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In Hosea 1, apostate Israel is likened to a brood of children characterized by violence and mayhem (Jezreel, Hos. 1:4) or born out of wedlock (Hos. 1:6–9). Although the “children” briefly reappear at the beginning and end of Hosea 2, here the focus is on apostate Israel as a fickle wife.
The verb translated “rebuke” in the NIV (Hos. 2:2) is better rendered “plead,” as in a legal setting: “Plead my cause” (NEB), God begs of the children. The next two lines are better taken as a question: “Is she not my wife and I her husband?” (NEB). The entire book insists that God will not finally go back on his marriage vows, but that he will pursue her. If the words are taken as a statement (NIV), then they must mean that the heart of the marriage has gone out of it, not that God himself is finally ending it.
The next verses (Hos. 2:3–4) demand radical repentance, not a merely formulaic “I’m sorry.” The alternative is that God will force Israel to face the consequences of her sin (Hos. 2:5–13). The picture is perhaps worse than we think: the false gods after whom Israel lusted were often fertility gods, and she was constantly tempted to think that they provided her wealth (Hos. 2:5), the way sex provides a prostitute’s resources. A culture with fertility religions glamorizes sex—as does our culture, if for different reasons. God sometimes seemed so remote or confined that Israel did not recognize that he alone provides all good things (Hos. 2:8), just as Hosea provided for all of Gomer’s needs. Sooner or later, at all costs, the sheer horror of the apostasy must be exposed, the apparent glamour stripped of its false aura, the deceit and perfidy recognized, and the consequences experienced (Hos. 2:10–13). There is both heartbreak and anger in God’s words: Israel “decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot” (Hos. 2:13).
But if God threatens judgment, he will also woo the Israel he loves and allure her with his charms. He calls to mind the “courting” days in the desert: he will court her all over again, this whore who has betrayed him (Hos. 2:14). The marriage will be preserved and strengthened (2:16), and God will guarantee that all the blessings of material prosperity will be provided (Hos. 2:17–22). Violence will be swallowed up by prosperity; the valley of Jezreel will no longer be associated with Jehu, but with planting (the allusion depends on Hebrew etymology). The new covenant bride (Hos. 2:18), dressed in wedding clothes, promises righteousness, justice, love, compassion, and faithfulness (2:19–20). And alienated, illegitimate children will belong to God (Hos. 2:23)—which Paul sees as a foretaste of the grandest proportions (Rom. 9:25–26).
In the two designated passages for this day we find a study of two grand-mothers.
The first is Athaliah (2 Kings 11). She is the utterly vile mother of Ahaziah, the king of Judah who was killed by Jehu (as we saw yesterday) in the mayhem precipitated by the insurrection in the northern kingdom of Israel. One could imagine a lot of different actions that a queen mother might take on learning of the assassination of her son. Athaliah’s reaction is to kill her entire family. She so commands the palace guard that her dead son’s children and grandchildren are wiped out, save for her infant grandson Joash, who is saved by an aunt (who herself may have been killed) who hides him with his wet nurse. Thus Athaliah secures power for herself.
A few years later, when Joash is still but a lad of seven, Jehoiada the priest arranges to bring the child out and have him declared the rightful king, protected by military units loyal to Jehoiada and his determination to preserve the Davidic line. When Athaliah discovers the plot, her cries of “Treason!” (2 Kings 11:14) ring a little hollow. For the sake of power, this evil woman was willing not only to commit murder (not a rare thing), but to murder her children and grandchildren—a much rarer thing, immeasurably more callous—and now she charges with treason those who call her to account.
Contrast the mother and grandmother briefly mentioned in 2 Timothy 1:5. Timothy’s grandmother Lois and his mother Eunice are women of “sincere faith,” according to Paul, and they have passed this heritage on to their son and grandson, Timothy. How they did this is not detailed. But judging by patterns laid out elsewhere in Scripture, the least they did was display personal example and provide concrete instruction. They passed on both the teaching of Scripture and the pattern of their own “sincere faith”—not only the pattern of their own walk with God, but the integrity that characterized their lives as a result. Indeed, hidden in this passage lies hope for men or women in mixed marriages. According to Acts 16:1, Timothy’s mother Eunice was both a Jewess and a Christian believer; his father was a Greek, apparently a pagan. The Christian influence prevailed.
Not all women are as evil as Athaliah; not all are as faithful as Lois and Eunice. Among both men and women, however, are not a few who, in home, at work, even in church, are much more interested in power than in anything else. They may not stoop to murder, but they will lie, cheat, and slander to gain more authority. They will face God’s judgment. But blessed are those whose sincere faith stamps the next generation.
