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Hosea 6:4 1
4 “What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your love is like the morning mist, like the early dew that disappears.

DewDropsBackground 2

Hosea wrote in the middle of the eighth century BC. He gave most of his messages to Israel, the country in the north. But some of the messages were for Judah, the country in the south. The book has many curses and blessings, but there are many more curses than blessings. If we want to understand this book, we need to first understand the covenant at Sinai. The curses and blessings of Hosea are connected to this covenant.

Hosea’s job was to tell his people that there was danger. God was going to make sure that Israel kept his covenant. Hosea said that God was going to punish his people. It is the same message that many of the prophets gave before the exile. In most of the book, Hosea says that Israel will have death and illness. He also says that another nation will destroy Israel and take them away. When these things have happened, God will be able to bless Israel again. It is important that we understand what these promises mean. Israel will not be able to avoid God’s anger. Israel has broken the covenant and so the curses were going to happen soon.

Only a few people in Israel were loyal to God at this time. More people in Judah were loyal to God. Israel was a strong and rich country. The people of Israel were good at fighting wars. Because of this, people from Israel met people from other countries. This meant that Israel knew about other peoples’ gods. They forgot the commandments of Sinai. In the past, there had been a group of kings that started with Jehu in 842 BC. This group of kings ended with the death of Jeroboam 2nd (793 – 753 BC). But, after he died, there were six more kings in Israel. It was a difficult time. Other leaders in the country killed these kings. Also, there was a war between Assyria and Israel. In 734 BC, Israel became a much smaller country. This was the beginning of the end for Israel. Then, in 722 BC, Assyria destroyed Israel.

We are not sure where Hosea gave his messages. Maybe it was in Samaria and Bethel. None of the messages have dates. Hosea might have known Amos, who was older than he was. Amos also wrote messages to Israel. We do not know if Hosea spoke his messages to people. The message of 5:1-7 suggests that he did.

Biblical Truth

In verse 4, there is a change in who is speaking. In the first three verses of this chapter, it is the priests who are speaking. They say that they want to go back to God. But they do not say that they have done anything wrong. They just want God to be good to them. So, God asks them what he should do (verse 4). God also asks questions like this in 11:8-9. God says He has tried everything. When the people of Israel were rich, they forgot Him. When they were poor, they turned to other gods. They do not want to follow God’s covenant completely (verse 4).

Items for Discussion

  • What is it about the human character that draws people away from God during periods of affluence?
  • In a similar way, why might poverty draw people away from God?
  • While it is obvious that our God is “Love,” why must God punish those who turn from Him?
  • How do people keep a covenant—how do they behave?
    • With God
    • With a Country
    • With a Church
  • What are the circumstances that would make people blameless before God?

 

Jude 24-25
24 To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

Background

The letter of Jude was one of the disputed books of the Canon. Although its canonical status was contested, its authenticity was never doubted by the Early Church. The links between the Epistle and 2 Peter, its use of the Apocryphal Books, and its brevity raised concern. It is one of the shortest books in the Bible, being only 25 verses long.

Jude is also known as Judas Thaddaeus, Jude of James, Jude Thaddaeus, Judas Thaddaeus or Lebbaeus. He is sometimes identified with Jude, the brother of Jesus, but is clearly distinguished from Judas Iscariot, the apostle who betrayed Jesus prior to his crucifixion. Judas Thaddeus became known as Jude after early translators of the New Testament from Greek into English sought to distinguish him from Judas Iscariot and subsequently abbreviated his forename.

Jude is the Patron Saint of Hope and impossible causes and one of Jesus’ original twelve Apostles. He preached the Gospel with great passion, often in the most difficult circumstances. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, he made profound differences in people’s lives as he offered them the Word of God. Jude died a martyr’s death for his unwavering faith. His body was later brought to Rome and placed in a crypt under St. Peter’s Basilica.

Biblical Truth 3

Most of Jude’s letter is about the wicked behavior of evil people and about the danger that such people are to true believers. But now Jude ends his letter on a much happier subject. He reminds his readers that their God is always their all-powerful guard. He will defend them against every evil attack.

  • Jude wants to shout his final words to his Christian friends. God is so wonderful! He has done so much to prepare his loyal people to share in the family home in heaven.
  • This has always been God’s great purpose from the beginning (Ephesians 5:25-27).
  • To present without fault is a reference to certain perfect animals. Only these were fit for the priest to sacrifice on the altar (Exodus 29:38; Leviticus 1:3 and 3:1). This was a metaphor for the real perfect sacrifice. That was the death of Jesus the Messiah on the Cross (1 Peter 1:19-21; Ephesians 1:4-7; 1 Thessalonians 3:13). Because of the sacrifice of Jesus, God allows us to come to Him. And we can come without fear or shame.
  • God also does much more. We come to share great joy – God’s great joy as well as our own.
  • As a happy human family, we share love and joy with each other at home. That gives us a little glimpse of what our home in heaven will be like. We are members of the family of God the Father. We will know all the love and joy of that family in our future home.

Jude gives a list of four of God’s qualities.

  1. God’s glory is the splendid beauty and wonderful light of His most holy character.
  2. God’s majesty refers to His royal rule, which is universal.
  3. God’s power is that of absolute control over His world. That power makes it certain that He will overcome all his enemies.
  4. God’s authority refers to the way that He provides for his people. He provides everything that his people need. God passed on this authority to Jesus (Matthew 28:18).

Jude uses the words ‘before all ages’ and ‘now’ and ‘forevermore’. These words are the best that we have to refer to the past and the present and the future (Hebrews 13:8). The words emphasize God’s total and complete command of everything. The final ‘Amen’ is the Hebrew word of agreement. It means ‘Yes, certainly, let it be so’. From the earliest days of the church, ‘Amen’ has regularly ended words of prayer and praise to God.

Items for Discussion

  • What comforts do you see in the comments, “keep you from stumbling?”
  • Who is it that keeps you from stumbling and how is this done?
  • Besides an active role in one’s life, what is the other important role of our Savior?
  • Why is this other important role so important?

Discussion Challenge

  • What does the Church at large need to do with respect to teaching tolerance if we are shown to be blameless in God’s eyes by Christ?
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