I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.
The complaint contained in this verse may reasonably be addressed to multitudes still. With even more reason, indeed, than to Ephraim seven centuries before Christ; for our completed Bible contains a much richer revelation of Divine truth than those earlier Scriptures which are here referred to.
I. GOD'S GREAT GIFT OF HOLY SCRIPTURE. "I have written to him the great things of my Law."
1. What is God's "Law."? The word is used in various senses. Sometimes it denotes the ten commandments alone; sometimes the five hooks of Moses as distinguished from the prophets; sometimes the Mosaic economy, in distinction from the gospel; and sometimes the whole will of God as published in Holy Writ to determine man's faith and to control his conduct. Hosea in this verse, without doubt, refers immediately to the Pentateuch; but, in applying the passage to ourselves, we must extend the application of the term "Law" so that it shall cover the whole Bible.
2. What are "the great things of God's Law? These can be nothing else than those matters which constitute the substance of revelation. The Bible discloses truths which are:
(1) Great in themselves. The Book is a revelation of God - his nature, his trinity in unity, his ways in providence, his love to sinners. It unveils to man his own origin and destiny; shows him the greatness of his nature, despite its ruins; supplies him with the perfect standard of moral purity; and satisfies his loftiest aspirations. The Book grapples with the problem of sin, and reveals the way of salvation, through the mediation of the Son of God, his incarnation, his obedience unto death, his resurrection and exaltation (1 Timothy 3:16), and the ministry of the Holy Spirit. It anticipates the last things " - the universal triumph of the gospel, the find resurrection, the general judgment, and the blessedness of the heavenly kingdom.
(2) Great in their importance to man For the Bible tells man what he most needs to know, in order to his highest well-being. It answers to all the wants of his many-sided nature - his desire of knowledge, his admiration of what is noble, his yearning after sympathy, his need of inward rest, his hunger for immortality. Holy Scripture is a lamp unto his feet. It is the storehouse of his spiritual food. It is the fountain of life (see Psalm 19:7-11).
(3) Great in their comprehensiveness. Some read the clause thus: "I wrote to him the myriads [or, 'the fulnesses'] of my Law;" the reference being to the almost numberless individual ordinances connected with the Mosaic institutions. This thought may well remind us of the inexhaustible supplies of knowledge of all kinds - facts, doctrines, ethical principles, precepts, promises, predictions, etc. - which are stored up in Holy Scripture. The Book evinces its greatness in this respect, that it affords us sure rules and directions for out' life under all circumstances.
3. In what sense has God "written these great things? In the same sense, surely, in which a man reveals his thoughts through the medium of his writings. The Lord himself is the Author of the Bible. Its teachings rest upon his authority. Whatever is declared by inspired men to be part of Divine truth or of human duty, God declares to be such. Christians may and do differ regarding theories of inspiration, but every believer accepts the fact that the books of Scripture are the Word of God.
II. MAN'S SHAMEFUL NEGLECT OF THIS GIFT. But they were counted as a strange thing." The people of the ten tribes treated the precepts of the Pentateuch as if they were a matter which did not concern them. Holy Scripture is treated similarly still:
1. By worldly men. Some refuse to receive it as a Divine revelation. They reject the supernatural, ignore the whole realm of faith, and particularly dislike the distinctive doctrines of Christianity. Many more, however, have an orthodox intellectual) belief in the Bible as the Word of God; but their faith, such as it is, does not affect the conscience or the heart. When they read from the inspired volume, its words do not "come home to their business and bosoms." "They do not realize the grand evil which the Bible has come to cure, and they have not a heart to the blessings which it offers to bestow. The film of a fallen nature, self-maintained, is upon their eyes while they read" (Dr. John Ker). So, they neglect "the great things of God's Law" for the little matters of sense and worldly vanity. Many see no further grandeur in the Bible than its literary beauty. Others prize it simply as a book of moral culture, and nothing more. The baser sort profane Divine revelation by jesting with its holy subjects, and using its most sacred words as idle oaths.
2. By many professing Christians. Are there not such, to whom the Bible is "a strange thing," because the), very seldom sit down to read it? And of those who do regularly read "their chapter," how many do so merely to pacify conscience, and thus make little or no effort to understand the meaning of the passages read! Some sincere believers confine their attention to a few pet chapters which contain what they call "the simple gospel," and ignore the rest, although the Scriptures are full of "the manifold wisdom of God." This very prophecy of Hosea, as one has said, is "too often a deserted well;" but those, however, who come and draw from it find it full of living water. One of the wants of the age among professing Christians is a more adequate acquaintance with the contents of the Bible. The man who would enjoy robustness of spiritual life must study the Scriptures book by book, that he may discern the drift and scope of each book, apprehend its particular place in the scheme of truth, and at the same time appropriate and assimilate its teaching for the nourishment of his soul.
III. HOW WE OUGHT TO USE HOLY SCRIPTURE. (See Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 90.) If we would avoid incurring the censure of this text, we must:
1. Receive the Book with a believing and thankful heart; treat it with deep reverence as the Divine Word; and make what effort we can to circulate it throughout the world.
2. "Search the Scriptures with regularity and system, that our intellectual acquaint and with them may be both accurate and comprehensive.
3. Meditate upon Bible teaching with self-application in our leisure hours, that our minds may be imbued with its principles of truth and duty, and that conscience and affections and will may become subject to their power.
4. Keep" God's Word in our dally acts, and in the habits which we form, so that it may mould our character, and make us Christ-like. "My mother and my brethren are these which hear the Word of God, and do it" (Luke 8:21).
5. And in all our use of Scripture we must Tray /or the promised aid of the Holy Spirit, without which our best efforts will be in vain. - C.J.
Parallel VersesKJV: I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing.