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Friday, June 27, 2014

"These were the kings who reigned in Edom before any Israelite king reigned..." 43a

This passage indicates that the two (Edom and Israel) did not get along with each other. In a small pocket of land called the Promised Land, the two are still fighting for the hegemony. Edomites stem from Esau, Israel from Jacob. Esau and Jacob are twin brothers. While in the womb of their mother Rebekah they did not get along well. Their wrestling match in the mother's womb grew (often times) wild that Rebekah had to cry out to the Lord, and the Lord answered, "Two nations are in your will be stronger than the  other, and the older will serve the younger." Genesis 25:23

Is it (the older will serve the  younger) the answer? Yes it is! When Jacob rules Edom (thus when Edom serves Jacob) the pain (as in the mother's womb) will die down. The two can shake hands, and there will be peace.  Isn't it because of this truth that the Lord said, "Esau I hate, Jacob I love?" Malachi 3:1

This is consistent with what King Solomon says, "For 3 things the earth is disquieted, for 4 it cannot bear." Proverbs 30:21-23 And the first on the list comes a servant becoming a ruler. [Disquieted = "raqaz in Hebrew; tremble, quake, be excited, be perturbed, enraged, troubled, shake...] 

The question then becomes, "What is evil of Esau that he be subjugated, filling a servant's position? What is good of Jacob that he ought to rule?" The answer used to be "Oh, Esau exemplifies a man living after flesh, Jacob/Israel a man living according to the Spirit." Further Jesus said, "Flesh counts for nothing; spirit gives life to man." John 6:63

Still the question remains: Is flesh all evil? The answer is no. Why not? The Apostle Paul says, "Everything God created is good, nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving." 1Ti 4:4
The message then is not to demonize flesh but keep it in the right place, knowing that doing otherwise will come with the consequence, the "going down" effect, just as is said of why a seesaw is made:

The reason why a seesaw was made for two people is that when you go down, there would always be someone there to lift you up again.

A frog came out of water-pipe?

I moved to Redding on Feb. 22, 2014. Now a little bit of history of Redding:

- In 1949 the year I was born, in Redding they did not have a clean water service from the city as we see now. A large portion of the inhabitants obtained their water from wells but there was a small private corporation which had constructed a small reservoir which pumped water from the river without any method of purification and when the river was muddy, the people received muddy water in their homes. Most people boiled the water before using. It had been reported that some people found small frogs in the water.

- Nearly all the private homes were lighted by kerosene lamps.

- Little attention had been paid to drainage and nearly everyone had malaria.

- The schools consisted of a small one room frame building.

** Source: "Redding Then and Now, by W.D. Tillotson, Page 39 The Covered Wagon, a Newsletter, Annual Edition, Shasta County

Digesting the book of Joel

The Lord dwells in Zion

Joel 1:1-3:21
Key Verse 3:21b

“The LORD dwells in Zion!”

The purpose God had in creating the universe and everything in it is to bestow upon his creation the highest good he had in mind.

The highest good we can possibly think of is God himself. Therefore we can say that God created man the crown of his creation only to be able to bestow upon man God himself.

In the passage for today the Prophet Joel reveals God actively working for this purpose. Let us see how the Lord works to fulfill this purpose.

First, the Lord disciplines his children for idol worship (1:1-12)

In case of the Israelites the Lord was merciful enough to reveal himself to one person Abraham and through him to his descendants. This eventually led them to the Promised Land. There the Lord God worked through his servants such as David to build the nation Israel as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. But overtime they got themselves assimilated to the Canaanites who worshiped wrong objects of worship such as food or pleasures of sin.

By the time Joel came and prophesied to the people of Israel their worship of carnal ways of life began to rage in full speed. In verse 5 for example Joel says, "Wake up you drunkards!" A drunkard is a synonym for an alcoholic. He is so addicted to the alcoholic beverages that he has to go back to alcohol again and again. By calling the Israelites to wake up Joel meant that they should wake up from their addiction to the animalistic ways of life.

Bible scholars offer different opinions about the exact times when Joel spoke. Although the book does not give out the times we can find some clues from the passage itself: the famine and the fearful threats of foreign invasion. Most likely the famine referred to in Joel was the one which the Lord decreed to last seven years in the day of the Prophet Elisha. (2Ki 8:1) If this is the case we can easily understand what the times must have been like, for in those days the Prophet Elijah and Elisha fought against the idolatry instituted by the Queen Jezebel.

