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Hosea 4:1-5:15; 2 John 1:1-13; Psalms 125:1-5; Proverbs 29:9-11 (The Voice)

Hosea 4-5

Listen to what the Eternal says, you people of Israel!

Eternal One: I am bringing charges against everyone who lives in your land
        because there’s no truth and no faithfulness and no knowledge of God in the land.
    There is only cursing and lying and killing and stealing and adultery—
        so that one act of bloodshed follows right after another.
    It’s because you’re breaking My most basic directives
        that the land will mourn with grief and even dry up like a desert plant.
        Those dwelling in it waste away,
    As the wild animals, the flying birds, and the swimming fish are all dying.

    Be careful in bringing these charges and contending with one another,
        for this is My charge against you,
        you priests—I have a divine contention against you!
    You stumble around during the day, and the prophets stumble with you at night.
        And so I will destroy your mother, the land where you live.
    You’ve forgotten the law of your God: you’ve rejected My judgments.
    I’ll reject you because of your lack of knowledge—reject you as My priests;
        I’ll even forget your children!

    The more powerful the priests grew, the more they sinned against Me.
        So I’ll turn their honor[a] into shame.
    Because these priests are allowed to eat the sin offerings,
        they actually want the people to sin so they’ll have more meat to eat!
    And so it’s “like priest, like people”: a low standard for living.
        I’ll punish them for this and repay them for what they’ve done:
10     They’ll eat, but they won’t be satisfied; they’ll be active like whores, but have no children
        because they’ve rebelled in guarding Me and My ways.

11     Through prostitution, wine, and new wine,
        My people have lost their senses;
12     They expect to hear oracles from a wooden idol,
        to get guidance from a diviner’s wand!
    For a spirit of prostitution is leading them astray—
        that’s why they’re so unfaithful to their God and are becoming prostitutes.
13     They offer sacrifices on the mountain tops
        and burn incense on the hills,
    Gathering under sacred trees like oaks, poplars, and terebinths,
        relaxing in their comforting shade.
    This is why your own daughters become prostitutes
        and your daughters-in-law commit adultery!
14     I won’t punish your daughters for their prostitution
        or your daughters-in-law for their adultery,
    Because you men are visiting common prostitutes yourselves
        and offering sacrifices with cultic prostitutes.
    My people have no understanding, and they’re being ruined!

15     But even though Israel is being so unfaithful,
        don’t you become guilty, too, Judah!
        Don’t go to Gilgal, and don’t go to that “house of wickedness,” Beth-aven.
        Don’t swear by My name while you’re worshiping other gods!
16     The people of Israel are stubborn, just like heifers,
        so how can I shepherd them like lambs in a pasture?
17     Ephraim is allied with idols;
        don’t have anything to do with him![b]
18     When they’ve finished drinking, they turn to prostitution to sate their thirst.
        Their rulers love shame rather than living decently.[c]
19     They’ll be swept away by the wind,
        and they’ll be ashamed of the way they sacrificed to idols.

Eternal One: Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you leaders of Israel!
        Hear all of you in the royal court, My judgment is against you!
    You’ve been a snare at Mizpah, a net spread out on Mount Tabor;
        you’ve led the people astray:
    Those who have revolted against Me have dug a deep pit of slaughter,
        so I’m going to punish all of you.

God is describing the fate of those rebellious leaders who have dug a deep hole: because of their depravity, they will be led to slavery in shackles.

Hosea’s prophecy is fulfilled in 722 b.c., when Shalmaneser V leads his Assyrian army to conquer Samaria, the capital city of Israel. But leveling the city and slaughtering countless citizens isn’t what ends Israel’s legacy. In the years following the war, Sargon II systematically deports the remaining Israelites to cities in the Assyrian Empire and repopulates Samaria with foreigners to suppress future rebellions. This policy decimates the cultures of the ten tribes who inhabited the Northern Kingdom and leads to the fabled “Lost Tribes of Israel.”

It may be assumed that the members of the ten tribes assimilate into their new cultures and abandon their history and religion; they simply blend into their surroundings to survive. However, in the third century a.d., Christian poet Commodian compiles the writings of several early rabbis and weaves the story of the ten tribes’ post-deportation lives. These ten tribes reside in a sort of paradise beyond a river, where everyone lives long lives, experiences no pain, and follows God’s laws. One day, the story goes, these tribes will return to Jerusalem, recapture her, and dwell in her.

    I know Ephraim; Israel isn’t hiding from Me.
        Even now Ephraim plays the part of a whore;
        Israel is covering herself in impurity.
    They’re so caught up in their way of life
        that they can’t return to their God.
    They have a spirit of prostitution within them,
        so they don’t know Me; I am the Eternal One.

