Hosea 11 to 14 God is the Same Today as He was Yesterday as He will be Tomorrow.
The world would have us think that God is archaic or worse He is dead. Hosea emphatically states: God is the Lord! He is God and not a man. Samuel the prophet said these same words: “The Preeminent One of Israel does not go back on his word or change his mind, for he is not a human being who changes his mind.” [1Sam 15:29] Stop and think about those you know who are fickle and say yes when they mean no or the reverse. God is faithful to always be who He is! He is the Lord who brought Israel out of Egypt, He spoke to the prophets, and He revealed Himself in visions as He did to Ezekiel. He spoke in parables through His Son Jesus whom He sent to die for our egregious sins.
Hosea reminds Israel that they must not acknowledge anyone or anything but He alone for there is no Savior besides Him! He will heal their waywardness and love them freely.
Hosea ends his writing by saying: Who is wise? Let him discern these things! Who is discerning? Let him understand them! For the ways of the Lord are right; the godly walk in them, but in them the rebellious stumble. It is as if we are reading Peter’s words: whoever believes in him will never be put to shame. [1Peter 2:6]
Hosea 8 to 10 If you listen carefully, you will hear that the world says: “do not judge.” Jesus used that verse to remind us of the standard of judgment and that the standards we apply to others God applies to us. Jesus is teaching that we are not God and we don’t know the motives behind a person’s heart. So what does that have to do with Hosea chapters 8 to 10? God is saying I am the ultimate judge, and I alone can judge the heart.
When God looked at the northern tribes, he saw sin and judged it. Outwardly the people were saying, “God, we acknowledge you!” But, God says, let’s look at the evidence. I found you and raised you only to see that your eyes drifted to man-made idols. This should not be! What you have sown, you will also reap. I spelled out my law for you in great detail, but you regarded it as nothing. I sent you wise prophets, but you called them fools. My prophet was sent to you as a watchman to remind you of where you have fallen. Like the Ephesians, they had lost their first love. God reminds them to seek Him early while He may be found! Repent and return to the Lord
This is a wake-up call to us as well. Where have we taken our eyes off God and look to the world of its man-made idols and structures? Have we lost our first love?
Hosea 1-4 Hosea’s marriage to the prostitute Gomer is a real-life picture of how God feels about His people’s rejection of Him. He is an example of what an obedient child of the living God does— even when he does not understand—therefore, we must take note.
Hosea was to find a prostitute and marry her. So, he went to the dump and found Gomer gathering garbage; he redeemed her and married her lavishing upon her riches untold, just as God did for us.
Yet, even with all those precious gifts, Gomer, walked away from Hosea and returned to the dump where the “pimp”/Satan found her and promised what he could not deliver. Gomer/Israel saw with her eyes but not her heart. She heard with her ears but failed to recall: “I chose you out of many peoples and redeemed you for one reason: I loved you.
The Living God has a message for us in this story. Just as God promised restoration to Gomer and Israel, He promises restoration to us. God wants a people to be a sweet aroma of Christ to the lost and dying world. As Hosea paid the price for her redemption, Christ paid our redemption price willingly out of love.
God has paid the price for your redemption because He wants you to know He loves you and has redeemed you with the blood of Christ. Will you be like Gomer or Hosea?
Daniel 7 to 9 Daniel has been in Babylon for a v-e-r-y long time. In that time, he has faithfully served the Babylonian kings as he reverently continues to serve the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.
It is as if Daniel has put on a pair of virtual-reality glasses. He sees the heavenly beings and the future. He saw God’s throne room and a river of fire proceeding from it and tens of thousands ministering to Him. He saw the saints of old who now are blessed to see the radiance of God’s glory! And then all of a sudden–Heaven’s glory is tainted with the beast with the arrogant words. While Daniel watched, God threw this arrogant beast into the lake of fire “prepared for the devil and his angels!” just as the Apostle John prophesied would happen.
The vision of heaven was so real that it broke Daniel’s heart, and he falls to his knees in prayer. “O Lord, great and awesome God!” You are faithful while we have been unfaithful. You are righteous, but we are unrighteous. You are exalted, but we have been humiliated. You were right to judge our sin.
Daniel has recorded all of this for us that we might join him in prayer.
Daniel 4 to 6 Daniel, the righteous, served under several kings. Nebuchadnezzar, Belshazzar, and Darius were given opportunities to renounce the gods of silver and gold, yet they clung to that which would not last. Nebuchadnezzar’s words show that he believed in Yahweh – at first. Daniel pleaded with him to renounce his ways, but he put it off and was humbled by God for 7 yrs. God sent Belshazzar a dramatic visual lesson, yet he chose to ignore the warning. That very night, he was assassinated, and Babylon fell. King Darius listened to the voices of fools and regretted that a righteous man, Daniel, would be thrown to the lions.
Nebuchadnezzar and Darius learned how gracious God is when they repented and gave glory to God. But Belshazzar, like Esau, sold his birthright for a bowl of lentil stew. All three learned the hard way; God meant what He said.
Three kings, three decisions. Their choice was to accept God’s grace. However, like Pharaoh they thought, I will do it tomorrow. Principle: “Proud men will be humiliated, arrogant men will be brought low; the Lord alone will be exalted in that day” [Isa 2:17]
Two life lessons:
(1) Does God have to bring drama into your life to get your attention?
