"The revelation of Your words sheds light, giving understanding to the simple." Psalms 119:130
God's word is intended for all people. For thousands of years God has communicated to millions of simple people through His word. In fact, many things are hidden from the learned and clever but revealed to the merest children (Lk 10:21). Of course, God's word is sometimes so difficult to interpret that we need the Church to teach us. Therefore, highly academic Bible study has its place, but it is not the principal approach to God's word. The word is not primarily for an educated elite but for everyday people praying and reading by the power of the Spirit.
Nevertheless, not many books about the Bible are written to help the average person. What most people need is something short, simple, and practical that encourages, motivates and guides. We need something that will help us read the Biblical texts and not just about the text. This is the purpose of this simple Bible reading guide. "We have aimed to please those who prefer simple reading, as well as to make it easy for the studious who wish to commit things to memory, and to be helpful to all (2 Mc 2:25).
Note: The breakdown of the Bible into chapters (although not always adequate) has served God's people for centuries. So in general we will use a chapter-by-chapter structure for our comments.
Be sure to read each chapter of the Bible along with the introductory comments.
P.S. We have prayed before Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament about our choice
of the verses in this reading guide. We hope the Scriptures will have a
prophetic, life-changing power for you.
"Go, take a harlot wife and harlot's children, for the land gives itself to harlotry, turning away from the Lord." Hosea 1:2
The Old Testament concludes with the twelve minor prophets. It's best to read them all together, like twelve chapters of one book.
The Lord told the prophet Hosea to marry Gomer, a harlot wife. They had three children who, like Isaiah's children (Is 7:3; 8:1), were given symbolic names. These names prophesied Israel's destruction. Hosea's marriage symbolized Israel's unfaithfulness in its marriage to the Lord.
Prayer: Father, may I never commit the adultery of idolatry by living a worldly life-style.
Promise: "Yet for the house of Judah I feel pity; I will save them by the Lord, their God; but I will not save them by war, by sword or bow, by horses or horsemen." 1:7
"She shall respond there as in the days of her youth, when she came up from the land of Egypt. On that day, says the Lord, she shall call Me 'My Husband.' " Hosea 2:17-18
The Lord in His mercy will punish us for our adulterous relationship with the world. Then He will allure us, lead us into the desert, and speak to our hearts. The Lord promises: "I will espouse you to Me forever: I will espouse you in right and in justice, in love and in mercy; I will espouse you in fidelity, and you shall know the Lord" (2:21-22).
Prayer: Jesus, the Bridegroom (Mk 2:19), may I never lose my first love for You (Rv 2:4).
Promise: "The number of the Israelites shall be like the sand of the sea, which can be neither measured nor counted. Whereas they were called, 'Lo-ammi,' they shall be called, 'Children of the living God.' " 2:1
"Again the Lord said to me: Give your love to a woman beloved of a paramour, an adulteress; even as the Lord loves the people of Israel." Hosea 3:1
The marriage of Hosea and Gomer was restored. The Lord will also take us back if we repent.
Prayer: Jesus, I take You for better or for worse.
Promise: "Then the people of Israel shall turn back and seek the Lord, their God, and David, their king; they shall come trembling to the Lord and to His bounty, in the last days." 3:5
"My people perish for want of knowledge!" Hosea 4:6
The people were perishing because the priests were not teaching the truth. The priests were not teaching the truth because they were living a lie. "For the spirit of harlotry has led them astray; they commit harlotry, forsaking their God" (4:12).
Prayer: Father, convict Your priests of sin and lead them to repentance.
"In their perversity they have sunk into wickedness, and I am rejected by them all." Hosea 5:2
Both the priests and the politicians were sold out to the world. Therefore, the governments of both the Northern and Southern kingdoms were mired in subjection to Assyria.
Prayer: Father, may our leaders give their lives to You (1 Tm 2:1-2).
"What can I do with you, Ephraim? What can I do with you, Judah? Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that early passes away. For this reason I smote them through the prophets, I slew them by the words of My mouth." Hosea 6:4-5
The people prayed a beautiful and inspiring prayer of repentance and healing. But it was just "lip-service" (Mt 15:8; Is 29:13).
