Monday, June 11, 2012

Book of Hosea

The Life Project: Hosea
Paul Pope
Is there any human feeling more powerful than that of betrayal? The feelings multiply exponentially when the betrayal comes from someone we love. Ask a high school girl whose boyfriend has dumped her for a pretty cheerleader. Or turn on your radio and listen to the lyrics of many songs that communicate pain turned to anger that stem from infidelity. Or check out the murders reported on the news and you’ll find an amazing number trace back to a quarrel with an estranged lover
The Old Testament book of Hosea is the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer. At the same time, the book of Hosea symbolizes God’s faithful love for His unfaithful people. God commands Hosea to marry a prostitute, Gomer, but after bearing him three children, she walks away from Hosea to the arms of other lovers. The symbolic nature of the book is communicated in the first chapter as Hosea compares Israel’s actions to that of a woman turning from her marriage to a life of prostitution.
Not even God, with all His power, will force someone to love Him, and this choice will always leave the possibility for rejection. God through Hosea’s marriage demonstrates in living color exactly what it is like to love someone desperately and only get rejection in return. The book of Hosea portrays God’s passion, fury, tears, and love as a reaction to Israel’s rejection of Him. More close to home, we get to see how God responds to us when we reject Him for things of this world.
Even after Gomer deserted Hosea for other men, the Lord told him to take her back—a picture of "the love of the L
ORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods" (Hosea 3:1). God the lover does not desire to share His bride with anyone else. Yet, amazingly, when Israel turned her back on God, He stuck with her.
Hosea, and later Jesus, clearly communicate to us that God longs not to punish but to love. He who saved and cares for you longs for your return. His arms are open in forgiveness and acceptance. He will never drive you away.

Small Group Questions
1. Have you ever been betrayed by someone that you love? What were the feelings that arose in you?
2. How does the book of Hosea communicate God’s heart for those who have betrayed Him by serving idols (looking to other people or things to do what only God can do)?
3. When was the last time you strayed from God? How did you think God reacted?
4. Do you ever wonder if you have strayed too far from God to be restored?
5. Read parable of "The Prodigal Son": Luke 15:11-24 God receives us when we repent and turn to Him. Repentance is best described by the Prodigal Son when he realized his mistake and humbly asked to be restored in relationship. Compare this understanding of repentance to the way you regard your sin. When you recognize sin in your life do you repent or do you act like it didn’t happen and move on?