Bible Reading Plan – May 7-13
Bible Project Reading Plan (May 7-13):
Hosea 1-5, Joel 1-3, Amos 1-9, Obadiah, Psalms 122-128
People, I’d guess on the whole, tend to think that the OT is the part of the Bible with the real-hard-core-God, filled with vengeance and might, anger and wrath, fury and fire. Which he is. And that the NT rather pictures God as full of grace and light, compassion and comfort, kindness and care. Which it does.
There really is no problem with each depiction, so long as we understand that both the OT and the NT are giving us pictures of the same God. The NT is just as, if not more, bloody than the OT (have you read Revelation 14? If you haven’t read it recently, stop now, and go read it. Such a passage would make the OT prophets blush!), and the OT contains unmerited, undeserved grace, just like the new. The problem is that we need to look for it – and sometimes it is found in strange ways.
There are very few passages like Hosea 6 that can bring this sort of grace out of the difficult words of the prophets. Here, Hosea writes:
Come, let us return to the Lord. For he has torn us, and he will heal us; he has wounded us, and he will bind up our wounds.
Hosea 6:1 (CSB17)
Here, Hosea is unwilling to mince words: God has hurt his people. The kind of language used here tends to remind us of wild animals tearing and ripping at flesh:
And he identified it and said, “It is my son’s robe. A fierce animal has devoured him. Joseph is without doubt torn to pieces.”
Genesis 37:33 (CSB17)
“Benjamin is a ravenous wolf, in the morning devouring the prey and at evening dividing the spoil.”
Lord my God, I seek refuge in you; save me from all my pursuers and rescue me or they will tear me like a lion, ripping me apart with no one to rescue me.
While not exclusively, most often such language is reserved for animals, or depictions of animals, as above. God has mauled his people, hurt them severely and grievously. There are two responses to such devastation: you can either see such pain as a way to bring you back to the Lord, or as a reason to run from him. Hosea urges his readers to act in the former way: “Come, let us return to the Lord.” It was their leaving the Lord in the first place, their running from him, that led to the violence. The way to end it is to draw near.
Hosea assures us that the return to the Lord will be of our advantage: he is steadfast, like the morning dawn. He is good, like the rain that brings life in the spring (v. 3). People are also like the morning and the water: but vanishing and fleeting, like mist in the morning and dew on the grass (v. 4).
Because we are fickle, and always need reminders, God has sent trouble and discipline our way:
This is why I have used the prophets to cut them down; I have killed them with the words from my mouth. My judgment strikes like lightning.
Hosea 6:5 (CSB17)
God has cut us with his word, that we may run to him. He has cut us to remind us of our frailty, of our weakness, of our mortality. But all that is promised to end, if we return:
He will revive us after two days, and on the third day he will raise us up so we can live in his presence.
Hosea 6:2 (CSB17)
Hosea does not stop here. He promises more judgment, more tearing, but also more redemption:
I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of drought. When they had pasture, they became satisfied; they were satisfied, and their hearts became proud. Therefore they forgot me. So I will be like a lion to them; I will lurk like a leopard on the path. I will attack them like a bear robbed of her cubs and tear open the rib cage over their hearts. I will devour them there like a lioness, like a wild beast that would rip them open.
Hosea 13:5-8 (CSB17)
Even so, Hosea declares:
I will ransom them from the power of Sheol. I will redeem them from death. Death, where are your barbs? Sheol, where is your sting?
Hosea 13:14 (CSB17)
Indeed, what Hosea has prophesied has come true: he did indeed raise us with Christ on the third day so that we may live in his presence (cf. Rom 6:4; Eph 2:6). If Christ has torn you, come, and return to the Lord!
And, because each of these prophets deals with the issue of the exile, you may find this video helpful: