We are studying Hosea, portions of chapters 11 and 12 (11:1-2, 7-10, 12:1-2, 6-14) for Sunday, May 31, as we wind up our quarter on Biblical messages of justice. [Here are some notes on the text.] Here are a few questions we might want to consider, or discuss, in studying this text:
What is the impression we get about God from this text?
If God were a friend of ours, and had a child like Ephraim, and were sharing their experience with us, what would our advice about that relationship be? Would we think God was doing the right or wise thing when it comes to parenting? Why?
Does our answer affect our impression of God? Or of people? How? Why?
What are God’s complaints against the people? [It might help us to go through the text and make a list of those complaints.] How would we describe the problems?
What makes these problems? [That is – would we have any way of recognizing these things as problems if God didn’t call our attention to them, as problems, do we think?]
Do they seem like problems that also occur in our world? Do they seem like problems that we ourselves participate in? What makes us say this?
What are the implications of our answer here – that is, does it suggest there is anything we, ourselves, need to do? What would that be, do we think? Why?
In verse 9, God makes a reference to Egypt and says “I will make you live in tents again.” What stories do we know about Egypt and about Israel living in tents? What do those stories suggest about the meaning of this prophetic announcement? [Here, it might help to make a list of some of the events in these stories, like the plagues; God’s appearing in a pillar of fire by night and cloud by day; manna; 10 commandments; fiery serpents and the serpent made of bronze; etc.] What impression do we have, or what feeling does it give us, about what might be in store for these people?
How would we describe God’s plan here: punishment? correction? re-education? something else? Why?
How specific to its time and place, or how generally true of God’s relationship to humanity, do we think this text is? What makes us say this? What difference does our answer make for what we think we need to learn from this text?