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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Saturday, 9 March 2013

Keep the Covenant or Else (Hosea 6:7–7:16)

In this section of his book Hosea gives more details about the sins of his people that angered God. We may wonder why such details from long ago are recorded in the Bible. After all, the circumstances described no longer exist. The main reason why they are included is that they reveal truths about God, and they tell us that, while circumstances change, he does not.

In 6:7, God accuses the people of Israel of covenant-breaking and says that they behaved as Adam did in the Garden of Eden when he broke the covenant made with him by God. Theologically, the covenant with Adam is called the covenant of works and in it God promised spiritual blessings as long as Adam was obedient. The covenant that Israel broke was the covenant made with them at Mt. Sinai and it too promised spiritual blessings as long as they were obedient.

Hosea then describes some of the sins that were being committed in Israel: violence by priests and people (6:8-9), idolatry (6:10), refusal to repent (7:1, 10), drunkenness (7:5, political intrigue (7:6-7), alliance with foreign powers instead of depending on God (7:11), lack of prayer (7:7, 14), and forgetfulness of God’s goodness (7:15). All these were evidence that they had broken the covenant made with the Lord.

What can we learn about God from this passage? One clear detail is that he hates sin and when it is practised by his people he will punish them for it (7:2). A second detail is that the Lord is in complete control of all things (providence) and can use any of them to affect his backsliding people in any way he wishes (7:12, 16). A third detail is that God wants his backsliding people to return to him immediately and experience his restoring grace (7:13). A fourth detail is that God will eventually restore the fortunes of his people (the harvest in 6:11 is probably a reference to the exile in Babylon, but while it was an act of divine judgement it was also the beginning of spiritual recovery).

An obvious application for us is that we must retain our devotion to God’s requirements. At the same time, we have to recognise the inevitable presence of sin and therefore we need to have an ongoing attitude of repentance. And we have to maintain regular contact with God through prayer and through his Word and not resort to finding help from other sources as we walk the spiritual path.

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