HOW SHOULD WE LIVE?

Opening Prayer

Thank you, Father, that you listen to my prayers and hear every cry of my heart.

Read HOSEA 11:12–12:14

Israel’s Sin

12 Ephraim has surrounded me with lies,
    Israel with deceit.
And Judah is unruly against God,
    even against the faithful Holy One.[a]

12 [b]Ephraim feeds on the wind;
    he pursues the east wind all day
    and multiplies lies and violence.
He makes a treaty with Assyria
    and sends olive oil to Egypt.
The Lord has a charge to bring against Judah;
    he will punish Jacob[c] according to his ways
    and repay him according to his deeds.
In the womb he grasped his brother’s heel;
    as a man he struggled with God.
He struggled with the angel and overcame him;
    he wept and begged for his favor.
He found him at Bethel
    and talked with him there—
the Lord God Almighty,
    the Lord is his name!
But you must return to your God;
    maintain love and justice,
    and wait for your God always.

The merchant uses dishonest scales
    and loves to defraud.
Ephraim boasts,
    “I am very rich; I have become wealthy.
With all my wealth they will not find in me
    any iniquity or sin.”

“I have been the Lord your God
    ever since you came out of Egypt;
I will make you live in tents again,
    as in the days of your appointed festivals.
10 I spoke to the prophets,
    gave them many visions
    and told parables through them.”

11 Is Gilead wicked?
    Its people are worthless!
Do they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal?
    Their altars will be like piles of stones
    on a plowed field.
12 Jacob fled to the country of Aram[d];
    Israel served to get a wife,
    and to pay for her he tended sheep.
13 The Lord used a prophet to bring Israel up from Egypt,
    by a prophet he cared for him.
14 But Ephraim has aroused his bitter anger;
    his Lord will leave on him the guilt of his bloodshed
    and will repay him for his contempt.

Footnotes

  1. Hosea 11:12 In Hebrew texts this verse (11:12) is numbered 12:1.
  2. Hosea 12:1 In Hebrew texts 12:1-14 is numbered 12:2-15.
  3. Hosea 12:2 Jacob means he grasps the heel, a Hebrew idiom for he takes advantage of or he deceives.
  4. Hosea 12:12 That is, Northwest Mesopotamia

New International Version (NIV)Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Meditate

Take a moment to be still before God. Allow the peace of the Holy Spirit to descend upon you. Let this time be precious, fueling your day.

Think Further

In today’s reading, Hosea’s message continues to remind the people of where they have come from and how far they have drifted from God. Rather than seeking to return to the God who had called them in the first place, they sought peace treaties with international rivals. A key message comes in verse 6, where we read, ‘But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.’ They are challenged to wait for God rather than be tempted to buy help from other nations. God does not want them to return to the land of their former slavery (Egypt), or to put their faith in the land in which they would end up being exiled (Assyria).

Sometimes the familiarity of what we have already experienced is more attractive an option than trusting God to answer our prayers, but God wants us to develop a resilience in our faith, holding fast to some of the basics like love, justice, and patience. When Simon Peter failed Jesus, he returned to the comfort of the fishing boats. Part of his restoration process was declaring his love for Jesus and following him, leaving behind the old familiar practices.1

Some of Hosea’s listeners used dishonest scales, rather than maintain justice. Some of them trusted in their wealth, as if they could buy their way out of corruption—but all areas of our lives lie open before God. Whenever we feel that faith is too hard, bring it to Jesus. The grace that helped Peter is the grace that is offered to us. Through all of this, we are reminded of the words of Micah, that we are required to ‘act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.’2

Apply

Consider the areas of love, justice, and faith-filled patience. Are there any areas that you need God’s help with today? Are there areas in which restoration is required?

Closing prayer

Holy Spirit, thank you for drawing me to Christ. Tune my heart to his today.

Last Updated on February 27, 2024 by kingstar

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