Transcribed from the Words of Life Radio Program.

     Its good to be together as we look into the Word of God. The title for the lesson is “The Ways of the Lord are Right.” And our primary study text is just one verse out of the Old Testament one of the minor prophets Hosea chapter 14 and verse 9. Now we should understand that they are referred to as minor prophets not because their message is minor, it’s the Word of God. The reason they are called minor is because they are shorter than the major prophets. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. They are a lot longer, but just as important as the Word of God.

     So, listen to Hosea chapter 14 and verse 9 “Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”  

The overall thrust of prophetic preaching is a call to turn to God in repentant faith because God loves and can heal spiritually. God can forgive upon confession, genuine confession, and repentance every time.

The background of the prophetic Book of Hosea in a nutshell is as follows.

     The Hebrew prophet Hosea’s time encompasses the tragic last days of the ancient northern kingdom, known as Israel, during which six ungodly kings reigned within 25 years, for example. The cruel nation of Assyria was expanding its conquests westward. In about 733 BC, before Christ, they dismembered Israel. It was no more as a kingdom.  Then in 722 to 721 BC Samaria, its capital, was captured and its people exiled. The northern kingdom was at an end. Hosea, God’s prophet, focused on Israel’s moral corruption and spiritual bankruptcy, announcing that God’s judgment was imminent, impending, coming, unless they repented and turned back to their God. The God of Israel.

     However, not all is gloom and doom in Hosea’s prophecy. A biblical scholar writes, “The theme of the Book of Hosea is God’s loyal love for His covenant people, Israel, this inspite of their idolatry, their going after the Canaanite gods which was detestable to the one true God. Thus, Hosea has been called the ‘St. John’ (the apostle of Love) of the Old Testament. The LORD’s true love for His covenant people is unending, and yet God will tolerate no rival.

     Hosea’s message contains much condemnation, both national and individual, but at the same time, it pointedly portrays the love of God toward His people with passionate emotion.” Well said.

The 14 rather short chapters of the Book of Hosea are an entrancing read and study. Hosea was instructed by God to marry a certain woman, and experience with her a domestic life which was a stark dramatization of the sin and unfaithfulness of Israel. God’s purpose, of course, was to graphically describe the marital life of Hosea, and his wife Gomer, to provide a visualized metaphor to bring into closer focus: sin, judgement, and God’s forgiving love. (A metaphor is a figure of speech in which a name or quality is attributed to something to which it is not literally applicable; here are some examples of metaphors: ‘an icy glance’, or ‘nerves of steel.’)

     God’s way is not man’s way, Hosea’s prophecy is God’s way to clarify, clearly sin, judgement and forgiving love. I challenge you to read the entire book, inspired of God, for its wise applications to life today.

Our text, in this lesson, is the very last verse which is an epilogue of the entire book. An epilogue is simply the concluding, final note added, to usually a literary work, as parting wisdom, here it’s parting wisdom from God who is omniscient, all knowing. We will make application to the most important decision an accountable human being will ever make regardless of time, regardless of place, regardless of nationality.

     Now, I realize that many of you that are listening have possibly already made this decision, however, we all know people who haven’t, so let’s not tune out, but instead tune in. Because we need to be able to witness the truth, the application in this lesson, in this book of Hosea. Not my words, the Words of God and application for today. This is helpful witness material from the heart and will of the living God. An introduction:

     In his classic book entitled “Mere Christianity” apologist, which means defender of the faith, C. S. Lewis writes: “Now what was the sort of ‘hole,’ h-o-l-e man had got himself into? He had tried to set up on his own, to behave as if he belonged to himself. In other words, fallen man is not simply an imperfect creature who needs improvement: he is a rebel who must lay down his arms. Laying down your arms, surrendering, saying you are sorry, realizing that you have been on the wrong track, and getting ready to start life over again from the ground floor – that is the only way out of a ‘hole.’

     This process of surrender – this movement full speed astern, backwards – is what Christian’s call repentance. Now repentance is no fun at all. It is something much harder than merely eating humble pie. It means unlearning all of the self-conceit and all of the self-will that we have been training ourselves into for thousands of years, the human race. It means killing part of yourself, undergoing a kind of death.”

     The way to God involves repentance, turning from sin, and turning to God which amounts to faith, genuine trust, reliance in the Lord. Repentance, practically, means confessing sin and asking God for forgiveness. Repentance means obeying God rather than simply trying to please God through human rituals and efforts. God desires to heal all people spiritually and to show them His love. God desires that His people become wise in God’s eyes. Become humble in God’s eyes.