The Bible says, "Buy the truth; do not sell it." Pro 23:23 But God's people sold the truth for nothing. What then did God do? As they sold themselves to idol worship which is chasing after winds, what did God do?

God could have abandoned them so they could go their ways and perish. But in love he sent locusts in waves. The Lord also sent foreign armies. Both locusts and foreign armies worked to stop people from living as party animals. In order to hold parties and indulge in sinful pleasures two conditions need to be met: good economy (or a lot of money in your bank account) and peace of mind. Locusts then ruined the former, whereas the foreign invasion took away the peace of mind.

These disasters came from the Lord. The Lord sent them not just to give his children hard times but to stop them from going the way of destruction. The Lord did this to help them give up the wrong objects of worship. God created man to thrive by worshiping the Lord. But as the Israelites worshiped what is fleshly, the Lord went out and worked to bring them back to the worship of the right object, that is, the worship of the God of Israel.

Second, the Lord urges God's children to return to the Lord (1:13-2:17)

In 2:12 the Lord pleads his children to return to the Lord saying, "'Even now,' declares the LORD, 'return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.'" Why then should one repent and turn to the Lord? The reason for the repentance is to prepare themselves for the day of the Lord coming. In other words unless one repents and turns to the Lord, the only alternative left for the unrepentant is to fall victim to the judgment that is coming.

Life here on earth in a physical body is the period in which one can prepare himself against the Day of Judgment. During this period of time one can listen to the gospel message, and turn to the Lord fully. So lifetime is the time of preparation. It is never the time to take a series of long vacation, for when one is not prepared, as the day of the Lord is approaching, he will not be prepared. If he is not prepared, then, no one will stand the Day of Judgment. One might develop a fantasy that he can build his own defense line, so that the Lord would never be able to break through the wall. But that is not going to be the case. The Lord's army is mighty. He is going to break the defense line, and walk straight through the house of a sinner, and plunder his house like a thief. In short, unless one is prepared, no one will be able to stand up against the Day of the Lord coming. Let us read 2:3-11.

Therefore it is a must for one to repent and turn to the Lord before too late. How then should one be prepared? In Joel 1:13-2:17 the Lord spoke through Joel. The Lord urged them to return to the Lord in repentance, by fasting, and in sincere prayer. Let us open the Bible and read 1:13-14. Please also open the Scriptures and read with a trembling heart 2:12-17.

This passage exhorts one to return to the Lord by fasting, weeping, mourning, crying out to the Lord, and even rending one's heart. Here rending one's heart is a metaphor for a contrite heart. This call is based on the Lord's promise to show his mercy for it is written that the Lord will NOT despise a contrite heart. Psalm 51:17

This passage reminds us of the way the Lord made man. God gave each person the right to make his or her own choice. God cannot choose for man. It is each person who must consider pros and cons of the alternatives given to him. This practically means that we should not sleep on our duties to make decisions in regard to the ways that are pleasing to the Lord.

Of all the decisions the decision to turn to the Lord is the most important. On many occasions and for various reasons the capabilities to make spiritual decisions to turn to the Lord may go dysfunctional. Sometimes you even hate to think what is wrong what is right, where one has gone wrong and where one should turn. Or one might be stuck with the sense of guilt, condemnation, and despair. It is precisely for these reasons that the Lord exhorts the Israelites to hold a holy fast, weep, mourn, and cry out to the Lord. Why should we hold a holy fast? It is to enhance the capabilities to return to the Lord. It is to gain and boost up the spiritual strength to stand up, overcome counter forces that prevent us from turning to the Lord (such negative forces as sense of guilt, despair, hopelessness, etc.), and make our journey all the way back to God fully.

Third, the gift of the Holy Spirit (2:18-32)

When one repents and turns to the Lord with a broken heart, what will the Lord do for him? In 2:18-32, the Lord promises to replace curses with blessings for his children. While the Israelites remained rebellious, the Lord orchestrated all the events and people in such a way that everything would work against his children. But as one sincerely repents and turns to the Lord, asking for the Lord's mercy, the Lord relents. In his mercy he causes all things to work for his children. The Lord will re-arrange the conditions of the environments to work in favor of his children in physical and spiritual realms, in their external lives and internal lives.

When the Lord works this way there will be no more curses; there will be only blessings. This turn of life will be in line with what the Lord had already taught them through Moses and then through Joshua. [Would someone rise and read Deuteronomy 11:29; 30:1,19; Joshua 8:34?]

