The Testimony of a Repeat Offender

MICAH | Lesson 3 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Micah 7.18-20

I / INTRODUCTION: RECIDIVISM

1 / RECIDIVISM: the tendency of a convicted criminal to re-offend / or more fully, it refers to a person’s relapse into criminal behavior, often after the person receives sanctions or undergoes intervention for a previous crime. [It comes from the Latin word ‘recidivus’ meaning ‘to fall back’]

2 / That’s why I’m calling this lesson “The testimony of a repeat offender.” Because that’s precisely what Micah is confessing here – that they [the kingdoms of Israel and Judah both] have repeatedly re-offended by committing the same sins, iniquities, and transgressions … over and over again … for centuries and generation after generation … even from the first and earliest days when Yahweh had delivered them from bondage and slavery in Egypt – right up to this very day when Micah is delivering these messages and penning these prophetic words.

II / ISRAEL’S HISTORY AND RECORD OF RECIDIVISM

1 / We have seen this pattern over and over again as we have surveyed, summarized, and studied these Minor Prophets over the recent weeks. We also saw this recidivism brought to their attention by Yahweh by His prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 7.22-26:

For in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, I did not speak to your fathers or command them concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this command I gave them: ‘Obey my voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be my people. And walk in all the way that I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 But they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and the stubbornness of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward. 25 From the day that your fathers came out of the land of Egypt to this day, I have persistently sent all my servants the prophets to them, day after day. 26 Yet they did not listen to me or incline their ear, but stiffened their neck. They did worse than their fathers. 

2 / And again in Jeremiah 11.6-8:

And the LORD said to me, “Proclaim all these words in the cities of Judah and in the streets of Jerusalem: Hear the words of this covenant and do them. For I solemnly warned your fathers when I brought them up out of the land of Egypt, warning them persistently, even to this day, saying, Obey my voice. Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but everyone walked in the stubbornness of his evil heart. Therefore I brought upon them all the words of this covenant, which I commanded them to do, but they did not.”

3 / Perhaps the most convicting and damning of indictments against the southern kingdom Judah was also delivered by Jeremiah … this one was delivered during the days of Josiah when they were going through a short season of superficial reformations, though Yahweh exposed that their hearts were not in them – they were only done in pretense. But the indictment is brought against them that they should have learned from the judgments that fell upon their brethren in the northern kingdom Israel when the Assyrians came against them and destroyed their capital city and carried them off into captivity … but did Judah do any differently? No! They persisted in their recidivism – and continued to perpetuate their repeat offenses against Yahweh. Listen to this scathing indictment! Jeremiah 3.6-11:

The LORD said to me in the days of King Josiah: “Have you seen what she did, that faithless one, Israel, how she went up on every high hill and under every green tree, and there played the whore? And I thought, ‘After she has done all this she will return to me,’ but she did not return, and her treacherous sister Judah saw it. She saw that for all the adulteries of that faithless one, Israel, I had sent her away with a decree of divorce. Yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but she too went and played the whore. Because she took her whoredom lightly, she polluted the land, committing adultery with stone and tree. 10 Yet for all this her treacherous sister Judah did not return to me with her whole heart, but in pretense, declares the LORD.” 11 And the Lord said to me, “Faithless Israel has shown herself more righteous than treacherous Judah.”

4 / So, you understand now what recidivism means … and what it means to recidivate – and how the kingdoms of Israel and Judah repeatedly and consistently relapsed into the same practices and patterns of disobedience, transgressions, disobediences, lawlessness, faithlessness, treachery, betrayal, and rebellion against Yahweh … even as He was just as repeatedly and consistently loving them, teaching them, instructing them, warning them, and calling them back – to return to Him with confessions of their sins and repentance from them. But they would not!

5 / Therefore, the judgments Yahweh had warned them would come … did come upon them. Yahweh must be true to His own character of Holiness and righteousness. Sin must be punished.

III / BUT MERCY IS ALWAYS PROMISED, ALWAYS IN VIEW – YET TO COME!

1 / But, at the same time, even while Yahweh was condemning their sins and bringing His Holy and just punishments upon them for their faithlessness … He was also promising them His full, complete, and perfect salvation that would be given them in times to come. He would call these future times to come ‘the latter days,’ or ‘in that day.’ These are the days that would come ‘in the fullness of time’ … and they would be fulfilled in Jesus Christ and His Gospel!

2 / Just here in the Book of Micah, even as Yahweh issues His indictments, witnesses, evidences, judgments, and sentences against them … He also points ahead to His promised salvation that would come ‘in the latter days’: ch 4.1-8; 5.2-5; 7.11-17 – and especially here in this concluding hymn and prayer in ch 7.18-20.

IV / THE TESTIMONY OF A REPEAT OFFENDER

1 / This is, first of all, a personal confession by Micah. He is taking his own place among his recidivating people. He is confessing that he himself also is a repeat offender. And who among us has not often done the same thing? Every one of us has had to come to God with our confession of sin with words like: “Father, I have sinned again. I knew better. I have sinned like this over and over, and I have again. I confess…I repent. You have forgiven me for this sin over and over … but here I am again. I have done it again” – or similar words to that effect. Micah is joining in with ‘the remnant of His inheritance’ who have been saved and spared from final death and destruction. He is admitting that he himself is one of these whose repetitive sins have been repeatedly pardoned.

2 / It is also a wordplay on his own name as he recognizes and extols the uniqueness of this pardoning God. Micah’s very name is a rhetorical question: “Who is like Yahweh?” When Micah asks this question: ‘Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity…,’ he is acknowledging that there is no other god like Yahweh our God! And what sets Yahweh apart from all the rest of the false/fake gods is that He is a God who forgives sinners! Every one of these descriptors of Yahweh pivots and hinges on His ‘mercy’ or ‘steadfast love’ as the word is variously translated. The word that Micah uses here is ‘hesed’ [or ‘chesed’] and it means a love that will not let the beloved one go. The love that tenaciously holds on. The love that persistently, consistently, faithfully, and repeatedly forgives … but without compromising its own Holiness, character, or integrity.

3 / No other god among all the myriad pantheons of the idolaters could claim such a pardoning God like Yahweh, our God! And the glory and splendor of His pardoning, forgiving, redeeming love is one of the most unrivalled of all His graces!

4 / One of my very favorite songs for over 50 years is Great God of Wonders by Samuel Davies [1723-1761]. I’ve made a blog post about it that you can access here: https://daveparksblog.com/2022/11/26/great-god-of-wonders-who-is-a-pardoning-god-like-thee/   

Here is what I have written:

Another hymn we learned and sang in our church back during the 70s when we committed to learning every hymn in our hymnal. This hymn is never far from my mind and memory. I have preached on this text before and called it “The Testimony of a Repeat Offender.” Here are the words to the verses…

1. Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Are matchless, Godlike and divine;

But the fair glories of Thy grace

More godlike and unrivaled shine,

More godlike and unrivaled shine.

[Refrain]

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

2. Crimes of such horror to forgive,

Such guilty, daring worms to spare;

This is Thy grand prerogative,

And none shall in the honor share,

And none shall in the honor share. [Refrain]

3. Angels and men, resign your claim

To pity, mercy, love and grace:

These glories crown Jehovah’s name

With an incomparable glaze

With an incomparable glaze. [Refrain]

4. In wonder lost, with trembling joy,

We take the pardon of our God:

Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood. [Refrain]

5. O may this strange, this matchless grace,

This godlike miracle of love,

Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,

And all th’angelic choirs above,

And all th’angelic choirs above. [Refrain]

5 / Micah also wrote this hymn in an ancient literary arrangement called a chiasm. A chiasm is a series of lines or ideas that are lined out one after the other until they reach a climactic summary … and then they are repeated again in reverse order from how they were first expressed. For example: here in Micah 7.18-20, the statements of God’s unrivalled uniqueness are lined out this way:

Who is a God like you that…

A. pardons iniquity

B. passes over transgression

C. does not retain anger

D. delights in steadfast love [hesed] (this is the climax)

C’. shows compassion

B’. treads down iniquities

A’. casts away sins.

So, A – C build up to D, and then repeat/re-state themselves in other words and reverse order in C’ – A’. ALL climaxing in “Who is a God like you … because He delights in steadfast love?” All of this is another reiteration of Yahweh’s glory that He revealed to Moses in Exodus 33.17-23. On that occasion also Yahweh distinguished Himself as the only God – and certainly the only God of His kind – who pardons, forgives, and shows steadfast love in forgiveness.

6 / But still…all of this begs the question: “But wait…if Yahweh is a God of justice, righteousness, and Holiness who demands and requires that every sin must be punished and paid for through the death of the transgressor… then how can He pardon iniquity? How can He pass over transgression? How does He tread all our iniquities under His feet? How can He be Holy and yet just cast all our sins into the depths of the sea?” These are fair questions, but Yahweh provides the answers in ways that only He can!

7 / The promise of hope, redemption, forgiveness, pardon, and salvation can be accomplished ONLY by Yahweh’s bearing of the guilt and the moral, legal payment for that guilt UPON HIMSELF! And that’s exactly what He is promising and what He provided for us in Jesus Christ through His Gospel! One of the rich keys can be found in that word ‘pardoning…’ The same word for ‘pardon’ here is the common word used all throughout the Old Testament for ‘lift up,’ ‘bear/carry away.’ In fact, Micah himself uses the same word throughout his messages to mean these other things [see ch 2.4; 4.3; 6.16; 7.9]. Then he comes here to ch 7.18 to mean ‘pardon.’ The way God ‘pardons’ our iniquities and transgressions and sins is by ‘lifting them up, bearing them and carrying them away upon Himself’! Micah’s contemporary, Isaiah, uses the same word in Isaiah 53.4 & 12: ‘Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…’ and ‘…He bore the sin of many.’ Isaiah is prophesying and promising that Jesus Christ, Yahweh’s Suffering Servant, would come ‘in the latter days’ ‘in the fullness of time’ and lift up, bear, carry away upon Himself the guilt and punishment of our sins! Jesus Christ would be punished by the very wrath of God that our sins deserved – the sins we have repeatedly committed … our personal recidivisms!

8 / This, my friend, is the Good News of the Gospel of Jesus Christ! The recidivisms of us repeat offenders – ALL of it has been laid on Jesus Christ! And He has lifted it all up and borne it all on Himself on His Cross … and by making satisfactory payment for it by His death, He has carried it all away! In truth, our sin that He has paid for by His substitutionary death on His Cross is so gone … so far away gone … so gone for good … that it may be said: “You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.”

9 / THAT is how pardoned you are by believing in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. Yahweh did all this in faithfulness to the covenant promises of steadfast love that He made to Abraham [see v 20 here]. That promise was that He, Yahweh, would give the blessing of His eternal covenant love to Abraham’s ‘seed’ or offspring [Genesis 12.1-7]. Yahweh must do that! He said He would! He promised! Paul will tell us in Galatians 3.16 that this ‘seed’ or offspring to whom Yahweh made these promises was none other than Jesus Christ Himself! God will keep His promises to His Son! And when we commit all our faith and trust on Him to save us from our sins, then we become pardoned by this very same grace!  

She will bear a son, and you shall call His Name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins. / Matthew 1.20

…as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our father Abraham… / Luke 1.70-73

I have also attempted to tell this same story in this poem:

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Great God of Wonders (Who is a pardoning God like Thee?)

~Samuel Davies | From Micah 7.18

“Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of His inheritance? He does not retain His anger forever, because He delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; He will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea. You will show faithfulness to Jacob and steadfast love to Abraham, as you have sworn to our fathers from the days of old.”