(2) God always has His person in place to speak for Him. Where has God placed you that you might be a godly influence?
Daniel 1 to 3 In our study of Ezekiel, we were challenged to live righteously in an unrighteous world. Ezekiel persevered for over 25 yrs. Daniel will do the same for over 70 +/- yrs. Both were models of what it means to be faithful and steadfast in challenging circumstances. Whereas Ezekiel faced his alone, Daniel had three friends to walk with him. All four were nobles or part of the upper class in Jerusalem, yet in Babylon, Ezekiel lived in a refugee camp by the river. Daniel and his three friends lived in somewhat luxurious quarters in the King’s palace. All were used by God to show the other captives and the wicked King that there is only one God, Yahweh.
God allowed Nebuchadnezzar to take the ripe and full-fleshed figs in the first wave and the treasures of the Temple. [see Jer 24] He would protect them by placing the captives in quarantine and the Temple treasures in his god’s treasury. There they would lay protected until the 70 yr. captivity drew to a conclusion.
God allowed all of them to face tests to prove to the Judahites, the King, and us, that God alone is supreme. Daniel and his three friends would face the test of purity vs. defilement and faithfulness vs. unfaithfulness. God blessed them and allowed them to live and work in ungodly environments where they became role models of righteousness.
Today we live and move in a world that is more and more ungodly. We will be presented with tests to prove to others that God is God.
Ezekiel 47 They tell us that there is a fountain in Jerusalem which flows deep and wide just like the Sunday School song titled: “Deep and Wide.” Children are captivated by its hand motions and simple tune
Deep and Wide; Deep and Wide; there is a fountain flowing deep and wide.
Ezekiel saw a trickling stream flowing from under the new Temple’s threshold. It began as a trickle, and then it grew until it was a mighty river. It had healing powers and provided nourishment for the trees along its bank. Indeed it was a fountain flowing deep and wide. In Psalm 1, the author likens a man to a tree planted by a flowing stream which produces fruit, and healing leaves.
Just as the river has healing powers, so does the gospel message. It begins with a small trickling stream of faith. Soon the gospel reaches and heals men and women with its message. So too, when the Holy Spirit indwells us, our faith starts as a little trickle, then expands and seeks to heal others with its message of healing. We can stop at the Temple’s threshold or let our love overflow and heal the “Dead Sea” of dead men.
Is your fountain deep and wide or still just a trickle?
Ezekiel 43 Pray for eyes to see, ears to hear and a heart to understand.
More than any other OT prophet, Ezekiel gives us a front-row seat to see God’s action amongst his people regarding the Temple. He begins in chapter one with the vision of God’s glory and His voice telling him to “go and tell.” In chapter 10, we reencountered it, but this time the glory of the Lord is leaving the Temple. Now in chapter 43, Ezekiel is privileged to see the glory of the Lord, but this time he is seeing the Lord returning to the Temple.
What must it have been like to encounter the glory of the Lord? When the Shekinah glory overshadowed the Temple, all the people prostrated themselves. Then, Isaiah seeing God’s glory fell on his face. The three disciples, James, John, and Peter, saw Christ transfigured, and they too prostrated themselves. There on the Isle of Patmos, the Apostle John prostrated himself as well. So, you ask, what is the point? The point is that when we come face to face with God and His glory, we should bow in humble adoration and reverence His presence.
If you ever find yourself saying I wish I could be like those listed here who have seen—stop and consider God’s creation, a newborn baby or a new born again believer.
Ezekiel 40 Ezekiel was taken into captivity at least twenty-five years ago. God would allow him and others to be taken forcefully to a city full of idols and a language they did not know because they had forsaken God’s way. Now they would serve foreigners in a land that is not theirs until the Sabbath Years’ completion. [Jer 5:15-18] Like Ezekiel, the exiles thought God wouldn’t let it happen; but it did happen, and amazingly God would use this time to restore them to be His beloved children.
On Ezekiel’s 30th birthday, God revealed himself to Ezekiel in all his holiness; and life was never the same after that. Now 25 yrs. later, once again, the Lord God told him to open his eyes, listen with his ears, and set his heart on all that He was going to show him. He transported Ezekiel via a vision to see the Temple’s restoration and to share His hope for the exiles. He did that for one reason; so the exiles would know He is the Lord and His promises are sure and irrevocable.
These are the same steps God wants us to go through as we read His Word so that we, too, might come to know Him and see His glory!
If you were God, how would you communicate with your people what you planned for them?
Ezekiel 37 God’s love is beyond our ability to comprehend, but our eyes are more often focused on the “valley of dry bones,” our Death Valley. We say, “I know God can do anything, “but in the next breath, we say, “I fail to see how God can work in this situation.” Martha and Ezekiel stood among the dead and thought those very words.
Martha stood before a closed tomb; Ezekiel stood in a valley of dead bones. Both were left speechless when God asked: Can these bones live? But, God in his mercy said: I am about to infuse breath into that which was dead.
Just as the pioneers of old, who wandered into Death Valley, had to be rescued, we find ourselves in need of being saved. Beloved, know God sees, and He alone can resurrect the dead out of our valley or tombs.
Jesus is our rescuer from our death valley. He came, lived amongst us even while the enemy even sought to kill and destroy. But, our God was then and is today more remarkable than any impossibility. He conquered death by rising on the third day to restore our dead bones with His living power. The one who believes in Him will experience his resurrection power.