Book of Hosea
The next two chapters again look back to the history of the Israelites. In today’s reading, we notice various references to the past that the Lord wanted to emphasize. Most significantly, Hosea recalled a time before the contentious division between the Israelites, before the rescue from Egypt and the giving of the Law. He reminded the Israelites of their patriarch, Jacob. The parts of Jacob’s life that he highlighted underscored the message that God was communicating to Hosea’s contemporaries.
The prophet called attention to Jacob’s years of struggling: he grabbed his brother’s heal out of the womb and, later, cheated him out of a blessing. Jacob’s life was hard and filled with tussling. He fled his home when he deceived his brother and, then, was swindled into working extra years when he wanted to marry the woman he loved (12). Ultimately, he wrestled with God Himself (4). Hosea’s point? “…as a man he struggled with God.” (3)
Hosea acknowledged that in all these difficult circumstances, Jacob was essentially grappling with God, who He is and what kind of relationship he would have with Him. In that storied wrestling match, God knocked out Jacob’s hip; when he realized that he was struggling with the Lord, Jacob hung on and pleaded for a blessing (4). (If you missed Rod’s excellent message on Jacob’s pivotal moment or would like a refresher, click on the link below.)
Surely, Hosea’s contemporaries had not forgotten the story of Jacob. They knew that he had made a series of dubious, dishonest decisions. They, too, had a long list of poor decisions. Jacob’s life illustrated to them that people struggle with God. These aspects of his journey with the Lord were neither new nor shocking to God. Could the Israelites admit that they, too, were struggling with God? Or had their forgetfulness and negligence deadened them so much that they had ceased asking the tough questions? Hosea pointed out that Jacob’s wrestling was not the end of the story. He struggled so hard, but he never gave up on God. When the Lord showed up, Jacob responded; he eventually “begged” Him for a blessing, and his life changed. God gave him the name that they called themselves, Israel.
Hosea cried out to his contemporaries. He was so very clear on what they could do, how they could transform the way Jacob did: “…the Lord God Almighty, the Lord is his name of renown! But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” (5, 6)
Even so, they did not struggle with the Lord or turn to Him, let alone wait for Him. On the contrary, they used dishonest business practices and then boasted of their wealth and power (7). No mercy. No love. No justice. No humility. No acknowledgement of God. It is very hard to wait for God. And wait and wait and wait some more. Indeed, they would not wait; they would rather turn to an ultimately destructive alternative, their neighbors to the east, Assyria: “Ephraim feeds on the wind; he pursues the east wind all day… ” (1)
“… the Lord God Almighty, the Lord is his name of renown! But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.” ~ Hosea 12:5,6
Questions to ponder:
- In what areas of your life do you struggle?
- What holds you back from bringing your struggles to God? Do you think He’ll be shocked? Disappointed? What does Hosea tell us through the example of Jacob?
- What are some practical steps you can take to begin handing your struggles over to the Lord?
Rod’s message on Jacob: “Storybook: Part 1 – Pivotal Moments“