Micah 7.18-20

Another hymn we learned and sang in our church back during the 70s when we committed to learning every hymn in our hymnal. This hymn is never far from my mind and memory. I have preached on this text before and called it “The Testimony of a Repeat Offender.”

Here are the words to the verses … followed by a representative vocal rendition.

1. Great God of wonders! All Thy ways

Are matchless, Godlike and divine;

But the fair glories of Thy grace

More godlike and unrivaled shine,

More godlike and unrivaled shine.

[Refrain]

Who is a pardoning God like Thee?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

Or who has grace so rich and free?

2. Crimes of such horror to forgive,

Such guilty, daring worms to spare;

This is Thy grand prerogative,

And none shall in the honor share,

And none shall in the honor share.

[Refrain]

3. Angels and men, resign your claim

To pity, mercy, love and grace:

These glories crown Jehovah’s name

With an incomparable glaze

With an incomparable glaze.

[Refrain]

4. In wonder lost, with trembling joy,

We take the pardon of our God:

Pardon for crimes of deepest dye,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood,

A pardon bought with Jesus’ blood.

[Refrain]

5. O may this strange, this matchless grace,

This godlike miracle of love,

Fill the whole earth with grateful praise,

And all th’angelic choirs above,

And all th’angelic choirs above.

[Refrain]

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The Old Testament: pre-enactment of Christ

Here’s a good rule to remember any time you are reading anywhere in the Bible … and especially the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, every time you read about and see:

  • a human failure and need to be saved: sin, disobedience, lostness, faithlessness
  • an act of mercy
  • a demonstration of salvation and deliverance
  • a provision for forgiveness
  • a promise of hope

…every one of these is a pointer, picture, prophecy, prequel, and a pre-enactment of Christ who will come and what He will do when He does come.

We learn this rule from Jesus Himself:

John 5.39 / You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me…

Luke 24.25-27, 32, 44-46 / And He said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! 26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself … They said to each other, “Did not our hearts burn within us while He talked to us on the road, while He opened to us the Scriptures?” … Then He said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…

1 Peter 1.10-12 / Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, 11 inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. 12 It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.

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‘Beulah’ songs (and Fiji rugby)

I grew up in rural West Virginia churches [that’s a good ways from Fiji, by the way … which is where this is going] singing lots of songs about ‘Beulah.’ I also knew that ‘Beulah’ means ‘married’ and comes from Isaiah 62.4 [KJV]:

“You shall no longer be termed ‘Forsaken,’ nor shall your land any more be termed ‘Desolate’; but you shall be called ‘Hephzibah,’ and your land ‘Beulah’; for the LORD delights in you, and your land shall be married.”

I learned this at an early age because our leaders in worship explained things in the songs we sang that may not have been commonly known from our daily experiences.

We don’t have to forsake our Scriptural and historical traditions in the interests of being cultural ‘contextual’; sometimes the ‘contextual’ just needs to be schooled and brought up to date on our Scriptural and historical traditions.

So, singing about ‘Beulah’ was frequent in our hymnody … except we didn’t call it ‘hymnody’ – we called it ‘The Broadman Hymnal.’ The Broadman Hymnal was the hymnal of choice for us independent Baptists who were more doctrinally inclined toward the Doctrines of Grace and the local church. It was the more formal hymnal in a wider culture that tended more toward the Stamps-Baxter Southern Gospel genre.

For example, some of the ‘Beulah’ songs we sang were:

Beulah Land

“I’ve reached the land of corn and wine, and all its riches freely mine / Here shines undimmed one blissful day, for all my night has passed away / O Beulah land, sweet Beulah land, as on thy highest mount I stand / I look away across the sea, where mansions are prepared for me / and view the shining glory shore, my Heaven, my home forevermore.”

And, yes, we sang the fourth verse about “The zephyrs seem to float to me sweet sounds of Heaven’s melody / as angels, with the white-robed throng join in the sweet redemption song.” When I would sing that verse and wonder what ‘zephyrs’ are, I would ask Mom; and she would give us her stock reply: “Go look it up in the dictionary.” Thus we learned new words and how to use the dictionary.

Is Not This the Land of Beulah?

“I am dwelling on the mountain where the golden sunlight gleams o’er a land of wondrous beauty far exceeds my fondest dreams / Where the air is pure, ethereal, laden with the breath of flowers / They are blooming by the fountain, ‘neath the amaranthine bowers / Is not this the Land of Beulah, blessed, blessed land of light / where the flowers bloom forever and the sun is always bright?”

And yes, it was by singing this song that I early learned the meaning of ‘ethereal’ and ‘amaranthine.’ I wouldn’t discover until a few years later that ‘amaranthine’ is the Greek word ‘ἀμάραντον / amarantos’ that Peter uses in 1 Peter 1.4 to refer to our inheritance that ‘does not fade away.’ The amaranth was a flower that “never withers or fades, and when plucked off revives if moistened with water; hence it is a symbol of perpetuity and immortality (see Paradise Lost iii. 353 sqq.)” [Greek Lexicon, Joseph Henry Thayer].

Dwelling in Beulah Land

But the ‘Beulah’ song I’ve had brought back to my memory here of late is C. Austin Miles’s “Dwelling in Beulah Land” which begins with…

“Far away the noise of strife upon my ear is falling, then I know the sins of earth beset on every hand / doubt and fear and things of earth in vain to me are calling, none of these shall move me from Beulah Land / I’m living on the mountain underneath a cloudless sky (Praise God!) I’m drinking at the fountain that never shall run dry / O yes! I’m feasting on the manna from a bountiful supply / For I am dwelling in Beulah Land!”

Now when we sang these songs about ‘Beulah Land,’ we understood that we have not yet come fully into the enjoyment of these experiences. We have been introduced into them and enjoy the firstfruits of them by our present salvation and the Grace of Jesus Christ, but we are still living only in the ‘now’ – and longing for the full enjoyment of the ‘not yet.’

But still, we sing about ‘Beulah Land’ and long with hope for that day and that land!

So, as I say, I still recall and sing these songs from memory in my mind and soul to encourage myself.

So … what does that have to do with Fiji rugby?

But then, a couple days ago, I saw a post on Twitter featuring the 7-man rugby team from Fiji, and they were singing. I was mesmerized by their singing. Here are strong, rugged men who play physical old-fashioned ‘footy’ rugby, crashing and slamming against each other with no helmets or pads, getting bruised, bloody, and broken – and they sing! And they sing a lot! And they sing out…give it all they’ve got! They sing like they play rugby – leave it all on the field! And they sing good! They sing before their matches [the Fijian hymn ‘This is My Prayer’] and after their matches [‘We have overcome…by the blood of the Lamb and the Word of the Lord’].

So I just spent more time than I should have and did some searching on YouTube for ‘Fiji rugby team singing.’

I so enjoy watching these strong grown men singing with passion, gusto, throwing their heads back and belting out their songs with all they’ve got. Often with tears of feeling and emotion streaming down their faces. I appreciate their unabashed patriotism and love of their homeland and country. And I most appreciate how they recognize and confess God in their singing. Their common and favorite post-game song as they gather, link arms, and sing with all their hearts: “We have overcome! We have overcome! By the blood of the Lamb and the Word of the Lord, we have overcome!”

Then, as I was playing some of their singing, I came across the rendition of their national anthem before a match. As I listened and watched these guys belting out their national anthem, I immediately recognized the tune from the first measure. I kept listening, and sure enough … their national anthem is sung note for note to the tune of C. Austin Miles’s “Dwelling in Beulah Land.” So my first thought was, “Well, C. Austin Miles must have adopted an older, more historical tune for his song.” But, no … when I looked up ‘Fiji national anthem’ I discovered that they adopted the tune of Miles’s song for their national anthem when it was adopted in 1970.

So, I’ll have to admit, I have really formed a strong personal appreciation, affection, and bond with these guys I’ve never met and never will. But it wouldn’t be beyond me – if such a thing were conveniently possible – to make a bucket-list wish that they would let me join and sing with them just one time. I already know the English to that post-game song they sing. Hey, I’d even be willing to try to learn the Fijian lyrics so I could keep in time with them.

[In case you’re interested, here are the lyrics to that pre-game hymn they sing: “Noqu Masu / This is My Prayer.”]

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The Mountain of the House of the LORD

MICAH | Lesson 2 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Micah 4.1-8

I / INTRODUCTION / MAKING THE CONNECTION

1 / In our first lesson from Micah in this current short survey series, we studied Micah, chapter 3.1-12, in which Yahweh hands down a summary indictment against every class of leadership in the nation of Judah at that time. We called the lesson The Curse of Failed Leadership. In that indictment, Yahweh details the failures of their civil leaders [vv 1-4], their religious leaders, particularly their prophets [vv 5-7], and their leaders in aggregate, this time including their priests [vv 9-12].

2 / The priests were particularly guilty because they were the ones who were in charge of administering all the sacrifices and services associated with their Temple. All of their sacrifices, offerings, and services were given to them by Yahweh to teach them and show them who He was. All of the offerings and sacrifices ‘preached’ and demonstrated in some way that Yahweh is Holy and that we, the worshipers, are sinful. But Yahweh is merciful to us in providing the sacrifices that make atonement for our sins.

3 / ALSO, and we must not overlook this, the whole sacrificial system of the Old Testament were designed and prescribed by Yahweh to point to Jesus Christ, the Messiah who was to come in the fullness of time! Every detail of every sacrifice and service was a picture, promise, prequel, and pre-enactment of the Gospel that Jesus would “finish” when He appeared! That goes for all the sacrifices and services that were performed in both the Tabernacle and later in the Temple.

4 / I have given this introductory summary of all these Old Testament things to bring us to the theme of Micah, chapter 3 … because in Micah, chapter 3, all of these services that were being offered to Yahweh by all their leaders were failures. In fact, all of their history from the time that Yahweh had brought them up out of bondage and slavery in Egypt had been a consistent record of faithlessness, disobedience, rebellion, and failure.

* They had failed to love Yahweh their God with all their hearts.

* They had failed to obey His law and commandments.

* They had failed to sanctify themselves and keep themselves holy, pure, and distinct from the pollutions, defilements, and corruptions of the pagan nations around them.

* They had failed to worship and serve Yahweh and Him only.

* They had failed to hallow His Name and reverence His Holiness.

* They had failed to represent Him in their civil, religious, and social lives and conduct.

* They had failed in every way they could fail.

5 / For all these reasons, Yahweh was telling them in Micah, chapter 3, that they were going to lose it all! Their pride, identity, and distinctive ‘entitlement’ was most represented by their beautiful Temple. Their Temple had been the sign and promise of Yahweh’s very Presence and Glory dwelling among them [1 Kings 8.10-13]. But now, Yahweh was promising to plow it under! “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height” [Micah 3.12]. Micah had delivered this very threat and dire warning from Yahweh to King Hezekiah [see Jeremiah 26.16-19], causing Hezekiah to institute some sweeping reforms during his years as king. But it was only superficial and temporary, and Judah reverted back to their old idolatrous ways shortly after Hezekiah’s death during the reign of his wicked son, Manasseh.

6 / So – the end of Judah’s kingdom, independence, and the destruction of their beautiful Temple was inevitable … as it came to pass in 606/586 BC. Jerusalem and their beloved Temple were desecrated, desolated, destroyed, and burned to the ground, and they were carried off into captivity to Babylon.

