The book of the prophet Hosea.
Honestly, in first reading, it can be difficult to grasp. There are quite a few movements and shifts in thinking, and our author mixes various styles of writing and a multitude of images and themes. So as I spent time over the course of a week with this book as a reader, and studier, what struck me was that I needed to process and meditate on Hosea as a whole. To step back and see the larger picture. To not get lost in the details. And I kept asking the question, “Is there a major theme here that you are trying to communicate, Father?”
Now, different readers, commentators, teachers, and preachers may all answer that slightly differently. It may be that the theme is judgment. It may be that the theme is the covenant breaking of the children of Israel. Those would be fine choices. They are certainly present in Hosea.
And, what is also present here is the long-suffering mercy, compassion, and love of God. This essential message in the book is put on visual display through the powerful metaphors of marriage and fatherhood. Over and over it struck me, as I read, and studied, and stepped back to look at the wide vistas of the story, that God, through the prophetic ministry of Hosea, wants us to see how our unfaithfulness and stubbornness “are not enough to exhaust God’s redeeming love that outstrips the human capacity to comprehend” (ESV Study Bible note).
And friend, that love is breathtaking. In this book you will find pictures of the kind of love that your heart truly longs for, the kind of love you were made for. That may sound like over-emotional language, but trust me, its not. Hosea delivers. There are treasures of hope to be found here. I know. I dug in the soil of this story for a week, and came away with many, a few of which I shared in a sermon on this book. You can watch or listen here.
And if you’d like to study further, I highly recommend heading over the The Bible Project’s page on Hosea. There you will find videos, milestones, study resources, and recommendations for further reading and study on this deeply encouraging and satisfying prophetic word.
One thing we often forget is that our theological study (orthodoxy) ought always lead us to worship (doxology). Therefore, I want to draw your attention to two songs that you could use yourself, or in the context of family, or a gathering of a community group or friends. For singing shouldn’t only happen on Sunday!
The first is the song we ended our service with when I preached Hosea. It is a song called “Good Good Father,” and my favorite performance of it is by Housefires. You can watch here. Another song quite popular right now that explores God’s extravagant love is called “Reckless Love.” You can view a lyric video for it here. It is my prayer that you find them helpful to both bask in the biblical truth of God’s love, and to reflect a heart of gratitude and praise to him for that love.
One final note: to prepare for this coming Sunday, be sure to read through the book of Joel, prayerfully meditating on its three chapters.
It is my prayer that you will continue to grow in your understanding of, love for, and hope in God as we continue to make our way through The Whole Story. And, as always, please feel free to email me with questions about or ideas for The Whole Story.
Resting in the extravagant, astounding, reckless love of GOD,
Samuel Johnson was born on September 18, 1709, and was an English writer who made lasting contributions to English literature as a poet, essayist, moralist, literary critic, biographer, editor and lexicographer.
How Can We Pursue A Long Repentance In The Same Direction?
This last Sunday, in Calvary’s morning gathering, we studied the book of Haggai together as part of God’s Whole Story. Together we heard God speak through his prophet to his people after the exile, challenging them to remain faithful and to rebuild the temple.
The book of Haggai is the second shortest book in the Old Testament. It has 4 oracles (think: sermons), 2 chapters, and about 1,100 words.
In the book of Jeremiah we read of God’s intention for Daniel and all of those with him who have been exiled from the land of promise.
We are in a sermon series called The Whole Story, so named because we started off with the assumption, and belief really, that the whole Bible is a unified story that leads to Jesus. Each and every book is a bit like a chapter that contributes to the overall story that God is telling.
We Are Calvary
To say that we live in times of rapid change may be the very height of understatement. Our culture, and its norms, is changing at an unprecedented rate, making it increasingly challenging for the church to remain relevant—and faithful—in proclaiming the good news of the kingdom of God, in a way that will bring about the expansion of that kingdom.
This past Sunday we (finally) made it out of the weighty, dark, somber, and serious writings of the Prophets of the Exile, and stepped into the Return from Exile of the people of God. Our first look into this aspect of the redemptive drama comes via three courageous servants of Yahweh—Zerrubabel, Ezra, and Nehemiah. There story is found in the book of Ezra-Nehemiah (although our English Bibles separate them, through the centuries the Jewish people have always treated them as one book; so we will too.)
Especially When You Don't Feel Like It
Sunday is just about my favorite day of the week (“just about”…because my day off each week, our family’s Sabbath Saturday, is a tie or really close second). I love getting up that morning, making my smoothie, sitting in my favorite chair in our fireplace room, and pulling my Bible onto my lap. I relish the time spent listening to my Father speak, and I delight in those moments spent talking with him about the morning’s ministry, the people in our gathering that I hope he will transform, as well as the eleven other pastors (and their congregations) on whom I pray his blessing every Sunday.