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Devotion for August 29, 2008

In the late stages of pregnancy, women anxious for the birth of their child often hear the advice, “The baby will come when he’s ready.” Especially when the due date has come and gone, expectant mothers usually would prefer to hear, “The baby’s ready now!” But no mother ever wants to hear the message Hosea delivered to Israel.

Israel was like a baby that didn’t have the sense to be born (v. 13). The pain they suffered as a nation should have led them to an obvious conclusion: return to God! Nothing should have come more instinctively, but Israel had reached the pinnacle of stubbornness.

Verse 14 marks another translation difficulty, and the possible options are direct opposites. If you’re reading the NIV, it will appear that God was promising Israel deliverance from the grave in an apparent reference to the resurrection (“I will ransom them”). A look at the NASB would indicate that God was promising death through a series of rhetorical questions (“Shall I ransom them?”) that ultimately had the last phrase as their answer: “Compassion will be hidden from My sight.” The New Living Translation takes it one step further, interpreting the questions to death and the grave as invocations for them to come (“O death, bring on your terrors!). Given the context of the verses that follow, the NASB and NLT versions are probably closer to the original text. Culminating in verse 16, this is the most violent and disturbing description of judgment in Hosea. God wasn’t sending a message of hope here; He was issuing Israel’s death sentence.

So why the confusion? Because both translations have merit in Scripture. Israel did suffer death as a nation. Their later subservience to other nations is historical fact. But that death was not final. The resurrection of Christ and the reunification of Israel under His reign promise to bring new life to that which has died. In Paul’s  quotation of this verse, the answer to the rhetorical questions is completely different (1 Cor. 15:55). The following verse states that the sting of death is sin. Christ delivers us not only from destruction, but also from the sin that brought it on.

Apply the Word

First Corinthians 15 is the definitive passage for explaining the doctrine of the resurrection. Spend time reading that chapter and then think and pray through its rich, deep truth. Consider especially how the hope of the resurrection contrasts with the hopelessness of sin. Take note of the admonition in verse 34. Even people in the church are susceptible to being ensnared in sin and becoming ignorant about God. Avoid that trap by heeding Paul’s command to devote yourself fully to the work of God.

BY Adam Kellogg, Contributing Editor

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