7 / BUT – as is always the case in these Old Testament prophecies – when Yahweh promises and brings to pass the judgments He must enact because of their sin, He also promises to fulfill His covenant of sovereign mercy and grace in days yet to come … when Christ comes! Yahweh will be faithful to all the promises He has made to Christ! [See 2 Samuel 7]

8 / In truth, Christ is the only One who can be faithful enough to Yahweh to fulfill all the responsibilities that Israel and Judah had failed to fulfill! That is the story of the Old Testament! [remember again Hosea 11.1 w/ Matthew 2.15]

9 / And so, Micah here – and all the prophets – pronounce the judgments that must fall upon them at that time because of their sins and failures … and then immediately turns their attention to a future time yet to come. At that time, in those days, Yahweh will perfectly fulfill and bring to pass the redemptive purposes He has set out to complete from before the very creation of the world!

* we have already seen numerous examples of this salvation purpose, like for example: Hosea 2.16-23 compared with 1 Peter 2.9-10 & Romans 9.22-26; and Amos 9.11-12 w/ Acts 15.12-17.

10 / It shall come to pass in the latter days… and the ways it will come to pass is through Jesus Christ, His coming into our world, and through the Gospel He will proclaim!

11 / That is what we will explore in this lesson passage from Micah, chapter 4.1-5. So let’s do this first … even before we open up the first words of chapter 4. Read again that last verse of chapter 3 [verse 12]: “Therefore because of you Zion shall be plowed as a field; Jerusalem shall become a heap of ruins, and the mountain of the house a wooded height.”

* ‘Zion’ was that part of the city of Jerusalem where the Temple was located. ‘Zion’ means ‘stronghold,’ and so their Temple was the symbol of their strength, even their invincibility [or so they thought] because Yahweh was among them.

* ‘Jerusalem’ was their capital city.

* ‘The mountain of the house’ was the elevated site of their beloved, beautiful, glorious Temple.

BUT all of this would be plowed under by the invading hordes of the Babylonians. The site of their glorious Temple would be turned over to be overgrown by underbrush. What a sad end for what had been such a site of pride, trust, and confidence. [see Psalm 48].

12 / BUT [again] … Yahweh will raise it up again and establish it as a place where He will be worshiped, obeyed, and served. Here is Yahweh’s promise of the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

II / ‘THE MOUNTAIN OF THE HOUSE OF THE LORD’

We need to observe also that this passage here, Micah 4.1-5, is recorded again pretty much verbatim by Micah’s contemporary prophet, Isaiah, in Isaiah 2.1-5. Maybe one of them repeated what the other prophet had preached or written … or maybe Yahweh gave the same prophecy to both of them independently of the other. It really doesn’t matter. Yahweh delivered it to Judah – and to us – through them both because He is going to do this … and he wants us to know He’s going to do it!

It shall come to pass in the latter days…

Yahweh has purposed it, and He will do it! It shall come to pass! It is coming. It will happen. And, of course, it has!

In the latter days…

1 / So when are these ‘latter days’? ‘Latter’ is just another word for ‘later,’ meaning it will come in days after when the promise is being spoken. A lot of confusion arises over the timing of God’s prophecies, and a lot of speculation ensues over trying to put dates or at least ranges of dates on when the ‘latter days’ or ‘last days’ are. See again Hosea 2.16-23 & 3.5.

2 / So let’s put a lot of the speculation to rest by just saying what the Scriptures say: the ‘latter days’ or ‘last days’ are the times that began when Jesus Christ came into our world and appeared among us.

* Hebrews 1.1-2: Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

* Hebrews 9.26: But as it is, he has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself.

* 1 Peter 1.20: He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you

* 1 John 2.18: Children, it is the last hour, and as you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. Therefore we know that it is the last hour.

3 / Now, of course, this is not to say that these current days and times are the very last days there will be … because there are many more later and last days after these that are yet to come. But when the Bible speaks of ‘the latter days’ or ‘the last days,’ it is referring to the days from the appearing of Jesus Christ in our world until the very last consummation of all days and time.

4 / So any time we find ‘latter days’ or ‘last days’ in the Old Testament Scriptures, we can understand it as referring to ‘days later than this one’ [at the time of the writing], or ‘later days yet to come,’ or ‘the very last days of time.’ The Bible writers often compressed ages or years of time into a single perspective or reference just because they couldn’t necessarily see the intervening events that would come to pass between the highlights and high points they were looking at. It would be like looking at a range of mountains with all of the peaks of those mountains lined up straight before your line of vision. It might look like some of the peaks even blend into one another. Or it might look like they are really close together. But if you begin pivoting around them and looking at them more from the sides rather than straight on, you will begin to see valleys and space and distance between them allowing for more events to take place in the meantimes. So it is here.

…that the mountain of the house of the LORD shall be established as the highest of the mountains, and it shall be lifted up above the hills…

1 / So what is Yahweh going to do in these ‘latter days’? NOTE that this is the very same ‘mountain of the house of the LORD’ that had been previously plowed under and overgrown by underbrush because of Yahweh’s judgments against their faithlessness and failures. But NOW in these ‘latter days,’ it has been rebuilt and re-established [see Acts 15.12-17 w/ Amos 9.11-12]. Yahweh has firmly established His permanence, prominence, and preeminence.

2 / How has He done this? He has done this by introducing His Gospel into the world in the Person of Jesus Christ. This ‘mountain of the house of the LORD’ is the Temple in Jerusalem – except that that Temple had been desecrated, desolated, and destroyed. The Temple was where the Glory of Yahweh dwelt in the Holy of Holies. The Temple was where Yahweh dwelled among His people. The Temple was where Yahweh was worshiped and where He revealed Himself. But it had been so violated and prostituted out to the worship of all the false gods that Yahweh had to destroy it.

3 / But now, in Jesus Christ, it has been restored, re-built, re-established, and re-inaugurated.

* Remember how Jesus Himself said that His body was the Temple that would be destroyed and raised in three days! John 2.13-22. He Himself is the dwelling-place of God, and He came and ‘tabernacled’ among us.  

* Moreover, Jesus established His church during His earthly ministry. The Lord’s New Testament local churches are a holy temple in the Lord…a dwelling place for God by the Spirit [Ephesians 3.19-22].

* And the apostle Paul plainly stated that the New Testament church is God’s temple: Do you not know that you [plural] are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple [1 Corinthians 3.16-17].

So God has re-established His Temple in the Person and Body of Christ, both in His physical body and in His spiritual body, the church.

…and peoples shall flow to it, and many nations shall come, and say: ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, that He may teach us His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the LORD from Jerusalem.

What is this – but the Great Commission of Jesus Christ?

And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” [Matthew 28.18-20

He shall judge between many peoples, and shall decide disputes for strong nations far away; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks; nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore;

1 / There is a sense in which we could say that this kind of peace between ‘nations’ is characteristic of healthy churches when they are abiding by the teachings of the Gospel and of Christ our Lord / see Ephesians 3.11-18, for example.

2 / But, it also seems to indicate that this kind of peace between peoples will be universally enjoyed even in a civil and social context – like among real nations of people living in the physical earth at the same time – something, of course, that doesn’t exist is our contemporary world. This universal peace will come only under the immediate and direct sovereign rule of Jesus Christ.

3 / So we have reason to believe that Jesus Christ has established and inaugurated by His Gospel in His churches will yet in the future be realized in a wider, universal earthly context. We may be foggy and uncertain about how, when, and in what order this universal peace will be enjoyed, but as the final fruition and consummation of the proclamation of the Gospel, it shall come to pass in the latter days.

…but they shall sit every man under his vine and under his fig tree, and no one shall make them afraid, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.

1 / Again, this promise is one of universal prosperity and contentment. It would be like the old campaign slogan from generations past: “A car in every garage, and a chicken in every pot.” In other words, everybody will enjoy the contentment of having enough.

2 / You’ll find this expression in 1 Kings 4.25 where it describes the prosperity, safety, security, and contentment that the people of Judah and Israel enjoyed under the early years of Solomon’s reign. Those days had been long gone when Micah wrote this prophecy of the ‘latter days,’ but it surely was something to long for and look forward to when it came!

For all the peoples walk each in the name of its god, but we will walk in the Name of Yahweh our God forever and ever.

1 / It is plain from Micah’s admission here that their present and current condition in Judah was no where near what he had just been promising from Yahweh. NO! at that time, they were all still devotedly following their own preferred false god.

2 / But Micah calls on them – and he calls on us – to return to the LORD with all our hearts. Commit to love Him, obey Him, fear Him, serve Him, and worship Him only!

…UNTIL THAT DAY, WE WILL WALK, WORSHIP, AND WAIT IN HIS NAME!

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The curse of failed leadership

MICAH | Lesson 1 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Micah 3.1-12

My apologies for the brevity of the notes for this lesson. This week has been extraordinarily preoccupied with issues and projects which have given me no extended breaks of time for my attention to be focused on quiet study or recording notes for this lesson. I have studied, read, meditated, and prayed over the text, mostly in small snatches of time … but haven’t had sufficient time or access to my computer to commit any more than these scant notes to writing. We’ll fill it out much more during our lesson time…

INTRODUCTION

1 / “The book of Micah is found in the middle of the Minor Prophets, and in fact it contains the middle verse of the twelve minor prophets: a prophecy of judgment on the holy city of Zion and its temple (3.12). Within the Minor Prophets, Micah is in the middle of a trio of books (Jonah, Micah, Nahum) dealing with the nation of Assyria and with Israel’s and Judah’s relation to this hostile power. Jonah and Nahum deal with the salvation and judgment of Assyria, respectively, while Micah deals mostly with the impending judgment on Judah at the hands of the Assyrians, as well as with the eventual judgment of Assyria itself.” Stephen G. Dempster, Expository Commentary.

2 / Micah. Micah’s name is a short form for the longer name Micaiah, or Michaiah. That name is actually in the form of a question: “Who is like Yahweh [The LORD]?” [Most of the time when you see the ‘ah’ or ‘iah’ ending on a name, it is a reference to God’s personal Name, Yahweh … just like the names ending in ‘el’ refer to the common word for God ‘El.’] Micah himself will make a play on his own name in ch 7.18 when he extols the compassion, grace, and forgiveness of Yahweh by asking the question: ‘Who is a God like you…?’

3 / From Moresheth. Micah identifies himself by where he comes from [not by who his father is…as several other prophets are identified]. He is from Moresheth. This town is located in the foothills of Judah, sometimes called the Shephelah. It is also called Moresheth-Gath in ch 1.14. Moresheth was located about 25 miles SW of Jerusalem on the border of Judah and Philistia, near Gath. This was a rural, agricultural region, so Micah very likely was like Amos in that he came from a rural region, yet found himself thrust into the epicenter of national politics and religion. He probably identifies his hometown because everybody would have known him from his associations with Samaria and Jerusalem – which were the capital cities of the two kingdoms of Israel and Judah.

4 / During the days of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. You will find these same kings of Judah named in Amos and Isaiah – especially Isaiah. Micah and Isaiah were close contemporaries, not only in time, but also in the content of what they wrote. In fact, if you read Micah 4.1-5 and Isaiah 2.1-5, you will find that they are almost the same message verbatim. Which has led people to question and speculate, ‘Who copied whom?’ Really, neither had to necessarily copy the other. If they were prophesying at the same time and delivering much the same messages [Isaiah being the longer and fuller of the two], then why couldn’t and why wouldn’t Yahweh have given the same message to both prophets?

5 / Micah…prophet to Hezekiah. This last king of Judah who is named here is Hezekiah. Micah also delivered warning messages from Yahweh to Hezekiah about the judgments that would come upon them [Jerusalem] if they did not repent and change their ways. Hezekiah listened to Micah’s warnings and moved to institute many of the reforms he enacted during his reign [see Jeremiah 26.16-19]. The specific message that Micah delivered to Hezekiah is quoted from Micah 3.12.