The finishing touch of the work of Lord's blessings is bestowal of the Spirit of God upon his children. Let us all rise and read 2:28,29. In the Book of Acts we see that the Lord fulfilled this prophecy. The Holy Spirit himself is God who came to dwell among his children. The presence of God through the Holy Spirit in the lives of God's children is in preparation for the perfected kingdom to come.

Fourth, making a finishing touch for a blessed environment for his children (3:1-21)

While the Holy Spirit working in his children builds God's kingdom "inside" of his children, the work which is described in Chapter 3 goes to the external kingdom of God built outside. In order for God's kingdom to come physically here on earth the Lord needs to do a big clean-up.

The time for the cleanup will coincide with the day for Lord to come to judge the nations. Look at 3:1-2. "'In those days and at that time, when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem, I will gather all nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat. There I will enter into judgment against them concerning my inheritance, my people Israel, for they scattered my people among the nations and divided up my land."

Notice the two names: one for a person, another for a location.

Here Judah denotes the citizens who will inhabit the perfected kingdom. Judah's name further supports this idea, for it means "This time I will praise the Lord." Since the Fall Adam started complaining about the Lord and all the Lord did and is doing for men. The saved ones will do the opposite for praising the Lord serves as the antidote for the un-thankfulness which turns an otherwise a perfect garden into a living hell. But those who are saved have learned to give thanks to God even in adverse circumstances.

Jerusalem represents the environments in which the citizens of God's kingdom can have life to the full. We can understand this concept when we think about the way the Lord designed the Lord's temple. The study of the Moses' Pentateuch especially Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy enlightens us that by providing his children with the temple (situated in Jerusalem) the Lord revealed the way for sinners to overcome the barriers of sin and come to the presence of the Lord for a fellowship with Him.

Restoring fortunes to Judah and Jerusalem stands for building a perfected kingdom. [Here the word "fortunes" is a fancy word for the blessed life in the blessed kingdom, for the Lord God and the life in his presence represents ultimate fortune of fortunes.] Before this to happen the Lord will have to do a big clean-up, that is, the removal of all the organized forces that work against the emergence of God's kingdom. In Joel 3:2-21 Joel describes the way the final clean up should take place. The passage first begins with the Lord entering into judgment against all nations. It is interesting to note that this judgment is prophesied to take place at the valley of Jehoshaphat. In Hebrew Jehoshaphat means "Jehovah is judge." Jehoshaphat points to the Lord God who is to judge the wicked.

God's judgment is to bring about equality, making what has gone unfair (or unequal or unjust) fair (equal and just). In this world which is yet to be redeemed we see the wicked getting a better deal than the righteous. But when the Lord's judgment is completed, all that should have rightly belonged to the righteous will be taken away from the hands of the wicked and be given to the righteous.

What then will be the end picture? Let us read 3:17-21. Joel sums up the end picture: "The Lord dwells in Zion." Here Zion refers to the city of God. John Bunyan described it as the Celestial City. The Apostle John calls it "Heavenly Jerusalem." This city of God is what we look forward to receiving, as Revelation 3:12 says, "Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of my God. Never again will he leave it. I will write on him the name of my God and the name of the city of my God, the new Jerusalem, which is coming down out of heaven from my God; and I will also write on him my new name."

In conclusion, people in the day of Joel had many problems. But the real problem they had was not acknowledging the Lord God as their Lord God. Knowing their problem the Lord established Joel, and spoke through him so that the Israelites would know that the Lord is living and works to build his kingdom for his children. In our own generation the same problem persists. The book of Joel enlightens us to know that God is still living and is working for his children. This knowledge of God helps us to not only repent and turn to him, but also daily acknowledge him in all of our ways, and voluntarily participate in his work so many would be included in his blessed kingdom.

One word: The Lord dwells in Zion


Class Exercise:

1. In the book of Joel how many classes of locusts are mentioned?

a) 1; b) 2; c) 3; d) 4

2. What do the following words mean in Hebrew?

* Joel: ______________________
* Judah: _____________________
* Jehoshaphat: _________________________

3. The word "Zion" is repeated 7 times in Joel. What does "Zion" stand for?

4. Which of the following words or phrases are NOT found in the book of Joel? ____________________________________

* Wake up, you drunkards!
* Weep!
* Wail!
* Declare a holy fast!
* Rend your heart

5. Fill the blanks:

'And afterward, I will pour out my ________ on all people. Your sons and daughters will ___________, your old men will dream ______, your young men will see ________.   

