Vs. 3, “I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt.” It’s hard to see our own sins and mistakes. Hosea would have to point out the sins of Israel for turning away from God. It’s important to see that God would force them to turn back to Him. This was a heart matter. God’s people wanted Him, yet were in love with the other god’s of this world. Eventually, they turned completely from God. God would bring consequences and judgment (vs. 8-15).
Regarding application…Break Us Down. Vs. 14, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, like a great lion to Judah. I will tear them to pieces and go away; I will carry them off, with no one to rescue them.” In Proverbs, we are reminded that Pride goes before destruction (Proverbs 16:18). God would have to break down all that the people held dear to their hearts. Though He would use the Assyrians to scatter, it was for the purpose of drawing them back to the Lord. Don’t forget that missing in the verses is the heart of our Father. Israel is like a rebellious teenager who thinks they know the right way. Being broken down by God is not easy, but know His love never fails!
Vs. 1 “Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land.” Question: What is going on here? The example of Hosea’s relationship with Gomer is now coming to light with Israel. Israel is being charged by God as if they were in a court of law. The increase of sin is bringing a breakdown of morality over the land. Notice also how the LORD’s charge gets more specific and directed towards the supposed leaders of Isarel; the priests (vs. 4-14). The spiritual leaders have a huge impact. But Israel’s leaders were leading the charge towards immorality. This was a time in Israel where there was relative peace. King Jeroboam II was reigning and the priesthood was increasing. However, just like in Jesus’ day, there was corruption in the sacrificial system and priests were profiting (vs. 7-11). As the prophecies of judgment came forth by Hosea, all he saw was the continued stubborn responses of hardened hearts (vs. 16).
Regarding application…Knowing God. Vs. 6a, “…my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge…” There is much talk of the declining education system in America these days. But I would contend there is a much steeper decline in the church education system. I commend the church for we are doing a wonderful job in sharing the Gospel and bringing people to church. But it seems we stop at the point of salvation. John Mitchell, founder of Multnomah Bible College, coined his famous question, “Don’t you folks ever read your Bibles?” Just like in Hosea’s time, we are in a period where we lack the knowledge of God. We know more about Algebra, English Lit, Entertainment, sports, technology, cars, etc…than we do about the Living Word of God! Brothers & Sisters, this should not be. That is why I try to encourage each of you daily the importance of growing in your knowledge of God! Question: How can you live out a genuine faith if you are not spending time knowing God? It would be like me never spending time with my wife, but telling others I really do have one. Open your heart and let God’s word change and renew you to a deeper walk with Him!
Vs. 1 “The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” Lost in this narrative is the raw emotion that must have been going on in Hosea’s heart. Sure, Hosea had a right to divorce and leave Gomer. Though, Jesus mentioned divorce was permissible due to unfaithfulness only because of our own hardened hearts (Mark 10:5). Hosea goes to find Gomer and it’s interesting because it looks like she was owned by another man. This man might have sold her to other men for a profit. At first, Gomer might have enjoyed this lifestyle free from a husband and her children. However even listen to present day prostitutes and they live a very sad life of regret. This is an amazing picture of love and grace Hosea would extend to his estranged wife. Also, don’t forget about the imagery of the LORD’s love for His people!
Regarding application…Bought at a Price. Vs. 2, “So I bought her for fifteen shekelsof silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.” Hosea bought Gomer from a life of prostitution and in many ways a life of slavery. She was a slave to sin and the price Hosea bought her at would have been close to that of a female slave. This of course brings a reminder that we too were bought at a price (I Cor. 6:20). Gomer was bought and turned back to her husband with love. We too are bought and have an opportunity to turn back to Jesus. Paul later tell us not to live as slaves of men (I Cor. 7:23). Since we were paid and bought with such a high price, it’s time to take our faith and put it into action! Turn to Jesus today!
Vs. 8 “She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold—which they used for Baal.” Question: Who is she? Literally, she is referring to Hosea’s wife Gomer. But there is a dual meaning here that the original author intended. She is also referring to the nation Israel. The picture of marriage began with Adam & Eve and it is also a beautiful example of Israel and Yahweh as well as Jesus and the church. But, in this sacred marriage, there was adultery. God’s people were turning to the world, just like Gomer was turning to other men. It’s important to realize that God allowed (even punished) the free choice they had to turn away from Him (vs. 2-13). But take heart dearest brothers and sisters, for God’s loving kindness would shine through (vs. 14-23)
Regarding application…Forgetting God. Vs. 13, “I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.” We are an absent-minded people. Last Sunday was the Super Bowl and it the one time that you look forward to commercials. The premise of commercials and really any type of advertising (internet, radio, billboards, etc) is to catch our attention! There’s always something trying to compete for our time. The past few weeks, I kept making a note to myself to pick up more soap when I went to the store. When I would get to the store on the last few visits I would get food, medicine, etc…having totally forgotten my mental note to grab soap. Question: Does that happen to you? Maybe I’m just getting old, but I think we tend to do this with our relationship with God. Certainly we can compare this to a Christian forgetting to do their QT devotions, but I think it can go deeper than this. Forgetting God, is just not making the effort to make Him part of your life. It’s like Jesus is tagging along with you in your daily life and not once do you turn to Him and acknowledge He’s there. Today is an opportunity to break that cycle of forgetting! Just spend time with the Lord today! Let His word and your prayers enrich that relationship He so desires to have with you!
Vs. 2, “When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” Question: So what is the deal with Gomer (vs. 3)? Hosea’s wife is mentioned to be an adulterous wife. While biblical scholars debate whether or not she was a prostitute before marriage or became one after, we must remember the original intent. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer was to be a living illustration of how God’s people were treating their relationship with Him. Gomer would leave Hosea and commit adultery. Just like Israel would turn their attention to the world. It’s also surprising that their three children would have such ominous names to represent the condition of Israel (vs. 4-9). Yet, in spite of the prophecies of judgment, we see Hosea give them a message/prophecy of amazing hope (vs. 10-11). God will one day bring His people to be united again and ultimately the one leader (vs. 11) points to the Messiah!
Regarding application…A Faithful God. Vs. 11, “The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.” Question: How does God show His faithfulness? Recently on Facebook, I’ve noticed a few of my good friends having children and proudly posting their beautiful babies! That reminds me what joy a child can bring to a family. I want you to imagine you will have a baby, but before you even have that baby you are given the knowledge that child will grow to despise and hate you! Would you still go through the process of wanting that child? That’s kind of a small example of what is going on here with God’s relationship with Israel. We could also use the example of finding the love of your life and getting ready to marry them only to have the knowledge that they will cheat on you and leave you. Will you still marry them? Despite, the knowledge of sadness and tough times ahead, God’s promises and faithfulness shine brightly for a people who are living in sin. God is faithful even when we are not. Let that be a huge reminder that this truth is not taken for granted.
The book of Hosea begins our journey into the section which we call “minor prophets”. Don’t misunderstand, the word minor should not connote lesser importance. Each of the minor prophets had a very concise message that spoke of a prophecy. The prophet Hosea lived during the times of the Divided Kingdom (753 B.C. – 725 B.C.). The name Hosea is translated to the word “salvation”. Hosea’s message was directed primarily to the Northern Kingdom. It was a time of relative prosperity. However, there was the sin factor that was eating away at Israel. Israel was unfaithful and Hosea gives us a unique perspective. God would have Hosea marry Gomer as a living illustration to the broken relationship with His people. Hosea was used by God to warn Israel of their spiritual decline and sadly lived to see the day the Assyrians would come and invade the Northern Kingdom. The book of Hosea gives us insight into incredible grace of God.