6 / Which he saw concerning Samaria and Jerusalem. Samaria has fallen to the Assyrians by this time. But Yahweh is not done with the Assyrians, either. They will face their own destruction from Yahweh in the years to come. But for now, Yahweh is warning Jerusalem and Judah [the southern kingdom] that they, too, must repent. Judah’s sins are like Samaria’s sins. They too must be judged – and will be. This is the prevailing theme of chapters 1-2.

7 / Here are just a few of their specific sins Yahweh indicts them for:

[1] idolatry, ch 1.7; 5.12-14  

[2] seizure of property, ch 2.2, 9  

[3] the failure of civil leadership, ch 3.1-3, 9-10; 7.3  

[4] the failure of religious leadership, ch 3.11  

[5] the failure of prophetic leadership, ch 3.5-7, 11  

[6] the belief that personal sacrifice satisfies Divine justice, ch 6.6-7  

[7] corrupt business practices and violence, ch 6.10-12.

8 / The word of Yahweh that came to Micah So these messages that Micah will deliver from Yahweh are His evaluations and judgments against them for all their sins and injustices they were committing – both against Yahweh and against each other. HOWEVER, like in Hosea, Amos, and especially Isaiah, along with these messages of certain judgment and destruction, there are also the promises of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration that will be fulfilled ‘in the latter days,’ in days yet to come. These messages of salvation are pointers and prequels to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! We are in those ‘latter days’ and there are more to come!

9 / The messages that Micah delivered from Yahweh can be broken down into three units … each section begins with ‘hear’:

[1] chapters 1-2: “Hear, you peoples, all of you; pay attention, O earth, and all that is in it, and let the Lord GOD be a witness against you, Yahweh from His holy temple…” 

[2] chapters 3-5: “And I said, ‘Hear, you heads of Jacob and rulers of the house of Israel! Is it not for you to know justice? you who hate the good and love the evil…”  

[3] chapters 6-7: “Hear what Yahweh says…Hear, you mountains, the indictment of Yahweh…”

II / Micah, chapter 3: The Curse of Failed Leadership

1 / We will focus our attention for this lesson on chapter 3: The Curse of Failed Leadership. [we will offer background, explanation, and make applications of these verses during our lesson…]

2 / Chapter 3 also will break down into three shorter messages within the larger one:

[1] verses 1-4, Yahweh’s judgments against the ‘rulers,’ that is, the civil authorities

[2] verses 5-7, Yahweh’s judgments against their prophets – their religious leaders;

verse 8 will interject Micah’s own personal testimony concerning how his ministry and message differs from the others … He has received his authority, power, message, and boldness from Yahweh Himself: “But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of Yahweh, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”  

[3] verses 9-12, Yahweh’s judgments against all their ‘heads,’ leadership, rulers, prophets, and including their priests in this section.

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I will love them freely (Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration)

HOSEA | Lesson 4 | Lesson Notes / Talking Points

Read Hosea, chapters 11.12-14.9

INTRODUCTION

  1. Our first lesson, ‘faithless wife-FAITHFUL HUSBAND’ from chapters 1-3 serves to give us a summary of the whole Book of Hosea – it is the ‘short’ story of what will be explained in more detail in the remainder of the Book.
  2. The second lesson, ‘When I would heal Israel…’ from chapters 4-7 begins as Yahweh convenes His court of justice against faithless Israel – He will produce witness after witness and pronounce and publish evidence after evidence of their betrayals of His covenant love toward them. Hosea himself will interject himself into the narrative in chapter 6.1-3 to implore and plead with Israel to “Come, let us return to Yahweh; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.” This is a not so oblique promise and pointer to the Gospel of Christ that will come ‘in the latter days’ that have already been announced in ch 2.16-23 & 3.4-5. [For New Testament references to these words see Luke 24.46 & 1 Corinthians 15.4]
  3. The third lesson was from ch 8.1 – 11.11, ‘How can I give you up, O Ephraim?’ That is the heart-broken cry Yahweh Himself screams out in ch 11.8-9. Yahweh can’t give them up for good, forever, because He has made a covenant of faithfulness to Israel … and He must keep His word. But, He will give them up for that moment in time … He must – He will send them off into exile into Assyria in just a very few short years from the time Hosea is delivering His warnings. But again remember the promises He has made in ch 2.16-23 and 3.4-5. Israel will once again be ‘betrothed’ and married to Yahweh in faithfulness. That Gospel promise is reiterated in Hosea’s own personal plea to his fellow countrymen to “Come, let us return to Yahweh…” Lesson 3 ended in ch 11.11 with Yahweh promising “and I will return them to their homes, declares Yahweh.”
  4. Once again in Lesson 3 [as all throughout this Book], we see that the ONLY way these promises can be fulfilled and delivered is through Jesus Christ and His Gospel. We see how ch 11.1 points to Christ and His fulfillment of this historic picture. Matthew quotes this verse in Matthew 2.15. Yahweh called Israel ‘my firstborn son’ [Exodus 4.22-23]. Where national Israel failed and proved to be a faithless ‘son’ from the get-go, Jesus Christ came as a faithful Son of God and the True Israel. “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our ‘Amen’ to God for His glory.” / 2 Corinthians 1.20
  5. So now we come to the concluding lesson of this survey/summary series on the Book of Hosea. This fourth lesson is titled ‘I will love them freely’ from ch 14.4. This is what Yahweh promises to do ‘in that day’(see ch 2.16-23) that was yet to come in Hosea’s day.
    1. However, in our day, that day is HERE … that day is NOW! See 1 Peter 2.9-10 & Romans 9.22-26.
    1. What Yahweh promises Israel [and us] is fullness of Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration! ‘That day’ has come! Israel’s faithlessness has been healed! Yahweh has loved Israel freely [by His Grace] and has included us! His anger against their sin has been expended, exhausted, satisfied.
    1. And it has come IN CHRIST! Jesus Christ is the ONLY Israel who could – and who did – please the Father by His faithful love, obedience, and service. Jesus Christ is the ONLY Israel who could – and who did – receive upon Himself the full measure of Yahweh’s wrath against OUR sin and pay the price in full that OUR sin and faithlessness deserved. He did this on His Cross when He died in our place, as our Substitute.
    1. When Jesus Christ died on His Cross, He was punished in our place. Read what Hosea’s contemporary prophet Isaiah wrote prophetically about Yahweh’s Suffering Servant in Isaiah 53. So when Yahweh’s anger has been poured out Christ – His Holiness has been vindicated, His Justice has been executed, His Righteousness has been demonstrated – then He can forgive and return His wayward human Israel back to Himself in Redemption, Reconciliation, Restoration. See 1 Peter 2.24-25.

I / MICROCOSM OF THE MACROCOSM

  1. I have introduced this principle of interpreting the Bible before, but I want to bring it up again here as we conclude the Book of Hosea. This principle – the microcosm of the macrocosm – will help you to understand the message, not only of the Book of Hosea, but also of the entire Old Testament, and especially as it relates to God’s purposes in Christ and His Gospel.
  2. To begin with, we need to be sure we understand what ‘microcosm’ and ‘macrocosm’ mean. ‘Micro,’ of course, means small, tiny, miniature. ‘Macro’ means ‘large, big.’ ‘Cosm’ is short for ‘cosmos’ which means ‘the orderly arrangement of a thing.’ So when we speak of the world, we call it the ‘cosmos.’ It is the orderly arrangement of the created world. Same thing for when we use the words ‘cosmetic’ or ‘cosmetology’ or ‘cosmology.’ We’re just talking about the orderly arrangements of those things we’re talking about.
  3. So when we say something is a ‘microcosm,’ we mean that it is a miniature or small-scale representation of something that is much larger than it. The ‘macrocosm’ is the larger full-scale reality of the representative ‘microcosm.’ Think of a snow globe. You hold it in your hand and look into it. It is a microcosm of the macrocosm it represents. You can have a village in the snow globe, or a landscape, or a city skyline. It is a true representation, but it is in miniature. The macrocosm will be the real larger, full-scale object. Or I’m looking here in my study at a world globe. It is a miniature representation of the surface of the earth and all the seas and countries, etc. But it is only a microcosm of the real-world macrocosm.
  4. So this is how we need to look at and read and understand the Book of Hosea. In chapters 1-3, Yahweh tells Hosea to go marry a wife who will prove to be unfaithful to him and become a promiscuous adulteress. Hosea’s own marriage and home life becomes a microcosm of the larger macrocosm: Israel’s faithlessness toward Yahweh who had ‘married’ her and been a faithful Husband to her in every sense of the word. So Hosea’s personal experience became the microcosm of the macrocosm of Israel’s historical national conduct toward Yahweh.
  5. But we can make another application – which is just as true as this immediate application in the Book of Hosea. We can also understand that Israel’s faithlessness toward Yahweh is a microcosm of mankind’s faithlessness toward Yahweh, our Creator. In fact, Hosea may be alluding to that very macrocosm in chapter 6.7: “But like Adam they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt faithlessly with me.” In other words, Israel’s faithlessness toward Yahweh was only the microcosm of the macrocosm of the whole human race’s faithlessness toward Him. Yahweh created Adam and established a covenant with him. Yahweh would love him, bless him, dwell with him, provide for him, care for him, and commit to be faithful to his every need and desire. All Adam must do is love Yahweh in return, obey Him, faithfully serve Him, fulfill His desires and pleasure in every activity of his life. But Adam transgressed the covenant, disobeyed, and rebelled against Yahweh. And every single one of us in the human race since Adam’s disobedience has been born into this human life and world as a rebel against God.
  6. God has been wooing us back ever since Eden with His promises of Redemption, Reconciliation, and Restoration – all throughout the Old Testament and finally fulfilled in Christ! / Galatians 4.4-7.
  7. So THIS is what we are looking for – and wanting to see and understand – as we study this Book of Hosea – what does this Book say about God’s promises to send Christ into the world to redeem us, reconcile us unto Himself, and restore us to His grace and favor?  

II / HOW THE MESSAGE OF HOSEA IS A MICROCOSM OF THE MACROCOSM OF THE GOSPEL OF JESUS CHRIST … AND INCLUDES US!