6. Whose forces are beyond number? ____________

7. Like what does the Lord's army enter through the windows? _____________

The end

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Bible Bonn, World Campus Mission

Last Sunday (June 22, 2014) Bonn UBF Germany had a "Sending Out" Ceremony, where they sent out Happy Maria to Mainz, Germany. Happy Maria is an award-winning opera singer, the daughter of Jeung-woong (his wife Byung-soon) Park of Chongno UBF, Seoul, Korea. Dr. Peter and Sarah Chang served her for 11 years. She married Samuel Ryu, the son of Hanna and Samuel Ryu of Mainz UBF, Germany. Samuel's mom Hanna is a publisher and renowned poet.

Dr. Samuel H. Lee served a special message for the Sending Out Session.

Bonn UBF has been without its own Worship Building for a prolonged period of time. They have been praying for an independent worship hall by expanding the existing Bible Center. The permit came out, and the construction began.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Bible Egypt, World Campus Mission

It looks like only yesterday that Shepherd Oyo Moses visited the Ain Shams University of Egypt and started inviting students to bible studies.  Being a man from Sudan his facial color was so black that the Egyptian natives made fun of  him saying, "Bonga, Bonga" (meaning 'monkey, monkey').  Still making a big smile he kept 'fishing' students.

Now that Msn. Andrew turned over the leadership to his successor (name withheld) and moved from Sudan to Egypt, he made an encouraging report on God's work in Egypt. A brother Ayeman a law-school student of Ain Shams University is inviting students to Bible studies in Cairo, Egypt. He is in his fourth year at the law school at the ASU. After graduation he wants to finish two year advanced course to become a lawyer. Now he is supporting himself by working full time as a construction worker.

Every Friday they have a prayer meeting at the Egypt UBF Bible Center. On Fridays about 20 Egyptians attend the worship. Saturdays they meet for prayers. Mondays are for group Bible studies where about 15 people attend. Ayman downloads from Chicago and Washington UBF websites study questions and messages, translates them into Arabic, and uses them as teaching materials. His wife Hanna supports UBF ministry with enthusiasm. They have three grade school children.

Ayman serving a Sunday message

Left to right: Andrew, Ayman, Hanna (Ayman's wife), Hope 

Friday, June 13, 2014

Digesting the Book of Hosea

My People Are Destroyed from Lack of Knowledge

Hosea 1:1-14:9
Key Verse 4:6a

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”

Welcome to the study of the book of Hosea. Hosea was a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah. The Hebrew meaning of the name Hosea is "saved" or "salvation." The meaning of his name is similar to that of the Prophet Isaiah’s which is "Yahweh is my salvation."

This raises a question: "The Lord God already granted a great prophet in Isaiah for the people of his day, yet why did the Lord find it necessary to establish another prophet? The visions contained in Isaiah are quite extensive. Yet, what additional message or messages did the Lord intend to convey through Hosea?"

We can find the answer to this question from the way each of the two books begins. In the case of Isaiah, the book begins with the "vision" whereas the book of Hosea the prophet begins with "The word [of the Lord].” Isaiah states that the book contains the vision which "Isaiah" saw, indicating that the emphasis is on the "role" of the prophet. However, in the case of Hosea, the book begins, saying, "The word of the Lord that came to Hosea," which suggests that the emphasis is on the "source" of the prophecy, that is, the Lord. We can better understand Hosea's emphasis on the "source" of the prophecy, that is, the Lord himself, because the book includes commands which are very difficult for anyone to believe that they indeed came from the Lord. One of such examples is the call for Hosea to marry a prostitute. Yet as unbelievable as it is, Hosea maintains that according to the word of the Lord he married Gomer, a loose woman. Then the message that is even more unbelievable than this is the testimony that the Lord God still chose to love the Israelites who are compared to an unfaithful woman. So let us begin the study noting that the source of the prophecy written in Hosea [as unbelievable as it might be] is indeed the Lord.

When it is indeed the Lord who asked a holy prophet to marry a prostitute, we can rest assured that the Lord indeed had messages to convey even through such a harsh arrangement. What then is the message for us? Obviously, the answer is found in the “arranged marriage between Hosea and Gomer.”

