Hosea 14 – Real Wisdom Turns Israel back to the LORD
“This is a wonderful chapter to be at the end of such a book. I had never expected from such a prickly shrub to gather so fair a flower, so sweet a fruit; but so it is: where sin abounded, grace doth much more abound. No chapter in the Bible can be more rich in mercy than this last of Hosea; and yet no chapter in the Bible might, in the natural order of things, have been more terrible in judgment. Where we looked for the blackness of darkness, behold a noontide of light!” (Charles Spurgeon)
A. Israel’s repentance and God’s response.
1. (1-3) What Israel should say in their repentance.
O Israel, return to the LORD your God,
For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
Take words with you,
And return to the LORD.
Say to Him,
“Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
Assyria shall not save us,
We will not ride on horses,
Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’
For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”
a. Take words with you, and return to the LORD: In returning to the LORD, Israel must come on God’s terms, not their own. God says, “When you return to Me, take words with you. I want you to return to Me not with a silent feeling in your heart, but with proper words of repentance and trust in Me.”
i. When we come before the LORD, it is essential to take words with you. There is a place for sharing the inarticulate feelings of the heart with God, but that is not the essence of fellowship and prayer with Him. The worship of God is intelligent, and God made us able to communicate ideas and feelings with words. It isn’t enough to sit before the LORD and feel love towards Him. Instead, take words with you – tell God that you love Him. It isn’t enough to feel repentance before the LORD. Instead, take words with you and tell God you repent before Him.
ii. This is the same idea that Paul expressed in Romans 10:8-10: But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith which we preach): that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. God commands us to communicate with Him in words, not only ideas or feelings.
iii. What words do we take with us? The best words are the words God gives us in His Word. When we communicate to God in the words and ideas of Scripture, we find an articulate and effective voice before God.
b. Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously: When we return to the LORD, taking words with us, we must first come humbly. We recognize our sin and our total dependence on the grace of God.
c. For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips: Literally, Hosea 14:2 says for we will offer the calves of our lips. Since bull calves were often brought for sacrifice, the translators felt justified in putting it for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. However, the more literal rendering shows just how plainly our words of praise, worship, confession, petition, or intercession can be a sacrifice before God.
d. Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, “You are our gods”: When we return to the LORD, taking words with us, we come renouncing our dependence on all other things. We recognize that the LORD and the LORD alone can make the difference in our life.
e. For in You the fatherless finds mercy: When we return to the LORD, taking words with us, we come declaring His greatness. We tell of what a great and merciful God we have.
2. (4-7) God promises to restore a repentant Israel.
“I will heal their backsliding,
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from him.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
His branches shall spread;
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
Those who dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine.
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
a. I will heal their backsliding: God saw that Israel was bent on backsliding from Him (Hosea 11:7), but He promised to heal the backsliding of a repentant Israel. He did it not because Israel would deserve it, but because it is in His nature to love them freely.
i. The word is compassionate: I will heal their backsliding. This shows God looks on our backsliding more like a disease than a crime. He does not say, “I will pardon their backsliding.” It is “as though he said, ‘My poor people, I do remember that they are but dust; they are liable to a thousand temptations through the fall, and they soon go astray; but I will not treat them as though they were rebels, I will look upon them as patients, and they shall look upon me as a physician.” (Spurgeon).
ii. The word is certain: I will heal their backsliding. Not “I might heal” or “I could heal” or “I can try to heal,” but I will heal their backsliding. Come to God for healing of your backsliding, and He will do it! God is too great a physician to allow any patient to leave His office without being healed.
iii. The word is personal: I will heal their backsliding. He speaks to His people, and addresses them personally. We have to come to the Great Physician and say, “Heal my backsliding. I want to be the ‘their.’” To get the healing, you have to count yourself among the backsliders.
iv. Are you backsliding? The signs may not be so obvious to others. When you see a tree broken over in a windstorm, it’s easy to think that it was the wind. If you look closer, you will often see that insects have been at work a long time on the tree, making it weaker and weaker. It really wasn’t the wind that did it – other trees around it withstood the wind. It was the slow decline of strength, as insects nibbled away month after month.
b. This passage shows us what is restored when we return to the LORD.
· Growth is restored (He shall grow).
· Beauty is restored (He shall grow like the lily).
· Strength is restored (lengthen his roots like Lebanon).
· Value is restored (His beauty shall be like an olive tree).
· Delight is restored (His fragrance like Lebanon).
· Abundance is restored (revived like grain… grow like the vine… scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon).
c. His branches will spread: When God restores Israel, His people will be a blessing to others, not blessed only unto himself.
B. A new Israel.
1. (8) Renewed Israel is free from idols.
“Ephraim shall say,
‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’
I have heard and observed him.
I am like a green cypress tree;
Your fruit is found in Me.”
a. What have I to do anymore with idols? When God’s people are healed from backsliding, they focus on the LORD Himself and not on any kind of idol.
b. Your fruit is found in Me: At one time, Israel thought they might find fruit in themselves or in the idols of the nations. Now, healed of their backsliding, they find their fruit only in God.
i. Your fruit is found in Me can have two ideas, equally true. First, we find the fruit to nourish our soul in God, and God alone. Second, we find the fruit that we are to bear unto the world in God, and God alone.
2. (9) Renewed Israel walks in wisdom.
Who is wise?
Let him understand these things.
Who is prudent?
