December 13

Healthy, Wealthy, and Wise: Living Ethically in the Light of the Bible

Introduction
Reading schedule

John 18:1-11; Revelation 10; Job 36:1-15 Hosea 13-14

The concluding verse of Hosea is characteristic of Israel’s wisdom literature. Hosea brings together the main themes of his book in a final admonition to his listeners and readers. We, like the Israelites, must choose between two paths: to walk wisely or stumble self-destructively. The right path is to walk in the ways of the Lord. Terms found frequently in Proverbs are used to describe those who take this path. They are wise, discerning, righteous, have understanding, and realise ‘these things.’

The wise realise the things that have been described in the rest of the chapter, and earlier throughout Hosea. For most of the book, Hosea described the sins of the people and the judgment these will elicit from God. The sins are wicked and the judgment severe. At the beginning of the book, God noted that Israel was like an unfaithful wife. Yet in spite of this, God declares that he will remain faithful to Israel and continue to cherish her until she returns to him. One day she will call the Lord ‘my husband’ and not ‘my master’ (Hosea 2:16).

Hosea 14 describes that day when Israel returns to God. All their problems described in the intervening chapters have originated with their sins. Yet God continues to call out to them to return to him because he wants to forgive them. He wants them to come to him with words of repentance. There is no mention of deeds or sacrifices. When they return, they will find a God who wants to heal them. They will find a faithful husband who will love them freely. This term captures the way God waits in joyful readiness to love them.

The next few verses use agricultural language to picture Israel flourishing under God’s loving care and protection. Like a blossoming flower, a stately tree, or a fragrant aroma, people in God’s grow tall and do well. The same imagery is used throughout the Song of Solomon to describe that deep, loving relationship. The warmth and tenderness of God’s love is matched only by the way the people flourish under his care. Little wonder anyone who realises these things will chose the path of the Lord. His ways and his commands are beautiful and true. They are right because they flow from a commitment to our good. We are not called to return like subjects to our rightful ruler, but like an unfaithful wife to a loving husband who joyfully seeks to see her blossom and flourish. The wise recognise the goodness in this way, while the rebellious cannot accept it. For them, the story is too good to be true. For the wise, the Lord is too good not to follow.

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