We have already noted several instances in the messages of Hosea where the promises that Yahweh makes to faithless Israel are realized and fulfilled in the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

  1. Hosea 2.16-23 … especially verse 23 / “And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”
    1. You’ll find a specific, word for word reference to this promise in 1 Peter 2.9-10. Peter is referring to us believers here in the New Testament ‘latter days’ who are believers in Jesus Christ. Through faith in Christ, we have been constituted into the True Israel [‘favored by God’]. We have been granted all the blessings, privileges, and identity of those who are the people of God. Yes, even we who are Gentiles! That’s the whole point Peter is making. THIS is who we are now as opposed to who we used to be – this is how we are now identified as opposed to how we used to be identified … and Peter quotes Hosea here to prove that WE are now the fulfillment of the covenant promise Yahweh made in Hosea 2: But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. Do you see that? Yes – Yahweh made and fulfilled this same promise to those faithful believers who were in the faithless nation of Israel at that time – but they served only as the microcosm of what He would do ‘in the latter days’ through Christ and His Gospel and those who would believe in Him! That’s us!
    1. Paul even quotes Hosea by name in Romans 9.19-26. The larger discussion is about whether God is sovereign to do with any person or people as He pleases to fulfill His purposes of showing grace in salvation. God is the Potter who has absolute sovereignty and control over the clay creations He makes – that’s us. If He wants to make one human being serve His sovereign purpose for displaying His Holiness and power through His wrath against their sin…He can. He has that sovereign authority, right, prerogative. Or if He wants to make a clay human being to serve His purpose of displaying His sovereign grace and mercy in choosing and saving them…He can. That is His sovereign authority, right, prerogative. And this is exactly what He has done when He executed His wrath against faithless Israel for all their betrayals, disobedience, rebellion, covenant-breaking [see all the warnings Yahweh issued against Israel in the Book of Hosea…and they were fulfilled by the Assyrian invasion and exile]. And yet, even in that display of His wrath and justice, He has also reached out into the Gentile world and saved those whom He has prepared beforehand for glory – even us whom He has called, not from the Jews only but also from the Gentiles? As indeed He says in Hosea, “Those who were not my people I will call ‘my people,’ and her who was not beloved I will call ‘beloved.’” 26 “And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’” Do you see how Israel in Hosea’s day served as a microcosm for how Yahweh would reach out to the Gentile world and save those whom He would and who would believe – through faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel?! We are that macrocosm!
  2. Hosea 6.1-3 / Here is another Gospel promise in the Book of Hosea that has been fulfilled in full-scale macrocosm here ‘in the latter days’ by the Gospel. Notice especially verse 2: “After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.” Those of us who are on this side of the Cross and Jesus resurrection see clear references here to that Gospel event by which we have been saved. It is true that this Hosea reference isn’t named specifically in the New Testament, there are certain statements Jesus and Paul made that would make it very likely they are referring to this promise.
    1. For example, Jesus said in Luke 24.45-46, “Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead…’” But there is no other specific Scripture that is written that Christ should ‘on the third day rise again from the dead’ except for Hosea 6.2. Plenty of Scriptures about Christ suffering and dying … but not rise from death on the third day.
    1. Or Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.3-4: “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures…” Again, the only ‘in accordance with the Scriptures’ that Christ would be raised ‘on the third day’ is here in Hosea 6.2. Hosea was speaking in microcosm about the raising from the dead and the return of the remnant from the exile into which Yahweh was sending them…after a few days. But he was prophesying in macrocosm of the Gospel days in which we now live – and the raising of Christ from the dead on the third day!
  3. Hosea 13.14 / Here is another promise we all will recognize. And again, the New Testament quotation of this Hosea Scripture is in 1 Corinthians 15 – which certainly leads us to believe that Paul has Hosea on his mind as he writes this chapter [see the previous paragraph…]. The Hosea quote from Yahweh can actually be read two different ways: [1] Positive promise of assurance, “I shall ransom them…” or [2] as a question that demands a negative answer, “Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from Death?” Because in the immediate microcosm context, Yahweh would NOT save, deliver, prevent them from the coming invasion and destruction of the Assyrians against them. “Compassion is hidden from my eyes.” HOWEVER, ‘in the latter days’ of Christ and the Gospel, HE DOES! This is the promise that the apostle Paul exults in when he quotes Hosea in 1 Corinthians 15.54-57. Here again, the microcosm of Hosea’s day serves to illustrate just how glorious will be the macrocosm of the Gospel – and not just the days today, but the days of eternity forever when sin, death, the grave, and hell itself will be conquered through the Cross of Jesus Christ and His resurrection! And all because Jesus died for us in our place and bore the wrath of God against the sins we had committed. And when we believe in Him and trust in Him for our deliverance from the wrath of God against our sins, “on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him!” This is both the eternal life we now enjoy through the new birth … and the fullness of eternal life we will enjoy in His Presence after the Day of the Resurrection at His Second Coming and Kingdom!

III / YAHWEH’S CALL TO YOU … PERSONALLY!

Hosea 14.1-3 / So now we finally come to the conclusion of the Book of Hosea and this final lesson. So may I charge you with the same call and invitation Yahweh gave to the microcosm of Hosea’s day – and the same invitation is for us in the macrocosm of these ‘latter days’!

  1. REPENT OF YOUR SINS / Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.
  2. BELIEVE ON THE LORD JESUS CHRIST / Take with you words and return to the LORD; say to Him, ‘Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips.’ The ‘words’ we must confess are “Christ died for me!”
  3. RENOUNCE ANY OTHER HOPE YOU HAVE TO SAVE YOU / Assyria will not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands.
  4. REJOICE IN HIS PROMISE OF GRACE AND MERCY / In you the orphan finds mercy.
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“How can I give you up, O Ephraim?”

HOSEA | Lesson 3 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Hosea, chapters 8.1 – 11.11

INTRODUCTION

  1. Our first lesson, ‘faithless wife-FAITHFUL HUSBAND’ from chapters 1-3 serves to give us a summary of the whole Book of Hosea – it is the ‘short’ story of what will be explained in more detail in the remainder of the Book.
  2. The second lesson, ‘When I would heal Israel…’ from chapters 4-7 begins as Yahweh convenes His court of justice against faithless Israel – He will produce witness after witness and pronounce and publish evidence after evidence of their betrayals of His covenant love toward them. Hosea himself will interject himself into the narrative in chapter 6.1-3 to implore and plead with Israel to “Come, let us return to Yahweh; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him.” This is a not so oblique promise and pointer to the Gospel of Christ that will come ‘in the latter days’ that have already been announced in ch 2.16-23 & 3.4-5. [For New Testament references to these words see Luke 24.46 & 1 Corinthians 15.4]
  3. Now we come to this rather lengthy section in ch 8.1 – 11.11. I have titled this section ‘How can I give you up, O Ephraim?’ because that is the heart-broken cry Yahweh Himself screams out in ch 11.8-9. Yahweh can’t give them up for good, forever, because He has made a covenant of faithfulness to Israel … and He must keep His word. But, He will give them up for that moment in time … He must – He will send them off into exile into Assyria in just a very few short years from the time Hosea is delivering His warnings. But again remember the promises He has made in ch 2.16-23 and 3.4-5. Israel will once again be ‘betrothed’ and married to Yahweh in faithfulness. This lesson section will end in ch 11.11 with Yahweh promising “and I will return them to their homes, declares Yahweh.”
  4. Once again, we shall see that the ONLY way these promises can be fulfilled and delivered is through Jesus Christ and His Gospel. We’ll see how ch 11.1 points to Christ and His fulfillment of this historic picture. Matthew quotes this verse in Matthew 2.15. Where national Israel failed and proved to be a faithless ‘son’ from the get-go, Jesus Christ came as a faithful Son of God and the True Israel. “For all the promises of God find their ‘Yes’ in Him. That is why it is through Him that we utter our ‘Amen’ to God for His glory.” / 2 Corinthians 1.20  

I / ch 8.1-14 / YAHWEH CONTINUES TO SOUND THE ALARM FOR THEIR COMING DESTRUCTION & ENUMERATE THEIR TRANSGRESSIONS – ESPECIALLY THEIR IDOLATRIES

  1. vv 1-3 / Once again the trumpet alarm is blown [see also 5.18] to announce Yahweh’s coming destructions upon them – Yahweh even compares Himself to a devouring vulture. The reason is ‘because they have transgressed my covenant and rebelled against my law.’ They pretend and feign their worship of Yahweh: “To me they cry, ‘My God, we-Israel-know you.’” But in their hearts and in their conduct, they have spurned and rejected Yahweh – the only Good they have. Their enemies shall pursue and destroy them
  2. vv 4-6 / The whole political and religious structure and culture in Israel was established in rebellion against Yahweh [see 1 Kings 12.25-33] – their kings and especially the golden calves Jeroboam I set up in Bethel and Dan to be their ‘gods.’ Just as they have ‘spurned’ Yahweh [v 3], He will ‘spurn’ them [v 5]. Yahweh will destroy everything they have made in rebellion against Him.
  3. vv 7-10 / “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Here’s where that saying comes from. You commit what you may think is a small, benign misdemeanor act – and it grows and explodes like an atomic blast mushroom. Not only are their spiritual adulteries against Yahweh committed internally in their idolatrous religious practices, but also internationally – in their political alliances with other nations to protect them from yet other nations and kingdoms who are threatening them. They are even going to Assyria for protection … and Assyria will destroy them and carry them off into exile in only 25-30 years from this time! Yahweh Himself had covenanted and promised to be their Invincible Protector – but they have spurned Him to ally themselves with His and their enemies!
  4. vv 11-14 / Yahweh now returns again to His grievances against their idolatrous, adulterous golden calf ‘gods’ [as in vv 4-6] … the very proliferation of their outward religious altars and services have multiplied also their transgressions against Yahweh and their guilt.

II / ch 9.1-17 / YAHWEH CONTINUES TO DESCRIBE THEIR FAITHLESS REJECTIONS OF HIM & HIS PROPHETS – AND THE DISASTROUS CONSEQUENCES OF HIS REJECTING THEM FROM BEING HIS PEOPLE

  1. vv 1-6 / Much of their worship activities and services offered to their golden calves and to the Baals were in the form of grain, wine, and food offerings. These were not only given to the ‘gods’ and to the priests who served their ‘gods,’ but also consumed in sexual acts and ceremonies as part of their ‘worship’ [v 1]. See how this played in ch 2.5-9.  For the second time in six verses [ch 8.13; 9.4], Yahweh declares that their adulterous worship services do not please Him and He will not accept them. He is going to turn them over to the Assyrians, and they shall mourn there. [NOTE: Egypt is often named when Assyria is meant – this is because their former bondage, captivity, slavery, and exile in Egypt {from which Yahweh had already redeemed them} serves as an illustration or motif of their coming exile in Assyria. [see vv 3, 6]]
  2. vv 7-14 / Yahweh pronounces very specific accusations and charges against Israel to show what disdain they have expressed toward Him and His prophets – whom He has sent to warn them and save them from the coming judgments! Compare ch 9.7 here with ch 8.12. Take care how you respect God’s Word and those who faithfully preach and teach it to you!
  3. NOTE: there are also two specific historical allusions Yahweh brings up here to show them how deeply, egregiously, and heinously into sin they have gone. ch 9.9, ‘as in the days of Gibeah’ [see Judges 19]; and ch 9.10, ‘Baal-peor’ [see Numbers 25.1-5]. Similar punishments will come upon them: “Woe to them when I depart from them!” / v 12.
  4. vv 15-17 / Yahweh pinpoints their centers of adulterous, idolatrous worship and all that went on there [e.g., Gilgal], and reiterates His verdict and sentence of His Holiness and justice: ‘there I began to hate them,’ ‘I will love them no more,’ ‘My God will reject them because they have not listened to Him; they shall be as wanderers among the nations’ / vv 15, 17.

III / ch 10.1-15 / YAHWEH PRONOUNCES HIS JUDGMENTS ON ISRAEL & UPON THEIR CENTERS AND OBJECTS OF THEIR ADULTEROUS WORSHIP – LIKENING THEM TO PAST HISTORIES OF THEIR DEBAUCHERIES

  1. vv 1-8 / This sounds very much like what Yahweh complains about in chapter 8: they have set up their kings, their idolatrous ‘calves’ and altars, with all their ceremonies and services … ALL as acts of rejection of Him as their covenant God and their intentional, insistent rebellion against Him. Vv 5-6, Yahweh will have all their ‘gods’ carried off into exile with them … and the calamities that will befall them in that day will be so dreadful, “…they shall say to the mountains, ‘Cover us,’ and to the hills, ‘Fall on us.’” You will recognize this plea for suicidal deliverance from their tribulations as it is repeated again in Revelation 6.16 – to be uttered again by those who are alive and remaining when the ‘wrath of the Lamb’ is unleashed upon the unbelieving world at Christ’s Second Coming.
  2. vv 9-15 / Again, Yahweh reprises His mention of Gibeah [see ch 9.9] … to remind and emphasize to Israel that their corruption, adulterous conduct and behavior, and even their perverse moral debaucheries are all just part of their national and cultural DNA. What occurred in Gibeah [see Judges 19] happened hundreds of years before during the days of the Judges. Israel’s ‘national pastime’ was this same sort of abhorrent debauchery. It had been ingrained and institutionalized into their national culture and identity. Yahweh must discipline them! [v 10].
  3. BUT, Yahweh calls upon them to ‘break up your fallow ground’ [v 12] of their hard hearts and their history of rebellion and faithlessness against Him. “Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap steadfast love; break up your fallow ground, for it is the time to seek the LORD, that He may come and rain righteousness upon you” / v 12.  

