When Israel (under Moses and Joshua) were finally able to claim the land (often called the Promised Land) God had promised Abraham, around 500 years had gone by. They didn't live in the land too long until they were met byt the threat that God had warned them about the most - idol worship. It came in the form of fertility cults, the worship of nature in the form of human-like idols.
The most often mentioned fertility cult of the OT is Baal worship. The word "Baal" means "lord" or "lord of." Baal was the god of thunder, rain and fertility (making all things grow - crops, cows, and kids just to name a few). He was often depicted with a lightning bolt in his hand. Worship consisted of grain and meat offerings and, for a price, you could spend time with a preist or priestess of Baal who would help you act out sacred religious acts before Baal. These sacred people were called "quedesh" or "quedesha" in the Hebrew which meant they were also homosexual. Their sacred religious acts were nothing more than orgies and often involved animals as well. One of the Baal gods, Molech, the god of fire, demanded human sacrifice. To describe how these parents did that to their children (usually ages newborn to 4 years old) cannot be written here!
As a prophet and a poet, Hosea uses a wide variety of word-pictures and poetic techniques to make his message memorable and persuasive. Because of this, some scholars believe he was highly educated, possibly at the School of the Prophets. Started by Elisha, it was a place of learning God's Word, where reading, writing and memorization of scripture were important. It had no fixed building in which to meet.
Good question. Not only is it one of the oldest professions in history, it was also one of the few open to a woman who wanted to make quick money. Some scholars believe she was a Baal priestess and with that she would have a certain measure of power and influence.
The worst possible thing a wife of a prophet could become was a whore. Hosea's disgrace would have been complete if Gomer was a Baal quedesha as well. Yet, instead of stoning her, as the Law of Moses allowed, he chose to follow a different road and to make a different statement to his wife.
Most people in the Mediterranean cultures named their kids specific names and these names often said something about that person or an event surrounding their life. People were often re-named if a spectacular event transformed their life. Hosea's kid's names were not only unusual, but almost humiliating. It's hard to imagine Gomer liking their names!
Briefly mentioned in tonight's monologue, raisin-cakes were used in pagan worship as a "relaxation drug." Raisins were pounded into patties and set in the sun to ferment. They became alcoholic cakes that helped worshippers to "relax" and lose their inhibitions. Most cultures have some form of this practice - event the American Indians.
God can make over your relationship with Him because He buys back:
- The unwanted
- The hypocrite
- The broken
- The rebel
God's stubborn love won't let go of you! He refuses to write you off as a lost cause or beyond hope!
What has enslaved you and put you on the auction block?
Can you see God putting His Son's blood down as the payment for the ugliest part of yourself?!
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