The Calves of our Lips

Hosea 14:1-2.

O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.

Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto Him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously: so will we render the calves of our lips.

A dictionary of the Bible.. . - failed toperform their covenant. Gen. 15 :  9,10, 17. Calf, Molten, Ex. 32 : 4, was an idol-god prepared by Aaron in  compliancewith the request

We don’t know exactly how all the calves that were created by man, for worship, looked. We do know that the calf was often used in idolatry, and was an insult to God, Who said, “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.”

In these first two verses of the last chapter of Hosea, Israel is once again urged to return to the Lord. They are urged to use their words to plead with Him for forgiveness and mercy.

I was intrigued by that last clause: So will we render the calves of our lips. It is well-translated as to make whole or good, restore, make compensation. Remember, they had been worshiping golden calves, among many other idols. Their words had been profane, blasphemous, and wholly offensive to God.

Now Hosea is telling them what they will need to do to restore God’s blessing and favor. They would need to give more than lip service, sort of like a child will do when he hopes. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” will cause his parents to decide against punishing his behavior. There will need to be more than words. God knows the hearts, and He is never fooled. They would need to make compensation for their sin by once again obeying God’s law for sacrifice and atonement. Instead of “calves of our lips,” this could just as accurately have been translated as “the sacrifice of our lips.”

There is much more coming in this chapter, but today I want to close with this quote from Charles Haddon Spurgeon:

“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!” 

Blue Letter Bible

Sunday Morning Coffee: Disgusted

I usually avoid politics and hot topics. I don’t want lots of nasty comments, and I won’t get into a debate with anyone. I will not post comments that are offensive, hateful or profane.

Sometimes, though, I read something that has to be addressed.

A news item caught my eye that told the story of a young man who, as an older teen, had violently assaulted a young girl in the school bathroom. He’s 26 now, and he came up with an idea that quite literally turns my stomach,

He has to go to jail, which of course wouldn’t have been any fun for him. So he said that he now identifies as a woman, and he convinced whoever decides these things that he needs to serve his sentence in a female correctional facility.

Mind you, he’s still a man. No steps have been taken to reverse his gender. But he SAYS he “feels like a woman,” and California (where else!) law says that his feelings must be honored. He wins. Everyone else loses. This predator will be in a facility populated with young women, and he will see it as his own personal playground.

This is the kind of evil that takes hold when we, as a nation, turn our backs on the God Who has so richly blessed us for so long. Ancient Israel had prophets who warned them repeatedly what would happen if they continued in their sin. And repeatedly, Israel was destroyed and enslaved by other, stronger nations until they finally repented and returned to God.

America can expect no less when we protect criminals and allow them free access to their potential victims. I’m pretty sure the reason he doesn’t want to be in a male prison is because historically, male inmates have no regard or mercy on other men who abuse children. He wouldn’t have had a very good time there. And he got out of it simply by saying, “I identify as a woman.”

We have opened a Pandora’s box.

First Snowfall

May be an image of snow

I took this picture from our back window–should have raised the slats. Oh well. I just thought it looked so pretty and peaceful. It won’t stay that way long. Right now there aren’t even any animal tracks. The squirrels must be huddled together keeping each other warm. If there are deer tracks, they’re way down at the bottom of our property. I suspect they also are staying together for warmth. It won’t be long before we see rabbit prints, bird tracks, and maybe even a fox. It’s surprising how much wildlife shows up in an older, settled neighborhood.

Terry’s going to go out in a little while to clear our driveway and the walk to the house. He puts a plow on our lawn tractor, and it doesn’t take him long to get the job done. It’s still snowing, but he’d rather do it now before the accumulation gets too heavy for our little tractor to manage. He’ll probably do it again once the snow stops. I’m sure the day is coming when we’ll have to pay someone to do it for us, but I’m also sure that Terry will do it himself as long as he’s able.

Terry loves the snow. I tease him that he grew up in a place where it snows every month of the year except July, and there’s no guarantee of that! He says the snow invigorates him. He’s welcome to it. I’m thinking about a cup of hot chocolate to invigorate me 🙂

It’s nearly the end of January. Here, our heaviest snow months can be February and March, but it’s really been a few years since we had a really major snow like my kids remember from when they were much younger. It was always a lot of fun for them to be out playing in it when it piled up above their heads.

I see the wind is picking up a little. I hope Terry won’t be facing into it. And I suspect he’ll be so invigorated that when he comes inside he’ll stretch out on the sofa and catch 40 winks.

Well, happy snow day to all my southeastern PA friends. If you love the snow, this is your day 🙂

An East Wind

Hosea 13:15-16.

Though he be fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come, the wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness, and his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up: he shall spoil the treasure of all pleasant vessels.

Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.

Hosea 13 - Holy Bible English -

These last two verses of ch. 13 are horrible to us. In fact, I looked at one illustration that called this prophecy “Nonsense from the Bible.” Yet it came true in every respect.

