Clyde Finklea reflects that, as Hosea's wife Gomer was unfaithful, so has Israel been unfaithful to Almighty God, practicing idolatry, sexual immorality, child sacrifice, and other abominations. These transgressions led God to scatter Israel, making them slaves of the Assyrians, one of the cruelest of peoples. Even though Gomer proved unfaithful, Hosea still loved her, buying her back from captivity, restoring her as his wife, an act which depicts the loving forgiveness of God. Christians are to love one another as God has loved us and forgive one another as God has forgiven us.
Martin Collins, reminding us that Hosea has sometimes been referred to as the deathbed prophet of Israel, nevertheless assures us that the end of the book is filled with hope and a happy conclusion. Before the inspiring conclusion of the Book, Hosea forecasts the tragic death of Israel, providing a kind of gruesome autopsy in chapter 13. When we sin, a barrier is erected and estrangement takes place. Nations, like individual people, die first in spirit and then physically. America, at its founding, had a modicum of God-consciousness, but the secular progressivists currently in power have systematically expunged God from our culture. Government has broken faith with the people by monetizing debt, creating inflation which robs value from money. Today we have a President who breaks faith with the American peoples by denigrating and ignoring the Constitution. Nations seldom die cataclysmically, but in gradual, incremental stages, capitulating step-by-step as we sadly observe in the current American culture. Hosea, in chapter 14, gives hope for the future, as God remains faithful to Israel, even though Israel has been unfaithful. God will bless, only as long as people repent and turn from their sins to righteousness. The conclusion of Hosea again focuses on the re-establishment of Israel after repentance and forgiveness have taken place, depicted by images of new life bringing beauty and fragrance, symbolizing millennial abundance.
Martin Collins, continuing his analysis of Hosea's prophecies, points out that modern Israel is repeating the same sins as ancient Israel, and that the Prophet's metaphors of the promiscuous wife, stubborn heifer, and rebellious child, all apply to America as well. Israel's final 30 years were marked by distrous turbulence, political instability, all accompanied with an exponential increase in Baal worship. Baal worship appealed to peoples' desires to engage in sexuality and to worship the environment. Sexual sins have a built in curse (over 63 sexually transmitted diseases, most of which are incurable), automatically bringing about the ultimate demise of its practitioners. Because Israel and Judah's fates are intertwined, Hosea's prophecies apply to both as well as to the entire commonwealth of modern Israel. Our forebear Jacob had the reputation of conniving and manipulating, manipulating his father-in-law, his brother, and at times, even manipulating God. Jacob initially seemed to have more faith in his conniving methods than in God, but had his faith transformed following the wrestling match with the angel. Sadly, Jacob's descendants have modeled their behavior after the old Jacob rather than the transformed Israel, allowing the world to squeeze them into its mold. Israel's compromises with the world's religious systems, deeply rooted in the worship of Baal, have reaped God's harsh discipline. God's called-out ones need to conform themselves into His Mold, in the image of His Son, Jesus Christ. Our Bridegroom Jesus Christ is certainly worthy to be worshipped and praised.
Martin Collins, reflecting on the grim results of the recent elections, suggests that the parallels in Hosea, indicting Israel and Judah, are more relevant today than ever before. Ancient Israel as well as modern Israel demonstrate divided loyalties (emanating from a divided heart), vacillating between God and the world, veering more and more toward the world, resembling a panting dog or a pleasure-seeking prostitute. As a metaphorical vine, Israel has produced bitter and unwholesome fruit. Hosea's unfaithful wife resembles the culture of modern Israel, steeped in idolatry, adultery, and immorality. The proliferation of laws reflects an exponential increase in immorality and corruption. Like ancient Israel, modern Israel has embraced blatant idolatry. America (like ancient Israel) professes righteousness (smugly embracing environmentalism and social justice), but actually practices unrighteous and injustice and a thousand other hideous abominations (homosexuality and sodomy). Like the time of the judges, we have no righteous leader in America today. As remnants or God's called out ones, we cannot become conformed to the evil which is forming like a malignant cancer in our midst. For its sins, modern Israel may have to be punished and perhaps even taken captive, but God will ultimately save Israel upon repentance, re-gathering them and restoring (after chastening) them as He has before.
