In Hosea 8, we read that Ephraim had “multiplied altars for sin” (v. 11). They built altars, but they certainly were not worshiping God as He desired. The altars were “altars of sinning.” Oh how the things that could be useful for good can be used for evil just the same. What a great reminder to tread with caution. Thankfully, God has given us His Word so we know what is desired of us.
This verse translates in the NLT as, “Even though I gave them all My laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them.” The ESV translates this as a “strange thing.” Like it’s strange to apply the laws to them, like it’s foreign to them. Sadly, the people of this time period were far from God. They were led away. They were sinful, idolatrous people. It did not matter how many laws there are—they would be seen as foreign nonetheless.
For many people today, God’s Law is a strange thing. People are so far from understanding the Truth, they look at what God commands and see it as strange, difficult, demanding, and even unnecessary. People do not understand the reason for the Law. God blesses us with the Law. The Law is actually all about GRACE. It is through the Law that we realize we are sinners (Romans 3:20, 7:7). As a result, the Law leads us to Jesus Christ so that we may be justified by faith (Galatians 3:24). Without the Law, we would not recognize our need for Jesus. We would not accept the grace of God. We would not be able to have the relationship for which we were created. To outsiders, the Law is a strange thing. To believers, the Law is a constant reminder that we fall short (Romans 3:23) and that we need a Savior. Knowing that He fulfilled the Law and that through Him we have life and life in abundance is a blessing! Today, remember the not-so-strange thing. More importantly, thank the Lord for His unending grace.
“Were I to write for him my laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing.” – Hosea 8:12 [ESV]
Every morning, there is the usual routine. After our daily walk (weather permitting), the dogs sit inside the kitchen awaiting their food. Typically, I’ll grab their bowls and get them water, followed by their food. There are moments when I need to do something quickly before feeding them. They still stand in their places, patiently waiting for their food. They know that their master will feed them. They trust it is coming. In time, the food comes.
The Bible references many promises of God. In Matthew 6, we read about how God cares for the birds—He makes sure they are fed. This illustration is shared to show us the importance of leaning into God and not succumbing to anxiety. Too often, we allow fear, anxiety, worry, and doubt to keep us from stepping into what God has ready for us. Rather than following His will and patiently trusting Him, we try to do things on our own and life becomes frazzled. We were never meant to do life alone on our strength.
Worry will get you nowhere. It cannot add a single hour to your life span. It cannot make the problem go away. It cannot change your circumstances. It cannot help in any way. Like my dogs stand patiently waiting to be fed, trusting in their master, we are to stand before our Master, trusting in Him. Even when nothing seems to go well—even when the circumstances look bad—cling to Him and His promises. Even when things are falling apart around you, stand firm in your faith. Wait obediently. He is faithful!
““Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?” – Matthew 6:25-27 [ESV]
Whenever it rains, I don’t feel so great. My body aches from the dampness. The dogs cannot go for their walks if it is raining too hard, which means I don’t get my normal exercise, and more importantly, my special alone time with God where there are no interruptions. The weather report notes that the rain is going to continue for the next few days. Part of me dreads possibly not getting out there for our usual walks, but yet I know that the rain is a blessing to us and it is certainly needed so I’m trying to be grateful.
In Hosea, we read that God “will come to us like the rain.” I always love when I can read something that paints a visual picture for me. But what is this verse saying? Rain isn’t always falling. Does it mean God will come and then go and eventually come again? No. This passage is talking about the faithfulness of God. In Deuteronomy 11, read about the blessings and the curses. It was plainly laid out for people to understand. If you obey – if you love the Lord and serve Him with all your heart and soul—then He will bless you with rain. There were two big rains acknowledge—the spring rain and the autumn rain. This was needed for the people to have a good return.
When we read in Hosea that the Lord comes to us like the rain, it is saying that we can trust that the Lord is faithful. Just as the rain comes in spring and autumn as promised, so will the Lord come and restore. The promises of the Lord are true. Next time it rains, be reminded that God is faithful. He will come like the rain to us. Ask Him to come and rain down on you.
