Scripture Text:(click to open in a new window)
1. Recall a time when you were sufficiently warned (about drugs, drinking, driving, etc.), but had to learn the hard way. What happened? What did you ultimately learn? Has it changed how you respond to “warnings”?
2. Back then, what did you think of the person who warned you: overprotective? a fool? a meddler? a kill-joy? self-righteous prude? Now, how do you view that person’s intent?
3. Various fertility cults were common among the people of this region. What link do you see here (also in chapter 10:12) between these cults and the harvest? What do these fertility rites say about who owned the land? About who gave the increase? How then does God regard their sacrifices and offerings to Him (verses 1 – 4)?
4. What has happened to Israel in verses 5 – 7? Who (or what) has taken over the land (see chapter 8:14)?
5. What does Hosea cite as evidence of their perverse condition (verses 7, 8)? What are the “days of Gibeah” like (verse 9; see Judges 19 and 20)? What impact would this comparison have on Hosea’s audience?
6. Compare God’s feeling for Israel then (verse 10) and now (verses 12, 13, 15, 16). When did their relationship with God begin to turn sour (see Numbers 25:1 – 3)? How long had God been patient? How are they now reaping what their fathers sowed? Is God just in this? Why or why not?
7. What was Ephraim’s “glory” (verse 11; see Genesis 41:52; Genesis 48:16, 19)? How is the punishment related to her sin? How had Hosea’s treatment of Gomer set the stage for this?
8. In verse 14, is Hosea asking for compassion or vengeance? How so?
9. What emotion do you hear in Hosea’s prediction (verse 17): horror? smugness? despair? anger? sadness?
10. During this period, Israel made a show of worshiping God while observing the fertility cults to ensure a healthy harvest. What are some standard practices for ensuring success today?
- cheating on a test
- cutting corners
- “greasing” a client’s palm
- taking a “cut”
- undercutting the competition
- searching for the “loopholes”
- other: ___________
11. How is your allegiance to God “supplemented” by keeping today’s cultural “fertility cults”?
12. In reference to Questions #10 and #11, what do these practices say about who we really think is responsible for our prosperity? What kind of “bondage” can these things lead us into? How is it people become “as vile as the thing they love” (verse 10)?
13. In what ways is the person who upholds God’s standard in your culture consider a “fool” or a “maniac” (verse 7)? Have you ever felt this way about pro-lifers? TV evangelists? conscientious objectors? social prophets? creationists?
14. Have you ever been treated badly, like Hosea, because of some radical expression of your Christian faith? What happened?