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What God Desires

Consider How We Honor and Worship God

The first five books of the Bible talk a lot about God’s expectations of his people, about what God desires. He gives Moses his laws to guide them in right behavior, both what they’re supposed to do and what they’re to avoid.

The Bible also discusses—sometimes in excruciating detail—the complex array of sacrifices and burnt offerings God expects his people to regularly give him. Many of these occur according to the calendar, while others relate to life events.

It seems the people are never far away from an occasion to worship God through offering a sacrifice.

Because of the repeated emphasis on sacrifices in the Old Testament, it’s easy to conclude they’re the focal point of worshiping God. Or are they?

Hosea casts into doubt this assumption regarding the importance of animal sacrifices. He does this when he shares God’s perspective on this involved practice—which, incidentally, seems both wasteful and barbaric to most people today.

What God desires, according to the prophet Hosea, is that his people offer mercy and not sacrifices. He wants them to acknowledge him rather than present him with slaughtered animals.

Though it may be an overstretch to say that God wants them to stop offering animal sacrifices, he certainly is calling for a change in perspective. Could it be that the people’s hearts are not in the right place when they offer their sacrifices?

They might be going through the motions of a ritualistic religious practice while having lost all connection to the reason behind the rite—and the God who instituted it.

So it is when we blindly follow traditions that evolved over time without a thought or care to the original goal of the practice.

When we offer mercy to others, we honor God by reaching out to other people. When we acknowledge God as Lord, we honor him by reaching up to him. Click To Tweet

If God doesn’t want dead animals anymore, consider what he wants instead. He asks that his people be merciful to others. Giving mercy—and not insisting on judgment—emerges as a form of worship, one which God desires.

Think about it. We honor God by how we treat others and not some religious ritual that has ceased to hold meaning for us.

Next, God says that he wants his followers to acknowledge him. The original intent of the burnt offerings was to point to him, acknowledging him as Lord. But if the burnt offerings now fail to do that, it makes sense to eliminate them and encourage the people to focus directly on him.

When we offer mercy to others, we honor God by reaching out to other people. When we acknowledge God as Lord, we honor him by reaching up to him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 5-7 and today’s post is on Hosea 6:6.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Do We Answer When God Calls?

When God calls people to him, some come and others run away

As the prophet Hosea wraps up his writings, he gives us some insight into the heart of God. He writes that the more God called his people, the more they ran away from him (Hosea 11:2). When God calls, what is our response?

When God Calls Us

Imagine God beckoning for us, longing for us to be in a relationship with him. With much expectation, he calls our name. But instead of hearing his call and running into his arms, we turn our back on him and run in the opposite direction. It’s as if he offers us a high-five and we leave him there, hanging, poised to receive a response we will never offer.

How this must grieve him.

We’ve all had this happen to us. We extend ourselves to others: to family, neighbors, friends, and the church. But instead of receiving the response we hope for, the reaction we long for, we hear only silence or receive a sharp rebuff.

When God calls us do we run into his arms or flee from him? Click To Tweet

Now multiply that by thousands, by millions, and by billions. That’s how many of humanity’s numbers snub God’s call and ignore his persistent love. It breaks my heart, and more surely must break his—a billion times over.

God Loves Us

Yet God responds, not in anger, but in love. He still cares for his people. He still wants the best for them. Though he heals them, they do not realize it comes from him (Hosea 11:3). They do not attribute their good outcomes to his loving care for them.

When God calls us, may we answer. When he heals us, may we thank him.

How does God call us? How will we respond? Will we grieve him or delight him?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 8-11, and today’s post is on Hosea 11:2-3.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Does God Think of Prostitutes?

While I can’t definitively answer this question about prostitutes, the Bible does give a clear indication—and the answer may surprise you.

Through the prophet Hosea, God says: “I will not punish your daughters when they turn to prostitution…because the men themselves consort with harlots and sacrifice with shrine prostitutesa people without understanding will come to ruin!”

In economic terms, there needs to be both supply and demand for a “market” to exist. This applies to prostitution. Although both society and law enforcement tend to focus on the “supply” side of the prostitution equation, God’s focus seems to be on the “demand” side.

In God’s book, it’s the guys who are at fault and the guys who will come to ruin over prostitution. While sexual purity is a reoccurring theme in the Bible, in this case the ladies are offered mercy, but not so much for the guys.

Isn’t God wonderfully surprising?

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 1-4, and today’s post is on Hosea 4:14.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

God Gives Us Options

In the book of Hosea, God calls the young man, Hosea, to be his prophet—telling him to marry a prostitute, (see “Hosea Shows Us God’s Unconditional Love”). This is one of God’s most scandalous directives.

What is intriguing is that God does not indicate which prostitute. God gives options. The choice is left to Hosea! While he could have opted for the first one he saw, picked one at random, or altruistically selected the one who was most needy or deserving of being rescued, I suspect he did none of those.

