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Limitless Grace: Hosea 12-14

Hosea 12-14 Discussion Questions

Icebreaker – What lessons have you learned from your past?

Answers could be trivial or deeply profound. Our experiences in the past should inform our actions in the present.

1. Who does Hosea compare Israel to? What does Hosea 12:3–4 suggest he trusted in to get what he wanted?

Hosea refers to various episodes in the life of Jacob, especially his birth (v 3), his struggle with God, and his vision.

Jacob was crafty, often using deceit to achieve his goals. For much of his life, Jacob trusted in his strength and ability to get what he wanted. Verse 3 reminds us of his birth, born grasping his brother Esau’s heel, struggling for supremacy even in the womb. (Jacob’s name means “he grasps the heel,” which in Hebrew has the sense of “one who deceives.”) He trusted himself.

2. Read Genesis 27:1–35. How does this incident illustrate Jacob’s character?

He is willing to dress up as his brother to fool his aging and blind father. Jacob does so to gain his father’s blessing as if he could force God’s hand and get the blessings that God promises without obedience to God’s rule. Jacob trusted in his schemes and ingenuity to get what he wanted instead of trusting in God.

3. How are God’s people acting the same way in Hosea’s time? In a very similar manner: wanting God’s blessing but reject his rule, trusting in their skill and ability rather than in God.

For most of his life, Jacob trusted his skill and ability rather than God. Yet God directly intervened in his life through a vision at Bethel and an encounter with God. Through these events, Jacob saw who God was and sought his favor, wrestling with Him until he gained a blessing. This incident was a turning point for Jacob, moving him from dependence on his power to a desire for God’s blessing.

4. Where do people today look for safety and security instead of God?

We have seen how God’s people have put their trust in things other thanGod—themselves, their skill, and wealth— and those temptations are still dangerous to us today. The same tendency to trust in ourselves, our abilities, our career, our achievements, or our bank balance can draw us away from trusting God. These things are attractive because they are what the world chases and what we are constantly told makes life worth living; because our hearts naturally want to shut God out and find other things to love and serve; and because they all allow us to “save” ourselves—to gain life through our efforts. We love to be our saviors because it means we can feel in control
and don’t have to humbly accept that we’re not God and can’t give ourselves what we need.

5. Read 1 Samuel 8:1–8. Why do the people ask for a king? What is wrong with their request, and how does it show the state of their hearts?

1 Samuel chapter 8 tells how the elders of Israel asked Samuel to give them a king to lead them when he died. At first glance, this seems like a good thing, motivated by the ungodly behavior of Samuel’s sons. However, their words reveal another motive in their request: they want a king “such as all the other nations have.” It’s a desire to be like other nations. It also rejects God as its King.

6. How is the same attitude at work in Hosea’s day?

They, too, looked to their king to save them and keep them safe and to other nations for their model rather than looking to God for safety and security.

7. Read 1 Corinthians 15:20–21 and 51–58. How does God achieve the promise of Hosea 13:14?

The “sting of death” is sin, which each of us has committed, so we face God’s judgment. However, the victory over sin and death has been won through the Lord Jesus Christ. In his life, he obeyed the law, so sin had no power over him. And so death had no power over him, either—God raised him from the dead. And so in him, we can have forgiveness of sins and be raised from the dead ourselves. Victory and life are given to anyone who believes in Jesus. Although we do not see the full reality of this defeat of death yet, we look forward to that day when Jesus returns, and death is done away with for good.

8. How should we respond to the defeat of death?

First, we should stand firm, staying within our trust in Jesus in every aspect of our lives. Second, we should give ourselves entirely to the work of the Lord because only this work lasts for eternity. We may achieve good, even great, things in other areas of our life, but only what we do for God is not in vain.

9. Read Hosea 14:1-3. What does God tell Israel to do, and why?

Return to the LORD, to an obedient covenant relationship with him. They need to do this because they have sinned, which has been their downfall—it has left them not enjoying the life they could have had with God as their Ruler.

10. Imagine you have a friend who has been living as a Christian but has now turned their back on God. How could you use these verses to encourage and challenge them?

God wants them to return to him. He was willing to forgive Israel, despite all they’d done—he is willing to forgive your friend. They must realize they’ve been worshipping something else and turn from it. Life with God is wonderful. Whatever they’re living for will not deliver what they hoped for; it cannot give them the blessing that God offers.

11. Read John 15: 5–8. How should we live as wise and fruitful Christians?

Jesus uses Hosea’s image of a fruitful vine to describe his relationship with his followers. God’s desire for all who trust Jesus is for them to bear fruit—the evidence of a life touched by God’s grace. To bear fruit, Jesus’ disciples must “remain” in him: continue to trust him, listen to his words, and depend on him in prayer.
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