Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5

OT: Hosea 1:1-3:5

We start a new book today, and it brings a blast from the past. Rather than focusing on the exile, Hosea is set during the reigns of earlier kings: Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash of Israel (1:1).

Like Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, Hosea's life fully becomes God's instrument to teach His people. Thus, He commands Hosea to marry a prostitute (representing Israel) and to bear children (representing various negative messages that God sends to Israel). It's interesting--I find the idea of marriage and parenting as metaphors to be crazy. And yet, I also see how marriage and parenthood themselves are metaphors for God's relationship with us. I really liked the book, Sacred Marriage, which examines this viewpoint.

Anyway, in today's reading, Hosea's wife, Gomer, is unfaithful, and so he threatens her with shame (i.e. to strip her naked) and with the abandonment of their (or her) children (2:3-4). I thought those threats were pretty harsh, but the chapter goes on to speak of their ultimate reconciliation, in which they have a deep, real, intimate relationship. And of course, all of this represents God's relationship with Israel. In speaking of their future intimate relationship, God says, "In that will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master'" (2:16). Of course, that metaphor gets picked up in the NT, where the church is referred to as the bride of Christ.

NT: 1 John 5:1-21

One way that 1 John reminds me of John, thematically speaking, is in its emphasis of belief in the divinity of Christ. It seemed like the whole purpose of John was to get people to believe that Jesus was the son of God. And 1 John continues that emphasis. Throughout chapter 5, the author maintains that anyone born of God must acknowledge that Jesus is God's son.

Also like John, the epistle draws bold lines between disciples and enemies. Jesus' dialogue in John was often harsh and divisive. He clearly drew the line between insiders and outsiders. The author of the epistle does the same thing. He portrays a stark conflict between Christians and the world, between those who believe in Jesus and those who deny Him (1, 4, 10-12).

This chapter also emphasizes the link between love and actions. Verses 2-3 make clear that "love for God" is "to obey his commands." It reminds me of John 14, where Jesus says essentially that same thing three times.

I wondered what John was talking about when he referred to "the sin that leads to death" (16). That was baffling to me.

Psalm 124:1-8

One of David's psalms, in which he gives full credit for his survival and victory to God.

Prov. 29:5-8

Some contrasts between the wicked and the righteous. The one that jumped out at me the most was verse 7:

"The righteous care about justice for the poor,
but the wicked have no such concern."

What I found interesting about this proverb is that, unlike a lot of others on the subject, it didn't claim that the wicked necessarily trampled the poor. It's just that they had no concern for the poor. And that apathy is a characteristic of their wickedness.

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