“So let us know, let us press on to know the LORD. His going forth is as certain as the dawn; And He will come to us like the rain, Like the spring rain watering the earth.” – Hosea 6:3 [NASB]
“And if you will indeed obey my commandments that I command you today, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul, he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, that you may gather in your grain and your wine and your oil.” – Deuteronomy 11:13-14 [ESV]
We recently did a Bible study where the term “stiff necked” came up. Many people asked what does it mean to be “stiff necked”? Jokingly, I told them I am stiff necked, hence the reason I see a chiropractor. The truth is, yes, I have a stiff neck that needed extensive therapy. My lower back and my neck were the worst. But I am also stiff necked in the biblical sense of the term.
So what does this actually mean? If we would know about oxen and plowing, we would have a better understanding. When a fellow was working the plow, he would have his oxen in order, and he would use one hand on the plow and the other holding a large pole. Usually there would be two oxen together. The man who was working the field, would use the pole to touch the back of the feet of the oxen, or to touch the necks of the oxen. They did these things so that the oxen would know when to change speed, when to go straight, and when to turn. There were some stubborn oxen who didn’t like to listen. When they would have their necks poked, they would not move as ordered. They were known as hard of neck or “stiff necked.”
I admit I am stiff necked. There are times when I don’t want to move when God gives me a poke. There are moments when I chose to try to control a situation instead of giving it to God. There are times when I am supposed to turn, but I go on a different way. Today, ask God to reveal to you any areas in your life that may cause you to earn the name “stiff necked.” Chances are, like me, you are stiff necked. Don’t worry—we all fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23). Thankfully Jesus Christ has made a way so that we can find forgiveness despite our stiff necked issues.
“So circumcise your heart, and stiffen your neck no longer.” – Deuteronomy 10:16 [NASB]
“Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. – 2 Chronicles 30:8 [ESV]
- “Wise minds and spirits attuned to His will” [MSG]
- “All the wisdom & understanding that His Spirit gives” [CEV]
- “God to give you complete knowledge of His will and to give you spiritual wisdom and understanding” [NLT]
- Practical Obedience (1:10) – Knowledge & obedience go together
True spiritual wisdom must affect daily life
Wisdom / Walk / Work – Cannot work for God unless we walk with Him, cannot walk with Him if ignorant to His will
General will = clearly in Bible Specific will = always agrees with Bible
Knowing general will makes it easier to know specific will for daily life
God wants us to:
- Know His Will (Acts 22:14)
- Understand His Will (Ephesians 5:17)
Paul prayed for ALL wisdom & understanding, COMPLETE knowledge…
Complete = Filled full Filled = Controlled by
- Filled with _______ (ex: anger, jealously)
- Filled with Spirit (Ephesians 5:18)
Controlled by full knowledge of God’s will
How? By all wisdom & spiritual insights. Understand will of God through Word of God. Holy Spirit teaches us to submit to Him (John 14:26, John 16:31)
- You will live a life that honors the Lord
- You will always please Him by doing good deeds
- You will come to know God even better
- You will be patient & strong to endure everything because of His power
- You will be truly happy
Bible Study Questions:
1) Paul prayed for the Colossians to have ALL wisdom and understanding. He grasped that God wants us to know and understand His will – and to do this would bring us closer to Him. With our reading, the words patient and strong and happy appear. What does this mean for us?
2) What is the hardest thing about following God’s will?
3) When we have this completeness (fullness), we will be controlled by it. We will then be able to determine what God wants. How do we determine God’s Will—how do we determine what He wants?
4) Let us dig deeper into God’s Word.
Read each of these verses and decide what each verse says about God’s will for us.
- Read 2 Peter 3:9
- Read Ephesians 5:18
- Read 1 Thessalonians 4:3
- Read 1 Peter 2:15
- Read 1 Peter 5:10
- Read Psalm 37:4