Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Touching Base! Part 149

Wherever you are, someone’s been there.
Part 5 - Hosea

(This article can also we found on our website
at http://www.bethelkingston.com under the tab called "Blog")

This Touching Base is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside of the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build healthy community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.

An interesting question to consider as we start this TB is, “Do you relate to God out of your head more or out of your heart?” Another way to get at the answer is, “do you think your way through a situation or tend to lean more towards feeling your way through a situation?”

Of course in the Christian life God wants us to love Him with our hearts and our minds. He wants us to love all of Him with all of ourselves, in all the complex and wonderful ways that He has made us. This TB is focused on discussing how God might be shaping your heart these days. Yes, God wants us to have big heads (sound doctrine), but He also wants us to have big hearts - hearts that reflect the heart of God, as we engage with the world in which He has placed us.

Before we jump into the main text, check out some of the ways Jesus felt when He looked upon the broken world of the first century:

  • He wept over the death of His friend Lazarus (John 11:34–35)
  • He felt compassion for the people because they were without capable leaders (Matt. 9:36)
  • He experienced grief and wept over the city of Jerusalem (Matt. 23:37; Luke 19:41).

Do you feel your heart is fully alive when it comes to responding to the world around you?
Ever had an experience where that which breaks the world breaks your own heart as well?
How does a big head (sounds doctrine) nurture a big heart - compassion, brokenness, burden ?

Text : Hosea
Although Hosea was a “minor” prophet in the OT (i.e. his book is relatively short compared to Isaiah’s, for instance), he nevertheless had a major experience that, no doubt, connected his heart with God’s heart for the state of Israel.

• Notice the “what”...
What is the state of Israel in this time period? The best analogy to describe the state of Israel is that of a broken marriage where betrayal has happened. It’s the best of times and the worst of times. In spite of great economic and political success, Israel was sleeping around on God. If any of us have been betrayed, then we can deeply identify with the emotion of this book. Read through some of the following texts to get a feel for the strong imagery of God as the jealous husband and Israel as the adulterous wife. (e.g.,2:2; 4:10-12; 5:3-4; 6:10; 7:4; 8:4-6, 9; 9:1, 10, 15; 10:5; 11:2, 7; 12:11)
Note that Hosea’s words are primarily focused on Israel. Israel would be the first to go into captivity, followed by Judah in the south.

The “what: of this text is Israel. God wants Hosea to feel His pain and sorrow as the betrayed “husband”.
What is it that God may want you to feel more deeply about these days?
Has your heart “woken up” recently to anything it had “slept” through in previous months?
Do you ever struggle with how indifferent your heart can be to brokenness?

• Notice the “how” - read v.1:1-11

1. Draw near to brokenness
Okay, this is where this text gets really interesting. There is a lot in this text that we cannot get into right now but notice the “how”. How does God connect Hosea’s heart with His own regarding the state of the Jewish people? Notice in v.2b whose love Hosea’s love mirrors. God is shaping Hosea’s heart to mirror the heart of God. God is asking Hosea to draw near to an adulterous woman, just as He has drawn near to an adulterous nation.

Note: Obviously this is an exceptional directive by God to Hosea in terms of the specific action. At times, God asked His prophets of the OT to do some pretty bizarre things in terms of acting out the message. Prophets in that day fulfilled a unique role in that era.

Note v.2b “adulterous wife”- some see this as being a temple prostitute that Hosea is to marry. For others the words "an adulterous wife" are to be understood proleptically (i.e. the representation or assumption of a future act or development as if presently existing or accomplished) Gomer was not a harlot at the time Hosea married her. Thus this marriage mirrors God’s “marriage” to Israel: chaste at the time (Jer. 2:2-3), but later to become adulterous, a fact God would have fully known at the time of the “marriage”. Regardless of how you might interpret this, Hosea is being asked to DRAW NEAR TO BROKENNESS.

