Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives. The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version. At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture. To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.
Questions & Observations
Q. (Hosea 9:10): When God first named Israel His people, they were few. It seems that as they grew in number, like God promised the ancestors, that they fell to evil. With greater numbers comes a greater chance for evil. And, as we saw with Adam and Eve who were by themselves, that it doesn’t take much to tempt someone. With more people, the evil just multiplies.
A. That is certainly true. But Israel in particular has compounded the problem by putting corrupt and evil men on the throne (like Ahab and Jezebel), and continuous worshipping of other Canaanite gods. They have abandoned God, just as Moses foresaw and warned the people against way back in Deuteronomy. He warned them that choosing the path without God had only one end: death. So Israel has reaped what it sowed.
Q. (9:15, 10:8, 10:9): The Lord mentions three places where evil started. Can you refresh our memory of the sins of Gilgal, Aven (Beth-aven) and Gibeah?
A. Gilgal was the place where Israel camped after crossing the Jordan back in Joshua 4 and 5. It was the place of ceremony where Joshua and the people re-established the covenant with God and remember His faithfulness. Apparently this was a place of pagan worship of some sort, but we are not given the details. Surely it was a great insult to God that a place that had been so significant between God and Israel be used for the spiritual “prostitution” as Hosea has put it.
Beth-Aven is actually making a mockery of the name Bethel. It is the place where Jacob wrestled with God way back in Genesis 32. Bethel means “house of God,” Beth Aven means “house of idols” or perhaps “house of nothing,” so you see the mockery of Hosea here. Anyway, Beth-Aven is the location of one of the golden calves that Jeroboam established to keep people from returning to Judah back in 1 Kings 12 — it’s the thing that God keeps on referring to as the “original sin” of Israel. All the problems Israel has come back to that moment.
Lastly, Gibeah, one of your favorite stories as I recall (note: Rob is being sarcastic!), was the place back in Judges 19-21 where the tribe of Benjamin went to war with the rest of the tribes over the killing of a concubine by the priest. The tribe was nearly wiped out, and the other tribes had to resort to basically letting them kidnap virgin women in order to survive. It was one of the most corrupt moments of Israel’s history, and one that God is recalling now to basically say that nothing has changed.
Q. (10:1): I think this is true today. The richer we get, the cockier and more prideful we get and think we are self-sufficient, self-motivated and successful. We probably worship things like work, TV, luxury. But, why would the Israelites turn to other gods? Oh, right, because you said when creating a God, you can try to control it — which does nothing anyway. Whereas with God, He is in control, giving us no self-control.
A. I think you’ve got your own answer. Don’t forget also, that Israel’s problem started with the king trying to control the people (don’t miss the irony of that statement as it relates to God!) via idols. Jeroboam wanted the people to worship gods he could control, not the true God that he couldn’t.
Q. (11:8): I think we have found an answer here to the question of “Why did God not give up on the Israelites?” He has given them so many chances because He remembers the companionship and trust that He had from Abraham, Isaac, Jacob and David. Maybe He longs for that hoping Israel will turn around. And, I’m sure that He wants to share His kingdom with them.
A. One of the central concepts of covenant is the idea that if one side of the parties involved does not keep its end of the bargain, the other party does not walk away. God is demonstrating His faithfulness to His people, by giving them every chance to repent of their sin and return to Him. But since they will not, they have repentance forced upon them, as we will see.
Q. (14:4): Why is God no longer angry?
A. Once the people have paid their penalty (and they will), then God’s anger (what we would call wrath) in this matter is complete. He will be able to restore them to a right relationship with Him, and when there is right relationship between God and man — as Jesus will establish for each of us — there is no need for God to be wrathful.