Posts Tagged 'Hosea'

Panic Podcast: The Everything Bible Study, Part 4

What do Amos, Hosea, and Micah have in common?  You’ll find out on today’s podcast.  We’ll be looking at Amos first.  He was “the country preacher who came to town,” who didn’t consider himself to have been “one of the prophets.”  What?  Listen to the podcast, I think we all might learn something important.

 

Panic Podcast: The Story of the Old Testament, Part 6

Good morning, folks!  Thanks for stopping by today to study the Bible with me.  Lord knows, we need it, don’t we?  In a world falling apart,  God’s Word will hold us together.  We will be looking a some of the prophets today.  Their writings make up a large chunk of the Old Testament, so it’s important to know what they wrote about.  May the Lord bless you as we look to His Word.

 

The Minor Prophets Part 1

The Minor Prophets include the following:

• Hosea, whose name means “salvation,” and whose book was written mostly to the Northern Kingdom of Israel for the purpose to encouraging them to repent or face certain destruction. This eventually happened when the Assyrians invaded and took away most of the inhabitants of Israel as slaves.
• Joel, whose name means “Yahweh is God.” His book of prophecy is all about the coming of the “Day of the Lord,” with all its judgements and destruction.
• Amos means “carried by God,” and his book is a collection of messages directed at the Northern Kingdom, which had become wealthy and arrogant and sinful.
• Obadiah, or “servant of God,” preached to Judah, the Southern Kingdom, to reassure them that Edom’s vicious attack against them would be avenged by God.
• Jonah’s name means, “peace” or “dove,” and teaches us that nobody can outrun God, not even His prophet.
• Micah means “who is like God?” and deals with the gap between rich and poor and how one group teaches another.
• Nahum, whose name means, “comfort,” wrote to bring peace, relief, comfort, and joy to the oppressed.
• Habakkuk, meaning “embrace,” was a man consumed with a burning desire to proclaim the joy of the Lord.
• Zephaniah means “hidden by God.” His book begins with the declaration that judgment is coming quickly and that some of Israel and other nations will be saved when the Lord returns.
• Haggai is an odd sort of prophet. His name means “festive,” a paradoxical name for a prophet. But then Haggai was an optimistic kind of guy who wrote about his hope that God’s people would repent and rebuild the Temple, at which time God’s presence would return.
• Zechariah, whose name means “remembered by God,” wrote all about the Second Coming, reminding the people that God had by no means forgotten them.
• Malachi, the last Minor Prophet, means “my messenger.” His book, the last in the Old Testament, serves as a kind of final warning – a last word – to Israel that the great Day of the Lord is coming.

These are the 12 minor prophets, yet they aren’t minor in any way. Their messages resonate with meaning for us today as surely as they did thousands of years ago. We’d do well to pay attention to the Word of the Lord through His “minor” prophets.

Hosea and his wayward wife

First among the minors is Hosea. Of this book, George Adam Smith, Scottish theologian and academic, wrote:

There is no truth uttered by later prophets about the divine grace which we do not find in germ in him…He is the first prophet of grace, Israel’s first evangelist.

God had a habit of using the experiences of His people to reveal Himself progressively in the Old Testament. Bit by bit, piece by piece, God showed Himself to His people until the coming of Jesus Christ, the fullest and final expression of Himself. Hosea is good example of this; through Hosea’s experiences with his wife, we catch a glimpse into the love God has for sinful man.

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.  (Hosea 1:2 NIV84)

This paragraph is fraught with difficulties, not the least of which is what God told Hosea to do. Would God have commanded His prophet, a holy man, to do something that was forbidden for priests to do and frowned upon for Israel in general? Should this incident be taken literally or figuratively? Augustine refused to believe God would ask a holy man to do this, so he viewed Hosea’s experiences as allegorical.

