Todays readings.. Ezra 8, Hosea 9, Acts 28

     We are naturally inclined toward the positive and encouraging matters we read in God’s word – and so it has been encouraging today to read of the faith and commitment of Ezra in leading many of God’s people back from captivity to Jerusalem.  We also read of Paul’s arrival in Rome and how “he lived there two whole years … and welcomed all who came to him, proclaiming the Kingdom of God and teaching about the Lord Jesus Christ with all boldness and without hindrance.”

     This is how Luke’s account of the Acts of the Apostles ends and we have no certain information from other sources as to what happened after that. We see, however, the essential thrust of his teaching – “proclaiming the kingdom of God” and lament that such a message is just about totally absent among ‘Christians’ today.

       This brings us to see how the chapter (5) we read in Hosea today records many things that are equally appropriate to today’s situation.  The chapter starts, “Rejoice not, O Israel!  Exult not like the peoples.”  We are approaching the silly season of Christmas, how spiritually meaningless it is!  God’s son was certainly not born on Christmas Day!  That is not a day to particularly remember, the early church didn’t!. The one thing we should remember about Christ is his death and resurrection – a weekly inspiration for genuine believers.

      The prophet challenges the people, “What will you do on the day of the appointed festival?” [v.5]  Then he tells them, “the days of punishment have come.” [v.7]  Hosea as the true “prophet – is the watchman of Ephraim (the northern kingdom)  with my God” [v.8]

     What is a “watchman” ?  One who sees the situation from God’s perspective – and warns when there is a need, as God guides him.  Hosea is aware “they have deeply corrupted themselves” and God “will remember their iniquity, he will punish their sins” [v.9]   God then says, through Hosea, “Woe to them when I depart from them.” [v.12]  They will wake up too late, just like our world will – maybe very soon!

     In his final verse Hosea writes, “My God will reject them because they have not listened to him”.  Today, what would a true prophet say?  Would anyone listen?  Can you imagine what he would say?  More important – is to imagine what you would say?  Will you even try to say anything?