IV / ch 11.1-11 / YAHWEH SPEAKS TO ISRAEL FROM THE WRENCHED HEART OF A GRIEVED FATHER WHOSE LOVE & TENDER MERCIES HAVE BEEN BETRAYED

  1. This whole chapter is Yahweh’s impassioned pleadings with Israel to love Him in return as He has loved them and return to Him … and spare Him from having to discipline them as He must if they do not return to Him. I can do no better than quote George M. Schwab, Sr. from Expository Commentary [who himself also quotes others…] “This material ‘is as tender as any in the Bible’ – its intimacy is almost maternal. ‘Hosea 11.1-11 gives as clear and personal [a] picture into the heart of God as any illustration in all of Scripture.’ God loved Ephraim, adopted him, taught him to walk, held him in His arms, healed him, bound Himself to him with ‘cords of kindness,’ bent down to feed him (vv 1-4). One could not ask for a more attentive parent. He really loved His boy.”
  2. vv 1-4 / When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” What Yahweh is describing here is His own ‘covenant reminiscing’ of the days when He went down to Egypt to deliver them from their bondage there. Yahweh calls Israel ‘my son’ because that’s what He called them in Exodus 4.22: “Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says Yahweh, Israel is my firstborn son, and I say to you, Let my son go that he may serve me.’” You really need to go back and read Yahweh’s personal testimony to Moses in Exodus 3.7-10. “I have surely seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters. I know their sufferings, and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey…” Yahweh did all that!
  3. Now, it’s almost like Yahweh is flipping through a photo/memory album containing pictures of how He loved and took care of Israel during their ‘toddler/preschool’ years: teaching them to walk, instructing them and training them, discovering Himself to them, nurturing, cuddling, and caring for them.
  4. And then this jarring response from Israel to all of Yahweh’s tender and compassionate covenant loveVerse 2: The more they were called, the more they went away; they kept sacrificing to the Baals and burning offerings to idols. And this was not just a ‘one-off’ event or season: their consistent, repeated, recurring response to Yahweh was to spurn His love and turn instead to love and follow after Baals and other false gods. “God is describing the past fully; He is not romanticizing it. From the beginning, Israel was not content with Him. Their original sin was that in their hearts they never left Egypt. They did not realize who had ‘healed’ them. All of Yahweh’s gifts (including redemption), all of His provisions, all of His providential care and pledged love had never moved them to want Him.” [George M. Schwab, Sr.]  
  5. vv 5-7 / So v 1 declares [referring to the Exodus event] “…out of Egypt I called My son.” Now in v 5, they will not return to Egypt, but they will go to Assyria which will be like it was in Egypt … only much worse. NOTE: the repeated play on the word ‘return/turn/turning.’ It’s used often throughout Hosea. They shall not ‘return’ to Egypt, but they shall ‘return’ to Egypt-like Assyria. Because they refused to ‘return’ to Yahweh. Israel was bent [addicted] on ‘turning’ away from Yahweh.
  6. vv 8-11 / In these verses Yahweh begins to almost wail in pain – from the contortions into which His heart has been wrenched. He must do what His Holiness, justice, and righteousness compels Him to do. His covenant contains both blessings for obedience and curses for disobedience. He must keep His words on both counts. But “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I hand you over, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim?” Admah and Zeboiim were companion cities with Sodom and Gomorrah and suffered the same destruction that Yahweh overthrew them with [Genesis 14.2]. In fact, this word Yahweh uses to describe the angst of His own heart ‘recoils within me’ is the same word for ‘overthrown’ in Genesis 19.25 which Yahweh executed against Sodom and Gomorrah.
  7. He must do what He must do in this moment – but this will not the last word or the last act by any means! He will not utterly destroy Ephraim ‘for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath’ / vv 8-9. In other words, His wrath will be measured out – only as much as is required to serve the immediate disciplinary purpose. Yahweh is both a God of strong emotions and a God who will not be ruled by them.
  8. vv 10-11 / At the end of His dealings with Israel, “His children will come trembling from the west; they shall come trembling like birds from Egypt, and like doves from the land of Assyria, and I will return them to their homes, declares Yahweh.” And isn’t this the same promise Yahweh makes back in ch 3.4-5: “For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek YAHWEH their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to YAHWEH and to His goodness in the latter days.”
  9. So all of this begs the question: How will Yahweh ‘bring them back to their homes’ as He promises here? Hosea points to a yet future ‘in that day’ all throughout his messages here. We now know that ‘in that day’ is the Day of Jesus Christ and His Gospel. It is this ‘day’ – it is ‘today’! Hosea had no way of knowing the fullness of his prophetic promise when he quoted Yahweh in Hosea 11.1: “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My Son.” When Yahweh called Israel His ‘son’ in the Exodus … and when He called His son, Israel, out of Egypt in the Exodus –that was a pre-enactment for when He would call His Son, Jesus Christ, out of Egypt to come back to Nazareth and assume the earthly role of Yahweh’s Israel and as our Savior. Jesus Christ Himself is the new Israel – the only Israel who can be fully faithful to fulfill all the conditions, provisions, promises, and blessings of the covenant. And when we are in Christ by faith, we, too, are made to be citizens of the new Israel and people of God in Him.
  10. “Many years later, Jesus would be taken as a young child down to Egypt in order to escape the murderous intentions of King Herod. After relating how Herod died and the Lord told the parents of Jesus to come home, it is this very verse that Matthew quotes and applies to Jesus: ‘Out of Egypt I called My Son’ (Matthew 2.15). This is not because Matthew is unaware that the verse is speaking of the nation of Israel; it is because he wants his readers to see that Jesus is the new Israel, the One who will finally fulfill Israel’s task, the One in whom the promises made to Israel – that through them the Lord would bless the nations – will fully come to pass.” George M. Schwab, Sr.  

“…for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith. For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise … And as for all who walk by this rule, peace and mercy be upon them, and upon the Israel of God.” / Galatians 3.26-29 & 6.16

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When I would heal Israel…

Hosea | Lesson 2 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Hosea, chapters 4-7

INTRODUCTION

  1. Our first lesson, ‘faithless wife-FAITHFUL HUSBAND’ from chapters 1-3 serves to give us a summary of the whole Book of Hosea – it is the ‘short’ story of what will be explained in more detail in the remainder of the Book. In that three-chapter narrative, we will find both [1] the human experience of Hosea as Yahweh calls and commissions him to marry Gomer, a wife who would prove to be unfaithful to him and promiscuous with other illicit ‘lovers,’ … and also [2] the Divine parallel experience in that Israel has done and is doing exactly the same thing toward Yahweh. You might say that chapters 4-14 are Yahweh’s commentary on chapters 1-3.
  2. However, there are also the dual themes of retribution/restoration, punishment/promise, ‘tough love’ discipline/covenant mercy wooing that are woven together throughout Yahweh’s messages delivered through Hosea. After He has executed His just separation from Israel because of their blatant, promiscuous unfaithfulness, He will return to them ‘in the latter days’ [ch 3.5]. His covenant promise is: “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know Yahweh” [ch 2.19-20]. Just as Hosea did Gomer [ch 3].
  3. This is the promise of Christ! The only way God can demonstrate both His justice against our sin and His mercy toward us sinners is by executing His wrath against Christ who will bear our sins and the punishments they deserve upon Himself … so He can then give to us the promise of His mercy through our Substitute! The Book of Hosea is Yahweh’s promise of the Gospel of Christ who will come – and has come – ‘in that day’ when He says “And I will make for them a covenant…” [ch 2.16 & 18]. Only Christ can satisfy these conditions and fulfill the faithfulness this covenant demands!
  4. Now, this next section we will deal with in this lesson [chs 4-7] is a lengthy section for us to even attempt to cover in one lesson. So I will be able to only outline it for us, point out the transitions and show the connections in His flow of thought, give the ‘logic’ of each sub-section in Yahweh’s progressive messages, and give as much detail during the lesson as we need to understand the meaning of the words.

ch 4.1-19 / Yahweh convenes His court of sovereign Justice and begins to present His case against faithless, adulterous Israel

  1. vv 1-3 / INDICTMENT: The indictment against ‘the land’ as a whole – the nation. “The opening verses of Hosea are like a court summons … Hosea started in the maternity ward with the naming of his children in chapter 1. The we moved to the wilderness and the lovers’ tryst [ch 2]. Then to the slave market as Hosea buys back Gomer [ch 3]. Now we come to the law court” [Tim Chester]. ‘Hear the word of Yahweh, O children of Israel’ is not only prophetic language, but legal also. Like our familiar ‘Hear ye, hear ye…’ Also the word ‘controversy’ means complaint, accusation, or indictment. That is what this is. It is also related to the word for ‘plead’ in ch 2.2. The indictments are summarized in three charges: [1] no faithfulness [remember the marriage motif]; [2] no steadfast love; [3] no knowledge of God in the land, that is no acknowledgement of Yahweh as their God, no intimate ‘knowing’ Yahweh in their affections, loyalties, faithfulness, or conduct. NOTE: these three themes will come up again and again throughout the Book. Make a mental note of them and watch as they are woven into all the messages to follow.  v 2 / Evidences are presented to support the indictment: nothing but the violation and breaking of all of the Ten Commandments. Look for them and identify them. Examples of these transgressions will be repeated in detail and presented as numerous examples of Yahweh’s evidences against them throughout this Book.
  2. vv 4-9 / The indictments against the priests especially and also the prophets included: their spiritual leaders had failed to teach and lead the people to ‘know’ Yahweh their God and Husband.  Verse 9 will transition Yahweh’s indictments now against ‘My people’ / v 12 who had all too willingly embraced and become like their unfaithful spiritual ‘leaders.’
  3. vv 10-19 / The numerous indictments against the promiscuous populace: My people / v 12. The sins they had willingly participated in following the ‘leadership’ and examples of their ‘leaders’: And it shall be like people, like priest / v 9. NOTE: v 16: here is the first of a numerous series of similes and metaphors Yahweh will employ to illustrate Israel’s faithlessness against Him. These illustrations will show Israel who they are by comparing them to likenesses they will readily recognize: ch 4.16; 6.4; 7.4, 7, 8, 11, 16. These indictments are all wrapped up in v 17: Ephraim is joined [wedded, married to; in illicit, promiscuous, adulterous, idolatrous union with] idols; leave him alone.

ch 5.1-7 / VERDICT: Following His indictments against their adulterous acts of faithlessness toward Him, Yahweh now proceeds to pronounce His verdict of judgment against them

  1. v 1 / Again, we are summoned to ‘Hear this, O priests! Pay attention, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For the judgment is for you…’ This ‘judgment’ is Yahweh’s verdict that He is handing down against them. The priests and king [along with his ‘house’ or dynasty] are specifically addressed because they have been the ‘leaders’ in all of Israel’s faithless apostacy against Yahweh / v 7
  2. vv 2-7 / Obviously, the people have followed their ‘leadership’ so they will suffer the consequences of Yahweh’s verdict against Ephraim/Israel. [Ephraim is another synonymous name for Israel since Ephraim was one of the largest tribes in the northern kingdom.] And what is Yahweh’s verdict? “He has withdrawn from them” / v 6. He will withdraw His protections and defenses of the nation. He will turn them over to their enemies, particularly the Assyrians.