    The pride of Israel testifies against her to her very face.
        Israel (which is called Ephraim) will stagger because of its guilt.
        Judah, too, will stagger with them.
    They’ll go with their flocks and their herds to seek Me,
        offering a multitude of sacrifices, but they won’t find Me because they are abandoned.
    They’ve been unfaithful to Me, the Eternal,
        and produced defiled, illegitimate children.
    Now at a new moon, a foreign nation will devour them and their fields.

    Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah,
        sound the trumpet in Ramah, and raise a war cry in Beth-aven.
    Even as your cities fall, Benjamin, more armies are behind you!
    Ephraim will be devastated when they are punished with this invasion from the south.
        (This is sure to happen, and I’m announcing it to all the tribes of Israel!)
10     But I’ll also punish the leaders of Judah—
        I’ll pour out My wrath on them like water—
    Because they’re trying to snatch this territory of Benjamin’s.
        They’ve become like the dishonest people who move boundary-stones.
11     Ephraim is oppressed, crushed by punishment,
        because he insists on pursuing empty ways and trusting others to save him.

12     In My judgments I’m like a disease that devours Ephraim as a moth eats wool,
        like an infected wound to the people of Judah.
13     But when Ephraim saw how sick he was
        and Judah saw his open sore,
    Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to the great king for relief.
        But a foreign ruler can’t cure you; he can’t heal your sore.

The great king is the king of Assyria from whom both Israel and Judah eventually seek help.

14     I’ll be like a lion to Ephraim,
        like a young lion to the people of Judah.
    I’ll tear them to pieces myself and make off with My kill.
        I’ll carry it away, and no one will be able to take it from Me.
15     I’ll go back to My lair and stay there until they admit their guilt and come looking for Me.
        In their distress, they’ll desperately try to find Me.

Footnotes:

  1. 4:7 Other manuscripts read, “they exchanged My honor.”
  2. 4:17 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
  3. 4:18 Meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
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2 John

I, the elder, to you, a lady chosen by God along with her children. I truly love all of you and am confident that all who know the truth share in my love for you. The truth, which lives faithfully within all of us and will be with us for all eternity, is the basis for our abounding love. May grace, mercy, and peace from God the Father and Jesus the Anointed, the Father’s own Son, surround you and be with you always in truth and love.

I was so filled with joy to hear stories about your children walking in truth, in the very way the Father called us to live. So now, dear lady, I am asking you to live by the command that we love one another. I’m not writing to you some new commandment; it’s one we received in the beginning from our Lord. Love is defined by our obedience to His commands. This is the same command you have known about from the very beginning; you must live by it. The corrupt world is filled with liars and frauds who deny the reality that Jesus the Anointed has come into the world as a man of flesh and blood. These people are deceivers and antiChrists.[a] Ensure that you do not lose what we have worked for so that you will be fully rewarded.

Any person who drifts away and fails to live in the teachings of the Anointed One, our Liberating King, does not have God. But the person who lives in this teaching will have both the Father and the Son. 10 If any person comes to you with a teaching that does not align with the true message of Jesus, do not welcome that person into your house or greet him as you would a true brother. 11 Anyone who welcomes this person has become a partner in advancing his wicked agenda.

12 I have so much more to tell you, but I would rather meet with you personally than try to capture these sentiments by ink on paper. I hope to come and see you so that our joy will be complete.

13 The children of your chosen sister send you warm greetings.

Footnotes:

  1. Verse 7 Literally, those who oppose the Anointed One and His kingdom
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Psalm 125

Psalm 125

A song for those journeying to worship.

All who have faith in the Eternal stand as Mount Zion:
    unmoved, enduring, eternal.
Just as the mountains around Jerusalem embrace her,
    the Eternal, too, wraps around those who belong to Him—
    for this moment and for every moment to come.
For wickedness will not get the upper hand;
    it shall not rule the land where righteous people live
Lest good people go bad
    and do what is wrong.
Be good, Eternal One, to those who are good,
    to those who are filled with integrity.
The Eternal will send all the wicked away
    along with those who pervert what’s good and twist it in their own crooked way.
    May peace be with Israel.

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Proverbs 29:9-11

When the wise go to court against a fool,
    there will be ranting and raving but no resolution.

10 Bloodthirsty men despise those who are honest,
    but the just find a way to help them.

11 A fool does not think before he unleashes his temper,
    but a wise man holds back and remains quiet.

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The Voice (VOICE)

The Voice Bible Copyright © 2012 Thomas Nelson, Inc. The Voice™ translation © 2012 Ecclesia Bible Society All rights reserved.

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