10:1 Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city,1 to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons2 of Ahab, saying, 2 “Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons, 3 select the best and fittest of your master's sons and set him on his father's throne and fight for your master's house.” 4 But they were exceedingly afraid and said, “Behold, the two kings could not stand before him. How then can we stand?” 5 So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes.” 6 Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master's sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.” Now the king's sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up. 7 And as soon as the letter came to them, they took the king's sons and slaughtered them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel. 8 When the messenger came and told him, “They have brought the heads of the king's sons,” he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning.” 9 Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who struck down all these? 10 Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Elijah.” 11 So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
12 Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13 Jehu met the relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he said, “Who are you?” And they answered, “We are the relatives of Ahaziah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.” 14 He said, “Take them alive.” And they took them alive and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them.
15 And when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said,3 “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot. 16 And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he4 had him ride in his chariot. 17 And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah.
18 Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much. 19 Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. Let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal. 20 And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it. 21 And Jehu sent throughout all Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. 22 He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them. 23 Then Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Baal.” 24 Then they5 went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.
Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside and said, “The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.” 25 So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, “Go in and strike them down; let not a man escape.” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Baal, 26 and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Baal and burned it. 27 And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.
28 Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel. 29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan. 30 And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” 31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.
32 In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel: 33 from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Valley of the Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan. 34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel? 35 So Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place. 36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.
11:1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family. 2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king's sons who were being put to death, and she put6 him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they7 hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death. 3 And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.
4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king's son. 5 And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king's house 6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace.8 7 And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king, 8 shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”
9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest. 10 And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David's, which were in the house of the LORD. 11 And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king. 12 Then he brought out the king's son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”
13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people. 14 And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!” 15 Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.” 16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses' entrance to the king's house, and there she was put to death.
17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD's people, and also between the king and the people. 18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD. 19 And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king's house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings. 20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king's house.9
21 Jehoash10 was seven years old when he began to reign.
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God according to the promise of the life that is in Christ Jesus,
2 To Timothy, my beloved child:
Grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.
3 I thank God whom I serve, as did my ancestors, with a clear conscience, as I remember you constantly in my prayers night and day. 4 As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well. 6 For this reason I remind you to fan into flame the gift of God, which is in you through the laying on of my hands, 7 for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.
8 Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony about our Lord, nor of me his prisoner, but share in suffering for the gospel by the power of God, 9 who saved us and called us to1 a holy calling, not because of our works but because of his own purpose and grace, which he gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began,2 10 and which now has been manifested through the appearing of our Savior Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel, 11 for which I was appointed a preacher and apostle and teacher, 12 which is why I suffer as I do. But I am not ashamed, for I know whom I have believed, and I am convinced that he is able to guard until that day what has been entrusted to me.3 13 Follow the pattern of the sound4 words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. 14 By the Holy Spirit who dwells within us, guard the good deposit entrusted to you.
15 You are aware that all who are in Asia turned away from me, among whom are Phygelus and Hermogenes. 16 May the Lord grant mercy to the household of Onesiphorus, for he often refreshed me and was not ashamed of my chains, 17 but when he arrived in Rome he searched for me earnestly and found me—18 may the Lord grant him to find mercy from the Lord on that day!—and you well know all the service he rendered at Ephesus.
2 “Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
3 lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
4 Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
5 For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will hedge up her4 way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
7 She shall pursue her lovers
but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say,
‘I will go and return to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now.’
8 And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
9 Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
10 Now I will uncover her lewdness
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
11 And I will put an end to all her mirth,
her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths,
and all her appointed feasts.
12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
‘These are my wages,
which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
13 And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the LORD.
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor5 a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish6 the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and they shall answer Jezreel,7
23 and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,8
and I will say to Not My People,9 ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”
97 Oh how I love your law!
It is my meditation all the day.
98 Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies,
for it is ever with me.
99 I have more understanding than all my teachers,
for your testimonies are my meditation.
100 I understand more than the aged,1
for I keep your precepts.
101 I hold back my feet from every evil way,
in order to keep your word.
102 I do not turn aside from your rules,
for you have taught me.
103 How sweet are your words to my taste,
sweeter than honey to my mouth!
104 Through your precepts I get understanding;
therefore I hate every false way.
105 Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path.
106 I have sworn an oath and confirmed it,
to keep your righteous rules.
107 I am severely afflicted;
give me life, O LORD, according to your word!
108 Accept my freewill offerings of praise, O LORD,
and teach me your rules.
109 I hold my life in my hand continually,
but I do not forget your law.
110 The wicked have laid a snare for me,
but I do not stray from your precepts.
111 Your testimonies are my heritage forever,
for they are the joy of my heart.
112 I incline my heart to perform your statutes
forever, to the end.2
113 I hate the double-minded,
but I love your law.
114 You are my hiding place and my shield;
I hope in your word.
115 Depart from me, you evildoers,
that I may keep the commandments of my God.
116 Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live,
and let me not be put to shame in my hope!
117 Hold me up, that I may be safe
and have regard for your statutes continually!
118 You spurn all who go astray from your statutes,
for their cunning is in vain.
119 All the wicked of the earth you discard like dross,
therefore I love your testimonies.
120 My flesh trembles for fear of you,
and I am afraid of your judgments.