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Essay/Term paper: Hosea

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Religion

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Hosea


THEME: There is nothing we can do which will separate us from God's compassion
and love

I certify that I am the author of this work and that any assistance I received
in its preparation is fully acknowledged.

PART I

The book Hosea was written between 790 and 710 BC by the prophet Hosea.
The story is about the relationship between Hosea and his wife, Gomer, and how
their lives parallel that of the northern kingdom of Israel. There are several
themes in the book of Hosea and I will discuss what I think to be the main one, "
there is absolutely nothing we can do which will separate us from God's love and
compassion". While the northern kingdom prospers monetarily its morals and
spiritual condition is sacrificed. The peoples of the northern kingdom have
fallen from God's grace due to their worship of God's other than the one true
God. The following text describes my opinions, others opinions, and my
observations of the book Hosea.
The book begins with God telling Hosea to marry an adulterous wife . He
does this to show the relationship of the Israelites adultery to God by
worshipping idols and other God's. Hosea marries Gomer and they have a son.
God informs Hosea to name the child Jezreel because he is going to punish the
house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel. Later they have a daughter and God
tells Hosea to name her Lo-Ruhama which means, not loved, in Hebrew. Once again
Hosea and Gomer have a son that God tells Hosea to name Lo-Ammi which means, not
my people, in Hebrew. Chapter one ends with God describing how the two nations,
Israel and Judah, be reunited under one appointed leader and one God.
Chapter two describes God's feelings towards the nation Israel. He does
this by comparing the nation Israel to Hosea's household. He describes how
Hosea's wife has been unfaithful to her husband as the nation Israel has been
unfaithful to God. He further goes on to describe his plans for the nation
Israel and how he is going to let Israel search for Him, through other God's,
and the obstacles he'll place in their path to hinder their search. God also
declares he will punish the Israelites for forgetting about their one true God.
God ends the narration by telling of the restoration of Israel to his favor and
the many benefits that will fall upon the nation Israel, once they accept Him as
the only God.
Chapters three, four, and five describe Hosea and Gomers reconciliation,
Israel's lack of faithfulness and love for God; and God's plan to deal with the
people and priests of Israel; respectively. The LORD tells Hosea to love his
wife again so he buys her back from a slave market and tells her she must live
with and be faithful to him. The LORD is extremely distressed by Israel's lack
of love and acknowledgment of His existence. He describes how they have
reverted to lying, cheating , stealing, murder, etc. and further fail to follow
his word. The priests during this time are not to be let off lightly. God
tells how the priests have not spread His message, but rather they've fed off
the Israelites sins. God tells how he's going to punish the people of Israel,
for their sins, and the priests, for their lack of concern. He closes by saying
he will go to his place and not recognize the peoples of Israel until they
earnestly seek him out.
In chapter 11 God capsulizes Israel's sins and his judgment against the
people. He describes how he chose the Israelites as His people and how he
delivered them from slavery in Egypt. During this dissertation he has a change
of heart and decides he will not destroy the nation Israel even if they turn
from Him. He decides he will force Israel to repent by less destructive means.
In chapter 12 Hosea preaches the Lord's message to the Israelites. He
starts by describing Israel's sins against God and how the Israelites wealth has
taken them further and further from God's embrace. He talks about how the
Israelites will be punished for their sins and that God will repay them, in-kind,
for their goodness. He tells Israel they must return to God's favor or judgment
will be upon them. His inclusion of Jacob in the reasons for Israel's downfall
are also described in chapter 12. He believes since Jacob is His prophet he
should also be held accountable for the sins of Israel. He also describes what
is going to happen to Gillead because of their wickedness and sacrificing of
bulls. The chapter closes as Hosea tells of God's anger at Israel for straying
from His laws.
Chapter 13 describes God's anger at Israel for idol worship and chapter
14 tells of God's blessings, on the nation, for its repentance. In chapter 13
Hosea tells how the worship of Baal has angered God. God intercedes and reminds
the nation Israel that they should acknowledge no other God besides Himself. He
also restates the exodus epic and how He led the nation Israel from slavery and
saved them in the desert. He then goes on to describe an east wind that will
destroy their crops and dry up their wells. The final chapter of Hosea
describes how God will save Israel from itself and restore the people as His
people. Even though He's angry with Israel he's unable to lay waste to the
nation.