Let him know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right;
The righteous walk in them,
But transgressors stumble in them.
a. Who is wise? The wise man will see the message throughout the Book of Hosea. He will understand that in His mercy, God offers a wonderful opportunity for repentance and restoration, and it is dangerous and foolish to neglect that invitation.
b. The ways of the LORD are right: Even in the midst of promised judgment, the wise and understanding man sees that the ways of the LORD are right, and that ever announcement of judgment is an invitation to repentance.
i. “In beauty of expression these final words of Hosea rank with the memorable chapters of the OT. Like the rainbow after a storm, they promise Israel’s final restoration. Here is the full flowering of God’s unfailing love for his faithless people, the triumph of his grace, the assurance of his healing – all described in imagery that reveals the loving heart of God.” (Wood)
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 13 – “I Will Be Your King”
A. Two pictures of judgment.
1. (1-3) Sinful Israel will be scattered like the morning clouds.
When Ephraim spoke, trembling,
He exalted himself in Israel;
But when he offended through Baal worship, he died.
Now they sin more and more,
And have made for themselves molded images,
Idols of their silver, according to their skill;
All of it is the work of craftsmen.
They say of them,
“Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”
Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud
And like the early dew that passes away,
Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor
And like smoke from a chimney.
a. Now they sin more and more: God never blessed Israel when they worshipped Baal, but that didn’t stop them. They kept after their idolatry more and more.
b. The men who sacrifice: This may instead have the idea of engaging in human sacrifice, and could be translated “the sacrificers of men.” In ancient Israel human sacrifice was almost always child-sacrifice. Hosea already spoken of this horrible practice in Hosea 9:13 and perhaps in Hosea 5:2.
i. “Viewed together, the sin is a total perversion of values. A craftsman’s work is elevated to divine status; human beings sacrifice their offspring to a metal object from whose lifeless form they also beg help; persons embrace with adulation the images of the very animals that they use for ploughing, threshing and hauling.” (Hubbard)
c. Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes: Because Israel trusted in themselves and in idols, they could not stand. They would pass like the early dew.
2. (4-8) Sinful Israel will be torn apart as if by a lion.
“Yet I am the LORD your God
Ever since the land of Egypt,
And you shall know no God but Me;
For there is no Savior besides Me.
I knew you in the wilderness,
In the land of great drought.
When they had pasture, they were filled;
They were filled and their heart was exalted;
Therefore they forgot Me.
So I will be to them like a lion;
Like a leopard by the road I will lurk;
I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs;
I will tear open their rib cage,
And there I will devour them like a lion.
The wild beast shall tear them.”
a. Yet I am the LORD your God ever since the land of Egypt: Israel changed, but the LORD God did not. He was still the only God and the only Savior, and His people would be left desolate when they left Him.
b. They were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me: It is a strange and terrible aspect of human nature that when times are good, we often forget the God who blessed us. When times are bad we are often more likely to turn our hearts back to God.
i. At the end of the 20th Century, Americans were in a season of unprecedented prosperity. Yet statistics show that in the 1990s churchgoers gave a smallest percentage of their income in contributions since the Great Depression. Sadly, often when we are filled, then we find our hearts exalted, and soon we forget God.
c. So I will be to them like a lion: When we neglect and affront God as He blesses, we then will often face the chastening hand of God. It isn’t because God hates us, but because we have demonstrated that we will only turn to Him when times are bad.
i. “The three mentioned – lion, leopard, and bear – were all native to Palestine and known for their relentless manner of killing prey.” (Wood)
B. God, the only hope of Israel.
1. (9-11) The rejected King and the imposed king.
“O Israel, you are destroyed,
But your help is from Me.
I will be your King;
Where is any other,
That he may save you in all your cities?
And your judges to whom you said,
‘Give me a king and princes’?
I gave you a king in My anger,
And took him away in My wrath.”
a. You are destroyed, but your help is from Me: Even when Israel felt the sting of God’s chastening hand, they could still find help from the LORD, if they would only turn to Him.
b. I will be your King… I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath: God wanted to be recognized as the King of Israel, no matter which man sat on the royal throne. When they rejected the LORD as King, He gave them the kind of kings their hearts wanted and deserved, and then even took those kings as further judgment.
2. (12-16) The sorrowful judgment of Ephraim and her children.
“The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up;
His sin is stored up.
The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him.
He is an unwise son,
For he should not stay long where children are born.
I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death.
O Death, I will be your plagues!
O Grave, I will be your destruction!
Pity is hidden from My eyes.
Though he is fruitful among his brethren,
An east wind shall come;
The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness.
Then his spring shall become dry,
And his fountain shall be dried up.
He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize.
Samaria is held guilty,
For she has rebelled against her God.
They shall fall by the sword,
Their infants shall be dashed in pieces,
And their women with child ripped open.”
a. The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him: Labor pains often come unexpectedly, are intense, and increase in their pain and duration. In the same way, judgment would come upon Israel.
b. I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: The sin and judgment of Israel were both great, but not greater than God’s ability and power to redeem. He can even redeem… from death, so that death and the grave are mocked as defeated foes.
i. Paul quoted the Septuagint translation of Hosea 13:14 in describing our triumph over death in our sharing in the resurrection of Jesus: O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? (1 Corinthians 15:55)
c. Samaria is held guilty, for she has rebelled against her God: In the long term, Israel will see the glory of God’s redemption and His power over sin and death. In the near term, Israel will be chastened for their rebellion against God.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 12 – Ancient Jacob and Modern Israel
A. The deeply rooted deceit of Israel.
1. (1) Israel trusts in deals and alliances with surrounding nations.
