Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 6: If God Really Loves Me... : Friday, Jan. 14, 2005
January 14 2005 by John Pond

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 6: If God Really Loves Me... : Friday, Jan. 14, 2005
Friday, Jan. 14, 2005

Family Bible Study lesson for Feb. 6: If God Really Loves Me...

By John Pond
Focal Passage: Hosea 1:2-11; 3:1-5

The most basic element of character is discipline, described as the ability to "inhibit and constrain personal appetites on behalf of a greater good" by sociologist James Hunter. If we truly love someone, our desire is for their success, happiness and fulfillment. Love does not leave the beloved in a morass of guilt and despair, but raises them to what is hidden within - to what can be.

At times God's love appears tough and uncaring. We may feel like we've been set aside or ignored. It is at those moments that we might be experiencing God's disciplining love. This is not God's way of giving up on or abandoning us. It is His love calling us to Him. C.S. Lewis wrote, "God whispers to us in our pleasures; speaks in our conscience; but shouts in our pains."

Love's discipline

Hosea 1:2-9

Hosea was called by God to be a prophet, to allow God to speak through him. His prophetic activity would begin with marriage. This marriage would be a mirror of Israel's relationship to the Lord. This marriage was unique because Hosea was told to marry a prostitute.

Scholars believe this woman was a Hebrew who had served as a temple prostitute in the debased worship of Baal.

His marriage resulted in the birth of three children. Their births were the second level of Hosea's calling. With each child's name came a message from God to His covenant people Israel. The first "Jezreel" (God scatters) points to blood shed at Jezreel by King Jehu; the second "Lo-ruhamah" (not pitied or no compassion) announced the end of God's pity for His disobedient people; and "Lo-ammi" (not my people) announced the end of His covenant with Israel.

The three children pronounced the progression of God's discipline of His covenant people from judgment to the end of the covenant. Israel would feel the sting of God's discipline.

In Exodus 6:7, God had declared: "I will take you for My people, and I will be your God." Now because of their promiscuity God annulled His covenant and brought their relationship to an end.

Love's promise

Hosea 1:10-11

What a contrast. On the heels of verses 2-9 comes a promise of restoration and reassurance. The previous words are from a holy God who cannot tolerate sin. His wrath and judgment is a reality when we deliberately disobey His will. But God is not solely a wrathful God. He is a God who lovingly desires a relationship with His people.

With earnest and fervent repentance, that relationship is restored. God reverses His judgment. "Not My people" becomes "Children of the living God." This expression "living God" denotes the life-giving character of God. "To be the children of such a God is to have fullness of life and to discover that the meaning of our lives is to be found in relationship with the Father of all life" (Peter Craigie). Thus, God's gracious mercy restores His people and "the day of Jezreel (God sows) will be great!"

Love's redemption

Hosea 3:1-5

With this chapter we come to the climax of events surrounding Hosea's life. Once more he is called to renew a relationship with his wife. This is a second calling of God through His servant. The first was of judgment, this of redemption.

Previously he was to marry her even though she was promiscuous, now he is to love her though she was an adulterer. His wife had left him, fallen into debt, and had to sell herself into slavery.

Like the first time, Hosea must once again allow his life to serve as a parable and foreshadow of God's love for His disobedient people. God said to him, "Go again, love a woman ... even as the Lord loves ..."

So he purchased her for the price of a slave. After purchasing her freedom, Hosea began the process of restoration with a period of seclusion and abstinence. Thereafter, together they would live reunited as one couple just as God's people would live united as one people before their God.

The law demands severe punishment, even death, but God's love provides healing and restoration. God, in His love, has provided the redemption price for His people. He has redeemed us through His Son, Jesus Christ.

1/14/2005 12:00:00 AM by John Pond | with 0 comments

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