Sunday, August 31, 2014

Reading Through Jonah

The story of Jonah is a picture of the story of Israel. God put himself into covenant with Israel and promised to bless them so that they could be a blessing to others. Jonah ChartInstead, for much of its history, Israel selfishly used the blessings God gave them on themselves. This led to complacency, corruption and finally God’s judgment. Instead of being a blessing to the nations around them, they became just like them. So Jonah was written to remind Israel of their covenant obligation to be a blessing to the nations and to point out the selfishness of people unwilling to share God's blessings. God wanted Israel to be the means of saving the world because he is a compassionate God who desires all the world to come to Him. He shows compassion to His people so that we can be compassionate to the world by taking the message and blessings of relationship with God to them.

The quotations below are taken from the New American Commentary, Jonah by Franklin S. Page

First, God calls people to his service. Here Jonah is called to preach to a foreign city, Nineveh. Second, God cares enough about sinners to send a word of hope, love, and grace. Finally, implied here and told later in the story, no one can run from God.  Jonah 1.3, 228.

Superficial solutions to the entanglements caused by our rebellion and disobedience seldom work. Repentance often requires radical action. Jonah 1.13, 236.

Jonah ran from God because he did not share God’s compassion for people. Like Israel, he was full of national pride that assumed Israel was chosen because they were better than other nations. His wrong ideas led to wrong actions that could only be remedied by the extreme action of tossing him into the water. The irony is that the Gentile sailors (who Jonah looked down on as idolaters) displayed God’s character and obeyed YHWH  much better than Jonah did.

In this text Jonah sermonized during his prayer regarding an issue where he himself had failed. While he advocated total dependence upon the Lord and the forsaking of idols, his recent history showed that he was the one who fled and forsook God. Jonah 2.8-9, 252.

Jonah is like many believers who are more than happy and expect to receive God’s forgiveness and grace for themselves but would, judgmentally, deny it to others, especially people who are different than themselves.

The very thought of God “changing his mind” causes difficulty for some believers. In perfect consistency with his justice, righteousness, and mercy, he spared Nineveh. There is absolutely no contradiction here. God’s character and his promises do not change. But many other verses show that God does change his plan of action according to his purposes...Again and again the Old Testament relays the truth that God is responsive to his creation. Jonah 3.10, 269.

God truly does enter into relationship with his creation. He responds to our prayers. He takes joy or is hurt by our actions. Yet in all of this he still remains God.

God attempted to deal with Jonah’s inconsistency by asking him, “Do you have a right?” The question is identical to the one God asked in v. 4. Stuart is right in saying that this question is central to the whole book. “What right do we have to demand that God should favor us and not others?..As Wolff explained, Jonah “neither wished to live under the governance of free grace (vv. 1–3), nor was he prepared to live under a government without grace. Jonah 4.9, 280–281.

The issue is that of grace—grace and mercy. Just as Jonah’s provision was the shade of the vine he did not deserve, the Ninevites’ provision was a deliverance they did not deserve based upon a repentance they did not fully understand. God’s wish for his creation is salvation, not destruction. He will work to see that the salvation is accomplished if there is willingness on the creation’s part. Can a person ever rightly resent the grace of God shown to another? Jonah 4.11, 282.

An experience with the forgiving, gracious, compassionate heart of God obligates us to show His heart to the world by forgiving those who hurt us and showing grace and compassion to those who are unlike us, outside our circles, or, even our enemies.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Birthday Party

SAMSUNG            Last Saturday we attended the third birthday party of Gwen Pate, daughter of PIU’s Executive VP, Nino Pate. Many of you prayed for Gwen a few months ago when she underwent SAMSUNG            surgery and I thought it would be appropriate to post a few pictures that show how well she is doing now. The party was a nice time for the PIU family and the extended church family to get together and celebrate. I think all the kids enjoyed that too. As you can see from the pictures, the theme was Hello Kitty.