The old axiom, “the literal sense makes the most sense,” holds as much for Hosea as for the rest of the Bible. What we are reading here should be understood as an historical account written long after the fact. Hosea’s wife and children and their circumstances were real but symbolic warnings for a wayward people. Hosea was fully aware of the kind of woman God wanted him to marry – she would become a prostitute. Her name was Gomer, an unlikely name in our time, but meant, “to end,” “to come to an end,” or “to complete.” Hebrew names are always significant in the Bible. Keil thought that Gomer would be brought to “completion” or “made perfect” through her prostitution. It’s not that becoming a prostitute did her good, but that her horrible experience would parallel Israel’s own unfaithfulness to God.
The prophet would have two children, the bitter fruits of his adulterous wife. Verse two doesn’t necessarily mean that these children weren’t Hosea’s, but rather they shared the taint of unfaithful Gomer’s character. Therefore, God wanted Israel to understand that the coming judgment would fall not only on the nation as a whole, but also on each individual within the nation for each individual shared the sin of the entire nation.

Jezreel: God’s judgment is imminent.

Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel. ” (Hosea 1:4, 5 | TNIV)

The event at Jezreel took place back in 2 Kings 9:21 – 37, long before the child Jezreel was born. It was in Jezreel that the house of Ahab was massacred by Jehu, who claimed to have done the deed for God. In reality, Jehu’s motives were completely political. God promised to make things right in His time:

The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in accomplishing what is right in my eyes and have done to the house of Ahab all I had in mind to do, your descendants will sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” (2 Kings 10:30 | TNIV)

Because Jehu acted with such cruelty, judgment would fall on his descendants. It was a heinous sin whose bill was coming due. Hosea lived long enough to witness the fulfillment of this prophecy when Israel’s military (Israel’s bow) was decimated by Shalmaneser in the plains of Jezreel.

But you have planted wickedness, you have reaped evil, you have eaten the fruit of deception. Because you have depended on your own strength and on your many warriors, the roar of battle will rise against your people, so that all your fortresses will be devastated—as Shalman devastated Beth Arbel on the day of battle, when mothers were dashed to the ground with their children. (Hosea 10:13, 14 | TNIV)

The king of Assyria invaded the entire land, marched against Samaria and laid siege to it for three years. In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria and deported the Israelites to Assyria. He settled them in Halah, in Gozan on the Habor River and in the towns of the Medes. (2 Kings 17:5, 6 | TNIV)

It took a long time, but the chickens came home to roost. Israel was scattered throughout the world.

So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah was left… (2 Kings 17:18 | TNIV)

Lo-Ruhamah: God’s mercy withheld.

Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God. ” (Hosea 1:6, 7 | TNIV)

This unfortunate child’s name may suggest she was illegitmate – born without a father’s love. Symbolically, Lo-Ruhamah was named so to show that the Lord would not continue to show love or compassion towards a nation, Israel, that steadfastly rebelled against Him. God’s mercy had come to an end. He would step in and save no longer. Once Israel was taken captive, she would never come back. The so-called Northern Kingdom would never be restored, as the Southern Kingdom was. Israel would learn the hard way that at long last, God’s patience had run out and the Covenant had dissolved. He would no longer be her God – she would be forever an adulterous and idolatrous nation.

But, God would continue work with Judah. However, notice the odd wording of verse 7:

Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God.

The prounoun “I” is replaced with “the Lord their God.” Even though Judah was not free from the curse of exile and punishment, it would be saved from final apostasy through God’s favor.

Lo-Ammi: God’s love removed.

After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God. (Hosea 1:8, 9 | TNIV)

With this third child, God’s judgment would be complete. Jezreel had promised the scattering of the people. Lo-Ruhamah meant the end of God’s love and mercy. Finally, with Lo-Ammi, God would be forever finished with Israel – the Covenant would end. The people who were once referred to as “my people” by God, would no longer be His people.