PART II

The experts don't all agree on whether God commanded Hosea to marry a
prostitute. According to Tullock (1992) this question can be answered in one of
the following ways:

1. The LORD actually commanded Hosea to Marry a prostitute,
which he did.
2. Gomer was not a prostitute physically. Instead, she was a
Baal worshiper, and as such, was spiritually unfaithful.
Whether she was ever physically unfaithful was not important.
3. Gomer was a virgin when Hosea married her, but she became
unfaithful after marriage. Later, when he looked back upon
the experience, he realized that she already had such
tendencies when he married her.
4. The whole story is an allegory, which had no relationship to
Gomer's morals (Hosea 1:2). (p. 195)

Wood (1975) states, "The name of each child was linked symbolically to Israel's
coming doom" (p. 20). According to Scott (1975), "By theses experiences Hosea
became in heart the instrument of God to declare God's grace, mercy and love (p.
20).
"In an oracle calling for his children to plead with their mother that
she change her ways, Hosea compared his relations with Gomer to the Lord's
relations with Israel" (Hos. 2:2-23) Tullock, 1992, p. 195). Scott (1975) took
this verse to mean, "It is as though God is calling the children of Israel to
indict their mother because of her crimes against God (2:2) (p. 21). Wood
(1975) concludes, "She (Israel) was guilty because she credited her blessings to
Baal, not to Jehovah God (p. 31).
The comparison of Hosea's personal life with that of the nation Israel's
spiritual life is evident throughout the entire book of Hosea. "This verse
summarizes the case against Israel as seen in the first two chapters and now
relates the whole to Hosea's own personal experience with Gomer as a fit
comparison for teaching purposes" (Hos.3:1) Scott, 1975, p. 30). "Religious
failures had corroded the national character. The unifying covenant of Sinai
had long since been forgotten in practice, if not in name" (Southwestern Journal
of Theology, 1975, p. 8).
Throughout the whole of chapters three through five Israel's lack of
faith and love for God is evident. "The sinful woman stands for Israel.
Hosea's ransom speaks of God's love for his people" (Wood, 1975, p. 42). Three
things in particular are mentioned as expected by God: (1) truth; (2)
lovingkindness sometimes translated "goodness"; and (3) knowledge of God" (Scott,
1975, p. 32). Tullock (1992) describes how, "Israel had become so mired I the
muck of Baal worship that the people could no longer find their way back to the
LORD" (p. 197). Israel consistently ask for forgiveness, falsely, and was about
to find out their fate.
Verse 6 of chapter 11 describes God's describes the fall of Israel.
"The sword (of the enemy Assyria) will whirl against Israel's cities" (Scott,
1975, p. 71). "Hosea had hope for the nation despite the fact that it had to go
through judgment" (Tullock, 1992, p.199). Wood (1975) describes how, "Hosea
pointed out that God's grace transcended Israel's guilt, and compelled him to
spare her from complete oblivion: (p.103). "Happily, the message of Hosea is
not one of ultimate despair. As with other Old Testament prophets this man
succeeded in sustaining a note of hope and optimism in spite of the darkness of
his time" (Southwestern Journal of Theology, 1975, p. 54).
"Judgment must come (Hos 12:1-13:16). Judgment had to come. The people
had sinned to much to avoid it" (Tullock, 1992, p. 199). "Hosea was no fatalist.
The people made the choice themselves with their own free will" (Wood, 1975, p.
113). "Since God's real covenant lies with the father of both Judah and Israel,
namely with Jacob, God's punishment will therefore be meted out to Israel and
Judah and His mercy will be shown to both" (Scott 1975 p. 75). "Because Israel
exalted herself she went to far and exalted herself against God going after Baal"
(Scott 1975 p. 75).
Chapter 13 is considered by most of my references to be the defining
chapter of the book Hosea. God goes on record to describe the sins of the
nation Israel and how they should be punished. "Instead of gratitude for the
good things God gave them, they became satiated and proud" (Scott 1975 p. 78-79).
"Hosea believed the sins were in heavens record. The guilt would not fade with
the passing of time. Israel's sins were "bound up" (v. 12) to await the day of
judgment" (Wood 1975, p. 121). "Like Gomer wanton Israel is running after other
"loves" instead of being faithful in her "marriage" to "God" (NIV Study Bible
1992, p. 987). "The chapter closes with a horrible picture of the enemy's
almost unbelievable cruelty and the nations awful fate (vv. 15-16)" (Wood 1975 p.
117).
The final chapter of the book of Hosea describes God's judgment upon the
nation Israel. "Only one solution was offered. Israel must repent" (Wood 1975,
p.127). "He who said earlier that He would like to have healed Israel (7:1),
now declares the He will do so" (Scott 1975, p. 83). "Could any contrast be
greater than the declaration of judgment in 5:8-12 and the assurance of
restoration in 14:4-7" (Southwestern Journal of Theology 1975, p.55). "The God
who redeems us purposes that we walk in his statutes free from guilt, but also
free from deceit, guile, and willful sin. Through Hosea's closing warning, God
makes His appeal to us" (Wood 1975, p. 133).