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Adults and kids all had a good time

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The kids enjoyed the games

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It is interesting to me the different ways that kids play.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Reading Through Obadiah

obadiah chartObadiah is a prophecy of judgment against the nation of Edom. This seems like a big “so what” until one considers that “Edom” here functions as representative of the fate of all enemies of God’s people and God’s plan for the world. That is, Edom's total destruction because of their pride and mistreatment of Israel is a picture of how God will judge all the nations. As Edom took advantage of Israel when they were in trouble, so Edom would find no help or rescue when they are in trouble. The driving principle here is that your attitude toward God and His authority will come out in your treatment of His people and will form the basis of His judgment. “As you do to others it will be done to you. It is impossible to love God and hate the people He created.

Quotes below are from the New American Commentary, Obadiah by Billy Smith.

Edom represents the enemy of God’s people in all generations, as well as perpetual world power over against God. The ultimate destiny of such enemies is destruction. God is unalterably opposed to such enemies. No mountain is high enough, no fortress is strong enough, no military force is large enough, and no hiding place is dark enough to secure such an enemy from the judgment of God. Obadiah 10, 190.

Edom’s major sin was pride. They believed that they did not need to live in dependence on God and this came out in behavior that took advantage of others, especially God’s people.

Edom did not lift one finger to help. Their behavior showed that they were on the side of their brother’s enemies. Refusing to come to the aid of someone in need is the same as rendering the harm yourself. Obadiah 11, 192.

It is not enough just to live without hurting your fellow human beings. We also have an obligation to help them when they are in need. For believers this is especially true of helping God’s people. Note that Jesus judgment of the nations is “whatever you did to the least of these, you did to me.”

What Edom did to others would be done to them (v. 15). They too would be “destroyed” (v. 10, the same verb as the one here translated “cut down”). Edom deserved the judgment of God because of their deplorable attitudes and actions toward their brothers, who were in addition God’s people. Obadiah 14, 194.

God’s people may suffer temporary defeat for their sins, but God will intervene to rescue them, to judge his enemies, and to establish his kingdom. In the end God’s kingdom will come, and he will reign over all peoples of the earth. Obadiah 21, 201.

As the people of Judah went into exile in Babylon it appeared that the wrong people were being punished. Edom took advantage of Judah’s defeat to enrich themselves. But judgment came for Edom as Nebuchadnezzar came back for them a few years later and within a couple hundred years they ceased to exist as a nation. Meanwhile, God restored Judah to its homeland and His people will reign with him in His eternal kingdom. Short-term injustice seems to reign but it will be set right.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Some More Pictures From the First Week at PIU

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The first week at PIU started with registration, orientation and welcome activities. It was a busy, but fun week. It is so nice to have a campus full of students again. Here are some pictures

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Joyce’s crew worked hard to get things ready

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Students and staff also had an opportunity to cool off

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Saturday included some wild water games

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including a greased watermelon relay

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The PIU team played a league basketball game in the morning

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The fans were very enthusiastic

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More work: The library was cleaned to get ready for the start of classes

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Fun, fun, fun; but now it is time to get classes going!

Monday, August 25, 2014

Reading Through Amos

Amos ChartAs I work through the Minor Prophets I always hate to come to Amos because he is so convicting. We all have a tendency, as Israel did, to read the Word of God and apply it to someone else. Amos does not allow us to do that. His point is that God’s judgment is coming and it is coming first for God’s people. To those who have more information and more blessing more is required. Blessings are to be shared. We should not become complacent within the blessings of God. The theme of Amos is that God’s judgment, the Day of the LORD, is impending and it is coming for YOU!

Billy Smith, writer of the Amos section of the New American Commentary sees this as the main message of Amos,

The sovereign Lord commissioned Amos to bear his message of judgment upon Israel, a judgment so destructive the nation would not survive. Israel’s sin against God caused God’s judgment against Israel. The coming day of the Lord would be a day of darkness and destruction, not light and salvation for “the sinful kingdom” 31.