Remember, Hosea is a guy. He most likely chose the most attractive, most alluring prostitute! If that is correct, the story becomes even more shocking.

God does give us choices. Click To Tweet

But God does give us choices. When God tells us to do something, either through the Bible or the Holy Spirit, it is usually in bold strokes. He gives the big picture, such as feed the poor, cares for the sick, or take care of orphans and widows.

The details are left to us. God gives us options. We determine how we comply. We can factor in our personality, our resources, and our preferences, and, yes, even our passions in determining how we do what God tells us.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 1-4, and today’s post is on Hosea 1:2-3.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Hosea Shows Us God’s Unconditional Love

In the Bible, many of the prophets are instructed by God to do some strange and bizarre things. Isaiah is a case in point. Perhaps the most extreme, however, is Hosea. In short, God tells him to marry a prostitute so that his life can become an object lesson of God’s unconditional love.

Imagine young Hosea coming home one day and telling his parents: “Guess what? God called me to be his prophet!” His parents beam with pride, until a bombshell is dropped on them, “…and he told me to hook up with a prostitute.”

That seems so inappropriate, ill-advised, and ungodly, yet that is what God says to do—and Hosea obeys.

The strangeness doesn’t stop there, however. When his ex-hooker-wife gets pregnant, God tells Hosea to give the kids some unbecoming names. His daughter is given a name that means “not loved” and his second son, a name that means “not my people.” This suggests that Hosea has reason to question who actually fathered his wife’s children.

Next, his wayward spouse splits, returning to her former way of life. So, God tells Hosea to go find her and take her back.

Although this chain of events was a horrific ordeal for Hosea, it is a profound object lesson for us: regardless of what we do, how badly we act, or how far we stray, God loves us unconditionally and pursues us relentlessly.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Hosea 1-4, and today’s post is on Hosea 1:2-3.]

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Book about the Minor Prophets

Book 4 in the Dear Theophilus Series

You may know about the prophet Jonah, the guy who spent a three-day time-out in the belly of a large fish, but what about some of the lesser-known prophets?

Do you know of Micah, Obadiah, or Malachi?

What about Nahum, Zephaniah, or Zechariah? Oh, my! The list goes on. It’s enough to make our minds spin.

Rounding out these twelve Minor Prophets are Amos, Hosea, Habakkuk, Haggai, and Joel.

The Bible includes the work of these twelve prophets who carry the unfortunate label of minor. It’s not that their work isn’t significant, it’s that their books are shorter.

If you’re like most people, you scarcely remember their names, let alone having ever read their books in the Bible.

It’s time we change this.

In the book Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets, you’ll discover:

  • The order of each prophet’s ministry (because the Bible doesn’t list them chronologically)
  • The significant messages they address
  • Their place in the biblical timeline
  • The umbrella of hope that outshines criticism of unfaithfulness and prophecies of punishment
  • The powerful way their words apply to us today

Return to Me is book four of the Dear Theophilus series. In it, you’ll get all this and more:

  • Thought-provoking insights that are part Bible study and part devotional
  • A deeper understanding of these lesser-known prophets
  • A greater appreciation of how the Old Testament informs our lives today

Let’s dive into the intriguing lives and ministries of these amazing messengers from God in the book Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets.

[Return to Me was originally published as Dear Theophilus, Minor Prophets.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Posts about the Minor Prophets

For the past several months, most of the ABibleADay posts have been about the minor prophets. Recall that they are called minor not because their prophecy is insignificant, but because their books are short!

Though more posts may be added in the future, there are no more planned at this time. See all posts about the twelve Minor Prophets:

  1. Hosea
  2. Joel
  3. Amos
  4. Obadiah
  5. Jonah
  6. Micah
  7. Nahum
  8. Habakkuk
  9. Zephaniah
  10. Haggai
  11. Zechariah
  12. Malachi

Learn more about all twelve of the Bible’s Minor Prophets in Peter’s book, Return to Me: 40 Prophetic Teachings about Unfaithfulness, Punishment, and Hope from the Minor Prophets

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

What Was the Error of Edom?

“As you have done, it will be done to you; your deeds will return upon your own head.”

Obadiah Said

The short book of Obadiah is a stinging rebuke to the nation of Edom, not for what they overtly did, but for what they did indirectly: for a failure to act, for smug attitudes, and for capitalizing on the wrong actions of others. Even though they did not directly do wrong, the outcome is quite clear:

Paul Said

A few centuries later, Paul teaches the same lesson:

“Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

Hosea Said

Hosea phrases this in the positive:

“Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love”

Jesus Said

However, Jesus said it best:

“Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give, and it will be given to you…For with the measure you use, it will be measured to you.”

More succinctly, in what we call the Golden Rule, Jesus also said:

“Do to others what you would have them do to you.”

Yes, good words to live by.

[Obadiah 1:11-15, Galatians 6:7, Hosea 10:12, Luke 6:37-39, Matthew 7:12]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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