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Chinese11/3/2006English
經文:何西阿書第五、六、七章
鑰節:「來吧!我們歸向耶和華。祂撕裂我們,也必醫治……纏裹……,甦醒……,興起(我們),我們就在祂面前得以存活。」(6:1、2)
提要

        第五章裡,上帝藉何西阿譴責以色列的領袖(祭司和君王),因他們誤導國家,使人們落入拜偶像的陷阱。當國家分裂成南北兩部時,耶羅波安因著政治目的,要使兩地長久分裂,竟故意成立拜金牛犢的邪教,使人民不會南下到耶路撒冷去敬拜上帝,造成以色列犯屬靈的淫亂罪。當時,雖有些人牽著牛羊去耶路撒冷獻祭,但對上帝而言,那是假冒為善,是無意義。他們私下仍行拜偶像,把子女教養成外邦人的樣子(5:6~7)。因此,戰爭帶來的審判仍將速臨他們(5:8~9)。

        南國猶大也有罪了,因為他們雖目睹以色列要毀滅,不但未扭轉他們,竟然趁火打劫,私自挪移兩地邊境的界碑(5:10),上帝的忿怒也要臨到他們,只是以色列會比較快傾覆,猶大則要漸漸衰敗,像木頭朽爛(5:12)。當他們察覺須要幫助時,又找錯地方,尋求像亞述這種國家的幫助(參王下15:19~21;16:5~9),卻不找上帝。豈不知當上帝像凶猛的獅子,是無人有能力救他們脫離險境的。他們的審判是必須的,因為沒有被懲罰,他們絕不會回頭尋求上帝的恩典與祝福。何西阿預言說以色列是要悔改的,也要認識上帝,更要因信賴上帝,而被醫治、包紮、甦醒、興起而存活(6:1~3)。

        其實,以色列和猶大一樣善變,不虔誠且虛偽(6:4~6),所有外在宗教行為,都不是從內心發出的。上帝真正在意的是,他們對上帝的奉獻和順服,而不是空洞的燔祭。雖然猶太不致立即受罰,但是一百三十年後,他們仍難逃相同命運,上帝是要公平地處罰罪惡。即或上帝想要憐憫拯救他們也沒辦法,因為他們仍沉溺在罪中,不願嚴肅面對他們的罪愆(7:1~3)。

        以色列的首領和君王受到很多責備,因為百姓行惡他們卻很高興。這些君王是醉漢,也是散漫的麵包師傅,根本不管這些人民(7:5~6)。邪惡的慾火在人心點燃,失去控制。結果,以色列晚期有四個王被暗殺,但沒有任何王去呼求上帝的幫助和智慧,來統管這些暴民(7:7)。

        他們的致命傷在於,不遠離各種外邦的影響力(7:8;參出23:33;詩106:34~36)。拜偶像蠶食了他們的力量,上帝一再警告他們的罪,他們卻充耳不聞。因此,上帝要讓所有先知的預言應驗(7:9~12),何西阿評論他們的行為是何其可悲。僅管上帝要為他們做些什麼,他們仍不承認上帝,更不回轉歸向上帝。這是多不幸的事,只有當他們被「撕裂、打傷」時,才能了解真正的生命,只有在「歸向」上帝時,才能尋得(6:1)。

禱告

        上帝啊!今天我們願為所有的罪,以及使我們與您分離的事向您認罪。我們承認您是忌邪的上帝,因此我們定意要專一事奉您。奉主耶穌基督的名,阿們!

English

Scriptures:Read Hosea 5, 6&7
Key Verse:"Come and let us return to the Lord; ...He will heal.., bind..., revive ...[and] raise us up, that we may live in His sight."(Hosea 6:1-2)
Overview

        In chapter five, the Lord speaks, through His prophet Hosea, words of "rebuke" (a judicial term implying condemnation) to the leadership of Israel (priests and kings) for leading the nation astray and trapping the people in idolatry. After the division of the kingdom, Jeroboam the first king of the new Northern Kingdom, purposefully instituted calf worship as a political means of keeping the two kingdoms separated; he did not want his people going to Jerusalem to worship God. Israel then became defiled with her spiritual harlotry against God. On occasion, some people from Israel would still go to Jerusalem with their flocks to offer sacrifices, but this was hypocritical and meaningless to God, for He knew they were traitors who were practising idolatry and raising their children to be pagans (5:6-7). Therefore, the Lord proclaimed imminent judgment by means of a battle (5:8-9).

        Guilt is also laid upon the Southern Kingdom of Judah at this time, for she saw the coming destruction of Israel, and rather than trying to turn Israel from her sin, Judah anxiously awaited her downfall so that she might remove Israel's boundary stone and claim more territory for herself (5:10). The wrath of God was therefore upon both kingdoms, but Israel would meet destruction sooner from an external force (the moth), and Judah would slowly decay from within (like rottenness in the middle of a beautiful apple; 5:12). When they realized they needed help, they both made the mistake of going to the wrong source. Instead of turning to God, they looked to worldly powers, such as the king of Assyria, for protection (cf. 2 Kings 15:19-21; 16:5-9). But there would be none to protect or rescue them when God becomes like a vicious lion and takes Israel and Judah away as prey. Their judgment is essential, for without this chastisement they would never repent and seek God's restored favour and blessing. Hosea prophesies that Israel would indeed repent, and he gives the very words of their repentance which express their desire to know the Lord and indicate their renewed faith and trust in God that He will heal, bind, revive, restore, and bless them (6:1-3).

        Until that time, however, both Israel and Judah were fickle, floundering, insincere in their worship to Him, and hypocritical (6:4-6). Their outward acts of religion did not come from their hearts. God was more interested in their dedication and obedience to Him than in their empty burnt offerings, which were supposed to symbolize these things. Although Judah would not be punished until about 130 years after Israel, they would meet the same fate. The Lord's justice demands that He punish sin. They were fraudulent traitors who had breached their contract (the Covenant) by disobeying God. Even though God desired to show mercy and deliver them, He could not, for they persisted in their sin without considering the seriousness of their offences (7:1-3).

        Much blame is laid upon the kings and leaders of Israel who delighted in the wickedness of the people. The kings were drunkards and were like negligent bakers in not caring for the people (7: 5,6); but their negligence would be their ruin. Like an uncontrollable fire, evil desires burned within the hearts of the people. Four of Israel's last six kings were assassinated, and yet none of the kings cried out to God for help and wisdom to govern such a violent people (7:7).

        Their road to ruin was in not keeping separated from the heathen influences within and without Canaan (7:8; cf. Ex. 23:33; Ps. 106:34-36). Their idolatry was slowly devouring any strength they may have had. Although God (who was the glory and "pride of Israel"; 5:5; 7:10) gave them many warnings through true prophets (such as Hosea) to confront them with their sin and predict the outcome, they did not heed the words of the Lord. Therefore, the Lord declared that He would fulfill all the prophecies spoken against them (7:9-12). What a sad commentary Hosea gives, for in spite of all God had done for them, they did not acknowledge Him or turn back to Him. How unfortunate that they first had to be "torn" and "stricken" before they would realize that true life is found only in repenting and seeking God (6:1).

Prayer

        God, we repent today of any evil in our lives or of anything that would separate us from you. We acknowledge that You are a jealous God and we purpose in our hearts to serve only You.


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