Or my take on the message of Amos, “Impending judgment should motivate God's people to examine themselves for signs of complacency, laziness or rebellion, repent and seek relationship with Him so that they will be ready to face God and be part of the blessed minority in His Kingdom.

In the words of W. Eichrodt, there is “a universal ethical will of God, which gives the moral norms established within his covenant people validity for the whole world.” The view that the cosmic Lord will judge the earth, he says, “drives prophetic thinking on to the unity and universality of the morality required by God, which is binding on all who bear the face of Man.”  Amos 1.3-5, 46.

God has a low tolerance level for those who break treaties, who take away human freedom and dignity, and whose motive is material profit. Such people should brace themselves for the destructive judgment of God. Amos 1.9, 53.

As J. Niehaus explains: “Crimes against humanity bring God’s punishment. This observation is a powerful motivation for God’s people to oppose the mistreatment and neglect of their fellow human beings.” Amos 2.1, 58.

All nations are accountable to God when they oppress, dehumanize, and take away the rights of people, especially helpless people. God’s judgment is severe against those who exploit, abuse, and oppress fellow human beings. God judges indiscriminately. Claims of a special relationship to God does not immunize such people from his judgment. Amos 2.14-16, 69.

Amos begins with a section of prophecies of judgment on the nations around Israel. All nations are accountable to God for how they treat their people and relate to other nations. YHWH is the God of all creation, not just Israel.

Israel’s privileged relationship to God carried with it heavy responsibility to God. As seen in the Book of Deuteronomy, living in relationship with God demanded loyalty and faithfulness. If the people failed, judgment and punishment would come. God holds his people accountable for their sins. Amos 3.2, 71.

The enduring principle here is that God will destroy elaborate altars, expensive houses, and other accoutrements of an extravagant lifestyle when these items are acquired through oppression, fraud, and strong-arm tactics. The idolatry of the people led to their opulent lifestyles. Amos 3.15, 83.

But Amos’ main reason for the section on judgment of the Gentiles was to get Israel to look at themselves. Spiritual privilege leads to a higher standard of judgment. Thus, God's judgment should promote self-evaluation, not pride or condemnation of others.

Worshipers must practice a constant vigil as regards motive in performing religious rituals. Is the motive to show love for God or only to show love for the practice of religion? Amos 4.4-5, 88.

Just as Israel had the power to change (or overturn) some things in their society, so God had the power to change (overturn) things in his universe. To that powerful God Israel was accountable. Amos 5.8-9, 101.

Seeking what is good is not the same as seeking God, but it is a corollary. Seeking God and seeking good represent the two dimensions of true religion, not rituals and forms but relationships with God and other persons.  Amos 5.14, 106.

Then as now, God’s acceptance or rejection of human expressions of worship is based on his assessment of the motives of the heart... Religious activity is no substitute for national or personal righteousness. It may even sometimes be a hindrance. Amos 5.23-24, 113.

God does not tolerate a self-indulgent lifestyle... When the worship of God’s people fails to produce justice and righteousness in society, God’s judgment cannot be far behind. Amos 6.7, 119–120.

“The mighty fortress is their god. Its security and power make God’s protection and blessing irrelevant crutches in the real world of economic and political influence.” God hates anything that replaces him in the lives of his people, especially when it is associated with wickedness. Amos 6.8, 121.

The major focus of Amos is that real religion is relationship with God that flows into loving treatment of others, especially the poor and needy. It is very easy for the church to focus on ritual or calling and become complacent. When churches are spending the bulk of the budget on making themselves more comfortable in their “worship” services they are dangerously close to the complacency of the people of Israel.

Primary loyalty to God in their service to Israel would have eliminated conflict between the king, the priest, and the prophet. The answer to conflict among God’s people is always to place loyalty to God above all else. Amos 7.10-17, 136.