“Ephraim feeds on the wind,
And pursues the east wind;
He daily increases lies and desolation.
Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians,
And oil is carried to Egypt.”
a. Ephraim feeds on the wind: The idols and foreign alliances Israel trusts in are useless. They are like trying to feed on the wind.
i. Clarke on the east wind: “They are not only empty, but dangerous and destructive. The east wind was, and still is, in all countries, a parching, wasting, injurious wind.”
b. Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil carried to Egypt: Instead of trusting in the LORD, Israel trusted in deals and payoffs to the surrounding superpowers. It was foolish for them to think that Assyria or Egypt was more powerful or dependable than the LORD was.
2. (2-6) Ancient Jacob is an example of Israel’s present deceit.
“The LORD also brings a charge against Judah,
And will punish Jacob according to his ways;
According to his deeds He will recompense him.
He took his brother by the heel in the womb,
And in his strength he struggled with God.
Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed;
He wept, and sought favor from Him.
He found Him in Bethel,
And there He spoke to us–
That is, the LORD God of hosts.
The LORD is His memorable name.
So you, by the help of your God, return;
Observe mercy and justice,
And wait on your God continually.”
a. He took his brother by the heel in the womb: Here, God looked back at the patriarch Jacob and how Israel in Hosea’s day was just like their forefather Jacob in the days of Genesis. In ancient Israel, a “heel-catcher” was a double-dealer, someone who achieved their goals through crafty and dishonest means. Through Hosea, God said, “That was Jacob then and it is Israel now.”
i. “‘To grasp the heel’ also meant to go behind one’s back in order to deceive or trick him, and this became the dominant characteristic of the man.” (Boice)
b. In his strength he struggled with God: The prophet recalls the struggle between Jacob and the Man of Genesis 32:24-30. Jacob refused to submit to God, so God demanded submission from him in a literal wrestling match.
i. He struggled with God reinforces a point already made clear in Genesis 32:24-30: Jacob wrestled with the LORD God, who appeared in human form as a Man. Since this was a unique messenger from heaven, He is also appropriately described as an Angel of the LORD.
c. He struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept, and sought favor from Him: Inspired by the Holy Spirit, Hosea emphasized two more details from the Genesis 32:24-30 account. First, he told us that Jacob prevailed in the wrestling match. Second, he told us that Jacob wept in the struggle.
i. It could be said that Jacob prevailed in the only way anyone can when they struggle against God. We prevail when we lose and know it, surrendering to God.
ii. It is important to know that Jacob wept because it helps us understand how desperate and broken he was as he hung on the LORD, now pleading only for a blessing.
d. So you, by the help of your God, return: Jacob came to the place where he knew God had beaten him, and all he could do was hang on to God and plead for a blessing. So you speaks to Israel, saying they should return to God the same way.
i. By the help of your God, return reminds us that we can never even return to the LORD without His help. This shows how weak we are and how much we really depend on Him.
B. Judgment promised against a confident Israel.
1. (7-11) Though Israel is confident in its wealth, God will bring them low.
“A cunning Canaanite!
Deceitful scales are in his hand;
He loves to oppress.
And Ephraim said,
‘Surely I have become rich,
I have found wealth for myself;
In all my labors
They shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.’
But I am the LORD your God,
Ever since the land of Egypt;
I will again make you dwell in tents,
As in the days of the appointed feast.
I have also spoken by the prophets,
And have multiplied visions;
I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.”
Though Gilead has idols;
Surely they are vanity;
Though they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal,
Indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field.
a. Surely I have become rich: Hosea prophesied during a time of great prosperity, but spiritual and moral decadence in Israel. When things are good financially, it’s hard for people to believe that their society is in trouble (in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin).
i. Canaanite in this context probably means “merchant” because the Canaanites at this time were well-known merchants and traders. Clarke says, “Ephraim is as corrupt as those heathenish traffickers were.”
b. I will again make you dwell in tents: Though Israel enjoyed financial prosperity and fine homes, God’s judgment would bring them into exile and humble tents again. This judgment is certain because God has spoken by the prophets, yet they did not listen.
c. Their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field: Pagan altars were built high and stately to add dignity to the pagan god. When God’s judgment comes, all those altars will be brought low, so the only altars will be the hills made by the furrows of the field.
2. (12-14) Reproach will return upon Ephraim.
Jacob fled to the country of Syria;
Israel served for a spouse,
And for a wife he tended sheep.
By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt,
And by a prophet he was preserved.
Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly;
Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him,
And return his reproach upon him.
a. Jacob fled to the country of Syria: The previous passage brought up the impending exile of Israel, and now Hosea made a connection between the coming exile of Israel and Jacob’s own exile when he fled from Esau to his uncle Laban in Syria.
b. By a prophet he was preserved… therefore the Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him: Though God sent prophets to Israel, they still rejected His word. They provoked Him to anger most bitterly, so God would leave them in their guilt, and return the reproach of Egypt’s slavery upon them.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 11 – Drawn with Gentle Cords
A. God’s tender love for Israel.
1. (1-2) Israel: Called by God and called by the Baals.
“When Israel was a child, I loved him,
And out of Egypt I called My son.
As they called them,
So they went from them;
They sacrificed to the Baals,
And burned incense to carved images.”
a. I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son: God remembered His tender love for Israel, when more than 500 years before the time of Hosea He brought them out of Egypt.
i. This is an “unexpected” prophecy fulfilled in the life of Jesus. Matthew 2:15 shows how the words out of Egypt I called My son were fulfilled when the child Jesus return from Egypt after escaping there on the eve of Herod’s massacre of the innocents.
b. As they called them, so they went from them: God called Israel out of Egypt, but the idolatry of the Baals called to Israel, and they forsook the LORD and followed the Baals (the local deities of Canaan).