PART III

At first I was confused by the way Hosea was talking about Israel and
Judah in the same sentence (1:11). I didn't know that Israel had split into the
Northern (Israel) and southern (Judah) kingdoms. This fact made me go back and
read Tullock and find out what had happened. I also didn't know why the Lord
would tell anyone to marry an adulterous (1:2). The whole first chapter had me
confused and it wasn't until I read the book of Hosea and studied my reference
material that I could make sense of what was going on. Once I'd read the entire
book I was able to see how God had used Hosea's family life to relate to His
relationship with the people of Israel.
At first I thought Hosea 2:1 was God telling Hosea to dump his wife for
her adultery. It wasn't until I'd read several of my references that I came to
realize it was God telling Hosea's children to rebuke their mother for the way
she behaved. I also came to realize this was a veiled reference for the
Israelites to forsake their idols and worship of other Gods'. When I read Hosea
2:6 - 13 I saw a very angry God ready to punish Israel for its transgressions.
Then Hosea 2:14 - 23 contradicted everything that was said in Hosea 2:6 - 13.
This confused me to no end. I ten began to realize how the theme, "there is
absolutely nothing we can do which will separate us from God's love and
compassion" was going to play a role in this book. It also made me realize that
some of the current problems (murder, robbery, theft, etc..) were prevalent in
ancient times. I also came to understand a person could call themselves "born
again" and feel completely secure in the feeling God would forgive them for
their previous sins.
Chapter 3 has played a part in my life. My father was unfaithful to my
mother and my siblings and I had a hard time understanding how my mother could
possibly forgive him. Not only did she forgive him she took him back, just as
Hosea did with his unfaithful wife. The numerous references to prostitution in
chapter 4 I thought was an excellent analogy to the way the Israelites were
giving their bodies and souls over to false Gods' just as prostitutes do to
those who also don't acknowledge nor love them. I also see a resemblance to
today's society in these verses. Murder, robbery, theft, lying, cheating, etc.
are on the rise and we spend all our time blaming everything and everybody
without realizing that maybe we've lost our ways in Gods' eye. Reading chapter 5,
to me, was redundant. I saw this entire chapter as a rehash of chapter 3 v. 6-
13.
Chapter 11 reminded me of my relationship with my son. No matter how
angry I get with him I still love him. It also confused me because I thought it
was a sign of God showing human characteristics until I realized God created man.
Therefore, maybe we show God - like characteristics when we forgive others. It
also reminded me of my relationship with my own father. He's an alcoholic and
spent the majority of my childhood in neighborhood bars. Needless to say our
relationship was never close; yet I still love him. I also see this love - hate
relationship among nations. Whether we're allies or enemies due to political or
moral differences you never know when you'll forgive your enemy for his
transgressions (perceived or real) and they become you staunchest ally.
I had a hard time following along in chapter 12. Hosea preaches the
lord's message to the Israelites and he starts by describing Israel's sins
against God. Again I thought this was quite redundant even though it wasn't
through the spoken word of the Lord. I would imagine had the writer of the book
consolidated all of Israel and Judah's sins into one chapter and Gods anger into
another the book could have been cut in half. Chapter 13 v. 8 made me think of
