To have and to hold…new life in Christ

3 01 2012

DAY TWO HUNDRED AND ONE : Hosea 1 v. 1 – 2 v. 23; Romans 6 v. 1 – 14; Psalm 87 v. 1 – 7

HOSEA
Hosea is writing in the northern kingdom of Israel during the 8th Century BC, against the backdrop of Baal worship. Israel had attained great power and wealth, but was under threat from Assyria. Both Amos and Hosea try to warn Israel that its only hope is to turn back to God. The main theme of the book is God’s mercy (in spite of Israel’s adulterous relationship with Baal) – ‘hesed….involves loving loyalty to covenant commitments, well illustrated by the marriage vow.’

Hosea’s Wife and Children – Hosea’s time of writing the ‘word of the Lord’ is identified by the kings of Judah and Israel. God instructs Hosea to ‘Go, take yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, for the land is guilty of the vilest adultery by departing from the Lord.’
Hosea’s experiences in marriage are to help him and others understand God’s experiences in relation to Israel.
He marries Gomer and they have a son, whom God calls Jezreel, signifying judgment on the house of Jehu, for the massacre at Jezreel.
They next have a daughter, whom God calls Lo-Ruhamah (meaning ‘unpitied’) to indicate that He will no longer show His love for Israel, but rather for Judah, who He will save.
Next followed a second son, whom God calls Lo-Ammi (meaning ‘not my people’), stating a reversal of the covenant pledge ‘you will be my people’.
‘Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore…in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people’, they will be called, ‘sons of the living God’.
God’s love will bring Israel and Judah together again, reunited under one leader, and they will become ‘brothers’ and ‘loved ones’ once again.

Israel Punished and Restored – God pours out His rebuke and condemnation – a husband (God) bringing the case against his wife (Israel) :
‘rebuke your mother…for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband’
– she has an adulterous look, and is unfaithful
– God will expose her infidelity, and will make her like a desert
– God will withdraw His love from her children, born out of adultery, infidelity, conceived in disgrace
– She has chased after her lovers, who have showered her with good things
– God will confuse and block her way, walling her in, so that she cannot catch her lovers
‘Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.’
– She has forgotten all God’s provision – new wine and oil, silver and gold – now used for worshipping Baal
– The grain will be taken away, the new wine will disappear
– Wool and linen intended to cover her nakedness will be taken back, and she will be exposed
– God will stop all the celebrations (new moon, sabbaths etc.), and vines and fig-trees will be ruined
‘I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals…she went after her lovers, but me she forgot.’

– God wants to lure her back, leading her into the desert to speak tenderly to her
(‘true in our lives as well : trouble becomes an opportunity for God to call us back to Himself…Israel’s punishment will open the door to a bright future if she responds in repentance’ Wesley Study Bible)
The Valley of Achor is where Achan paid for his sin (Josh. 7)
– She will sing as in the days of her youth…when she came up out of Egypt
– She will call God her husband once again, not merely ‘master’ (play on words, too, with ‘master’ in Hebrew being ba’al)
– This will be a turning away from the Baals, no longer speaking their names
– A new covenant will be made for them (with the animals and birds); bows and swords will disappear from the land;
‘I will betroth you to me for ever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion, in faithfulness…and you will acknowledge the Lord.’
– There will be a beautiful harmony in nature – skies and earth, grain, wine, oil, all responding to this new covenant relationship
‘I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called, ‘Not my loved one’.
‘I will say to those called, ‘Not my people’, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God’.

ROMANS
Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ – Paul next asks a key question – if God is full of grace, should we be testing its boundaries by sinning more and more ?
‘By no means! We died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?’
Those who have been baptised, were baptised into Christ’s death, buried with Him in baptism, so that we may be raised to new life, united with Hum in resurrection.
The body of sin is done away with, ‘so that we should no longer be slaves to sin’.
We died with Christ, we will also live with Him. Death has no more mastery over Jesus.
‘The death He died, He died to sin once for all, but the life He lives, He lives to God.’
We are to count ourselves as dead to sin and alive to God in Jesus.
Sin is to have no reign or rule in our lives, so that we give in to its temptations and desires.
We are to offer ourselves not to sinful desires, but to God, as people given a new life, and to offer our bodies as ‘instruments of righteousness’, before God.
‘Sin shall not be your master, because you are not under law, but under grace.’

PSALM
A song from the Sons of Korah
My Lord, my God,
Your foundation is set firmly on the holy mountain,
through the ever-loved gates of Zion,
more loved than any home.
Glorious things are spoken of you, Zion, city of God

(pause for reflection)

Rahab, Babylon, Philistia, Tyre, Cush all pay tribute to you, honouring those born in Zion.
Others will say about Zion
‘This one and that one were born in her,
God Himself will make her great,
He will register those born within Zion’

(pause for reflection)

They will rejoice and sing a great song, saying
‘Every fountain I know is in You.’

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