In Nineveh, God works in mighty power. “Jonah was greatly displeased and became angry” (Jonah 3:10-4:1). To this proud attitude, God says, “You … have no excuse, you who pass judgment on someone else” (Romans 2:1). He calls for a change of attitude: “Do you show contempt for the riches of His kindness … ?” (Romans 2:4). Rather than complaining about God’s goodness – ‘What right has He to bless these people, of all people?’, we are to cry to God that we ourselves may also be revived: “Restore us again … Will you not revive us again … ?” (Psalm 85:4,6).
God is perfectly holy. He cannot stand sin. This is clear in both Amos and Romans. It is stressed in Proverbs, which emphasizes that sin is not so much sin against man but “contempt for their Maker” (17:5). Proverbs 17:9 tells us that we are to “promote love.” This love is to be modelled on the love of God. He is always the One who is sinned against. He is never the One who has done the sinning. Nevertheless, His love remains constant. It is the divine pattern for our living in love.
Scripture speaks honestly about sin – “You have not returned to Me” (Amos 4:6,8,9,10,11); “There is no fear of God before their eyes” (Romans 3:18). God’s reply to sin is salvation – “Surely His salvation is near those who fear Him, that His glory may dwell in our land” (Psalm 85:9).
Religion is not salvation. “Sacrifices and offerings” (Amos 5:25), circumcision (Romans 4:9-12) – All of this can be “works” which are given to God as a means of earning His favour. The Gospel shows us another way – “righteousness apart from works” (Romans 4:6). This is the way of which the Psalmist speaks: “You are forgiving and good, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to You” (Psalm 86:5).
Amos was commissioned by the Lord – “Go, prophesy to My people Israel” (Amos 7:15). The purpose of such prophecy, in our generation, is to declare the Gospel: “God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). If this message of love is to be brought to the people, the preacher must pray: “Teach me Your way, O Lord, and I will walk in Your truth …” (Psalm 86:11).
Christ restored what Adam lost (Romans 5:15). The Garden of Eden was devastated, but God promises to restore the garden (Amos 9:13-15). This is a prophecy – “The days are coming … “ (Amos 9:13). It is fulfilled in Christ, through whom we receive eternal life (Romans 5:21). In Christ, there is the great blessing of forgiveness – “acquitting the guilty”, but there is also the warning to those who imagine themselves to be innocent – “condemning the innocent” (Proverbs 17:15). There is no innocence in ourselves. Guilt can only be removed by Jesus Christ.
The grace of God is amazing – “I will show My love to the one I called ‘Not My loved one …’” (Hosea 2:23). We are now to live as those who have received grace (Romans 6:1-2). We put the past, with its sin, behind us. We look to the future – the fullness of God’s salvation (Psalm 87:3).
The sin of God’s people is described thus: “A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 5:4). This is not God’s way – “You used to be slaves to sin … You have been set free from sin and have become slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18). Psalm 88 could be viewed as a vivid description of the way in which the “Lord, the God who saves me” (Psalm 88:1) puts to death the sinful nature so that the new nature might arise (Romans 7:4-6).
God longs to redeem us (Hosea 7:13). This is the deep desire of His hearts for us. His intention is to train and strengthen us (Hosea 7:15). This great purpose of God is not easily fulfilled in our lives. There is a great conflict going on within us (Romans 7:25). What are we to do? – “I call to You, O Lord, every day” (Psalm 88:9b).
Hosea 8:1-9:17; Romans 8:1-17; Proverbs 17:25-18:6
”Israel has forgotten his Maker and built palaces” (Hosea 8:14). When man forgets God, he builds monuments to his own glory. There is, however, a better way which brings glory to God – “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires … The mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace” (Romans 8:5-6). We must come often to “the fountain of wisdom” (Proverbs 18:4) if our minds are to be controlled by the Spirit. It is the Spirit’s work to lead us to Christ, the living Word, through Scripture, the written Word. Through Scripture, we are made “wise for salvation” (2 Timothy 3:15). In Christ, we find “wisdom”, true wisdom, the wisdom of God (1 Corinthians 1:30).
“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us” (Romans 8:18). God’s purpose of love will not be thwarted. Whatever trouble He may have with us – “My people are determined to turn from Me”, He will not give up on us – “How can I give you up …? … All My compassion is aroused … I am God … The Holy One among you, I will not come in wrath. They will follow the Lord” (Hosea 11:8-10). God is determined to bless us. This creates in us a response – “They will follow the Lord.” At the heart of this response, there is worship and witness (Psalm 89:1).
God longs for men and women to be saved (Hosea 14:1-2; Romans 9:1-5). He has “great sorrow and unceasing anguish in His heart” as He considers the sins, the waywardness of man (Romans 9:2; Hosea 14:2,4). When He saves, His people “sing for joy at His Name”, singing, “Your arm is endued with power, Your hand is strong, Your right hand exalted” (Psalm 89:12-13).