Bible Reading Blog
BIBLE READING: Hosea 1-2
Hosea’s marriage to Gomer almost immediately produced a child. But the joy of birth was overshadowed by the name God placed on him: Jezreel. Historically, Jezreel was a place of judgment (see 2 Kings 9.6-10: also, Judges 6.33). To further darken the situation, Gomer had two more children from other men (Hosea 2.4-5). How should Hosea feel about these children? What right do they have to his inheritance? Legitimately, none.
The ugliness of Hosea’s circumstance represents the situation of God with Israel at this time (Hosea 3.1). Just as these children had been born from infidelity with other lovers, the people of Israel were both literally and figuratively not God’s people. Many were the result of unlawful intermarriage (Exodus 34.11-16; Deuteronomy 7.3-4), but worse they did not know or treat God as their Father (Hosea 7.8-11). This not only spurned God’s faithfulness but offered Him covenantal grounds to reject their inheritance and execute judgment (Deuteronomy 28.1-68). Israel should have known this but were either aloof or unaware (Hosea 4.1, 6).
God’s position is harsh but understandable. “…you are not my people and I am not your God” (Hosea 1.9b). But notice follows: “Yet… in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” (Hosea 1.10). There will come a time when God has mercy on these children and claims them his own (Hosea 2.23). This immediately begs the question "why?"
Paul quoted this verse in his explanation of the gospel. He revealed that God “shows mercy on whoever he wills” (Romans 9.18), “in order to make known the riches of his glory” (Romans 9.23) to those who were not God’s people by birth but through faith in God’s promises (Romans 9.8). In other words, God’s mercy proves his love for everyone (John 3.16; Romans 11.32-36). Even in the ugliest of circumstances, God’s heart is to claim every person as His child, through mercy and grace. (Hosea 2.23)
We must understand that prophetic accountability to the covenant calls the reader to greater intimacy, not merely desolation. God will have his own special, covenant people and he will not share them with anyone else. Although written to people of times past, God’s has similar expectations for his special people today, but with grace realized (1 Peter 2.9-10). Christ has come and we must not reject him (John 1.17; Hebrews 12.25)!
To appreciate the difficult language of the prophets we must always see the hope of restoration, not just for the Jews but for everyone. Hosea’s language undeniably links this message back to the promises to Abraham (Genesis 13.16; 22.17; Hosea 1.10a) which point forward to the coming of Jesus to reestablish God’s kingdom and people. God’s desire to have a people for his own possession was foreshadowed with Israel (Deuteronomy 7.6-11) but is ultimately for all people to be part of, through his Divine mercy and grace in Christ.
“But God, being rich in mercy… made us alive together with Christ… through him we all have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God.” (excerpts from Ephesians 2)
BIBLE READING: Psalm 146
“Put not your trust in princes, in a son of man, in whom there is no salvation. When his breath departs, he returns to the earth; on that very day his plans perish.” (Psalm 146.3-4)
All around us, we see undeniable proof of how people crave someone to trust in. Think of all the people we raise up as examples and heroes and saviors. As if the future of the world—or the Lord’s Church—depends on a person. It’s no surprise many feel so hopeless and discouraged. This psalm warns of two realities with human leaders:
- No human can truly save you. Our politicians promise a lot of things, but no one can insulate you from poverty, racism or disease. Even the good ones can only affect circumstances for a season. What’s the chance they can save from sin and death and hell? Zero! In fact, every person needs saving for himself or herself. Any person you may raise up, can be torn down in some way. Everyone is sinful. If you put your trust in princes, you won’t be saved.
- Every leader will die; and when they do, their plans will die with them. In fact, even before death, how many leaders have been overridden and unable to accomplish their purposes? Men can conqueror and subdue and assert themselves in their time, but when they die there is no guarantee any of that will continue. Men are limited, ultimately by death.
God knows the temptation to exalt men, even among his own people. In Corinth, church members were name dropping to show which “man of renown” they chose to align themselves with (1 Corinthians 1.12-13). How often in history, past and recent, have churches and individual believers, given undue place to men, and suffered the consequences? They may well have been gifted and godly men, men God greatly used. But in our lives, we see exactly what the bible describes. There is no human leader who can truly offer what we need. Have we learned our lesson?
“Stop trusting in mere humans, who have but a breath in their nostrils. Why hold them in esteem?” (Isaiah 2.22, NIV)
The best of men, especially the most spiritually gifted of men, need their fellow believers to remind them constantly, ‘What do you have that you did not first receive?’ (1 Corinthians 4.7). All Christians need to kill the temptation that regularly worms its way into our minds to make more of men than we should. God is not tied to using anyone to fulfil his purposes. He could easily do all his holy will using no-one and nothing. There may be turmoil in the world and no good, clear leadership; but God still reigns. We must never forget who we serve and put our trust only in him.
“Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them, who keeps faith forever; who executes justice for the oppressed, who gives food to the hungry.” (Psalm 146.5-7)
BIBLE READING: Psalm 145
“The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The LORD is good to all, and his mercy is over all that he has made. (Psalm 145.8-9)
Grace. Mercy. Longsuffering. Covenantal faithfulness. This is the language God has always used towards his people. Especially in the days of the prophets, God reiterated these behaviors and the purpose of his kindness. “...Return to the LORD your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster.” (Joel 2.13)
In this time, God’s people had strayed from him; but his desire was for mercy and restoration. This message was given as a consistent reminder of God’s hope for his people to return and be healed (ex. Jeremiah 15.19; Hosea 14.1, 3). But this language is not unique to Israel: God offered the same message to even the most wicked people. Jonah was sent to the to call the murderous Assyrians (Nahum 3.1-3) to repentance. But he didn’t want to go because, “I know that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love, and relenting from disaster. (Jonah 4.2). God’s mercy and kindness has always been impartial, even to those who Jonah saw as the most unworthy. That’s exactly the point of God’s kindness.