Martin Collins argues that both Israel and Judah of Hosea's time adopted pagan culture as they aligned themselves with Gentile peoples. Physical Israel is doing the same thing that Ancient Israel did, and will consequently receive the same kind of curse and punishment. Modern Israel has the same kind of unfaithfulness to God as Gomer had to Hosea. Modern Israel has forgotten or neglected its Maker. During times of affluence, Israel has tended to forget the Source of the affluence. Modern Israel (although perhaps not forgetting the existence of God) has forgotten to obey Him and has violated the Covenant relationship with Him. Idolatry has taken a subtle hold in Modern Israel as syncretistic religion blends paganism and Christianity, debasing Christianity's value. Israel has placed its hope for safety in alliances with Gentile nations instead of with Almighty God. President Obama has sold the contents of this nation for sixteen trillion dollars. America has become economic slaves to China. America encourages the teaching of Islam while discouraging the teaching of even nominal Christianity. America tries to replace its relationship with God by constructing things of immense proportions (towers and obelisks, for example). Consequently, God will bring about a death of joy, exile the people from the land, cause a loss of spiritual discernment, cause a declining birth rate (America has aborted 50 million unborn babies over the last 40 years), and cast Israel out.
Martin Collins, continuing his exposition of Hosea, draws parallels between the scattering of physical Israel and the Church of God. The adulterous leadership of physical Israel has turned its back on God, despising God's omniscience, omnipotence, and mercy, and has glorified moral perversion such as homosexuality and sodomy, redefining marriage and condoning the gruesome murder of millions of unborn fetuses. We attempt to hide from ourselves, hide from others, but we cannot hide from God. Modern Israel has a form of religiosity, but it is empty and unsatisfying because it refuses to acknowledge or obey God, and substitutes the customs, precepts, and traditions of man in its place. Even though modern Israel has a dearth of knowledge about God, it has become unfaithful to the Covenant, trusting in gentile allies instead of God's protection. Ephraim is depicted as a half-baked cake, a dove, and a faulty weapon which inflicts wounds on its user. As Israel rejects God, God will use measured responses, as is depicted in the imagery of a pesky moth and a terrifying lion. God is always calling Israel to repent. The only antidote to sin is true, sincere repentance.
Martin Collins continues the exposition of Hosea, an account of Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant with God, and the redemptive work of God to rescue His unfaithful spouse from slavery, as depicted by Hosea's spouse Gomer, who was finally subjected to the humiliation of slavery. Hosea purchased her back for 15 pieces of silver and a bushel of barley. At this point, he could have done anything to her, but he exercised mercy and love. As Hosea bought back Gomer, Jesus Christ purchased us with His Blood and lavished His love on us, covering the nakedness of our sins. The rejection of Jesus Christ by the children of Israel has proved a major problem in furthering the account of redemption, but Paul's account of the breaking off of the natural branches in Romans 11 explains that the promised reconciliation is still future. The divorce which occurred between God and His people has been difficult for all involved. As members of the Israel of God, we must maintain ourselves unspotted from the world. In marriage, faithfulness, devotion, and knowledge must be continually present, but all three are seemingly totally absent in physical Israel, as Paul charges in Romans 1:21-28. Israel is more culpable than the Gentiles because she had been given more knowledge, but had rejected it. Israel's rejection of this knowledge has brought about God's anger and will lead to national tragedy. Leadership, both in and out of the church, has become debased. Sadly, people tend to get the leaders they deserve. Personal emptiness and shallow-mindedness have afflicted modern Israel like a deadly plague. The mad drive to satisfy lusts has led to hopelessly diminished returns. For Israel, the point of no return has been reached. We desperately need a redemptive work for both physical and spiritual Israel.
