10:1 How prosperous Israel is—a luxuriant vine loaded with fruit. But the richer the people get, the more pagan altars they build. The more bountiful their harvests, the more beautiful their sacred pillars. How important it is to continually pluck the world out of our hearts, lest we become a casualty. It is so easy to get lured away from pure and simple devotion to Christ without even knowing it.
10:12 I said, ‘Plant the good seeds of righteousness, and you will harvest a crop of love. Plow up the hard ground of your hearts, for now is the time to seek the Lord, that he may come and shower righteousness upon you.' Anyone have any suggestions on how to "plow up the hard ground of our hearts"? In the past I have done a lot of fasting and that seems to work well. I need to get back to that discipline.
11:1-2 "When Israel was a child, I loved him, and I called my son out of Egypt [think: bondage to sin and idols]. But the more I called to him, the farther he moved from me, offering sacrifices to the images of Baal and burning incense to idols." This is a powerful passage, reminding us that "many are called, few are chosen."
11:3-4 I myself taught Israel [chosen people] how to walk, leading him along by the hand. But he doesn't know or even care that it was I who took care of him. I led Israel along with my ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. I love this tender fatherly picture but I also feel the pain of the rejected Father's heart.
11:7 For my people are determined to desert me. They call me the Most High, but they don't truly honor me.
11:10-11 For someday the people will follow me. I, the Lord, will roar like a lion. And when I roar, my people will return trembling from the west. Like a flock of birds, they will come from Egypt. Trembling like doves, they will return from Assyria. And I will bring them home again," says the Lord. As a mother, I can only imagine the spark of joy Father God has as He envisions the day this happens with all His children.
12:9 "But I am the Lord your God, who rescued you from slavery in Egypt. And I will make you live in tents again, as you do each year at the Festival of Shelters." This is in the middle of God declaring judgment, but I think it's a promise. I think when He says He will again make us live in tents, He is speaking of tabernacling with us at a future "Feast of Tabernacles" when His Spirit resides fully in us in immortality.
13:15 Ephraim was the most fruitful of all his brothers, but the east wind—a blast from the Lord—will arise in the desert. Ephraim (son of Joseph) received the "fruitfulness mandate" from Jacob. Remember this was the second part of the blessing from Genesis 1:26, 28. Judah received the dominion mandate (scepter/ruling) while Ephraim received the fruitfulness mandate. We talked about this in mid-November.
14:4-7 The Lord says, "Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever. I will be to Israel like a refreshing dew from heaven. Israel will blossom like the lily; it will send roots deep into the soil like the cedars in Lebanon. Its branches will spread out like beautiful olive trees, as fragrant as the cedars of Lebanon. My people will again live under my shade. They will flourish like grain and blossom like grapevines. They will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.What a beautiful reminder.
29:17 Discipline your children, and they will give you peace of mind and will make your heart glad.