The last three days of Reading: The Book of Hosea
I am quickly being reminded that there are two ways to read things. You can read things with great comprehension and appreciation and you can read things to simply get through the words, check a box and move on.
I suppose that principle applies to a lot of things in our lives. You can handle work in one of two ways: you can do the work with great joy, enthusiasm and effort or you can simply go through the paces. In the same way you can go through a marriage: you can work at it with your heart and invest your whole being into it or you can simply show up at the table each night for dinner.
I have probably read Hosea as a book about 4 times over the last 29 years. I must have been reading it to get through the words, check a box and move on. This time I read it with great enthusiasm and comprehension. This time it clicked with me. This time it resonated with the other readings we have been going through. This time I got it!
Hosea reminded me of of an earlier post I had called “A Cliff Notes for the Reader’s Digest version of the 1st six books of the Bible”. Hosea is a great summary of what we have been reading since Solomon died and his son caused a split in the Kingdom of Israel. For weeks now we have been reading the miserable history of wicked kings, a divided kingdom and a people chasing other gods, forgetting the One True God. As we read we are quickly approaching the exile of the nation of Israel to another land. The Nation of Judah is not far behind them. Thinks are quickly progressing towards God acting against their disobedience.
Hosea captures the sense of all that is going on. He uses the real life illustration of a wife is unfaithful, selling herself as a prostitute. Hosea’s adulterous wife even has children with another man. Hosea, using a disciplined love brings the adulterous wife back into his him to reconcile with her.
Hosea uses this story to show how Israel, like the adulterous wife, hurts so much the man who loves her (the Lord). He explains how the discipline of the husband to reconcile his wife is necessary. If you have ever been married the pain and shame that Hosea feels for the adulterous wife is something you could imagine. While at the same time the love he has for her is not easily understood. But that is because the love illustrated by the man for his wife is an illustration of the love that God had for his people, the Israelites.
Hosea goes on to list the sins of Israel and Samaria. He goes on to explain why he is so frustrated with them. The Lord clearly tells them how he has tried to bring them back to him and why it is now necessary to punish them for their unfaithfulness. It is time to teach them a lesson. It is time for them to realize the consequences of their shame and folly.
Read Hosea in the context of a a divided kingdom, wicked kings and a sinful people and you will get Hosea. It will make sense to you. It will resonate and you will marvel at its writing. When you finish the book you will land on these wonderful final verses Hosea 14:8 – 9. When you read them, replace the word Israel with your own name and live the Word.
Hosea 14:8 – 9 (NLT)
8 “O Israel (insert your name here), stay away from idols!
I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you.
I am like a tree that is always green;
all your fruit comes from me.”
9 Let those who are wise understand these things.
Let those with discernment listen carefully.
The paths of the Lord are true and right,
and righteous people live by walking in them.
But in those paths sinners stumble and fall.
If you haven’t read Hosea in context lately, follow verse 8 and gain discernment so that you can live in the paths of the Lord that are true and right.
END NOTE: I found these summaries of Hosea that you might find helpful.
http://www.easyenglish.info/bible-commentary/hosea-lbw.htm An EasyEnglish Commentary