2. (3-4) God’s tender love for an unseeing Israel.
“I taught Ephraim to walk,
Taking them by their arms;
But they did not know that I healed them.
I drew them with gentle cords,
With bands of love,
And I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck.
I stooped and fed them.”
a. I taught Ephraim to walk… but they did not know that I healed them: God does so much for His people that they are unaware of. Often we attribute some blessing directly from the hand of God to some other source.
i. Taking them by their arms: The picture is of a parent teaching a child how to walk by holding the child’s arms and supporting the child as they make their awkward steps.
b. I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love: Even when God draws His people, it is with gentle cords of love, not with harsh manipulation or coercion. God wants to win us over, but not with brute force.
i. Clarke on gentle cords: “This is a reference to leading strings, one end of which is held by the child, the other by the nurse, by which the little one, feeling some support, and gaining confidence, endeavours to walk. God, their heavenly Father, made use of every means and method to teach them to walk in the right and only safe path.”
ii. In the ancient world, the empires of Persia and Greece fought bitter wars. There was said to be a great difference between their soldiers. In the Persian army, soldiers were like slaves and driven into battle with whips and threats. In the Greek army, soldiers were free men and patriots, and fought for Sparta and Greece out of love for country and a sense of duty. The smaller armies of Greece usually beat the larger armies of Persia. God calls us as an army of free men, grateful patriots of the kingdom of God.
iii. “Understand, then, it is true that no man comes to God except he is drawn; but it is equally true that God draweth no man contrary to the constitution of man, but his methods of drawing are in strict accordance with ordinary mental operations. He finds the human mind what it is, and he acts upon it, not as upon matter, but as upon mind. The compulsions, the constraints, the cords that he uses, are ‘cords of a man.’ The bands he employs are ‘bands of love.’” (Spurgeon)
c. As those who take the yoke from their neck: This refers to relaxing and loosening the yoke-collar of a plowing animal, giving the animal rest and the freedom to breathe.
d. I stooped and fed them: God humbled Himself to minister to His needy people. One might almost think it is beneath the dignity and honor of God to stoop so for His people, but He never thinks so. This is the heart reflected in the servant nature of Jesus (Philippians 2).
B. God’s strict hand towards Israel.
1. (5-7) Empty profession brings the chastening of God.
“He shall not return to the land of Egypt;
But the Assyrian shall be his king,
Because they refused to repent.
And the sword shall slash in his cities,
Devour his districts,
And consume them,
Because of their own counsels.
My people are bent on backsliding from Me.
Though they call to the Most High,
None at all exalt Him.”
a. Because they refused to repent: In this sense, it wasn’t so much the sin of Israel that got them into trouble. It was their stubborn refusal to repent after their sin. For that, God would make sure that destruction and exile waited for them.
b. My people are bent on backsliding from Me. Though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him: Backsliding means that at one time, Israel had a closer and more real walk with God. Now that is in the past, and their profession is simply empty. They call to the Most High in a formal sort of way, but they did not exalt Him with their lives.
2. (8-9) God’s sympathy in the midst of chastening.
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror.”
a. How can I give you up, Ephraim? Though the dark clouds of judgment are on the horizon, God takes no pleasure in the chastening about to come upon Israel. Instead He says, “My sympathy is stirred.”
i. We are in sin, and guilty before God. Yet He says, How can I give you up? Justice demands that He do this, yet in His heart He must find a way of salvation. In this, God sends Jesus Christ, and on the cross Jesus was “given up” in our place.
b. Admah and Zeboiim were two cities near Sodom and Gomorrah that were also destroyed (Deuteronomy 29:23). God says, “I can’t bear to allow My people to be caught up in the destruction that will come upon all the nations, as Admah and Zeboiim were caught up on the destruction that came upon Sodom and Gomorrah.”
c. I will not again destroy Ephraim: Though their sin deserves it, God will not wipe out Israel. He will leave a remnant, and will restore the nation.
d. For I am God, and not man: The longsuffering, forgiveness, and compassion of the Lord toward His people seems unbelievable until we recognize that He is not man, but God. His love and forgiveness are of a different order. Charles Spurgeon observed that there are many differences between God and man in the matter of forgiveness.
· Man cannot hold back his anger very long.
· Man cannot bear with others when he is tired, stressed, or annoyed.
· Man will not reconcile if the person who offended him is a person of bad character.
· Man is often only willing to be reconciled if the offending party craves forgiveness and makes the first move.
· Man is often only willing to be reconciled if the offending party will never again do the wrong.
· Man, when he does reconcile, does not lift the former offender to place of high status and partnership.
· Man, when he is wronged, does not bear all the penalty for the wrong done.
· Man, when he attempts reconciliation, will not continue if he is rejected.
· Man will not restore an offender without a period of probation
· Man will not love, adopt, honor, and associate with one who has wronged him.
· Man will not trust someone who has formerly wronged them.
i. What passes for forgiveness among men is nothing like the amazing forgiveness of God. “Suppose that someone had grievously offended any one of you, and that he asked your forgiveness, do you not think that you would probably say to him, ‘Well, yes, I forgive you; but I – I – I – cannot forget it’? Ah! dear friends, that is a sort of forgiveness with one leg chopped off, it is a lame forgiveness, and is not worth much” (Spurgeon).