The consistency of God‘s language reminds us that God's nature has not changed. He made promises and he intends to keep them. He will bless those who obey and bring judgment on those who do not. Paul would expound on this to the Romans:
"Or do you presume on the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? ... He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury... For God shows no partiality." (See Romans 2.4-11)
God's greatest desire is for mercy to triumph over judgment (James 2.13) but that does not negate our need to respond. “The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” (2 Peter 3.9)
Ultimately God recognizes everyone’s need for mercy and has made provisions through his kindness for that to be possible (Romans 11.30-32). But all must respond in self-denial and repentance. His promises, both for good and bad, remain. Will we see his kindness and continue unchanged or will we turn and come to him?
BIBLE READING: Psalm 139
“O LORD, you have searched me and known me!” (Psalm 139.1)
Is there anything God doesn’t know? Is there any place he couldn’t go? Are there any circumstances that take him off guard? If we believe God is Creator, the answer is “no.” He’s been there, he’s done that, he’s thought of everything. There is no circumstance or place that can elude him because he made it. You could be in the most secluded place in the world, in a secret hiding place no one knew about, and God would be aware. Not only that, but he would know what you were thinking and feeling.
To consider the level of God’s intimate knowledge in my life can be terrifying. As the old hymn writer said, “There’s an all-seeing eye watching you.” But it’s not intended to be a scare tactic. Instead, it ought to give us great comfort. His eyes were on us even before we were formed (Psalm 139.15-16a). His knowledge extends throughout our entire life into every single moment we exist (Psalm 139.16b). He was intimately involved in our conception and continues to be invested in our lives.
He is our Maker, and with that comes an inherent concern for us. Like a parent with their children, God is constantly aware and thoughtful of our well-being. He knows the challenges we will face. He knows what our desires will be. He knows the tough choices we have to make. But unlike a parent God knows EXACTLY what we need and has given us everything we NEED to make the best choices (2 Peter 1.3).
So, we must understand that God is not out to get us, as some people think. He didn’t give us his word simply to assert his dominance, but to communicate love. He knows full and well what we need. If his thoughts become our thoughts, and his ways become our ways, they take into account any challenge in our future. Ultimately, his word both restores and revitalizes our weary souls (Psalm 1.1-3; 23.3).
The psalm began with the reality of God’s awareness, and ends with a similar thought, but in the present tense. “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139.23-24). God’s power and presence are intended for our comfort and guidance; but we must acknowledge and submit to his nature. He will lead us if we humbly trust that he knows what’s best for us.
“When I told you of my ways, you answered me; teach me your statutes! Make me understand the way of your precepts, and I will meditate on your wondrous works.” (Psalm 119.26-27)
BIBLE READING: Psalm 131
“… I have calmed and quieted my soul, like a weaned child with its mother; like a weaned child is my soul within me.” (Psalm 131.2)
No one is more selfish than a newborn. They are demanding, insistent and brutishly unapologetic about it. Time after time you feed them, and yet 2 hours later they’re demanding your attention as if you had no idea what you were doing. By the way they act, you would think they had never eaten before.
It’s a frustrating season of life, but over time things begin to change. Children pick up on patterns from their parents. They see that mom and dad are always taking care of their needs. They may not appreciate it, but on a basic level they come to trust their parents (hence why they’re always pulling on our pant legs and begging for food). As they experience the satisfaction of getting what they need, they find peace in your consistent care. This doesn’t mean their needs have gone away. Instead, they have learned to lean into the people providing for them and whom they have come to trust.
When we feel our needs are not being met, our emotions often move towards anxiety or frustration. Even as adults, we want satisfaction, or at least resolution and become very “me-focused”. This anxiety often creates momentum in our hearts. As a result, we feel inclined to make rash decisions or allow things to come out of our mouth that are improper. Much like a nursing infant, we behave thoughtless of the One who has promised to meet our needs. We may think that life is more complicated, or our needs are different than that of a child’s; but the reality is we’re all just looking for comfort and satisfaction.
Sometimes we just need to slow down and lean into our Father. Knowing Him more intimately doesn’t get rid of our needs but reminds us that He will always meet them… and so much more (Matthew 6.25-33; Ephesians 3.20)! The peace we all desire comes when we rest in his promises. But to find rest I must acknowledge that I am just a weaned child, old enough to walk but not old enough, strong enough or wise enough to know how to get there without help.
What we desire most is what God offers; but we must learn to trust Him. Not just a verbal acknowledgment but a learned practice and appreciation of God’s providence (Proverbs 3.5-6). He works “all things together for good” (Romans 8.28), but sometimes that means we have to “wait on the Lord” (Psalm 27.14). If your heart is anxious, have you talked to your Father about it? Have you recounted the ways he has provided for you? Are you behaving like an impatient newborn or are you leaning in and looking up?
“Be still and know that I am God.” (Psalm 46.10)