Hosea 3 – Israel Will Return to God & Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions: Confucianism (4 of 8)

Confucianism is on the right track, they have Jesus’ second most important commandment correct:

“And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 

On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets” (Matt 12:39-40).

The problem with Confucianism, just like any other religion/belief, is it leaves out Jesus’ first commandment and without obeying it then whatever you do is moot.

“Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love thy Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.

This is the first and great commandment” (Matt 12:37-38).

If you don’t have Jesus in your heart you have nothing:

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.

I am the fine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn 15:1, 5).

We have looked at eight lost cities of the Near East, so how about if we look at…

Hosea 3
Israel Will Return to God

Gastris – Ancient Greek Nut Cake with Poppy and Sesame Seeds from late 2nd century to early 3rd century A.D.

1 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

“Go…love a woman” – Hosea’s love for unfaithful Gomer illustrates God’s love for unfaithful Israel.  God’s love for Israel is the basic theme of the book.

“Flagons of wine” – possibly “raisin cakes” offered to Baal in thanksgiving for harvest.

2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

Gomer had evidently become a slave and Hosea bought her back.

“Fifteen pieces of silver” – half the usual price of a slave (Ex 21:7, 32) or of the redemption value of a woman’s vow (Lev 27:4).

“A homer…and half” – probably about 10 bushels.  Comparison with prices in 2 Kgs 7:1, 16, 18 suggests that half was paid in money (silver) and half in produce (barley) for a total value of 30 shekels.

3 And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.

“Many days” – not forever.  There would be an “afterward,” a future.

4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

5 Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Ancient Man’s Cults, Sects, and Religions:
Confucianism

Much like Buddhism and Shintoism, Confucianism  began as a this-worldly philosophy rather than a transcendent religion.  The concerns of its founder, K’ung Fu Tzu, were to address the moral laxity of the culture of his day and  to inquire into ethical and moral behavior of individuals. 

Statue of Confucius at a temple dedicated to him in Beijing.

Confucianism is often associated with wise sayings or analects written and spoken by its founder.

History

K’ung Fu Tzu (Confucius) was born approximately 551 B.C. in Lu, the modern-day Shantung province of China.  The moral slackness of the society in which he lived disturbed him greatly. He gathered students and taught them about the moral and ethical life.

He was concerned, as Plato and Aristotle were later, about the welfare of the citizenry of the state and how rulers may govern justly. In his later life, Confucius traveled much throughout’ China and spoke and taught before rulers.

His students grew in number as he traveled more and more. He returned back to his home province of Lu in the last years of his life and taught and wrote right up to the time of his death in (ca. 479 B.C.).

Confucius’ writings include five major works – Ching: Book of History, Book of Songs, Book of Changes, Spring and Autumn Annals, and Book of Rites.

The many gods of Shinto.
Shinto has no known founder or single sacred scripture. Shinto is wholly devoted to life in this world and emphasises man’s essential goodness.

Taoism and Buddhism exerted much influence on the development of Confucianism, especially between 400 B.C. and 200 B.C. While Confucius had gained some followers during his lifetime, he remained relatively unknown by many outside his own teaching circles.

However, in approximately 212 B.C., the writings of Confucius, which had been hidden by disciples, managed to escape a mass book burning ordered by Shi Huang Ti. A short time after this, those writings were copied and disseminated widely.

State worship of Confucius began in the Han Dynasty in approximately 200 B.C. and lasted until as recently as 1912. Confucianism spread to other countries in the 6th century A.D. and following, including Japan and Korea.

The Communist Revolution in 1949 found cooperative advocacy amongst the adherents of Confucianism. For Confucius, loyalty to the state is a basic duty of the citizenry.

This, of course, was a fundamental precept of communist doctrine, and it made for a unique form of socialism that developed quite differently in China from that in the former USSR and other countries influenced by Marxism.

In Russia, for example, having been a Christian country since 987 A.D., loyalty to the state could only come when loyalty to God and his kingdom was not compromised. However, the religious aspects of Confucianism in communist China were dismissed outright.

Today, some six million people identify themselves as followers of Confucius. These are mostly in China.

Beliefs and Teachings

As stated above, much of Confucius’ writings deal with morality and ethics, including the ways in which the state should function to govern justly in society. Confucianism was heavily influenced by both Taoism and Buddhism.

Shih Huang Ti (or Qin Shi Huang Ti) was heir to the throne of Chin, a powerful feudal state in northwest China.

