“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always” (Hosea 12:6, NIV)
[Thought questions for Love and Judgment: God’s Dilemma April 10, 2013]
1. The senseless doves. Does it seem fair for God to compare his wayward Old Testament children to ignorant doves? Is God exaggerating when He uses language like this? Is God’s New Testament church in any way like the people of God in Hosea’s day? Do we ever feel constrained to turn from God to other sources of advice and wisdom? Do you and I ever insist on our way or no way when it comes to following Jesus?
2. From doves to heifers. As described in Hosea 10:11, was the heifer smart about enjoying a good snack while threshing the wheat? Did the trained cattle consider wearing a yoke a terrible punishment? Did the livestock of Old Testament times take to the work of the field by nature? If not, did their owners take care to train them in the details of plowing, planting, and harvesting? Do we rebel against the requirements of righteousness? Or are there any?
3. A Toddling Son. Have you ever been puzzled about the continuing use of the name Ephraim in the Old Testament? Who was Ephraim? Did the members of the tribes have a greater responsibility in preparing the Middle East to accept Jesus as the Messiah than we have to prepare the world for Jesus our Savior? Is it the same Jesus? How did God show His concern and love for Ephraim and the tribes of Judah?Does God care for us as He did for Ephraim? Or are we too sophisticated to be seen as a toddler stumbling and falling, crying and making messes?
4. Calling them did no good. Were you touched by the way Hosea reflected God’s words, not his, to describe the petulant ways of God’s people? (“the more they were called, the more they went away from Me”) If they’re not paying attention to whatever God says, why does He bother talking to them? Aren’t we better trained and more thoroughly educated in God’s ways than others? Or do we sometimes miss the point and deny the grace of God? Can you sense the agony God feels as He reaches out to us and we struggle and fall out of His arms?
5. Healed, Loved, and Nurtured. Does God have every reason to cast us aside, as rebellious and self-centered as we are? Instead, what does He do? Why do you think most of the book of Hosea is written as poetry? Have you read Hosea 14 more than once this week? What does this beautiful poem remind us of how we should feel when we realize how eager God is to forgive us and bring us to a life with Him?
6. Compassion stronger than anger. Why shouldn’t we weak-minded humans assume that God was consumed by anger and wished we were dead when we strayed from Him? Don’t His words of the Old Testament sometimes give us that impression? What is burning in the heart of God that surpasses the heat of His anger over our sinful ways? Why is it so hard for us to understand and absorb God’s infinite love for us? Or is it? Can we be drawn to the love and care in the heart of God? How?
7. The lessons of the Old Testament. Ellen White tells us we should be eager in sharing with others the lessons of the Old Testament. Why? Is it time to start a series of public meetings with the title, “Learning from the Old Testament”? What lessons should definitely be included in such a program?