the rich today. Do they also feel that since they're rich God can't find fault
in them, or do they feel that if they become philanthropists God will only see
good in them. Even reading my reference material I couldn't understand why God
made reference to Gilgal sacrificing bulls (12:11). I assumed animal sacrifice
was acceptable, at that time, and couldn't understand why God was angry at Gill.
His inclusion of Jacob in the reasons for Israel's downfall led me to wonder
whether the priests of today are feeding off other peoples misery and sins. I
find many current articles and news stories of priests committing acts of
pedophilia quite disturbing; are we also headed in the same direction as Israel
and Judah?
Chapter 13 made me wonder about Catholics. I'm not nor do I profess to
be an expert on religion, but I have to wonder when I see Catholics praying to
God through the Virgin Mary, St. Peter, St. Anthony, St. Pauly Girl, (a lame
attempt at humor), and other saints and what I think are deities. It also made
me wonder about my lack of knowledge about other religions besides my own
Presbyterian background. Am I wrong to assume other major religions are trying
to develop a relationship with God through the worship of idols? My own
ignorance of other religions became quite apparent to me when I thought of the
many religous images we take for granted, i. e. Crosses, images of Saints,
statues and images of Jesus, etc. I also wonder what will happen to atheists
and agnostics. Though I don't think they worship false God's I feel that
denying the God's existence is just as bad.
I felt that God was bribing the Israelites in chapter 14 by telling them
what He would bestow upon them if they came back into his fold. I also sensed
that God was unable to control his "chosen people" even though he constantly
told them, through his prophet Hosea, what would happen to them should they
stray from his flock. Since He was unable to control them I felt He had no
recourse but to try to show them the benefits they would reap for their love and
worship of Him. I also got the feeling that he was a benevolent God and would
love mankind no matter what sins they committed.
I came away from reading the book of Hosea feeling their was hope for
all mankind. Though I'm constantly bombarded by newspaper articles and
television reports about the sins and evils of mankind I know that deep down man
is not evil nor is he wicked. I feel though, that society has a great deal to
say about his brothers, and sisters, actions. Should we turn a "blind-eye" to
the sins and wickedness of others, are we not just as sinful and wicked. God
gives us a choice and it's up to us to determine the path we'll take. I have to
honestly say this is the first chapter of the Bible (Old and New Testament) that
I've studied this thoroughly and I can also say this will not be the last. I
came into this course thinking it was just a requirement for me to receive my
degree and I'll leave it with the knowledge that I've received more than just
three credit hours.

References

Rainbow Studies, Inc. (1992). The new international version rainbow
study bible (4th ed.). El Reno, Oklahoma: Author

Scott, Jack B. (1971). The book of hosea: a study manual (2nd Printing).
Grand Rapids, Michigan: Baker Book House.

Tullock, John H. (1981).The old testament story (3rd ed.). Englewoods
Cliff, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, inc.

Southwestern Journal of Theology (Fall 1975). Studies in hosea (No. 1).
Fort Worth, Texas: Faculty of the School of Theology, Southwestern Baptist
Theological Seminary.

Wood, Fred M. (1975). Hosea: prophet of reconciliation. Nashville,
Tennessee: Convention Press.

Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1991). New York, Random
House Inc.


 

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