OPEN TO A SOAKING

Opening Prayer

Jesus, I come to you today, thanking you not only for your love, but for the promise of your constant presence that assures and leads me.

Read HOSEA 9:10–10:15

10 “When I found Israel,
    it was like finding grapes in the desert;
when I saw your ancestors,
    it was like seeing the early fruit on the fig tree.
But when they came to Baal Peor,
    they consecrated themselves to that shameful idol
    and became as vile as the thing they loved.
11 Ephraim’s glory will fly away like a bird—
    no birth, no pregnancy, no conception.
12 Even if they rear children,
    I will bereave them of every one.
Woe to them
    when I turn away from them!
13 I have seen Ephraim, like Tyre,
    planted in a pleasant place.
But Ephraim will bring out
    their children to the slayer.”

14 Give them, Lord—
    what will you give them?
Give them wombs that miscarry
    and breasts that are dry.

15 “Because of all their wickedness in Gilgal,
    I hated them there.
Because of their sinful deeds,
    I will drive them out of my house.
I will no longer love them;
    all their leaders are rebellious.
16 Ephraim is blighted,
    their root is withered,
    they yield no fruit.
Even if they bear children,
    I will slay their cherished offspring.”

17 My God will reject them
    because they have not obeyed him;
    they will be wanderers among the nations.

10 Israel was a spreading vine;
    he brought forth fruit for himself.
As his fruit increased,
    he built more altars;
as his land prospered,
    he adorned his sacred stones.
Their heart is deceitful,
    and now they must bear their guilt.
The Lord will demolish their altars
    and destroy their sacred stones.

Then they will say, “We have no king
    because we did not revere the Lord.
But even if we had a king,
    what could he do for us?”
They make many promises,
    take false oaths
    and make agreements;
therefore lawsuits spring up
    like poisonous weeds in a plowed field.
The people who live in Samaria fear
    for the calf-idol of Beth Aven.[a]
Its people will mourn over it,
    and so will its idolatrous priests,
those who had rejoiced over its splendor,
    because it is taken from them into exile.
It will be carried to Assyria
    as tribute for the great king.
Ephraim will be disgraced;
    Israel will be ashamed of its foreign alliances.
Samaria’s king will be destroyed,
    swept away like a twig on the surface of the waters.
The high places of wickedness[b] will be destroyed—
    it is the sin of Israel.
Thorns and thistles will grow up
    and cover their altars.
Then they will say to the mountains, “Cover us!”
    and to the hills, “Fall on us!”

“Since the days of Gibeah, you have sinned, Israel,
    and there you have remained.[c]
Will not war again overtake
    the evildoers in Gibeah?
10 When I please, I will punish them;
    nations will be gathered against them
    to put them in bonds for their double sin.
11 Ephraim is a trained heifer
    that loves to thresh;
so I will put a yoke
    on her fair neck.
I will drive Ephraim,
    Judah must plow,
    and Jacob must break up the ground.
12 Sow righteousness for yourselves,
    reap the fruit of unfailing love,
and break up your unplowed ground;
    for it is time to seek the Lord,
until he comes
    and showers his righteousness on you.
13 But you have planted wickedness,
    you have reaped evil,
    you have eaten the fruit of deception.
Because you have depended on your own strength
    and on your many warriors,
14 the roar of battle will rise against your people,
    so that all your fortresses will be devastated—
as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle,
    when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children.
15 So will it happen to you, Bethel,
    because your wickedness is great.
When that day dawns,
    the king of Israel will be completely destroyed.

Footnotes

  1. Hosea 10:5 Beth Aven means house of wickedness (a derogatory name for Bethel, which means house of God).
  2. Hosea 10:8 Hebrew aven, a reference to Beth Aven (a derogatory name for Bethel); see verse 5.
  3. Hosea 10:9 Or there a stand was taken

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

May we be open to the Spirit’s promptings and leadings. Trust the Holy Spirit to show us the way to go.

Think Further

In today’s reading, Hosea’s message continues to highlight the historic and current sin that leads the people into God’s judgment and their own destruction. Recurrent themes of idolatry, trusting in anything but God, and generally being deceitful fill these words. Yet, all is not lost. Despite the consequences of sin, God still offers hope for those who turn to him. We read in 10:12 that the people could be showered with God’s righteousness. The condition for this blessing is based upon their wholesale change: they must break the ‘unploughed ground’ (10:12) and return to living a life for God. For too long they have ignored God and done their own thing; Hosea’s message gives them hope, as long as they change.

There are times in life when many will realize that they have been neglecting to live for God in some area. The unploughed ground may represent a lack of some spiritual practice like fasting, prayer, giving, hospitality—now being spotlighted by the Holy Spirit. To find fruitfulness in this area requires both work by us and work by God. We have to ‘break up’ the ground—the hard work to re-establish the practice. Once we have made the choice and set ourselves to the discipline, that is when God rains on us and the harvest comes. In practical terms, we need to set ourselves to the practice identified by the Holy Spirit and, as we do so, it is with God’s help that we reap the benefit.

The emphasis of Hosea’s message here does not suggest a high expectation of the people responding. That, of course, is their choice. Let us ensure that we have no ‘unploughed ground’ in our lives; rather, that we are open and receptive to the rain of the Holy Spirit.

Apply

Let us be open to the promptings of the Holy Spirit to consider if there is some area that we need to be working on to become more fruitful.

Closing prayer

O God, make my life a clear and loving testimony for your truth, for there is no one else we can come to for grace and mercy.

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by kingstar

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