On his accession he set about uniting China, annexing the other feudal states with ruthless efficiency, aided by espionage, bribery, and war. He proclaimed himself emperor in 221 BC, founding the Chin dynasty from which China derives its name.

The Taoist teachings concerning the harmony of nature and the individual, along with the Buddhist development of beliefs about the afterlife, were both incorporated into Confucianism. The three religions have traditionally peacefully coexisted with one another in China.

From 200 B.C. to 900 A.D., Buddhism exerted its greatest influences on Confucianism, albeit through Taoist categories. Worship of the emperor, referred to as the Son of Heaven, was now popular. This was combined with a worship of heaven and earth, especially during key times of the year.

Eventually, many different gods and spirits were added to the pantheon of deities. Spirits of famous individuals throughout history, ancestors, deities of harvest, com, wind, the sun, moon, and stars, and so on were worshiped.

Christianity strictly forbids the worship of any object or person except for the one true God:

“Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Ex. 20:3).

Confucius’ teachings revolved around the three great virtues of love, wisdom, and courage. These are sometimes referred to as his “universal virtues.” The highly ethical nature of his thought and teachings revolved around:

The Analects of Confucius.

li – beliefs concerning social etiquette, rituals, and personal property;

hsaiothe mutual love and respect owed to all members of a family;

yi – justice and believing and doing what is right;

xin – faithfulness and trustworthiness;

jen – the highest virtue, that is, the showing of kindness and goodness toward all living things;

chung – loyalty to the government. 

Other world religions also strive toward these lofty goals, but they too leave God out of the picture:

Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonor their own bodies between themselves.

Who changed the truth of God into a lie and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed forever.  Amen. (Rom. 1:25).

Christianity certainly elevates all of these virtues as  true, good, and noble. Beliefs about family  property, love and  mutual respect for family and all concerns for social justice, faithfulness, stewardship for all living things in creation, and honoring the government have been the consistent and ongoing teachings of Christianity.

Confucius Monument in Rizal Park, Manila, Philippines.

But the world is changing in these aspects, especially in the United States.

But Confucius, as already stated, did not understand his teachings to be religious or transcendent in nature.  Rather, he sought to proffer them as guidelines for daily living both as individuals, and at the same time as individuals living in the context of the state.

Examples of guidelines for ethical and moral living are replete in all world religions. Every state and  accompanying government and/or religion has laws that, when breached, must be judged and punished.

Christianity affirms this:

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained by God.

Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil.  Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power?  Do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same (Rom 13:1-3).

But for the latter, there is a higher power and a higher law that must be answered to, namely, the law of God. The violation of God’s moral law is sin. Moreover, Christianity addresses what should ensue when ethical and moral guidelines are not followed.

At the same time, Christianity addresses how immorality and all forms of sinful and unethical behaviors are atoned for in Christ:

Xin Xi Lu (New Western Street) in Linxia City, west of downtown.

This is probably the heart of the old Muslim neighborhood, where the Hui people had to reside after they were prohibited to live within the city wall in 1873. There are 4 large mosques – Lao Hua, Xin Hua, Tie Jia, and Qianheyan – in that street.

But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets;

Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference:

For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God;

Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 3:21-24).

As all religions honor rites of passage in life, Confucianism honors four key life passages:

1. Birth – There are strict laws accompanying any threats to the health or well-being of the expecting mother.

2. Reaching adulthood and maturity – This one is now being essentially ignored by most followers of Confucius.

3. Marriage – Performed in six different stages: proposal, engagement, dowry, procession, marriage and reception, and the morning after.

4. Death – Belongings of the deceased are placed into the coffin (including food), family members mourn aloud, and rituals are performed by Taoist and/or Buddhist priests.

There are six different schools of Confucianism.  These largely regard interpretation: Han Confucianism, Neo-Confucianism, Contemporary Neo-Confucianism, Korean Confucianism, Japanese Confucianism, and Singapore Confucianism.

Tomb of Confucius in Kong Lin cemetery, Qufu, Shandong Province.

Conclusion

Today, Confucianism as a religion in China is waning in the rural villages, however, do continue to hold fast to Confucius’ teachings. Modernization has raised questions concerning traditional teachings about family, ancestry, paternalism, and cooperative loyalty.

Modernism and westernization has introduced into the thinking of many modem Confucian thinkers the possibility of a new and reconstructed modern of China’s ancient philosophy and religion. 

…some of the great ancient empires.