Putting chaff and trash with good grain to sell to desperately hungry poor people was the ultimate in greed. Human greed for profit at the expense of the innocent brings down a society in the just desserts of divine recompense. Amos 8.6, 146.

Israel’s trouble was theological. Their false gods could never raise them up if they fell down. Only the Lord could do that...Such judgment forces us to ask: What are our oppressive acts, and what are our pagan deities? and then forces us to answer honestly and quickly. Amos 8.14, 152–153.

The Lord they expected to meet at Bethel would be there, but not to receive them favorably. His presence would be for evil and not good. When God’s people steadfastly refuse to seek good rather than evil (5:14), they can expect God’s gaze to be upon them for evil, not good. Amos 9.4, 157.

Israel tried to combine worship of God with their own agenda. This always results in conflict and ultimately judgment. Symptoms of idolatry include immorality, lack of concern for the poor and greed. These will all bring God’s judgment.

God is the one who restores, builds, plants, and blesses. It will not be by political coup, social revolution, or military maneuvers that Israel will regain its ascendancy. It will be by the coming of the Lord, who will heal his people and their land.  Amos 9.15, 170.

God does promise to bless those who take a good look at themselves and repent. Amos is convicting because he requires us to take a hard look at ourselves and at out churches to see if we are doing the things that really please God.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

PIU Welcome Day #1

SAMSUNGOn Friday we welcomed our new and returning students to PIU for the Fall semester. Thursday and Friday were registration days but it was not all work for the SAMSUNGstudents as we began with some games and activities in the afternoon and evening. There would be additional activities over the weekend culminating in the greatly anticipated all PIU barbecue on Sunday evening. The students were divided into three teams for the weekend: The Vines (John 15), The Coals (Isaiah 6) and The Bones (Ezekiel 37). Here are some pictures from Friday...

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The students and staff came out for the “obstacle course” game

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They had to navigate the obstacle course while blindfolded

Here is a video of the obstacle course run….

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It was a fun time with the students; family and friends too

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Each team had to decorate their own T-shirt uniforms to prepare for the games…

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Basketball and fellowship followed

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Commissioning of Student Leaders

SAMSUNG            Wednesday the PIU student leaders finished their training and the faculty and staff joined them for a celebratory breakfast and commissioning service. This was the same student group we met with on Monday for lunch. We had an enjoyable time SAMSUNGof worship and hearing from the students’ their vision and hopes for the upcoming semester. We then had a time of prayer over the student leaders and spent some time praying through the dorm. All this was in preparation for the students scheduled to come in on Thursday….

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Left – Student and faculty enjoy fellowship. Right – The Student Life Team: Rob Puckett (Dean of Men), Sarah Brubaker (Director of Student Life) and Daisy Murdock (Dean of Women)

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Here are the Vision and Mission statements drawn up the student council and the resident assistants for their ministries this year:

STUCO Vision Statement: STUCO exists to be servant leaders by being the representation for students to the administration with concerns and issues as well as encouraging community where students are being transformed through and by building relationships within Pacific Islands University community and Guam community (1 Timothy 4:12).

STUCO Mission Statement: STUCO’s mission is to provide servant leaders in order to foster community by upholding servant hearts to stimulate relationship building (inside and outside of the classroom), illustrate unity as well as Christian growth, and planning student-led activities; to live and work together in love, peace and unity; to protect and strive to honor the Triune God, and to achieve our goal of fostering community to show the love of Christ throughout PIU and Guam.

RA Vision Statement: As an Extension of the Student Life team, we, the RAs, exist to provide accountability, relationship building, spiritual and physical assistance and model servant leadership.

RA Mission Statement: The RAs mission is to build a trustful community through open and honest communication, and willingness of availability to other needs, having patience in dealing with situations within ourselves and others and stepping forward in a position of leading with humility in the dorms, the classroom and everywhere else.

