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,
I had a class on preaching once, many years ago, from a pastor and a professor. And here is what he argued was the key question the preacher must ask of every text of Scripture:
2 Corinthians and The Whole Story
The reason that we began the Whole Story sermon series in January of last year was for the simple reason that we wanted to inspire you to read the Bible.
In the unsearchable counsel of God's will for the world, he has so designed that salvation will come through the church, that body of people gathered by the power of his Holy Spirit.
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Most days I love waking up, coffeeing up, praying up, and then gobbling up the Bible. But not every day. I’m just like you in that. I need reminding about why the Bible — God’s Whole Story — is an important part of my day, for every other part of my day.
One of the dangers of reading the stories of those followers of Jesus that we find in the Bible is we can treat them as if they are almost super-human.
Martin Luther warned that the people of the church are always in danger of their hearts straying from the truth of the good news of the kingdom of God found in the person and work of Jesus Christ.
The Whole Story
On Sunday, January 7th, we will begin a year and a half exploration of the whole story of the whole Bible...
1 Corinthians (part two)
This last Sunday in our Gathering, we studied the book of 1 Corinthians together. The week of preparation leading up to that moment in the pulpit was deeply encouraging, as I sat at the feet of Paul, and watched him apply the reality of Jesus and the fullness of the Good News to four main issues in the lives of Christians in the church at Corinth. I discovered that each issue was a case study in the application of the good news to the very practical matters of our lives.