Book Review: The Twelve (Hosea)
Welcome to September’s book review for: The Twelve- A Transformational Journey Through The Minor Prophets by Parker Bradley.
If you haven’t heard the Introduction episode from last month, go ahead and do that - it only lasts a few minutes and will explain what the plan is going forward.
Drawing from the insights of the Minor Prophets in the Bible, The Twelve is an encouraging, but also challenging resource for followers of Jesus, and anyone wanting to honestly understand how God reveals Himself in Scripture.
We are reviewing Parker’s chapter on the minor prophet, Hosea, whose account in the Bible, is right after the Book of Daniel.
I really like how Parker Bradley starts out with a very important reminder: The intention of Hosea (and every other book or letter in the Bible) is God’s desire for reconciliation. When we focus on that, then the Old Testament will be viewed in a very different light.
I remember reading 1st and 2nd Kings in disbelief of how many times Israel strayed and how many times the Lord raised up another prophet to speak to them, through His mercy. When all of the Bible is read, studied and reviewed as a whole book, as it should be, then the conclusion by others (who probably have not read all of the Bible) that the account of the Old Testament is about an angry, revengeful God is proven wrong - very wrong.
Bradley does a very effective job at bringing this to light, by highlighting Israel's rebellion in an informal but serious manner.
Bradley references Philippians 2:15, to explain what God wants us to be. 15 that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world. This reminded me of Matthew 5:16 Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
He also referenced:
2 Cor 5:19-20- 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God.
Ambassadors for Christ. I straighten up! I don’t mean I can suddenly do things right on my own strength - but am reminded of who I am, who I want to be and who I will be forever, by God’s grace - an ambassador for Christ on this earth. and part of God’s heavenly family and Kingdom.
I am also reminded of : 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Bradley does a very good job of highlighting how the people who were supposed to be God’s Ambassadors were acting in a way that resembled rebellion against God. He points out that when looked at in this context, it is no wonder God spoke the way He did, through His prophets.
What I also like about Bradley’s approach is that he reminds us without stating the verse, what 2 Tim 3:16-17 says: 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
So Bradley pauses to ask thought provoking questions, that I hadn’t necessarily asked myself while reading the Old Testament, because I mostly thought about the rebellious nature of Israel in the past and have distanced myself from my past sin.
But Bradley asks what he calls a gut check:
Do I feel the same way about the brokenness of sin as God does?
Do I care about this world as God does?
It would be easy to just say yes and yes to both of those questions, but then I stopped before I answered, and found the more I thought about it, the harder it was to answer yes, because my question to myself was: Am I doing enough about it? I will stop there, before this review becomes a Deborah Ljung self reflection podcast episode.
But this is what I really like about Bradley’s review of Hosea. He challenges us to turn everything we read in the Bible into reflection, since it is all about God’s reconciliation to His creation. What we read either applies directly to us, serves as an example of what not to do, or gives us wisdom to help someone else.
The Book of Hosea is a challenging read, in the sense of what God asked Hosea to do, to reflect the adulterous behaviour of the nation of Israel. Bradley asks us not to ease the blow of God’s task for Hosea and goes on to explain the significance of the marriage unity and how God uses it to mirror the kind of unity He wants with His people. Bradley goes on to explain why adultery is such a brutal blow to a marriage. Again, there is plenty to ponder on. I know what marriage represents and the damage adultery does, but when I reflected on it, in the light of Israel’s rebellion against God, I got a much clearer picture of the enormity of the destructive nature of adultery and how it is a direct assault against Christ’s relationship to His church and God the Father, our authority. It’s humbling, as far as the extent human beings can be humbled, as we understand so little, even when we think we understand things so much better than before.
Deep reflection is a common thread through Bradley’s discussion about Hosea and I really appreciate it. I have a tendency to look at the details, but not see the overall picture - I need help with the birdseye view and Bradley does this very well, by asking reflective questions, which he also answers, giving us some insight to some of his life challenges. In this sense, the book very much feels like one disciple of Christ speaking to another - it’s intimate, encouraging and uplifting, as it has scripture as its foundation.
Bradley asks some more thought provoking questions - very good ones. I will let you hear those yourself, if/when you decide to listen to the audio book.
When I read Hosea before, I thought about how Israel was and how awful it must have been for Hosea to be subjected to a marriage with Gomer. But when Bradley spoke of it hitting home, I quickly realised that it hit home with me too. Yes, there are things that are in the past, by God’s grace, but there is still lots to be done, and even then, my transformation won't be complete until Jesus returns.
Bradley is quick to go on to rejoice in how God is present in the midst of destruction and how He is faithful to forgive, because of the unique way God loves each and every one of us. We keep this thought in mind, as we transition into the segment about words that wound and heal. Bradley uses some great metaphors about how humans behave, due to our sinful nature, and God’s faithfulness in our faithlessness. It’s a beautiful segment, filled to the brim with biblical truth.
We hear the word “deserve” a lot. I deserve a better…fill in the blank yourself. Bradley does a really good job of reviewing Hosea in the light it was written in - What we actually deserve and what we receive over and over from a merciful. loving, faithful God.
This chapter covers the entire book of Hosea, ending in the best chapter of all - 14, that shows us what an amazing, Redeemer we have.
Bradley highlights, discusses and reflects on much more, so when yu get the chance, pick up the audio book and set sail as he puts it, to explore the deeper waters of faith that we are all called to venture towards, at one point or another. The Twelve journey starts with Hosea, but it’s all about Jesus, our Saviour and our Heavenly Father, God.
I listened to The Twelve, A Transformational Journey Through The Minor Prophets by Parker Bradley, via the audible app.
I am looking forward to delving into the next prophet, Joel and bringing you a review of Bradley’s chapter on that in our October book review.
Thank you for listening to this review. Until next time - peace be with you.