BOOK BY BOOK BIBLE STUDY
BIBLE STUDY LESSON
For the week beginning Sunday March 10, 2013
DECIDING ON DISCIPLINE
(GOD’s discipline is sin’s consequences)
Hosea 8:1-10, 9:7-8, & 10:10-13
Lawrence O. Richards once wrote, “Only devastation of all hopes can shatter the wall of arrogance and pride that some construct around themselves”. In Hosea chapter 8, less than 10 years before GOD allowed the annihilation of northern Israel by the Assyrian king, Shalmaneser, the son of the great king, Tiglath-pileser, in 722 B.C (2 Kings 17:1-6), we see GOD’s chosen nation, still in crisis, due to corruption from within, and, from looming threats from without.
Israel was a nation that was guilty of hypocrisy, because they claimed they knew GOD, but lived their lives to the contrary (v.2). The nation had become both morally corrupt, and spiritually blind. They couldn’t see how their lives contradicted the proclamation of the pledge, that, they had once made to GOD. They also deliberately and diligently sought their own hand-picked leaders, and thereby, rejected the leadership of GOD through obedience to HIS Word. They had long forgotten that their true king was GOD, and they began seeking salvation from human sources (v.4).
They were also resorting to idolatry by building a golden calf to worship, instead of directing their worship and adoration towards GOD (v.4b-5), and, in doing so they were clearly violating GOD’s second Commandment. And finally, they sought peace and security through foreign alliances, instead of trusting in the protection of GOD. They totally forgot about their exclusive Covenant with the LORD, and began to make treaties and covenants with the pagan nations that surrounded them (Vs.8-10).
In chapter 9 Hosea announces GOD’s punishment upon HIS beloved Israel. We see in verse 6, that the prophet tells Israel that even if she escapes destruction from Assyria, she will be conquered by Egypt, and that the city of Memphis (Egypt) would bury her. Ironically, today, among the ruins of this ancient city of Memphis, one would find that its cemeteries have survived, almost intact, over the centuries, as has its ancient pyramids. It is here that many of Israel’s festival goers during that time period lost their lives in the Assyrian invasion of 722 B.C. This area stands today as a testament to the truth of GOD’s Word, as many Israelites were buried in Memphis due to the assault.
The time of Israel’s punishment had come, and the day of payment was at hand. Soon Israel would know that the prophets they once called crazy where, indeed, of the soundest of minds. Israel was a nation totally engulfed in sin, and as a result, they could only show hatred for those who loved GOD. They even set traps and sought to kill GOD’s messengers and prophets, even in the church house in those days (Vs.7-8).
And so, in Hosea chapter 10, verses 10-13, we see GOD launching HIS OWN offensive toward Israel for their rebellion and disobedience, and HE used the armies of the surrounding nations whom Israel had sought to befriend, to achieve HIS purpose.
Instead of planting righteousness, Israel had cultivated wickedness and raised up a thriving crop of sin for everyone in the nation to fed on. There is a great sense of “unrealized potential” seen in this passage that sort of jumps out at the reader like no other biblical writings since the life story of Samson. Israel was like a “trained heifer” that was called by GOD to perform a task of working the land, and then, sitting back and relishing in the proceeds thereof. They had all the potential of sowing a great and abundant crop of righteousness, but instead, she abused her position as GOD’s servant, and now must pay the consequences for the wickedness she has produced, with her own life. Israel had became cocky, and were absolutely certain that the prophets were wrong, and that, they didn’t need GOD to fight their battles for them anymore.
In all of life’s conflicts, we must beware of setting ourselves up in “false confidence”, via the people and things we think we have and hold. Whenever we rely upon our own efforts and possessions, we, in truth, can never be redeemed from our own, self-imposed circumstances. “GOD alone is mighty in battles” (Psalm 24:8) (both physical and spiritual battles). When we depend upon our own strength, we’ve only duped ourselves into admiring our own muscles. However, if we are to successfully make it out of this life, and into the next, we must learn to look to the strength of GOD, and admire HIS spiritual muscles instead.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander