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Monday, January 25, 2016

Hosea's World

We're continuing our study of prophets this week, with a bit of background on Hosea's world. It's kind of cool that some of the background ends up coming from Isaiah! Slowly all those different books are beginning to come together.

(13) Hosea’s World

Hosea preaches throughout the reigns of several Northern and Southern Kings (Hosea 1:1). We know Israel and Judah were experiencing peace and prosperity at the start of his ministry, but what happened later? Did the people repent, or did God take them into the desert (Hosea 2:14)?

Remember Uzziah/Azariah, king of Judah? He came to the throne when his father Amaziah was assassinated, and reigned 52 years. (Why do you think he might have two names in Kings and Chronicles?)

1.       Read 2 Chronicles 26:6-8, 15. What picture do you get of the Southern Kingdom – the place Amos came from? What sort of standing do you think Judah had in the world? How important is political standing?

2.       Read 2 Chronicles 26:16-19. Why might Uzziah have wanted to burn incense? Does this have any relevance to separation of church and state?

3.       Read 2 Chronicles 26:21. How well did the kingly succession work this time?

Meanwhile in Israel, Jeroboam II has enjoyed a long successful reign, bringing stability to the land, riches to the rich, and poverty to the poor (if Amos is to be believed).

1.       Read 2 Kings 15:8-10, 12. Is fulfilment of prophesy the same as punishment?

2.       Read 2 Kings 15:13-14. How might this affect the country’s international standing?

3.       Read 2 Kings 15:17-19. Where is Israel’s king placing his trust?

4.       Where do our leaders place their trust? Where do we place ours?

5.       Read 2 Kings 15:20. Remembering Amos, who do you think suffered most, the rich or the poor?

6.       Read 2 Kings 15:23. What picture do you get of Israel now?

7.       Hosea is still a prophet (Read Hosea 1:1). What message might you guess he will deliver?

8.       Read 2 Kings 15:27-30. What is happening? How much of a country is Hoshea actually king over?

Back in the South, Jotham son of Uzziah is king/co-regent. Do you remember which prophet was famous “In the year that King Uzziah died”? (Read Isaiah 6:1)

1.       Read 2 Kings 15:36-38. Who attacked Judah? Why?

2.       Can you think of any strange political, military or religious alliances affected the world today?

3.       Assyria is growing ever more powerful. Israel and Syria are allied. Extending that alliance to Judah would give them better access to resources, transport, and even to Egyptian protection. Read Isaiah 7:3-9. Why might Ahaz refuse to ally with them?

4.       Read 2 Kings 16:7-8, Isaiah 8:5-8. Should Ahaz believe his actions will protect the land?

5.       How easily do we hear only what we want to hear of God’s word?

Isaiah’s sermon promises misfortune to Judah as well as Israel. But what was Hosea saying at this time?

About society...
1.       Read Hosea 4:1. What’s the connection between truth, mercy and knowledge (or faithfulness, love and acknowledgement of God, depending on your translation)?

2.       Read Hosea 4:2. Is this about truth? What do you think of when you hear the words truth or lies?

3.       Read Hosea 4:4-5. Is this about mercy? When might it be better not to rebuke someone who is mistaken?

4.       Read Hosea 4:6. Is this about knowledge? What is the connection between knowledge and law?

5.       When Jesus says he fulfils the law and doesn’t change it, where does knowledge fit in?

6.       Do you think this sermon comes before or after the death of Jeroboam?

About faith...
1.       Read Hosea 4:10-12. What is the connection between harlotry, wine, and wooden idols? Do you expect the upcoming passage to be about sexual behavior or religious behavior? Does what we expect depend on what’s on our mind?

2.       Read Hosea 4:13. What’s wrong with mountain tops and groves of trees? Does this mean we can’t worship God in these places?

3.       Read Hosea 4:14. Who is God punishing, and who is he not punishing? Why? Who do we expect him to punish?

4.       Read Hosea 4:15, 5:5. Beth Aven was near Bethel, the house of the prophets, but its name means house of idols. Was Judah okay at this point? How can you tell if God’s favor rests on a country?

5.       Read Hosea 5:10-12. When do you think Hosea spoke these words? What’s the difference between a moth and rottenness?

6.       Read Hosea 5:13-15, 10:6. Some translations says King Jareb, which means avenger. Others say the great king, since there’s no record of a King Jareb. Why might Hosea have chosen this for the name of an Assyrian king?

7.       With the benefit of hindsight, what do you think Hosea was writing about?

8.       Seeking the benefit of foresight, what message might this have for today?

About hope...

1.       Read Hosea 6:1-3. Why three days?

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