     Ancient Israel, in Hosea’s day as a nation predominately, and individually, had drifted far, far from God and had to undergo His judgment.

Representative of the theme of Hosea’s prophecy, his epilogue (final admonition), presents the reader and listener with two ways of living beginning with rhetorical questions to peak need or at least curiosity. (Hosea chapter 14 verse 9A “Who is wise? He will realize these things. Who is discerning? He will understand them.” The original context is directed to ancient Israel, the Northern kingdom and included all that Hosea had written in this prophecy to them. All of what is previous to Hosea chapter 14 and verse 9. Yet this final admonition can be related to anyone in need, can be applied to anyone in need of wisdom and discernment spiritually from a biblical, godly perspective.

     From God’s perspective there are only two ways to live. Hosea chapter 14 verse 9B “The ways of the LORD are right, the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.”

Besides needing to decide, and not deciding is a decision, whether to be righteous or rebellious toward God includes perseverance; yes, many decide to backslide, probably all of us backslide at times, that is not just a short period of time, but backslide for some reason, perhaps a sore trial, a difficulty, a questioning of God, doubt yes sadly some even fall away from the Living God, apostatize, which many in ancient Israel, and today also eventually choose to do. That is becoming unfaithful and unrepentant, rebellious toward God. God forbid that that be my or your condition spiritually. This spiritual tragedy has been rampant for thousands upon thousands of years whether Jew or Gentile. Apostasy, falling away, giving up, deciding not to walk with God. Deciding not to live for Jesus Christ anymore. There are no words that can really express the sadness that God experiences for that person, toward that person.

     Let’s examine the two ways: Righteous verses rebellious from God’s perspective, not mankind’s.

First the rebellious, as described in Hosea’s prophecy, are similar to the rebellious still common to mankind in our time. It’s very applicable to today. God stated through Hosea in: Hosea chapter 7 and verse 13, for example, “Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me.” Consider these words: Straying, rebellion, lying are due to a variety of similar sins, all of which will bring destruction if not genuinely repented of, in true repentance from the heart, from the mind, from the will in overcoming faith.

     Rebellion against God, whether acknowledging it or not is seriously sinister sin. Appallingly many revel in their rebellion. Louis Blanc, a French and extremist socialist politician, and historian stated: “When I was an infant, I rebelled against my nurse. When a child, I rebelled against my teachers; when a young man, I rebelled against my mother and father; when I reached mature age, I rebelled against the state; when I die, if there is a heaven and a God, I’ll rebel against them!” He stated these sad words, more than sad, terrible words, shortly before his execution. Only Almighty God can challenge a heart like this with a person’s cooperation in repentant faith. Only God can reach that kind of person. And God does try, and God does desire, and God does care to reach out to every human being.

     Instead, our appeal to unbelievers and the backslidden is the second way of life that is the life of the Righteous. That is, technically, the righteousness credited, imputed to repentant believers who has received Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord of their lives, and who persevere in saving faith. Those who desire righteousness choose the Lord’s way because it, alone, is the right way spiritually from God’s point of view.

     Ecclesiastes chapter 12 and verse 13 “Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.”

The righteous walk (live) in the “ways of the LORD” which are revealed in scripture. The fear of the Lord is to reverence the Lord. To revere the Lord. Regarding the ancient Israelites the “ways of the LORD” refers to His covenantal commands. Today, refers to all of God’s moral, ethical, and practice commands such as Mark chapter 16 and verse 15 “Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.” This therefore includes our personal testimony, our witness of the gospel, God’s ‘good news’ in a bad news world. Which is the right way to live. That we would share Jesus with others and live for Him and live the way He has directed in scripture.

     Deuteronomy chapter 8 and verse 6 “Observe the commands of the LORD your God, walking in His ways and revering Him.” For the righteous to walk in the ways of the LORD is to personally experience the joy of loyalty unto the LORD.

Let us also remember, as Christians who still sin occasionally, that lightly confessed sin is not God’s way. God desires confession and genuine repentance, turning away from sin while striving, yes struggling, for life-changing commitment to sin less and less. And God knows if we are really trying to live in the ways of the LORD.


          David Johnson is minister of the Sellersburg Church of Christ, Sellersburg, Indiana