Martin Collins, referring to Hosea as the deathbed prophet, the prophet who was ordered by God to make a symbolic marriage to a harlot, declares that this heartbreaking marriage was to portray Israel's unfaithfulness to God. Interestingly, the Book of Hosea was written to people who considered themselves spiritual when in actuality they were severely spiritually challenged. We are able to understand God's love for Israel by Hosea's care for his spouse. Christ has purchased the church as His Bride, even though she has been unfaithful from time to time, seeking after signs, rejecting what He says, and going into apostasy. Because of Israel's unfaithfulness, it would be scattered (as symbolized by the naming of Hosea's offspring "Jezreel"). Gomer's second child Lo-Ruhama (meaning, "not loved" or "not pitied") was a child of harlotry. Her third child, Lo Ammi (meaning "Not my people") suggests that physical Israel would be broken off, enabling Gentile branches to be grafted in. Eventually, the millennial resolution will convert the term Jezreel from "scattered" to "planted." The negative prefix "lo" will eventually be dropped making the remaining words "loved" and "my people." The grief of Hosea gives a glimpse of God's grief over His people, providing for his wife, but receiving no credit for providing. God provides for His people even when they run from Him. Eventually God provides corrective discipline, metaphorical thorns, preventing further plunges into evil, in hope that Israel will come to her senses. Jesus Christ has taken our troubles onto Him, and will betroth Himself with a repentant Bride.
The twelve small books at the end of the Old Testament are often overlooked in the shadow of the much longer prophetic books of Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel. However, Richard Ritenbaugh argues that the Minor Prophets contain vital messages for today's Christians facing the time of the end.
John Ritenbaugh suggests that competition is the root cause of all war, business takeovers, and marital discord. Carl Von Clausewitz observed that war is nothing more than politics brought to the battlefield. Evolution has glorified competition, enshrining the survival of the fittest. Historically, the competitive nature has its roots in the mind of Satan, who had the audacity to take on the leadership of Almighty God. Man's rivalry with one another has been described by Solomon as a striving after wind. Abraham literally "took the high ground," separating himself from strife with his ambitious nephew who wanted to seek gain on the plains of Sodom. The apostle Paul showed willingness to forgo his well-deserved wages, willing to work privately, avoiding conflict and strife. Christianity should be service- oriented rather than profit- oriented, should reward the worker for his labor, and should replace competition with cooperation. Biblical history records the tortured chronicle of people striving against God. The Gentiles cut themselves off from God by rejecting God's teachings through the patriarchs. We must replace the works of the flesh with the fruit of the Spirit, willing to yield and submit rather than to strive, quarrel, and compete. Satan has successfully deceived the entire world by mixing a little truth with much error, appealing to our pride and tissue needs. On the Day of Atonement, we (as God's called-out remnant) are commanded to afflict our souls, putting down the striving competitive, pride-filled drives of human nature, with its intense appetites, mortifying our flesh, controlling ourselves by submitting to God in humility, taking the cue from our Elder Brother.
David C. Grabbe: Uzziah (also called Azariah) is the third successive king of Judah who failed to remove the high places from the land. ...
Of all of the Ten Commandments, the seventh, "You shall not commit adultery," most clearly covers the subject of faithfulness. The prophet Amos exposes Israel as a people who have a particular problem with this sin and with faithfulness in general. John Ritenbaugh reveals how unfaithfulness in marriage and other areas of life devastates family and society.
Members of God's church usually come home from the Feast of Tabernacles with renewed spiritual vigor. Yet, we are painfully aware that some fall away each year. John Ritenbaugh shows that we must actively seek God and His righteousness to ensure that we will be around to enjoy next year's Feast.
Though she transgressed every commandment in multiple ways, the spiritual sin through which Israel's unfaithfulness is most frequently demonstrated is gross idolatry. John Ritenbaugh explains that this and other identifying marks—even her persecution of the saints—prove that Israel is the Great Harlot of Revelation 17 and 18.
