Thursday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hosea 11-14 (NKJV)
11:1 “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. 2 As they called them, so they went from them; They sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images. 3 I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; But they did not know that I healed them. 4 I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.
5 “He shall not return to the land of Egypt; But the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to repent. 6 And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels. 7 My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred. 9 I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; And I will not come with terror. 10 They shall walk after the LORD. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west; 11 They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses,” says the LORD.
12 “Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; But Judah still walks with God, even with the Holy One who is faithful.
12:1 “Ephraim feeds on the wind, and pursues the east wind; He daily increases lies and desolation. Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried to Egypt. 2 The LORD also brings a charge against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; According to his deeds He will recompense him. 3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in his strength he struggled with God. 4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us—5 that is, the LORD God of hosts. The LORD is His memorable name. 6 So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.
7 “A cunning Canaanite! Deceitful scales are in his hand; He loves to oppress. 8 And Ephraim said, ‘Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.’
9 “But I am the LORD your God, ever since the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of the appointed feast. 10 I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.”
11 Though Gilead has idols—surely they are vanity—though they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal, indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field. 12 Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse, and for a wife he tended sheep. 13 By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he was preserved. 14 Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly; Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, and return his reproach upon him.
13:1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died. 2 Now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves molded images, idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!” 3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from a threshing floor and like smoke from a chimney.
4 “Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; For there is no Savior besides Me. 5 I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought. 6 When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me. 7 So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk; 8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, and there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.
9 “O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me. 10 I will be your King; Where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’? 11 I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath. 12 The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; His sin is stored up. 13 The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, for he should not stay long where children are born.
14 “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction!
“Pity is hidden from My eyes.” 15 Though he is fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come; The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness. Then his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up. He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize. 16 Samaria is held guilty, for she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child ripped open.
14:1 O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; 2 Take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; Receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. 3 Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’ For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”
4 “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread; His beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon. 7 Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; They shall be revived like grain, and grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. 8 Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; Your fruit is found in Me.”
9 Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the LORD are right; The righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.
As we complete our reading of the Prophet Hosea, we find that God cannot but bring His Gospel message to the people. The Israel He loves and the Israel He longs for is found in the One: “Out of Egypt I called My Son.” For the sake of His Son, God will not turn His back on this rebellious people. For the sake of His Son, God will not turn His back on you.
Throughout the Book of Hosea, there is the echoing voice of God as heard throughout the centuries. The message remains the same, “Repent. Turn to Me and I will restore you.” Indeed, as we hear in Ecclesiastes, “There is nothing new under the sun.” Sin remains sin no matter how one tries to pretty it up or one seeks to justify doing wrong.
The only Hope for Israel remains the only Hope for all mankind, namely, Jesus. God demands perfection of mankind and Jesus was perfect. Sin must be paid for and it was by Christ. Many will clamor, “We must keep up with the times,” as though the Church must change if it is to remain relevant.
So, how did this work out for the people of Israel? Quite simply, their efforts to be like the world were quite successful. However, their efforts to be like the world also turned them away from God.
St. Paul, wrote, “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.” The “good and acceptable and perfect will of God” is that you be in Christ and conformed to His image. That image became yours in Holy Baptism.
Dear Jesus, keep me in Your grace. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.