Hope for the future

It’s pretty depressing so far. But when we read about God’s judgment and punishment, there is always hope. The hope is found in these verses:

Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”

“Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’ (Hosea 1:10, 11; 2:1 | TNIV)

There are centuries upon multiplied centuries of history in between verses 9 and 10. Even though God’s message to His people through Hosea is negative and depressing, God does allow a glimmer of hope to be seen. In all, there are six specific blessings mentioned in verses 9 and 10 –

• The nation will increase in number, “…like sand on the seashore, which cannot be counted…”
• A great spiritual revival, “…they will be called the children of the living God.”
• A re-gathering of the nation, “the people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together…”
• Messianic leadership, “…they will appoint one leader…”
• Victory of all enemies, “…will come up out of the land…”
• A full restoration of the Covenant, “say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’”

Hosea: The Final Appeal

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Hosea 14

 

For 13 grueling chapters, Hosea has given us sermons and rants dealing with sin, judgment, and punishment.  Here, in the final chapter of his book we read of the Lord’s final appeal to errant Israel.  To say this chapter is memorable would be an understatement.  It’s like the rainbow after a storm.  In it, we see a side of God that gives the sinner and backslider hope.  The loving heart of God is revealed in Hosea 14.  Nobody can read this chapter without understanding what God said back in 11:9—

I am God and not man…

If God thought and acted like a man, the game would be over as far as the human race is concerned!  But God is not a man, nor does He think like one.  And He does not deal with us like a man would.  Chapter 14 of Hosea gives all men hope as we discover the glorious triumph of grace.

One time, a king named Zedekiah asked another prophet, Jeremiah, this desperate question:

Is there any word from the Lord?  (Jeremiah 31:17  NKJV)

Zedekiah got his answer, and it was bad news for him.  But God’s Word to Hosea’s people and to backsliders of all ages and dispensations is simple:  Come back.

Returning to the Lord is as simple as these five steps:

Step One

O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity…  (Hosea 14:1  NKJV)

Even in its backslidden condition, the Lord is still Israel’s God!  Imagine the patience of a loving heavenly Father who hasn’t given up on His children and let them go.  This is our God!  Like the prodigal’s father, God never ceased to be Israel’s Father no matter how badly they may have wanted that relationship to end.

God is seen calling lost Israel back to Himself, but that call is based on their sins.  It’s interesting that God does not base His call to return on His love for them, which was real enough.  It was on account of their sins that they needed to come back to Him.  Implicit in God’s call was that (1) the people would have to acknowledge their sinful condition, and (2) they would be forgiven.

It’s in the backslider’s best interest to return to God, confess his sins and accept God’s gracious offer of forgiveness.  Those living in a backslidden condition have a completely skewed perspective.  They have “stumbled” over their sins and they are far worse off than if they had continued serving the Lord.  Sin has blinded them to their spiritually crippled state and inexplicably, backsliders will stubbornly claim they are “so much happier” stuck in their sins.  To these, God calls out, “Come back!”, not “Get lost!”

Step Two

Bring your petition. Come to the Lord and say, “O Lord, take away our sins; be gracious to us and receive us, and we will offer you the sacrifice of praise.”  (Hosea 14:2  TLB)

Verse two serves to underscore the importance of confession of sin and a request for God’s grace in returning to Him.  Hosea’s people had been offering sacrifices mechanically for generations; there was no heart behind them.  Now, however, they are to come to God, not with formal, ritualistic, religious observances, but with honest words spoken from the heart that acknowledge their true condition before the Lord.    Religious observances were of absolutely no value to God.

…they will come with their flocks and herds to sacrifice to God, but it will be too late—they will not find him. He has withdrawn from them and they are left alone.  (Hosea 5:6  TLB)

Truth be told, religion and grace are in constant opposition to each other.  Religion actually has nothing to do with God but everything to do with man.  It is man’s attempt to reach up to God his way.  Grace, however, is God reaching down to man.  Religion and grace cannot coexist; we may come to God in a religious way—man’s way; or we may come to God His way—by His grace.  Only one way is acceptable to God, and that’s the way of grace.  Hosea’s people needed to understand that, and so do we today.

Step Three

“Assyria cannot save us, nor can our strength in battle; never again will we call the idols we have made ‘our gods’; for in you alone, O Lord, the fatherless find mercy.”  (Hosea 14:3  TLB)

Asshur shall not save us; we will not ride upon horses: neither will we say any more to the work of our hands, Ye are our gods: For in thee the fatherless findeth mercy.  (KJV)

Their words of repentance are to be backed up by actions.  It’s one thing to own up to the wrong you’ve done, but it’s another thing to stop it cold.  Israel had been turning to other nations for help for generations, but in coming to God in repentance, they were to stop that disobedient act.  In fact, there were three things that sins that Israel had to repent from:  reliance on Assyria for salvation; relying on Egypt for military help; and relying on man-made idols for spiritual blessing and guidance.