ch 5.8-15 / SENTENCE: Yahweh Himself will execute His sentence against them through the agency of their enemies according to the just punishments of His verdict against them

  1. vv 8-9 / “Blow the horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah. Sound the alarm at Beth-aven [Bethel]…” These are like air-raid sirens going off. Now the scene shifts from the court room to the battle field. Yahweh will turn them over to their enemies to be destroyed, become a desolation, crushed in judgment / vv 9, 11.
  2. vv 10-14 / What follows in these verses is a series of destructive judgments that Yahweh says He Himself will execute. He will come against them like: a flood of water, v 10; a devouring moth, v 12; a corrosive dry rot, v 12; festering wound, v 13; vicious lion, v 14.
  3. v 15 / Again, He reiterates His threat to withdraw His protection and defenses from them … but only for the purpose of bringing them to the end of themselves and cause them to see their need of Him, confess and repent of their sins, acknowledge their guilt, and seek Him earnestly, sincerely, and faithfulness. see Romans 2.4  

ch 6.1-3 / YAHWEH THE HEALER: Hosea interrupts his proclamations of judgments from Yahweh … to make an impassioned plea of his own: “Come, let us return to Yahweh…”

  1. This has to be a pivotal point in the Book. This is the message that Yahweh is delivering to Israel throughout all this Book. If they will only return to Him, be faithful to Him, and fulfill the covenant ‘marriage’ vows they have made to Yahweh, He will mercifully and graciously forgive them and save them. He will gladly have them back. But they have not listened to Yahweh, and they are not listening now. So Hosea takes it upon himself to make his own plea for Yahweh.
  2. v 1 / Connect ch 5.14, “I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one will rescue” with this promise: “for He has torn us, that He may heal us” / see ch 5.15. Israel has been appealing to even their neighboring enemy kingdoms to protect them from whichever other one of them may have been threatening them at the moment / see ch 5.13. But Yahweh still appeals to them, and stands ready and willing, to heal them and bind up all their wounds. But Israel still will not acknowledge Yahweh as their God.
  3. There has to be a prophetic reference here to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Hosea is speaking and writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, ‘the Spirit of Christ’ who is in him / see 1 Peter 1.10-12. He is writing in his present moment and context expressing what he knows about the heart, desire, purposes, and character of Yahweh. But Hosea does not know the gracious fulfillment of all these prophecies and promises that will come to fruition in Jesus Christ and His Gospel. He just knows Yahweh will … because He has promised. All of this prospective salvation will be revealed, delivered, and fulfilled by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ who will come 750 years later!  

ch 6.4-11 / ‘PLEASE HEAR MY HEART’: Yahweh takes up again with the pleas of His own heart for His covenant people

  1. vv 4-6 / ‘What am I supposed to do with you? How else can I respond to your gross, blatant, heartless, and incessant faithlessness toward Me? I will do what I have to do … though it tears at My heart to have to do it!’ NOTE: here [v 4] is another one of those numerous similes Yahweh employs to try to get them to look at themselves and how they have betrayed Him and been unfaithful to love Him in return for all His love for them. “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”
  2. But we can’t move on from this plea without recognizing that we, too, are included among those who must examine our own hearts and be sure we are responding to Yahweh as He desires. Jesus also quoted this Scripture to expose, convict, and warn the hypocritical and heartless Pharisees that their empty religious rituals would not satisfy the heart of God / see Matthew 9.10-13 & 12.7.
  3. v 7 / In truth, Israel’s history of faithlessness against God and their transgressions of His covenant is the history of the whole human race. This is not just Israel’s national and provincial story – it is the story of us all!   

ch 7.1-16 / UNREQUITED LOVE: Yahweh continues with the pleas of His own heart … ‘I would have healed you, but you would not be healed’

  1. v 1 / “When I would heal Israel…” I have chosen this statement as the title of this lesson because THIS is what Yahweh desired to do. THIS is the sole purpose of all His stern warning, harsh indictments, and threatening verdicts that He has handed down. THIS is my continuing overture of love and mercy to you: “When I would heal Israel…” So how did Israel respond even to His very Face as He is pleading with them? When He comes to heal them, THIS is what He finds them doing…
  2. vv 2-7 / NOTE: another one of the several similes, the overheated oven: vv 4, 6, 7. But the heat with which they are overheated and burn is not the heat of passion to see Yahweh and return to Him … it is not the heat of repentance and remorse over their sins … it is not the heat of shame and disgrace they should have burned with over their sins. NO! The heat with which they burn is the heat of lustful adulteries, passion for unbridled debauchery of all kinds, and the heat of violence and bloodshed. Violent crime was rife in Israel. In fact, here in the northern kingdom Israel, at least three of their latter kings were assassinated by political rivals. This kind of unrestrained violence was the norm of their day.
  3. vv 8-13 / NOTE: two more similes to describe Israel’s faithlessness: ‘unturned cake’ and ‘silly dove.’ This time, it is their alliances with foreign nations, running to them, trusting them and depending on them to defend them from the other enemies who may be threatening them / vv 8, 11. “Yet they do not return to Yahweh their God, nor seek Him, for all this” / v 10. “I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me” / v 13.
  4. vv 14-17 / NOTE: another simile to describe their faithlessness: ‘treacherous bow.’ Their prayers are likened to the shooting of arrows from a bow. They were praying / see v 14. But their prayers were not from their hearts. All they wanted Yahweh to do was to give them relief and deliverance from their troubles. Yahweh Himself had been their strength and protection in all their past / Psalm 144.1-2; 18.34. But what did they do with the bow and the arrows Yahweh had provided for them and trained them to use against their enemies? They turned it back on Him! / vv 15-16.
  5. Sadly, there is more of the sad same to come. Our next lesson will open with another trumpet call to battle – Yahweh’s war against them. But He will ultimately triumph even over all their adulterous faithlessness – and ours – by the promise of salvation which He will send to us in His Son, Jesus Christ! Stay tuned…   

I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned from them [Hosea 14.4] … after it will be exhausted upon Christ on His Cross!

Hosea 6.1-4: “Come, let us return to the LORD; for He has torn us, that He may heal us; He has struck us down, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live before Him. Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.”

But how can God be both the tearer and the healer? How can God tear up and at the same time heal those who turn to Him? How can He strike us down and at the same time bind up His people?

            The answer is the cross of Jesus. There at the cross God tore us apart. Yet not us, but the One who stood in our place – Jesus, the representative of God’s people. Jesus was torn that we might be healed. Jesus was struck down that we might be raised up. Jesus died the death we deserve so that we might live in God’s presence.

            …Hosea believed that somehow God would restore His people. A day would come when God’s people would be judged by God. They would be torn apart, destroyed, carried off with no one to rescue them. But God is true to His gracious promises and God is true to His gracious character. And so Hosea believed that somehow God would destroy His people – and then revive them. They would be wiped off the map and wiped out of history. But God would revive them and restore them.

            Seven hundred and fifty years or so later, Jesus was arrested and His disciples scattered (Matthew 26.31, 56). There was only one faithful member of the people of God – Jesus. Jesus is not only the Son of God. He is also the people of God. He is our representative. He is the real Israel, the faithful remnant, the true vine.

            In the end, there is only one faithful member of the people of God. And on that dark day He was arrested and condemned and crucified. He died and there was no one left. God’s people were destroyed. God’s people were struck down. There were no people of God. It was the end of the line. The story was over. God’s purpose was finished. As you look across the whole sweep of human history, there was only one faithful person. The faithful remnant came down to just one person – one true Israelite, one true man of God… And now even He is dead. And there was no one left. No one.

            But three days later Jesus walked from the tomb. The people who were dead are given new life. The people who were carried away are restored. The story that was over begins a new chapter.

            Jesus is our representative. God’s people are raised to live in His presence when Jesus walked out of the tomb. What Jesus achieved, He achieved on our behalf. If you are a Christian, then when Jesus walked out of the tomb you walked out of the tomb. Or rather we walked out of the tomb. It is not just that individuals are promised a future resurrection. The people of God as a collective entity were revived, were brought to new life. When Jesus defeated death, we defeated death. We are in Christ. So His story is our story. His death and resurrection are our death and resurrection. His victory over sin is our victory over sin.”   ~Tim Chester | HOSEA, The Passion of God | pages 107-109

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faithless wife … FAITHFUL HUSBAND

HOSEA | Lesson 1 | Lesson Notes/Talking Points

Read Hosea, chapters 1-3

INTRODUCTION

  1. What I want to do in these next four lessons is for us to at least read through Hosea together. I will divide the 14 chapters into lesson sections, trying to keep the subject matter and trains of thought relatively intact. There will inevitably be some ‘to be continued’ from one lesson to the other. Then, we’ll further sub-divide the lesson blocks into the messages, transitions, connections, and flow of thought within the selected lesson block.
  2. Our lessons will deal with roughly these divisions of the 14 chapters: Lesson 1, chs 1.1-3.5; Lesson 2, chs 4.1-7.16; Lesson 3, chs 8.1-12.1; Lesson 4, chs 12.2-14.9. I’m trying to keep the length of the four divisions as equal as I can. It will still be a challenge to even try to cover that much material in one lesson session.
  3. The over-arching theme and title of these lessons will be: “O Love that will not let me go” from Yahweh’s pleading heart in ch 11.8-9 [dare we say ‘achy-breaky heart’?]. Obviously, there will be a lot of summary of content and thought. But I do want to at least keep the trains of thought connected and flowing. This is Yahweh who is speaking from His heart. We want to listen, hear, and catch it all, and especially respond as we should. “In the message of Hosea we see the passion of God. We see the jealousy of God, the commitment of God, the heartbreak of God, the enthusiasm of God, the love of God. People often talk about what they feel about God. Hosea tells us what God feels about us.” [Tim Chester]

I / ch 1.1 / MEET HOSEA

  1. If you look at the kings of Judah who were reigning when Hosea prophesied, you notice that he ministered during the same times that Isaiah, Micah, Amos, and Jonah prophesied. Isaiah 1.1; Micah 1.1; Amos 1.1; 2 Kings 14.25.
  2. “Hosea’s ministry began during a period of expansion and prosperity. The reigns of Uzziah in Judah and of Jeroboam II in Israel during the first half of the eighty century BC was the second golden age in the history of God’s people (after the first golden age during the reigns of King David and King Solomon).” [Tim Chester] It was “a period of opulence, prosperity, opportunism, and scheming during which the rich and powerful availed themselves of all opportunities to live luxuriously. Hosea was God’s messenger to a complacent, self-indulgent, and apostate people.” [Willem A. VanGemeren]
  3. However, the prevailing theme and complaint of Yahweh’s heart against them was their spiritual faithlessness, adulteries [both physical and spiritual], and betrayal of their covenant marriage vows and relationship He had established with them.
  4. “Hosea’s experience with the promiscuous Gomer has legitimated his call to be Yahweh’s prophet … What many would consider a disqualification for the office – a prophet whose own wife was morally out of control – serves in this case as credentials. This is because Yahweh and Hosea have shared the same experience – that of marriage to an unfaithful spouse. Thus the book tells the stories of Hosea’s and Yahweh’s marriages in both first and third-person texts – each ‘husband’ speaks for himself and has the other speak on his behalf.” [Duane A. Garrett]

