Today’s readings: Hosea 4:1-5:15, II John 1:1-13, Psalm 125:1-5, Proverbs 29:9-11
There are parallels in the passages from Hosea 4-5, II John and Psalm 125 today that show clearly what God expects in our actions toward Him and our behavior toward each other. Let’s start with Psalm 125.
4 O Lord, do good to those who are good,
whose hearts are in tune with you.
5 But banish those who turn to crooked ways, O Lord.
Take them away with those who do evil.
This is a plea from the Psalmist for God to protect His faithful people and to disarm and remove from power those who do not follow His ways. This is one of the Psalms of Ascent, which the pilgrims used to sing on their way to Jerusalem, perhaps for a major feast (See Song of Ascents in Wikipedia).
Moving on to Hosea 4 and 5, we see that Hosea is speaking out against rebellious people in Israel in chapter 4 and specifically against the faithless leaders of Israel in chapter 5, which is addressed to the priests and the members of the royal family. Hosea, speaking for God, condemns them for arrogance and false religion. They are also condemned for “bearing children that are not His.” I’m not sure what this means, but it may simply mean that they are not training their children to follow the Lord.
5 “The arrogance of Israel testifies against her;
Israel and Ephraim will stumble under their load of guilt.
Judah, too, will fall with them.
6 When they come with their flocks and herds
to offer sacrifices to the Lord,
they will not find him,
because he has withdrawn from them.
7 They have betrayed the honor of the Lord,
bearing children that are not his.
Now their false religion will devour them
along with their wealth.
Both of these passages must be read in context to be fully understood. These verses from II John, on the other hand, seem to be a little more simple and straightforward.
5 I am writing to remind you, dear friends, that we should love one another. This is not a new commandment, but one we have had from the beginning. 6 Love means doing what God has commanded us, and he has commanded us to love one another, just as you heard from the beginning.
John has instructed us that we are to love each other and to do what God commands. In his wisdom, John points out that doing what God commands is all about loving each other – they are completely intertwined and inseparable.
Then in verse 9, John also provides a strong contrast between those who follow Jesus Christ and those who do not. To me this verse is clearly parallel to Psalm 125:4,5 above.
9 Anyone who wanders away from this teaching has no relationship with God. But anyone who remains in the teaching of Christ has a relationship with both the Father and the Son.
What are we to do?
- Remain in the teaching of Christ.
- Repent of our own arrogance and rebellion against God and His ways.
- Keep God’s commands.
- Love one another.
That seems simple enough to me today. Let’s see how it goes.