Reading Through Joel

Joel ChartWith Joel the reading through the minor prophets picks up speed. Joel is a short book, and is best read through in one sitting to see the comparison that Joel makes between an invasion of locusts in chapter 1, an invasion of a Northern army in chapter 2 and the final Day of the LORD as God comes with judgment and salvation to implement his glorious kingdom. This is sandwiched around an exhortation to the desired response – repentance and a promise of God’s incredible provision for His people.

As Garrett says,

A terrible locust plague apparently precipitated Joel’s prophecy. Out of this event, which Joel saw as no less than an act of God and a manifestation of the day of the Lord, the book develops a theological program that both interprets the disaster for the prophet’s generation and looks ahead to the end of the age. In the process the text shows that the “day of the LORD” is both judgment and salvation and that it appears in diverse historical events.

The Day of the LORD is a recurring time in which God decisively invades human history to punish sin, purify His people and set up His kingdom. The final one will include the tribulation, judgments, 2nd Coming and millennium/eternal kingdom. In the writings of the ancient world "The Day" of a king included his conquering, subjugation and ruling over a group of people. God has invaded the lives of His people for judgment in a pattern of what the final judgment will be like in the destruction of Samaria and the destruction of Jerusalem by the Babylonians and Romans.

All quotations below are from the New American Commentary, Joel by Duane A. Garrett

The Christian response to calamity, therefore, is both to fear God and to trust him. It is to recognize that I, too, deserve the worst of what has happened to others and must remain in a state of repentance. On the other hand, when tragedy does strike me, it is to realize that God is not necessarily pursuing me for some sin. He is sovereign and will work all things out for his glory and our good. If we are to follow the example of Joel, then in hardship, too, we must look for the hand of God. Joel 1.11-12, 325.

When Yahweh moves, Joel asserted, the old order is inverted, the familiar disappears, and false security collapses. No one can withstand that day because there is nothing left to stand on. On the other hand, as we shall see, Yahweh brings new life and a new world into being. Joel 2.11, 343.

Joel issued “a call to faith not in a doctrinal system, but in an intensely personal God.” Joel 2.14, 347.

One of the greatest comforts for the believer is that, in the midst of tragedy and difficulty, we can have hope because it is not caused by an impersonal karma, but by a personal God who loves us and is working these things to an ultimate good end for us. In the midst of the seeming chaos we don’t always understand what God is doing (Job for example) but we can trust God.

The major characteristic of the outpouring of the Spirit is its universality. All the people of God receive the Spirit. The text specifically erases the major social distinctions of the ancient world: gender, age, and economic status. In an era in which men (not women), the old (not the young), and the landowners (not slaves) ruled society, Joel explicitly rejected all such distinctions as criteria for receiving the Holy Spirit. Joel 2.28, 369.

Joel’s prophecy concerns the eschatological era and that we are now in that era. The church is not an interruption in the plan of God. This is the messianic age. The Spirit has come, Zion has already been exalted in that Gentiles have joined Israel in the worship of Israel’s God, and the judgment of this world has begun. We await the culmination of all things.  Joel 2.28-32, 374.

Neither we nor the New Testament writers need to assign arbitrarily some secondary meaning to Old Testament texts. Rather, we should seek to understand the prophetic themes the prophets proclaimed and in so doing see how all these themes have their ultimate fulfillment in Christ. Hosea, Joel 3, 390–391.

God often works in patterns that unfold over very long periods of time. Thus, the revelation in the New Testament that the final Day of the LORD would begin with the incarnation and ascension of the Messiah, the founding of the church as the Spirit is given to inaugurate the New Age and then finally (at least 2000 years later) the return of the king to bring in the full expression of his rule on earth takes place over a much longer time than one would expect.

Still, the ultimate fulfillment of this verse is in the eternal Jerusalem. It is that city that truly will never become desolate, suffer defeat, or endure drought. This interpretation is not a violation of the promises to historical Israel; it is their fulfillment. Joel 3.20, 396.