The Lord used this arrangement as a device (or tool) to deliver messages. In this marriage, Hosea plays the role of the Lord God, for the Lord compares himself to a “husband” (as in saying, “I am not her husband”[2:2], whereas Gomer plays the role of the Israelites, for the Lord compares the nation Israel to a “wife” (as in saying, “she is not my wife”[2:2]).  Obviously, this marriage went “dysfunctional”: it took a destructive course [that is, resulting in the Lord’s temple being destroyed, with his people being exiled to a foreign nation]. The true question that really matters to all of us then is this: why is it that a woman would be unfaithful to a husband (who is infinitely perfect) and thereby suffer from all the ill consequences of her unfaithfulness? If any husband is ever so imperfect or insufficient or incompetent, however slightly, then it makes some sense when the woman starts considering going for another husband (who is better, no matter how slightly). But in the case of the Israelites, they had the Lord God who is totally graceful, totally powerful, and totally resourceful, that no matter how much they ever searched, they would never be able to find a better husband than the Lord. Yet, as the Prophet Hosea ever so painfully describes, the Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord. They became like a prostitute who abandoned Prince Charming (in the true sense of the words), and went for Mr. Totally Good For Nothing, and thereby exchanged life and prosperity for death and destruction. Question: Why?  

In the key verse the Prophet Hosea offers the answer to the question: "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." Hosea's answer comes to us as trustworthy for, unlike other prophets, he himself had the opportunity to live together with prostitute, so he better understands the way (or psychology, if you will) of a prostitute. It is not improbable that as a husband Hosea must have done his best to get Gomer to come to know him (particularly all of his good intention for her, for he was quite capable of fulfilling all of the good desires deeply seated within her), and yet she still failed to get to know him. This might have prompted Hosea to ask himself, "What is wrong with her? Why does she operate the way she operates? What is her real problem?"

The Scriptures says that the way of the unfaithful is hard (Proverbs 13:15). Hosea saw that Gomer walked this way. Perhaps Gomer knew the hardness of the life of an adulteress far better than anyone else. Yet why did she choose a life that is "hard"? Without a doubt, like everyone else, she too must have desired to see her life flowing with the cup of joy, peace and comfort. Yet why did she reject the way of ease and comfort and choose the way of thorns and thistles?

When Hosea asked questions like these, he was able to better understand the Lord in dealing with the Israelites, for the position of the Lord was that of Hosea, whereas the position of the Israelites were no different than that of Gomer (cf. Hoses 2:2,7,16).

Let us then focus on the answer the Lord revealed to Hosea: “My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.”

First, my people.

As used here in Hosea, "my people" refers to those who already know the Lord. They are so-called "believers". Unlike all other nations, it was only the Israelites whom the Lord chose and trained.

Today they are comparable to those who go to church every Sunday. They call God, "Lord, Lord." Yet, it was these people whom the Lord says, "My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge."

This observation tells us that not all who participate in church activities, not all who know how to recite the Apostles' Creed or the Lord's prayer, are immune from the problem that causes destruction to them. It is very probable that even those who preach at the pulpit intentionally reject or ignore the Lord, all in sheer blindness (or ignorance, i.e., lack of true knowledge of the Lord). They may recite Bible verses or expound on them beautifully on Sundays or in public gatherings, but it is possible that in their practical life they stumble and grope in darkness as the Prophet Hosea says in 4:5, "You stumble day and night, and the prophets stumble with you."

One pastor thought that his teenage son was a good (born-again) Christian for he used to attend the church. But one day the boy stood up and said, "Dad, I am gay. Since your church does not welcome gays I would like to attend another church." Since then the son no longer attends the father’s church.

Dr. Marvin Newwell of the Moody Bible Institute mentioned that about 80% of the missionaries working overseas are called in due to their addiction to internet pornography.

Ed Haggard, a pastor of New Life Church of Colorado Springs, with a congregation of more than 10,000 members, and a leader of the NAE (National Association of Evangelicals), used to condemn homosexual activity. Yet, it turned out that he used to see a gay prostitute regularly.

These examples are nothing new. In the book of Hosea we see the exact same problems. Hosea employs such expressions as, "A spirit of prostitution leads them away..." (4:10), "They are all adulterers, burning like an oven." (7:4), "Their hearts are like an oven...Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire." (7:6), "Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat cake not turned over." (7:8) "Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless--" (7:10) "I trained them and strengthened them, but they plot evil against me." (7:15) Why?

Second, my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.

"My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge." According to this passage, lack of knowledge is the cause for God’s people taking a destructive course. This means that we cannot afford to go on without knowledge.