The Assyrians were well-known for their extreme, unnecessary cruelty. Their reputation preceded their armies, and intimidated some nations into agreeing to pay outrageous tribute to Assyria to avoid the slaughter. Ruling through fear was the go-to for the Assyrians.

Samaria, the once-capitol of Israel, had at one point been fruitful and wealthy. Because of their descent into idolatry, God says that He would send a devastating east wind. It would come up out of the wilderness, and would destroy everything it touched.

The Assyrian army would come through the desert part of Syria. They would destroy everything in their path, including springs of water, and treasure from the Temple. They were the east wind that God would use to punish Israel. The horrors of v. 16 are historically documented.

They had been warned over and over; the prophet had begged Israel to repent and return to God; yet they refused, and they paid the terrible price for their sin.

A Promise

Hosea 13:14. “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from Mine eyes.”

Hosea 13:14 ESV

When God says, “I WILL,” He is making an iron-clad promise. There is no “I might,” or “maybe” with God.

If this verse seems familiar to you, it’s because Paul referred to it directly in I Cor. 15:55. “O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?”

Israel has been guilty of great sin, but God’s power to forgive, heal, show mercy, and restore cannot be defeated. I think we forget that sometimes, when we turn our faces away or show disdain for those we consider to have sinned. Never forget that if no one besides you had ever lived, Jesus would still have had to die.

However, where there is no repentance, no recognition of sin against God, He will not have compassion. In the long term, Israel will be redeemed; before that, however, she will be sorely chastised for her sin of turning away from God.

Travail in Birth

Hosea 13:13. “The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”

Travail is a strong word. It connotes great effort, accompanied by lots of pain. Any woman who has borne a baby understands, especially if her labor was long and hard. While a woman is enduring childbirth, she can concentrate on only one thing: Bearing down to push the baby out of her body. Even in a normal, uncomplicated birth, it can feel as if one’s own body is going to break. It’s hard, painful, sometimes excruciating.

Is it true that when the baby is born, the mother immediately forgets the pain? Well, I don’t know about the “immediately” part, but speaking for myself, I went on to have three more after the first, so yes, I think we do forget to a degree. Or at least we accept the birth process because the results are so incredibly satisfying.

Israel would experience travail, trouble, suffering and pain that God compares to what a woman experiences when she gives birth.

The rest of the verse intrigued me, so I did some research. “He is an unwise son; for he should not stay long in the place of the breaking forth of children.”

Him, in the first part of the verse, of course, refers to Israel (Ephraim). Judgment will fall with the urgency of labor pains. But most of the commentators I read agree that the He in the second clause refers to the unborn child. As the mother endures the pain and pressure, the baby moves down the birth canal. The natural result would be that the child would emerge into the world and take his first breath, finding life.

If, however, the child could decide he’s not quite ready to be born yet, and hesitates to leave the “safety” of his mother’s body, the result would be death for both the baby and the mother.

In the same way that labor pains announce the coming of the end of the pregnancy, so God’s judgment signals the end of Israel’s disobedience. But if Israel pays no attention to the rigors of judgment, and decides to stay in the place of disobedience, then death is the unavoidable result of his choice.

God created in us a will and desire for life. Of course babies cannot choose to remain unborn, but the inevitable end of a lack of the proper result of the birth process can lead to death. It doesn’t always end so, because the midwife or doctor intervenes and provides assistance to the mother and child. In the same way, God can intervene with His people, providing a clear way of escape from the pain.

The choice, however, remains with the people, who need only to repent and turn to Him in order to gain life and freedom.

We Want a King!

Hosea 13: 11-12.

I gave thee a king in Mine anger, and took him away in My wrath.

The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.

Kings/Northern Kingdom of Israel | THE MARION COUNTY MANNA PROJECT | Marion  County, Florida

It would be interesting, I think, to do a study of all the kings of Israel and Judah. However, it would take a lot of time and a great deal of research, so it’s going on the back burner for now.

To give you a little background to God’s statements in this passage: God had given Israel many prophets and judges, most of which they dismissed in their ignorance and determination to be just like all the surrounding nations. It wasn’t enough for them to have God in their very midst. They wanted a power figure that they could hold up as being, at the very least, equal to the kings of the surrounding nations. God warned them what would happen. The king would tax them to support his armies. He would take their sons and daughters as slaves. He would take their livestock to feed those in his great banqueting halls, and the kings would build extravagant palaces in which to house themselves and their courts. The daughters of the people would be examined for their beauty, and taken off to the king’s harem, never to be seen again by their families. You can read about it in I Samuel 8: 4-22.