II / ch 1.2 – 2.1 / YAHWEH COMMISSIONS HOSEA TO MARRY A WIFE WHO WOULD PROVE TO BE UNFAITHFUL TO HIM … AS ISRAEL HAD BEEN TO HIM

  1. vv 2-3a / Yahweh called Hosea to experience the same kind of heartbreak and betrayal that He Himself [Yahweh] was suffering from the unfaithfulness of His people, Israel. Whether Gomer was promiscuous when Hosea married her, we don’t know. But she sure will turn out to be excessively promiscuous – just as Israel had done against Yahweh.
  2. vv 3a-5 / Gomer conceived with their first child, a son. It appears that Hosea was this son’s father. Whether the next two children are Hosea’s, again we don’t know. But, of course, Hosea became a father to them. This first son’s name was Jezreel by the naming of Yahweh. Jezreel means “Yahweh will sow or plant” / see ch 2.22-23. Jezreel was known in that day for its excessive bloodshed. That is not the meaning of the word/name, but that was its association and connotation / see 1 Kings 21.1, 23 & 2 Kings 10.1-8. Kinda like ‘Watergate’ has become synonymous with political scandal – so much so that every scandal since then has had ‘gate’ tacked on to the end of the scandal. Yahweh could have been associating this history of bloodshed with the child’s name, or He could have been drawing a sharp contrast between ‘sowing/planting’ and ‘put an end to.’ However, as will see later in chs 1.11 & 2.21-23, He will fulfill the literal meaning of Jezreel in the latter days.
  3. vv 6-7 / She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy,” for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. If your translation has ‘Lo-Ruhamah,’ it’s because that’s the name in Hebrew. But, it means ‘Unloved,’ or ‘No Mercy’ as in pity, compassion, or caring for. Yahweh’s commitment to Israel was to always have this mercy toward them; but they had so violated their ‘marriage vows’ to Yahweh as to nullify the marriage. Therefore Yahweh vows to withdraw His vows of mercy to them. He does, however, promise to continue showing mercy to the southern kingdom Judah – at least for that time.
  4. vv 8-9 / When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People,” for you are not my people, and I am not your God. This was the base promise and summary of the ‘marriage covenant’ Yahweh had made with Israel at Sinai / Exodus 6.7 & Leviticus 26.12, and numerous other Scriptures – culminating in Revelation 21.3-4.
  5. vv 10-2.1 / Yet, as we shall see all through Hosea, Yahweh’s purpose is to afflict them with His ‘tough love’ and discipline to bring them back to Himself. He makes that promise here and gives us His word! There is a six-fold promise here: [1] Restoration of the people; [2] Renewal of the covenant; [3] Reconciliation of the divisions; [4] Reinstatement of the King; [5] Return to the land; [6] Recognition of God. All of these promises are ‘Yes and Amen’ to them and to us through Christ who will come in the fullness of time! Notice this ‘one head’ who will be over them; this is none other than ‘David their king’ [ch 3.5], and that is none other than Christ! All of these promises will be fulfilled in the New Covenant He will make with them. And we will be included also!
  6. Paul quotes this passage at length in Romans 9.22-26 to show how Yahweh turned away from unbelieving Israel to show mercy to the Gentiles … and all so that He could turn back and include the believing Israelites again also! In effect, unbelieving Israel became ‘Gentile’ so they could be called back in again to join the believing Gentiles in the new Israel!

III / ch 2.2-13 / YAHWEH COMMITS TO CONTINUE TO WOO AND ALLURE ISRAEL THROUGH HIS ‘TOUGH LOVE’ – PLEADING WITH HER TO RETURN TO HIM FROM HER ADULTEROUS IDOLATRIES AND WORSHIP OF THE BAALS

  1. Chapter 2 describes the ‘interventions’ Yahweh will take as He pleads with Israel to love Him back, return to Him, and be as faithful to Him as He has been to them. He will act toward them in keeping with the names He told Hosea to give to his children: Jezreel, No Mercy, Not My People. Israel was acting out every one of these names in their relationship with Him. He will now respond to them in like manner in hopes of showing them their love-debt to Him and need of Him.
  2. v 2 / This is an interesting plea Yahweh makes here. Actually, He is calling on the faithful individuals in Israel to make the pleas for Him to ‘your mother’ Israel. He is not pleading with adulterous Israel Himself – He’s calling on His believers in Israel to plead with their faithless mother on His behalf. Kinda like a betrayed and violated husband would enlist his children to plead with his estranged wife, their mother, on his behalf…because she will not give him the time of day: ‘that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts.’
  3. vv 3-4 / If she does not return to Him, He will take these drastic measures of punishment against her for her faithlessness. Yahweh calls up images of the very ‘honeymoon’ beginnings of their ‘marriage’ – when He ‘married’ her in the wilderness after redeeming her from bondage in Egypt. see Yahweh’s similar pleas to Jerusalem and Judah in Ezekiel 16.1-14 ff. He reminds them how HE had rescued, ‘married,’ and gave them water and all the life provisions they ever needed in the wilderness. But now, if they will not return to Him, He will abandon them as He did NOT do in the beginning.
  4. v 5 / This is what Israel has done to Yahweh: she has abandoned Him and prostituted herself to the worship of the Baals. The Baals were preeminently gods of fertility. Baal’s worshipers prostituted themselves even physically in their acts of worship to them … in the hopes of getting from them in return abundant harvests and generous provisions for their needs of life. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,’ adulteries both spiritual and physical with the temple cult prostitutes in their acts of worship / see ch 4.10-14.
  5. vv 6-13 / Yahweh commits Himself to a course of ‘interventions’ He will perform against them: find, note, and list all the ‘tough love interventions’ Yahweh says ‘I will…’ do in vv 6, 9-13. Note also the ‘Therefore’ Yahweh offers at the beginning of v 6. His response to them will be a direct and consequential ‘cause and effect’ response to them and how they have treated Him. v 5: ‘For their mother…For she said…’ / ‘Therefore I will…’
  6. vv 7-8 / This is another summary of Israel’s ‘hot’ pursuit after her ‘lovers’ false Baal gods – and their giving themselves in to all their spiritual and physical lusts, desires, and hormones. They were making offerings to the Baals with the very gifts Yahweh had given them in His faithful compassions toward them. But they prostituted themselves and Yahweh’s gifts to the Baals. When Israel finds themselves in hard times because of Yahweh’s interventions, they will return to Him … but only in pretense. All they’re interested in is whichever ‘god’ can give them the ‘stuff’ they want and crave.

IV / ch 2.14-15 / YAHWEH ‘ALLURES’ ISRAEL INTO THE WILDERNESS OF AFFLICTION TO GIVE HER A ‘DOOR OF HOPE’

  1. All of these afflictions Yahweh will bring upon them will serve the purpose of getting Israel off to Himself so He can speak tenderly to her – words and messages of love, faith, hope, and salvation.
  2. When Israel is finally carried off into exile in Assyria, they will be separated from the Baals and all the corrupting influences they pursued and succumbed to in their homeland. This Valley of Achor is found in Joshua 7.25-26 where Achan was executed for lusting after the plunder of Jericho. ‘Achor’ means ‘trouble.’ Yahweh will rewind and ‘circle back around’ to that event in their Assyrian exile. But what they will learn in the Valley of Trouble is that, if they will abandon their idolatries and return to their Husband Yahweh, He will open up for them a door of hope. Jesus Christ and His Gospel is that Hope – our Hope – our sure Hope – our only Hope! / John 12.27 & Hebrews 6.19

V / ch 2.16-23 / YAHWEH PROMISES HIS GOSPEL…TO BE FULFILLED IN CHRIST!

  1. vv 16, 18, 21 / There is coming a day! “In that day…on that day…” This Day has begun in Christ, His New Covenant, and His Gospel! It will be fully and finally consummated in the New Heaven and New Earth.
  2. vv 16-17 / The true Israel [the people of God] will confess Yahweh as her Husband. The name ‘Baal’ just means ‘lord, master, owner.’ It is not just the name of the false gods of Baal. Baal is actually a generic word which was most specifically applied to those gods. On the other hand, ‘Yahweh’ is our God’s proper Name which He Himself gave to Moses at the burning bush and by which He is known and called. There were many ‘Baals,’ but there is only one ‘Yahweh.’ “In that Day, declares Yahweh, you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’” In other words, the true Israel will confess Yahweh as our covenant Husband and not just as our owner, master, or lord – though He is all that, too. The covenant marriage relationship will be restored in keeping with Yahweh’s promise in ch 1.10-11.
  3. v 18 / This covenant is reminiscent of the Noahic covenant after the destruction of the flood / Genesis 9.1-17. It is also reminiscent of the blessedness of the creation in the first days before the fall into sin and the ensuing corruption that resulted from sin / Romans 8.18-25. It is also a covenant of the New Creation. That New Creation has already begun in Christ / 2 Corinthians 5.17, et al. It will be fully and finally consummated in the New Heaven and New Earth / 2 Peter 3.13; Revelation 21.1-5.
  4. vv 19-20 / Yahweh makes a three-fold promise of “I will betroth you to Me…”: [1] forever; [2] in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy; [3] in faithfulness. And you shall know Yahweh. This is not just awareness, or even acquaintance. It is not just ‘know about Me,’ but this is the language of intimacy, marital union and faithfulness. This is the same ‘know’ that is used all throughout the Scriptures for conjugal, sexual, marital relationships / as in Genesis 4.1, et al.
  5. vv 21-23 / This is Yahweh’s promises reiterated and set in a hymn. To ‘answer’ is to respond to the request and need that is presented. ALL of it will come from Yahweh to fully satisfy all their desires and needs. Yahweh controls, commands, and coordinates all the elements of His creation to administer providences for the salvation of His people and keeping of His covenant. And the final answer will be: “Jezreel!” REMEMBER: Jezreel means ‘Yahweh will sow/plant.’ Yahweh will save His people and dwell with us forever in the New Heaven and New Earth. And I will sow her for Myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are My people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God!’

VI / ch 3.1-5 / YAHWEH COMMISSIONS HOSEA AGAIN TO EXPRESS HIS OWN ‘LOVE THAT WILL NOT LET US GO’ TO HIS STILL UNFAITHFUL WIFE, GOMER

  1. v 1 / It appears that Gomer has not only promiscuously prostituted herself out to numerous adulterous lovers, but has even fallen into some kind of ‘sex slave’ bondage. She is living with some ‘another man’ who owns her … maybe even pimping her out. Which is exactly what Israel has done to Yahweh.  BTW, these cakes of raisins were evidently offerings that were made to the Baals, and maybe even eaten during their sexual encounters.
  2. vv 2 / It isn’t just a matter of asking Gomer ‘who do you want to be with’ … Hosea has to ‘redeem’ and buy back his own wife from her sex slave owner. He does. He pays whatever has to be paid to redeem her and take her back to himself. Think and see 1 Peter 1.18-19 here.
  3. vv 3-4 / Just as Hosea instructs Gomer that she will have to dwell with him for many days as his wife and abstain from her promiscuous and lustful liaisons with other ‘lovers’: You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you … so also Yahweh uses that painful, heart-wrenching experience to illustrate His own purposes for the Assyrian captivity and exile He will bring upon Israel. He will separate them from all their illicit paramours and have them to Himself. And all for the purpose of breaking them from their idolatries.
  4. v 5 / In the end – through the Gospel of Jesus Christ – He will call them again to seek Him and love Him with all their hearts as He covenanted with them in the beginning of their marriage relationship.

This will come to pass in the latter days. Those days are NOW! The Gospel of Jesus Christ has begun in Judea [Judah], then on to Samaria [Israel], and even to the ends of the earth! / Acts 1.8

AND HERE WE ARE!

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