“Knowledge” as used here is the knowledge of the Lord. According to [the general flow of the book of] Hosea, knowledge of the Lord begins with acknowledging Him. In Hosea the word "acknowledge" is repeated seven times. According to the American Heritage Dictionary, "acknowledge" means "to confess, avow, or admit the existence, reality, or truth of; to recognize as being valid or having force or power; to express recognition of; to express thanks or gratitude for...; to accept or certify as legally binding." As the dictionary states, acknowledging the Lord means to confess, avow, or admit the existence, reality, and truth of the Lord. Acknowledging the Lord denotes the life that recognizes the Lord as being valid, having force and power; it refers to the life that is thankful to the Lord. It stands for the life that accepts the word of the Lord as legally binding.

Aside from the dictionary definition, the Bible itself affirms the truth that acknowledging the Lord is the source of the body of all the knowledge that helps man to have life and have it to the full. In Genesis 1-2 we are told that the Lord God created man in his image. Imbedded in each parson is the image of God. One of the features of the image of God built in a man is the ability for man to come to know God, have fellowship with God, and produce fruit out of the fellowship with Him.

According to the Bible (such as Hosea) the relationship between God and man is meant to be intimate, even as intimate as the relationship between a husband and a wife ought to be, so that in many places of the Scriptures the Lord calls himself the husband and the people Israel his wife. But the problem with Israel was that they were not faithful to the Lord. So Hosea was asked to go and marry an adulterous woman.

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” While the lack of knowledge of the Lord leads man to destruction, the increase in and the fullness of the knowledge of the Lord leads man to life and prosperity. Speaking of the same truth, the Apostle Isaiah says in Isaiah 11:9, "They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea."

In Hebrews 1:3 it is written: "The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven." This passage tells us that in Jesus Christ we can find all we need to know God. God loaded up in Jesus all we need to know about Him that we can call Jesus the Storehouse of God, or the Living Encyclopedia on the knowledge of God. [Read also John 1:1, 14, 18, and 14:9]  

When Jesus came he saw many suffering from all kinds of problems, such as diseases. Knowing that they are destroyed from the lack of knowledge, he taught them many things to enlighten them to know the way of life and prosperity. The four gospels record his teachings and good deeds.

Our day to day experience shows us that when we go by his words (that is, the knowledge of him), we thrive; when we go against them, we are walking on the way of destruction.

In the book of Hosea, the Israelites were shown as resembling a loose woman. A loose woman or a loose man becomes unfaithful to one's marriage partner. Then they end up breaking the hearts of many, particularly their children.

This is true not only on an individual level but on a collective level. The Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord. They flirted with foreign nations such as Assyria or Egypt. Had they asked the Lord for help, the Lord could have led them to the way of peace and comfort. But since they abandoned the Lord and asked these heathen nations for help, instead of offering the necessary help, they came and violated the land and her people (5:13; 7:11; 8:9; cf. Isaiah 7:18-25).

Just as the lack of knowledge of the Lord is responsible for the destruction of man's life, so also the abundance of knowledge of the Lord fosters the environment in which man's life thrives. This is true on all levels of man's existence. Physically, when one adopts the way of the Lord, like loving the Lord and loving one's neighbor as oneself, the Lord blesses him and all who come to him. As one meditates on the word of the Lord and obeys his word despite counter influence, the Lord fills him with His Spirit who in turn enables him to bear good fruit.

In conclusion, we have learned that God gave us Jesus Christ who represents the sum total of the incarnate knowledge of God, so that by coming to know him and copying his example we can live a life that is prosperous. Hosea also teaches us that we need to spread the knowledge of the Son, so many would know the Lord and walk the way of life and prosperity.

One word: my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge


Class Exercise:

1. Among the following, who is (are) not Hosea's contemporaries: Isaiah; Amos; Micah; Ezekiel? _____________

2. “Ephraim” as used in the book of Hosea refers to: ____________.

3. When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, "Go, take to yourself an _____ wife and children of ________, because ___________________________."

4. True or false? _________

Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi were born between Hosea and Gomer.

5. Which of the following Bible passages is not included in the book of Hosea?

1) I desire mercy, not sacrifice
2) Do not rejoice, O Israel
3) Sow for yourselves righteousness, 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 righteousness on you.
4) I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.
5) Where, O death is your sting?
6) Where, O grave is your destruction?

The end