As the writer of Hebrews says, we are “looking forward to a city,” the New Jerusalem and the entire earth as a Garden of Eden. Thus, we both dread and look forward to the Day of the LORD. Your attitude toward the Day of the LORD should depend on whether you are reflecting His character and His power in your life. If you are not reflecting Christ in your life you should fear it; if Jesus lives in your life you should welcome it and say, "Come quickly, Lord Jesus!"

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Reading Through Hosea

My two year reading cycle through the Bible twice and throughHosea Chart the New American Commentary series once will come to an end at the end of this month with a quick read through the Minor Prophets. Of course, this begins with Hosea. Hosea is sort of a “scandalous” book as it portrays the prophet, and God, as a cheated husband with Israel playing the role of the cheating wife. God is seen with the conflicting passions, both the pain and the romance, of the husband that is both deeply in love and angry with his unfaithful wife at the same time. God and Hosea, who are suffering in the same way, alternate speaking/acting both in judgment (in order to get the wayward wife and her children to return to him) and then in joyful restoration of the relationship.

The quotes below are all from the New American Commentary, Hosea by Duane Garrett. By the way, I thought that Garrett’s contributions to this commentary set we by far the best in the Old Testament. I used his commentary on the wisdom books for my exegesis in wisdom literature class.

God has divorced Israel just as Hosea has divorced Gomer, but in both cases grace triumphs over righteous jealousy and the demands of the law. Like the cross itself, Hosea’s action is a stumbling block. A man does not normally take back a woman who has behaved the way Gomer did. But we must acknowledge this as a revelation of grace through suffering.

Hosea’s sad story is important in another equally paradoxical way. One would think that having married an immoral woman, and then having the marriage collapse because of the wife’s gross infidelity, would be enough to disqualify anyone from claiming the role of God’s spokesman. But the opposite is true. Hosea offers his private tragedies as his credentials for serving as God’s spokesman. Hosea 1.1, 49–50.

Modern readers of Hosea need to ask whether their culture, including that subculture that identifies itself as Christian, is leading toward or away from God. Hosea 2.2, 76.

Christians would do well to consider what demands the hopes of the future make upon the present. If the unity of all believers and the removal of all evil will characterize the consummated kingdom of God (Rev 7:9; 22:15), it is surely the case that we should seek to attain those ideals, however imperfectly, in the church today. Hosea 2.17, 92.

The first three chapters of Hosea tell the story of God’s command to Hosea to marry an immoral woman who will give him three children. She then turns back to prostitution and and becomes so poor she is sold into slavery. God then leads Hosea to find her, redeem her and return her to her position as a wife. This picture of grace is exactly what God did for Israel and what he does for the church and all creation. God deeply loves sinners and desires to restore the relationship.

We could rightly describe these three elements—integrity, compassion, and the knowledge of God—as describing the meaning of the Christian faith. All of Hosea’s accusations sprang from the fact that these were lacking in his people. Hosea 4.1, 111.

The Bible holds two truths in tension: first, that repentance is always a possibility, and second, that corruption can so enslave a soul that repentance becomes a practical impossibility. This verse focuses on the latter truth. Hosea 5.4, 145.

After the conquests the distinction between the two kingdoms will have no significance. Once again it will simply be the children of Israel who return to God. Put another way, killing Israel is the means of offering salvation to the Israelites. Hosea 5.15, 155.

Israel was lacking the three important elements that are required in all relationships: relational knowledge, faithful love and truthfulness. Nevertheless God’s offer of reconciliation and relationship was open to them if they would change their ways and return to God.

Returning to Yahweh is a major theme of the book. The structure of this short song develops a basic theme of the Bible, that repentance necessarily precedes reception of divine favor. Hosea 6.1-2, 158.