3. (10-12) The roar of God calls Israel back.
“They shall walk after the LORD.
He will roar like a lion.
When He roars,
Then His sons shall come trembling from the west;
They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,
Like a dove from the land of Assyria.
nd I will let them dwell in their houses,”
Says the LORD.
“Ephraim has encircled Me with lies,
And the house of Israel with deceit;
But Judah still walks with God,
Even with the Holy One who is faithful.”
a. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west: God spoke of the ultimate restoration of Israel, an expression of His mercy to Ephraim.
b. Ephraim has encircled Me with lies: God made these promises knowing the present state of Israel. Though Judah was in a better place than Israel, God still made the promises with full knowledge of their present state.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 10 – Israel Has No King
A. The analysis of Israel’s sinful state.
1. (1-2) Israel’s empty vine.
Israel empties his vine;
He brings forth fruit for himself.
According to the multitude of his fruit
He has increased the altars;
According to the bounty of his land
They have embellished his sacred pillars.
Their heart is divided;
Now they are held guilty.
He will break down their altars;
He will ruin their sacred pillars.
a. He brings forth fruit for himself: God blessed Israel with material abundance, but they spent it on themselves and their own idolatrous desires (he has increased the altars). Israel enjoyed the blessing of God, but used those blessings in ungodly ways.
i. Paul warns against the same sin in Galatians 5:13:For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh. Sometimes as Christians we take the liberty and blessing God gives and use them in ungodly ways.
b. Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty: Because Israel had received blessing, they were more responsible than ever to use it wisely. Because they used God’s bounty in wicked ways, God would break down their altars to pagan gods and ruin their sacred pillars made unto idols.
i. Their heart is divided: The word divided is halaq, which has the ideas of “divided” (Genesis 14:15, 49:7), of “smooth” (Genesis 27:11, Psalm 55:21) or of “flattering” (Psalm 5:9, 36:2). So, it may be accurate to translate this phrase as their heart is divided, but it may also be that God meant to say that Ephraim has a “smooth, flattering,” insincere heart.
ii. The idea of Israel’s “smooth” or “insincere” heart is reflected by the adulteries of Hosea’s wife Gomer earlier in the book. In the same way that an unfaithful spouse will say they love their partner, all the while living a lie, is the same way Israel’s heart was towards God.
iii. Israel had this divided, insincere heart and expressed it on the altars of idolatry. Now, He will break down their altars. “Now GOD will do in judgment what they should have done in contrition, ‘break down their altars, and spoil their images’” (Clarke).
2. (3-8) Israel’s empty throne.
For now they say,
“We have no king,
Because we did not fear the LORD.
And as for a king, what would he do for us?”
They have spoken words,
Swearing falsely in making a covenant.
Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field.
The inhabitants of Samaria fear
Because of the calf of Beth Aven.
For its people mourn for it,
And its priests shriek for it–
Because its glory has departed from it.
The idol also shall be carried to Assyria
As a present for King Jareb.
Ephraim shall receive shame,
And Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.
As for Samaria, her king is cut off
Like a twig on the water.
Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel,
Shall be destroyed.
The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars;
They shall say to the mountains, “Cover us!”
And to the hills, “Fall on us!”
a. We have no king: Under the judgment of the LORD, foreign powers dominated Israel so they no longer had their own king. Even the idols they honored and trusted so much will be taken to foreign lands as treasure for foreign kings.
b. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars: After the desolation of exile, the once-busy pagan altars of Israel were now overgrown with thorns and thistles. This was the result of Israel’s rejection of the LORD and their embrace of pagan gods.
B. God’s counsel to sinful Israel.
1. (9-11) God tells Israel to see their sin and to submit to His chastening.
“O Israel, you have sinned from the days of Gibeah;
There they stood.
The battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity
Did not overtake them.
When it is My desire, I will chasten them.
Peoples shall be gathered against them
When I bind them for their two transgressions.
Ephraim is a trained heifer
That loves to thresh grain;
But I harnessed her fair neck,
I will make Ephraim pull a plow.
Judah shall plow;
Jacob shall break his clods.”
a. You have sinned from the days of Gibeah: Gibeah was already mentioned in Hosea 9:9, recalling the horrific sin described in Judges 19. Even though there was a battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity, there was still iniquity in Israel. Here, God wanted a willfully blind Israel to see their sin and repent of it.
b. When it is My desire, I will chasten them: Like unruly farm animals, God would control and guide Israel and Jacob, even if they kicked against Him.
2. (12) God tells Israel to break up the hard ground of their heart.
Sow for yourselves righteousness;
Reap in mercy;
Break up your fallow ground,
For it is time to seek the LORD,
Till He comes and rains righteousness on you.
a. Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy: Israel had sown the seed of sin, and they would soon reap judgment from God. Even now, if they would sow righteousness, they would reap in mercy at the next harvest.
i. We all sow into our life but do we sow seeds of righteousness? What “crop” will grow up from the seeds planted today, or this past week, or this past month?
b. Break up your fallow ground: God builds on the picture of sowing and reaping by telling Israel to break up your fallow ground – ground that hasn’t been plowed for more than a year. It is ground that is hard and stubborn, resistant to the seed. It does little good to sow seed on fallow ground; it must be broken up first.
i. Sometimes when the word of God goes forth and seems to have little effect, it is because it falls on fallow ground – the hard ground that will not allow the seed of the word to penetrate and become fruitful.