(For the sake of space this TB won`t expand on the rest of this chapter but rather will focus in on the marriage to Gomer in the opening verses)

Imagine if you could just press the pause button on this story, enter into the story and sit down with Hosea and ask him, “How do you feel?”

Let’s stand back and evaluate God: Is this fair? Anybody wrestle with what God is asking Hosea to do? Is it fair that God is asking Hosea to experience what God has experienced on the part of the Jews - unfaithfulness, betrayal, estrangement?
Do you think Hosea ever experienced some pretty dark nights of the soul?

When we come this close to the brokenness, it can turn our world upside down. What’s interesting is that you can read through this book and there is nothing personal regarding Hosea. No journaled thoughts, no statements in terms of how he was processing this.

But others have journaled when they have drawn near to brokenness. On Sunday I referred to Mother Theresa and C.S. Lewis. Perhaps you have wrestled with your heart as you have been drawn near to brokenness, such as a death, like C.S. Lewis experienced or poverty like what Mother Theresa faced.

Is your intimacy with brokenness expanding your heart to feel as God feels?

Here is a little exercise to do. Finish this sentence, “I feel more deeply when...” - below are some of my thoughts on this.
... when I see the person not just the masses
... when I hear the story not just the name or title “Sex traffic worker”
... when I can take the time to listen not just talk
... when I pray and ask God for the heart of God
... when I hang around with some people who feel deeply
... when I experience disappointment, increasing signs of mortality in my own family
... going on a mission trips, Constance Lake, overseas, smell it, see it touch it!
... when I chose to love difficult people and ask God to teach me to love.

Note that drawing near did not necessarily have to do with being drawn to the poor, even thought that can be a big part of it. The bigger issue is drawing near to brokenness which is no respecter of income, education or status.

2. Demonstrate radical love in brokenness - chapter 3
Take some time to talk about the emotion of this text. What do you think could be Hosea’s biggest complaint to God. Note who Hosea is imitating (v.1b). Don’t miss this, God wants our hearts to mirror His heart. See again 1:2b.

Drawing near to brokenness and demonstrating radical love in that brokenness - this is what God did in the OT, but in Jesus we see this theme emerge in a powerful way. Drawing near and embracing brokenness is the heart of the Gospel - at Christmas we see God drawing near to brokenness through a baby in a manger, dressed in flesh – Emmanuel, “God is with us”. At Easter we see radical love demonstrated to a broken world - a cross, nothing more radical.

Crucifixion is the ultimate obscenity
Crucifixion is the ultimate deterrent
Crucifixion involves stripping the victim in order to humiliate
Crucifixion means a body would be picked apart by birds of prey
Crucifixion states the sadistic desires of the strong
Crucifixion is reserved for the vile criminals
Crucifixion is synonymous with shame
Crucifixion is synonymous with suffocation
Crucifixion gives a lasting commentary on a person`s life
Crucifixion means a person is cursed by God
(McKnight, One.Life, page 186)

“Perhaps we forget….Jesus has entered into your suffering and into your disgraces and into your depressions and into your shames and into your pains. The cross is not just a redemptive place for the follower of Jesus. The cross is also a solidarity place where God joined us in our deepest death.” (One.Life, page 187)

Hosea is living out the heart of the Gospel. When Hosea is asked to love Gomer even after she has walked away, he mirrors God’s initiative with us (Romans 5:8).

God doesn’t just ask Hosea to walk out the heart of the Gospel, He asks all believers - the church - to walk out the heart of the Gospel. We are the body of Christ - Draw near, demonstrate radical love!

Take some time to pray as a group that God would allow your heart to mirror His heart. Pray that as you draw near to brokenness that your heart would not grow hard but soft and sensitive to how God is wanting to shape your heart. Ask God to enable you as He did Hosea to demonstrate radical love. As we do, people will see the heart of the Gospel.

“Change my heart oh God, make it ever new, change my heart oh God, may I be like you! You are the potter I am the clay, mould me and make me, this is what I pray.”

If interested in joining or starting a small group contact us at bethelcommunitygroups@gmail.com

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