Hosea is not a religious reactionary who simply desires to stamp out social sins and impose religious duty on people. To the contrary, he desires that his reader acquire the loving and compassionate heart that comes from a transformational life with God. Hosea 6.6, 161.

Sin is adultery, prostitution. All sin breaks faith with God and is unfaithfulness to our spiritual husband who is always faithful to us, Jesus Christ. Yet God desires a true return to relationship with him that transforms us.

Thus those who forsake the good find themselves chased by something or someone hostile to them and to what is good for them. Hosea 8.3, 182.

The principles of Baal had been accepted as orthodox and indeed as the genuine expression of the Israelite faith. For modern readers the lesson is that we need to beware of how easy it is to substitute culture and prevalent opinions for true Christianity. It is possible to regard true examples of Christian spirituality as alien. Hosea 8.12, 187.

One might suppose that the “glory” that will depart from Israel is their wealth and power or even their children, but context implies that it is Yahweh himself...In effect, they (Israel) have been returned to their original status as outsiders and wanderers. Hosea 9.11,17, 200, 203

Living by grace is not natural and we tend to substitute other ways of living (which are all idolatry) even as we think we are worshipping God. The Israelites tried to syncretize the worship of God with that of Baal. We tend to substitute human principles (moral therapeutic deism perhaps) from our own cultures for the culture God calls us to. Sadly the judgment that comes is often what we “want,” God leaves our lives, and his blessing and protection which we thought to keep goes with him.

The real issue is not, Did Hosea intend this verse to be read messianically? but What did Hosea understand to be the nature of prophecy? In answer to this question, we must assert that Hosea, like all biblical prophets, saw prophecy not so much as the making of specific, individual predictions (which are actually quite rare among the writing prophets), but as the application of the Word of God to historical situations... Thus prophecy gives us not so much specific predictions but types or patterns by which God works in the world. Hosea 11.1, 221–222.

For Hosea the lesson is that Jacob the supplanter, the one who struggled for everything, was transformed into Israel the suppliant, the recipient of grace... Jacob’s machinations and battles for survival represented his old life, his life without grace, whereas his reception of the promises at Bethel represented his new life. Hosea 12.2-5, 238–239.

Jesus recapitulated the history of Israel, but he did it right. They were supposed to be the image of God that brought all creation into contact with God. Israel failed, but Jesus succeeded. We also will succeed when we do it Jesus’ way.

Both national and personal resurrection legitimately arise from the idea that God can restore that which has died... The purpose of the strategy is to maintain the certainty of salvation in the ultimate plan of God while yet confronting Israel with the reality of their doom in a manner that does not allow for rationalistic evasion. Hosea 13.14, 265.

Repentance is essential to Hosea’s theology. It is of the essence of knowing God, since no restoration is possible without repentance. Sin, moreover, stands in opposition to repentance. A facile understanding of justification by faith that has no place for repentance is alien to Hosea (and, for that matter, to Paul and Jesus). Hosea 14.1-3, 270.

The possibility of resurrection makes salvation sure no matter what happens in this life. In fact, God can allow his people to be deeply hurt in this life, or even be martyred; and it’s ok because, as Paul said these terrible trials are somewhat inconvenient annoyances compared to the surpassing glory of the resurrection life in the kingdom of God.

The text invites the reader to a way of life; it is a path that leads to understanding and to God. In the final analysis, therefore, the key to interpretation is not intelligence but submission. The enigmas of Hosea, like those of Jesus, are stumbling blocks that only anger and finally destroy those who “rebel” against God’s rule. The righteous, however, find life in these same words. Hosea 14.9, 282.

You will never understand Hosea unless you are willing to submit to God’s way of grace, forgiveness and reconciliation. God’s ways are only understood by doing dangerous things like loving our enemies, choosing to desire the best for those who have hurt us and reaching out to those the world tells us can’t be saved. Wisdom is to choose grace and obedience – life.