In the KJV’s  “we will not ride upon horses,” Israel finally admits to a sin they committed hundreds and hundreds of years earlier:  the importation of horses  from Egypt.  This act was an outright rebellion against the command of Moses not to return to Egypt in search of horses.

Solomon’s horses were brought to him from Egypt and southern Turkey, where his agents purchased them at wholesale prices.  (1 Kings 10:28  TLB)

Be sure that he doesn’t build up a large stable of horses for himself, nor send his men to Egypt to raise horses for him there, for the Lord has told you, ‘Never return to Egypt again.’  (Deuteronomy 17:16  TLB)

How does this apply to backsliders today?  Christians must always be on guard against the deceptive lure of trusting anything or any person other than God.  A false God may take many forms.  What is their in your life that you rely on for security and assurance other than God?  The way back to God for us is the same as the way for Israel:  honestly confess our sins and stop them.

Step Four

The fourth step in returning to God (and staying with Him) is to believe in His promises or blessings for the future.  Restoration always follows repentance.  When we come to Him in repentance, God restores us to complete fellowship with Him and when at last Israel comes to God in repentance, that nation will be restored.

The remainder of this chapter describes the blessings awaiting Israel in the future.  They still have not repented on a national scale in the way they need to and they won’t until the days of the Tribulation.  The blessings in verses 4—8 will not be fully given to national Israel until the Millennium.  These verses are, therefore, eschatological.

I will refresh Israel like the dew from heaven; she will blossom as the lily and root deeply in the soil like cedars in Lebanon.  Her branches will spread out as beautiful as olive trees, fragrant as the forests of Lebanon.  Her people will return from exile far away and rest beneath my shadow. They will be a watered garden and blossom like grapes; they will be as fragrant as the wines of Lebanon.

“O Ephraim! Stay away from idols! I am living and strong! I look after you and care for you. I am like an evergreen tree, yielding my fruit to you throughout the year. My mercies never fail.”  (Hosea 14:5—8  TLB)

We cannot imagine how glorious restored Israel will be.  In love, God has promised to do all this and more for His people.  That same redeeming love was manifested in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.  Jesus Christ’s vicarious work on the Cross does for us what will happen to Israel during the Millennium.

When someone becomes a Christian, he becomes a brand new person inside. He is not the same anymore. A new life has begun!  (1 Corinthians 5:17  TLB)

An integral part of this process is found in verse 4—

Then I will cure you of idolatry and faithlessness, and my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be forever gone!

Note that God will cure the sin sickness of Israel; Israel will not cure itself because it cannot cure itself.  Christians need to understand this, too.  It is Jesus Christ that makes us into a “new creation,” we don’t do that.  It’s a work of grace.

Step Five

Whoever is wise, let him understand these things. Whoever is intelligent, let him listen. For the paths of the Lord are true and right, and good men walk along them. But sinners trying them will fail.  (Hosea 14:9  TLB)

This verse is what some scholars have called “a noble epilogue.”  It is also a fitting climax to the book.  Hosea had dealt with some incredible themes in his book:

  • The sovereignty of God, chapters 1—5;
  • Holiness, chapters 4—7;
  • Justice, chapters 8—10;
  • Love, chapters 11—14.

Verse 9 really is an appeal to his readers—including us—to understand and discern what he written.  When it comes to the Word of God – Hosea and the other 65 books –  constant reading, studying, and application is necessary because in doing so, we will not go astray but will remain on a path that leads to the Lord.

Conclusion

Hosea was, in terms of his preaching, a failure.  His efforts changed nothing in Israel.  Shortly after he ministered, the nation he loved so much stumbled and fumbled their way into captivity.

However, God judges us using a different standard.  His standard is:  faithfulness.  In God’s eyes, Hosea was a stunning success because he remained absolutely faithful.  He was unequaled among the Old Testament prophets.  He endured the faithlessness and betrayal of both his wife and his country, but he saw aspects of God’s character never seen before.

 

 


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