ii. Since fallow ground is hard, it probably doesn’t “want” to be broken up. It is hard and compact, and the blade of the plow hurts as it cuts through. If the fallow ground could talk, it would probably cry out when it is plowed. Yet it is useless as ground as long as it is fallow.
iii. For it is time to seek the LORD reminds us of how we break up the fallow ground. We do it by seeking the LORD, not our self or idols.
iv. For it is time shows that the time to break up the fallow ground is now. “This should be immediately done: the season is passing; and if you do not get the seed in the ground, the early rain will be past, and your fields will be unfruitful” (Clarke).
c. Till He comes and rains righteousness on you: This tells us how long we should break up the fallow ground and sow the seed of righteousness. We do it until the harvest comes.
i. God’s use of the figures of sowing and reaping remind us that harvest is sometimes a season away. Sometimes people expect to sow sin for years, but to immediately reap in mercy after sowing righteousness for one day. Stick with sowing in righteousness, you will reap in mercy in due time.
3. (13-15) God tells Israel the terrible result of resisting Him.
You have plowed wickedness;
You have reaped iniquity.
You have eaten the fruit of lies,
Because you trusted in your own way,
In the multitude of your mighty men.
Therefore tumult shall arise among your people,
And all your fortresses shall be plundered
As Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle–
A mother dashed in pieces upon her children.
Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel,
Because of your great wickedness.
At dawn the king of Israel
Shall be cut off utterly.
a. Because you trusted in your own way: This is the essence of all sin. We trust in our own way instead of in God’s way. Ruin always comes when we trust in our own way instead of God’s way, and that ruin was about to come upon Israel.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 9 – Exiled and Dried Up
A. Israel exiled in judgment.
1. (1-4) The end of the good life in Israel.
Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples,
For you have played the harlot against your God.
You have made love for hire on every threshing floor.
The threshing floor and the winepress
Shall not feed them,
And the new wine shall fail in her.
They shall not dwell in the LORD’s land,
But Ephraim shall return to Egypt,
And shall eat unclean things in Assyria.
They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD,
Nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him.
It shall be like bread of mourners to them;
All who eat it shall be defiled.
For their bread shall be for their own life;
It shall not come into the house of the LORD.
a. Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples: At the time Hosea brought this prophecy, things perhaps were not so bad in Israel. Maybe there were plenty of fun and good times among the people. But they shouldn’t rejoice like other peoples, because judgment was on the way.
i. “It was probably the case, though we do not know this for sure, that Hosea delivered the opening part of this oracle as a sermon on the occasion of a harvest festival… characterized by feasting, mirth, and dancing.” (Boice)
b. You have made love for hire on every threshing floor: Israel practiced idolatry on the threshing floor, a place where grain was processed. They worshipped idols here because they believed that it helped the harvest. Because of their idolatry, the LORD would curse their harvest, and the threshing floor and the winepress shall not feed them.
c. They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land: Not only would God curse their grain and grape harvest, but He would also cast them out of the land in exile to both Egypt and Assyria. In the lands of exile there would be no bread or food for sacrifice to the LORD, only for survival (their bread shall be for their own life).
2. (5-9) The days of Israel’s punishment in Egypt.
What will you do in the appointed day,
And in the day of the feast of the LORD?
For indeed they are gone because of destruction.
Egypt shall gather them up;
Memphis shall bury them.
Nettles shall possess their valuables of silver;
Thorns shall be in their tents.
The days of punishment have come;
The days of recompense have come.
The prophet is a fool,
The spiritual man is insane,
Because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity.
The watchman of Ephraim is with my God;
But the prophet is a fowler’s snare in all his ways;
Enmity in the house of his God.
They are deeply corrupted,
As in the days of Gibeah.
He will remember their iniquity;
He will punish their sins.
a. They are gone because of destruction: Israel did not honor the LORD in their appointed feast days, so the LORD will take them away. In their lands of exile, they will not be able to honor the feasts of the LORD.
b. The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is insane: This is what the people of Israel said about Hosea. When things prospered and everyone was happy, Hosea announced coming judgment and called for repentance. They thought he was a fool and crazy.
i. “They said in effect, ‘Who in his right mind would prophesy a judgment like this when we are in the midst of such a bountiful harvest, in itself a proof of God’s blessing?’” (Boice)
c. As in the days of Gibeah: Judges 19 describes horrific crimes of perversion and violence in Israel in the days of the Judges. Hosea says that in his day it is just as bad in Israel.
B. Israel barren and dried up in judgment.
1. (10-14) God sends barrenness and bereavement.
“I found Israel
Like grapes in the wilderness;
I saw your fathers
As the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season.
But they went to Baal Peor,
And separated themselves to that shame;
They became an abomination like the thing they loved.
As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird–
No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!
Though they bring up their children,
Yet I will bereave them to the last man.
Yes, woe to them when I depart from them!
Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place,
So Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.”
Give them, O LORD–
What will You give?