Of course, God was right. It wasn’t long before the first king, Saul, began to hold himself as an authority higher than God. He came to a dreadful end, and God replaced him with David. David did have a heart to serve God, but he was weak in matters of the flesh and committed grave errors against the God he truly did love. He wasn’t a good father. His children suffered for his weakness. After he died, Jereboam and Rehoboam split the kingdom, northern and southern, and the deterioration continued. All of the things about which they had been warned came to pass.

Verse 13 describes Israel’s sin as being hidden, or, in the best usage I found, it was set aside and covered, waiting for the judgment of God to fall. The coming judgment would be severe, but when God chastises His children, whether then or now, it is always done for the purpose of bringing them back into the place of blessing. Sometimes it takes a while, and a lot of suffering, for us to see the love behind the chastisement. God wants to bless His people. Sadly, His people want to have that blessing not because of their obedience, but in spite of their disobedience.

In Me is thine Help

Hosea 13:9-10.

O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help.

I will be thy King: where is any other that may save thee in all thy cities? and thy judges of whom thou saidst, Give me a king and princes?

You can almost hear the tears in God’s voice when He say, “O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in Me is thine help.”

Even when His people turned from him to worship idols made by the hand and imagination of man, thereby bringing divine wrath on themselves, God reassures them that He is still their source of help, if only they would return to Him.

In verse 10, God reminds them of how they demanded a king so they could be just like the other nations around them. God had given them judges and prophets, but they wanted the pomp and circumstance that came with a king, a royal dynasty, palaces and treasures. His promise that HE would be their king was ignored in their demand for all the trappings of earthly kingship. So the heart of mankind has always desired to elevate itself and become as a god, gaining the worship and adoration of all those who desire such things.

Sunday Morning Coffee: Hot, Cold, Just Right

Our weather in my corner of PA has been rather fickle this week. Deep cold, snow and sleety rain, clouds, clear skies, sun, grey skies. The only thing we didn’t get was unseasonable heat. l fell asleep a couple of nights listening to heavy winds or rain hitting the house. I kind of enjoy that. I like weather. I like changes in the weather. My old bones don’t always enjoy the day or two before the weather changes. I could do better weather forecasting than a lot of the professionals do 🙂

Pretty much sums up Indiana weather - Imgur
That bottom strip could be “Weather in Pennsylvania,” too!

Several years ago, Terry installed central air conditioning into our little rancher. It makes the summers bearable. We get lots of humidity here, and that really wreaks havoc on my joints. Humidity is a booger on other levels, as well, but since we have central air I’m not fighting the mildew at all. So thankful for that!

We have an oil-burning stove in our living room that heats our main living areas quite well. It’s inexpensive—well, it WAS inexpensive before someone closed down our domestic oil production. But it’s still less expensive than electricity, which is our other option. We like sleeping in a colder room, but Terry got me an electric mattress pad the heats my bed up until it’s just right.

Thinking about all this has made me realize how much we take for granted here in the States. We don’t tolerate extreme heat or cold, because we have the technology to have the inside temperature just about the same all year ’round. We sleep well in our comfortable beds, and we don’t have to spend a lot of time outdoors when it’s drippy and miserable. Well, most of us don’t. It’s during this time of year that I most appreciate the folks who take care of our roads, our electricity lines, our water. They’re often out there in the most miserable weather, which of course is when things are more likely to break down.

Not everyone has it as good as we do, though, and I think about the homeless during this time of year. Yes, there are shelters, but shelters aren’t always very sheltering.

I don’t really have a specific point for this post, I guess. Maybe it should be just to appreciate what we have, to be thankful we live in a country where water is abundant, where we can usually meet the basic needs of life.

I know one thing I can look forward to: The weather in heaven will be perfect, all the time! That’s something to hold onto when it gets bad down here 🙂

Lion, Leopard and Bear

Hosea 13:6-8.

According to their pasture, so were they filled; they were filled, and their heart was exalted; therefore have they forgotten Me.

Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them:

I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, and will rend the caul of their heart, and there will I devour them like a lion: the wild beast shall tear them.

The “Big 7 - Issuu

Often, when we are comfortable financially, we lose some of our zeal to live for God. We have no unmet needs. Our pastures are abundant, and we grow full of ourselves, forgetting to seek God’s blessing. Just as Israel did in Hosea’s time, we forget God when things are good.

The three beasts mentioned in this passage–the lion, leopard, and bear–were well-known in Israel. They were merciless in hunting down their prey, and killed quickly. The lion and the leopard used stealth to take their victims unaware, disguising themselves in the grass or a tree. The bear who is enraged at the loss of her young is capable of great speed, and has immense strength. God uses these animals to describe the judgment that will fall on Israel because of their faithlessness to Him.

The caul mentioned here is a membranous sac that protects the heart, which of course is vital to life. It would seem that a bear would claw off this caul in order to eat the heart of the kill.This small detail made me stop to consider the importance of guarding our hearts against the depredation of Satan, who wants to destroy all that God loves.