anger in some form? How often is the world seeking to conform you to its way of thinking? For me, all those things are daily occurrences, and so daily intake of God's word is something I really, really need.
Image credit: photo above, source unknown. About this newsletter: I'm Sandy Young, and I post three times a week on my Bible reading, following the Robert Murray M'Cheyne (RMM) two-year reading schedule, as arranged by D. A. Carson. Subscribe for email at Buttondown.email/Sandy. Scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. A very helpful resource is the NET Bible with its excellent notes at netbible.org.
Bible reading for weekend Oct 29 -- 31