Give them a miscarrying womb
And dry breasts!
a. Like grapes in the wilderness… as the firstfruits on the fig tree: God fondly remembered the days when Israel was faithful and fruitful unto Him. Grapes in the wilderness and the firstfruits on the fig tree are unexpected blessings. There was a time when Israel was something special to God, as if one found luscious grapes in the wilderness.
i. “While they were faithful, they were as acceptable to me as ripe grapes would be to a thirsty traveler in the desert.” (Clarke)
b. But they went to Baal Peor: Israel’s sin and idolatry in the days of Hosea was like their sin at Baal Peor in Numbers 25, associated with sexual immorality and idolatry.
c. They became an abomination like the thing they loved: Israel loved their disgraceful idols, and they had become like them. We will become like the god we love and serve, whether it is the LORD or like an abomination.
d. No birth, no pregnancy, and no conception: In contrast to their past fruitfulness, now Israel will experience barrenness and bereavement (I will bereave them to the last man), given to them by the God they rejected.
e. Give them, O LORD – What will You give? The idea is that Hosea began an angry prayer against the people (“Give them, O LORD”), then he stopped because he checked his heart and didn’t know what to pray (“What will you give?”). In the end, he asked for a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. Really, Hosea prayed for mercy. Knowing the coming judgment, he prayed “LORD, give them few children so those children will not have to face the horrors of Your coming judgment.”
i. Sometimes those who see themselves – perhaps accurately – as more spiritual and closer to God than others in a church or group get angry and frustrated with those who don’t seem to have hearts burning for the LORD. Their frustration is understandable but the pause in Hosea’s prayer should give them pause. It is a good thing to long for revival and spiritual passion among God’s people, but if that makes us proud, angry, or bitter against others then Satan has won a great victory.
2. (15-17) God sends dryness and wandering upon Israel.
“All their wickedness is in Gilgal,
For there I hated them.
Because of the evil of their deeds
I will drive them from My house;
I will love them no more.
All their princes are rebellious.
Ephraim is stricken,
Their root is dried up;
They shall bear no fruit.
Yes, were they to bear children,
I would kill the darlings of their womb.”
My God will cast them away,
Because they did not obey Him;
And they shall be wanderers among the nations.
a. All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them: As mentioned before in Hosea 4:15, God despised the city of Gilgal as a center of idolatry in Israel. At one time, Gilgal was a place where prophets were trained under Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 2:1; 4:38). But in Hosea’s day it had become a center of false worship (Hosea 4:15, 12:11; Amos 4:4, 5:5).
b. I will drive them from My house: In this sense, exile was the perfect punishment for Israel. They had disgraced God’s house, His land, so He would “evict” them from His house.
c. They shall bear no fruit… I would kill the beloved fruit of their womb: One of the major reasons Israel went after idols like Baal and Ashtoreth was because those gods were thought to bring fertility and fruitfulness. God reminds Israel that He is really the LORD over the womb, and that He will turn their fruitfulness into barrenness.
d. My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him: This is exactly what the LORD promised under the terms of the Old Covenant (Deuteronomy 30:14-18). Thankfully, we can come to God by faith in a new and better covenant, where He promises to remember our sins no more (Hebrews 8:12, 10:16-17).
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 8 – Sow the Wind, Reap the Whirlwind
A. Sowing idolatry, reaping exile.
1. (1-6) Casting off God and embracing idols.
“Set the trumpet to your mouth!
He shall come like an eagle against the house of the LORD,
Because they have transgressed My covenant
And rebelled against My law.
Israel will cry to Me,
‘My God, we know You!’
Israel has rejected the good;
The enemy will pursue him.
They set up kings, but not by Me;
They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them.
From their silver and gold
They made idols for themselves;
That they might be cut off.
Your calf is rejected, O Samaria!
My anger is aroused against them;
How long until they attain to innocence?
For from Israel is even this:
A workman made it, and it is not God;
But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.”
a. Set the trumpet to your mouth! Trumpets were used to assemble God’s people and to call troops to battle. Here, God commands the trumpet to sound to gather the mighty Assyrians against Israel for judgment, because they have transgressed My covenant.
b. Israel will cry to Me, “My God, we know You!” But their cry is not sincere, because Israel has rejected the good. They set up rulers and princes against the Lord, and were steeped in idolatry.
i. My God, we know You! But they didn’t really know God. It will be the same way for many church-goers today. Jesus said, “Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’” (Matthew 7:22-23).
ii. They set up kings, but not by Me: “To choose leaders without the direction of God is not only sinful, it is foolish. Those who follow their own wisdom in the choice of leaders inevitably get what they deserve” (Boice).
c. The calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces: Israel made beautiful idols out of silver and gold, but they will not stand. In judgment, God will break them to pieces.
i. Your calf is rejected “is literally ‘your calf stinks.’” (Wood) That’s what God thought of their idols!
2. (7-10) Israel judged and regathered.
“They sow the wind,
And reap the whirlwind.
The stalk has no bud;
It shall never produce meal.
If it should produce,
Aliens would swallow it up.
Israel is swallowed up;
Now they are among the Gentiles
Like a vessel in which is no pleasure.
For they have gone up to Assyria,
Like a wild donkey alone by itself;
Ephraim has hired lovers.
Yes, though they have hired among the nations,
Now I will gather them;
And they shall sorrow a little,
Because of the burden of the king of princes.”
a. They sow the wind, and reap the whirlwind: It will seem to Israel that the judgment they receive is worse than the sin they committed. This isn’t true in the sense of God being worse to us than our sin deserves, but it is true in how judgment feels. This is usually because our sin is sown over a long period of time, but often reaped in a contracted period of judgment.
b. Now they are among the Gentiles… now I will gather them: God promised that Israel would face the conquering Assyrians and exile, but also that He would one day gather them again. This note of mercy is sprinkled through the song warning of judgment.
B. Why God will not accept their offerings.
1. (11-13) Israel considers God’s word a strange thing.
“Because Ephraim has made many altars for sin,
They have become for him altars for sinning.
I have written for him the great things of My law,
But they were considered a strange thing.
