Week 19: Hosea, Amos, Joel, Obadiah

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This week’s readings cover the writings of four of the prophets that God used to warn His people prior to them being sent into exile. In each we will see that God was right to judge the people for their sins. However, the purpose was to correct their behavior and not just punish them. That is why He always speaks of a coming restoration of both their relationship with Him and their returning to the land.

In Hosea God has the prophet marry an unfaithful woman who becomes indebted to the ones with which she commits adultery. Hosea is then told to go, pay her debts and restore their relationship. God is described as having “married” Israel who is likewise unfaithful but He will forgive His people, send His Son to die for their sins and restore His relationship to His people. The Apostle Paul states twice (1 Corinthians 6:20 and 1 Corinthians 7:23) that we have been “purchased from the marketplace” of sin by Jesus. Peter tells us the price that was paid was the death of Jesus on our behalf (1 Peter 1:8).

Hosea also describes relationship of God to His people as a father raising a son. The son is disobedient to the father. But the father still demonstrates compassion towards the son by correcting him but not destroying him. Finally, the prophet reminds us that “the ways of Yehovah are right, and the righteous will walk in them but transgressors will stumble in them.”

The book of Amos is an expression of the character of God that is given in Jeremiah 9:24, “I am Yehovah who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; I delight in these things.” He is judging the people not only for their idolatry but also for not treating the poor amongst them with justice. They are enjoying personal prosperity while ignoring the needs of others. God is anticipating the day when the “love of money” will replace idols as the “root of all sorts of evil” (1 Timothy 6:10).

God calls His people to “Let justice roll down like waters and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream” (Amos 5 24). It is the knowledge of God that comes from a personal relationship with Him that permits us to fulfill this commandment. God promises to reveal Himself and share His plans with us “by His servants the prophets” (Amos 3:7). However, because of our continuing sin and rejection of Him He warns of a coming famine, “Not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of Yehovah.” We must continually thank God for the access we have to His Word and for giving us His Holy Spirit to help us understand all He wants to tell us (John 14:26).

Joel and Obadiah both express God’s judgement not only of Israel but of all nations. Similarly, both prophets describes how God promises to “pour out My Spirit on all mankind” (Joel 2:28). Thank God for His lovingkindness.

Dr. Samuel Abatte is a physician practicing in Wasilla, Alaska. This column first appeared in the Frontiersman, a Wick newspaper serving the Matanuska-Susitna Valley of Alaska.