Prayer: "Come, let us return to the Lord, for it is He Who has rent, but He will heal us; He has struck us, but He will bind our wounds. He will revive us after two days; on the third day He will raise us up, to live in His presence" (6:1-2).
Promise: "For it is love that I desire, not sacrifice, and knowledge of God rather than holocausts." 6:6
"When I would bring about the restoration of My people, when I would heal Israel, the guilt of Ephraim stands out." Hosea 7:1
The leaders of the Northern kingdom got in God's way and prevented Him from restoring and healing the nation.
Prayer: Father, may I be in Your will and out of Your way.
"When they sow the wind, they shall reap the whirlwind." Hosea 8:7
When we are in sin, the more things we do, the worse our situation gets. Repentance is the only thing that will help us.
Prayer: Father, if I refuse to repent, turn all my actions into failures.
"The prophet is a fool, the man of the Spirit is mad!" Hosea 9:7
Hosea told the people the whole truth. He assured them that they would receive the wages of their sins (Rm 6:23). Instead of repenting, the people told Hosea he was crazy.
Prayer: Father, may I not "despise prophecies" (1 Thes 5:20) but repent.
"Because you have trusted in your chariots, and in your many warriors, turmoil shall break out among your tribes and all your fortresses shall be ravaged." Hosea 10:13-14
The better their life-style, the more idolatrous the Israelites became. The more they trusted in their military power, the less secure they were.
Prayer: Father, may I drastically simplify my life-style and trust in You alone.
Promise: "Sow for yourselves justice, reap the fruit of piety; break up for yourselves a new field, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He come and rain down justice upon you." 10:12
"I drew them with human cords, with bands of love; I fostered them like one who raises an infant to his cheeks; yet, though I stooped to feed My child, they did not know that I was their Healer." Hosea 11:4
The Lord wants to heal and restore us. He even became a human being, died on the cross, and rose from the dead for love of us. If only we will let Him love us!
Prayer: Father, let it be done to me according to Your word (Lk 1:38).
Promise: "Yet it was I Who taught Ephraim to walk, Who took them in My arms." 11:3
"The Lord has a grievance against Israel: He shall punish Jacob for his conduct, for his deeds He shall repay him." Hosea 12:3
Israel was deceitful like its forefather Jacob. It had been bound in sin for generations.
Prayer: Father, may I repent of my sins before I pass them on to my children and other generations.
Promise: "You shall return by the help of your God." 12:7
"Shall I deliver them from the power of the nether world? Shall I redeem them from death? Where are your plagues, O death! Where is your sting, O nether world! My eyes are closed to compassion." Hosea 13:14
Because of Israel's sin, the Lord promised to give His people the wages of death they insisted on receiving (Rm 6:23). Death would plague and sting them. Only under the lordship of Christ are we victorious over the power and sting of death (1 Cor 15:55).
Prayer: Father, may death have no power over me (Rm 6:9).
Promise: "You know no God besides Me, and there is no savior but Me." 13:4
"Return, O Israel, to the Lord, your God; you have collapsed through your guilt." Hosea 14:2
If we would only repent, the Lord will heal our defection and love us freely (14:5). Repent; the kingdom of God is at hand (Mk 1:15).
Prayer: Father, raise me from sin and death.
Promise: "Let him who is wise understand these things; let him who is prudent know them. Straight are the paths of the Lord, in them the just walk, but sinners stumble in them." 14:10
When you finish reading this booklet, give it to someone else. Pray for that person to be motivated to read God's word and make a total commitment to the Lord. Use this book as a tool for evangelization. Right now pray to know the person with whom you are to share this book.
Nihil obstat: Reverend Robert L. Hagedorn, April 3, 1997
Imprimatur: Most Reverend Carl K. Moeddel, Vicar General and Auxiliary Bishop of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, April 8, 1997
The Nihil obstat and Imprimatur are a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free from doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted the Nihil obstat and Imprimatur agree with the contents, opinions, or statements expressed.
Published by: Presentation Ministries, 3230 McHenry Ave., Cincinnati, OH 45211, (513) 662-5378, www.presentationministries.com