Hosea

Francine Rivers’ novel, Redeeming Love, is a wonderful way of introducing people to the book of Hosea, which is a book that is about God’s abundant and steadfast love, even as we repeatedly turn away from him.

Hosea’s ministry overlapped with that of Isaiah. He came from Israel, the Northern Kingdom, at a time when people were turning back to the Canaanite fertility religion, and worshipping the Baals. The book is an anthology of prophecies that have been gathered together in two main parts. The first part is really a biography of Hosea’s marriage used as a way of demonstrating the infidelity of Israel, the Lord’s Bride, and of the steadfast love of God for his people. The second part interweaves messages of judgement and hope, two themes the permeate the prophets, ending with an invitation to return and a promise of healing and restoration

Joel

Joel, means the Lord is God. For many the first passage from Joel that springs to mind is the one that is used at most Pentecost services: ‘I will pour out my spirit on all mankind and your sons and daughters will prophesy’.

We are not sure when Joel wrote, but he does demonstrate a knowledge of a number of other prophets, including Isaiah, Ezekiel, Jeremiah and Malachi. He demonstrates an ability to see the bigger picture of judgement and of hope for the future.

Joel is a collection of prophetic poems. His initial description of a plague of locusts tells of a past event with a call to repentance, that he himself responds to. He moves on to looking at a coming day of the Lord, a day of disaster for Jerusalem. There is a call to repent with torn hearts and not with torn garments - a true repentance that can rely on the mercy of God who is slow to anger and abounding in love. God’s response to repentance is merciful. Then Joel looks forward to the future day of the Lord, when evil will be addressed, creation will be renewed and God’s spirit will fill all his people.