Prophecy has many purposes, but it is never intended to open the future to mere idle curiosity. Its much higher purpose is to furnish guidance to the heirs of salvation. John Ritenbaugh explains how the tumultuous sixth-century BC prepares us for the time of the end.
John Ritenbaugh maintains that the best matrix for salvation (or to come out of Babylon) is to diligently seek God, a connection lost in the Garden of Eden. Christians must rigorously practice their faith, having their senses trained, growing from immaturity to maturity. Sanctifying implies growing into perfection. We cannot seek God by standing still, but must continually pray, study, meditate, and fast, growing daily in grace and knowledge. Our biggest danger at this time is to be lured into spiritual drunkenness by the pagan Babylonian system. Our God is not what we say we worship but whom we serve. We dare not be at ease in Zion, settling on our lees- tolerant of sin and blind to our spiritual state- practical atheism or prudent agnosticism. God teaches us that the uncleanness from this world can be transferred from one person to another, but holiness cannot be transferred from one person to another.
John Ritenbaugh explores the negative symbolism of wine (as representing intoxication and addiction) in Revelation17 and 18. The entire Babylonian system (highly appealing to carnal human nature) has an enslaving addicting, and inebriating quality, producing a pernicious unfaithfulness and Laodicean temperament. As in Solomon's time, each dramatic increase in technology and knowledge does not bring a corresponding improvement in inherently corrupt human nature or morality. In evaluating the influence or teaching skills of Babylon, we must evaluate (1) the character and conduct of the teacher (2) whether the teaching is true, and (3) the kind of fruit it produces. Poisonous weeds cannot produce good fruit. Babylon's (the Great Whore's) anti-God, anti-revelation, man-devised cultural and educational system(the cosmos) is poisoning the entire world. What was crooked from the very beginning cannot be made straight. In order to attain eternal life, we must consciously reject the Babylonian system and consciously conform to God's will.
John Ritenbaugh, citing the maxim that 'the apple doesn't fall very far from the tree,' suggests that the nation of Israel and the Israel of God, having the same aggresive, controlling, and contentious spirit as their forefather Jacob, must learn to let God provide blessings rather than, through crafty scheming, grabbing them from others for themselves. As Jacob had to pay with a lame hip, his offspring may have to suffer privation, scattering, having their pride of their power broken, and eventual captivity until they learn that Israel means 'God prevails' and it is God who orders life.
For the past 40 years sexual sins have topped the list of social issues in America. Divorce is at an all-time high. John Ritenbaugh examines the seventh commandment, the penalties paid for breaking it and how to become faithful to God in the keeping of it.
The seventh and last of the attitudes within the church, Laodiceanism is the attitude that dominates the era of the end time. It seems more natural to think that this attitude would be the least likely to dominate in such terrible times—that it ought to be obvious that the return of Christ is near. But Christ prophesies that it will occur. In fact, it indicates the power of Babylon! Why does Babylon dominate the church in the end time? Because it dominates the world, and the Christian permits it to dominate him!
John Ritenbaugh reveals that modern Israel's national sins consist of fraud, deceit and faithlessness- reflected in sexual immorality and idolatry (spiritual adultery or spiritual harlotry). Modern Israel has proved to be faithless in her covenant with Almighty God, boldly, shamelessly, and lustfully pursuing her lovers, showing fickleness toward God's standards of morality, turning instead to a syncretistic mixture of rank paganism with a thin veneer of God's truth. Israel, whose loyalty is unstable like quicksilver, has trouble being faithful to anything; this disgusting unreliable behavior—emanating from Satan's nature—seems to be in the genes. It is absolutely impossible for lust (or perverted taste based upon lust) to bring about any kind of satisfaction. Adultery cannot be entered into without irrevocably damaging relationships.
The Berean: Daily Verse and Comment
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