For the sacrifices of My offerings they sacrifice flesh and eat it,
But the LORD does not accept them.
Now He will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.
They shall return to Egypt.”
a. They have become for him altars for sinning: Israel foolishly built many altars for sin. So it is no surprise that those altars became altars for sinning. When we give ourselves opportunity and occasion for sin, it is never surprising when we end up sinning.
b. I have written for him the great things of My law, but they were considered a strange thing: In their sin and idolatry, Israel also rejected the Word of God. God had great things for Israel, but they seemed like a strange thing because their hearts were far from God.
c. I have written for him: This tells us the author of the Bible – God Himself. Spurgeon said it well: “This volume is the writing of the living God: each letter was penned with an Almighty finger; each word in it dropped from the everlasting lips, each sentence was dictated by the Holy Spirit.”
i. “If this be the Word of God, what will become of some of you who have not read it for the last month? Most people treat the Bible very politely… When they get home, they lay it up in a drawer till next Sunday morning; then it comes out again for a little bit of a treat and goes to chapel; that is all the poor Bible gets in the way of an airing. That is your style of entertaining this heavenly messenger. There is dust enough on some of your Bibles to write “damnation” with your fingers.” (Spurgeon)
d. The great things of My law: This tells us the content of the Bible – great things. The Bible speaks of the greatest and most important things of both life and eternity.
i. “The Bible treats of great things, and of great things only. There is nothing in this Bible which is unimportant. Every verse in it has a solemn meaning, and if we have not found it out yet, we hope yet to do it.” (Spurgeon)
e. But they were considered a strange thing: This tells us the way the Bible is received by the natural man. Paul expressed the same idea in 1 Corinthians 2:14: But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. The Word of God and the things of the spirit are great things, but seem like a strange thing when man is in sin and idolatry.
i. Sometimes people reject the Bible because they think “science” is superior. “But the science of Jesus Christ is the most excellent of sciences. Let no one turn away from the Bible, because it is not a book of learning and wisdom. It is. Would ye know astronomy? It is here: it tells you of the Sun of Righteousness and the Star of Bethlehem. Would you know botany? It is here: it tells you of the plant of renown-the Lily of the Valley and the Rose of Sharon. Would you know geology and mineralogy? You shall learn it here: for you may read of the Rock of Ages, and the White Stone with a name graven thereon, which no man knoweth, saving he that receiveth it. Would ye study history? Here is the most ancient of all the records of the history of the human race. Whatever your science is, come and bend o’er this book; your science is here” (Spurgeon).
f. But the LORD does not accept them: Sure, they still brought sacrifices to the LORD. But it was all just an outward ceremony because they were still steeped in sin and idolatry. Therefore their sin remained uncovered, and God will remember their iniquity and punish their sins.
2. (14) When God’s people forget their Maker, there is no refuge.
“For Israel has forgotten his Maker,
And has built temples;
Judah also has multiplied fortified cities;
But I will send fire upon his cities,
And it shall devour his palaces.”
a. For Israel has forgotten his Maker: Israel built temples, but not unto the LORD who made them. Therefore, the judgment described in this chapter is coming upon them.
b. Judah also has multiplied fortified cities: While Israel practiced outright idolatry, Judah was guilty of a more subtle sin. They trusted in the fortified cities they built against the Assyrians. Those cities would be of no help (I will send fire upon his cities), and the only the LORD would preserve Judah from total destruction (Isaiah 37:33-36).
i. Perhaps we can capture some of the ungodly heart of Israel and Judah by examining our own attraction to grandness and nice facilities. What could be wrong with success and nice buildings? They easily become idols if our hearts turn away from God. If God brings size and great buildings, it is wonderful – as long as we don’t turn our eyes off Him, making those things idols.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 7 – The Oven, the Bread, and the Dove
A. A heart like an oven.
1. (1-3) The sinful ignorance and willful blindness of Israel.
“When I would have healed Israel,
Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered,
And the wickedness of Samaria.
For they have committed fraud;
A thief comes in;
A band of robbers takes spoil outside.
They do not consider in their hearts
That I remember all their wickedness;
Now their own deeds have surrounded them;
They are before My face.
They make a king glad with their wickedness,
And princes with their lies.”
a. They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: The problem among the people and leaders of Israel was they forgot – willfully – that the LORD saw and remembered their sin. We often deliberately forget that the LORD sees and remembers when we sin. It may be secret before men, but not before God – He says, “they are before My face.”
i. The believer today should ask themselves: Have you forgotten? Do you think God doesn’t see? Do you think God is blind to your adultery or pre-marital sex? Do you think your pornography habit goes unnoticed? Do you think God’s eyes are closed when you get drunk or take drugs? There are many church-going people today who think that God forgets or never sees such things, because they do them and then they come to church and make a profession of godliness, pretending that those things are never part of their life.
ii. There is a precious promise for those who come to God under the New Covenant: For I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more (Jeremiah 31:34). We often wish that time would make God forget our sin, but it doesn’t. Only the atoning substitute of Jesus, crucified in our place under the New Covenant makes God forget our sin.
b. When I would have healed Israel: God was willing to heal Israel from their sin and its effects, but not as long as they acted as if God did not see their sin. They had to treat God as He really is, a God who sees and remembers unrepentant, uncovered sin.
c. They make a king glad with their wickedness: This phrase, together with princes have made him sick (Hosea 7:5) and all their kings have fallen (Hosea 7:7) probably all refer to one of the successful assassination plots against the throne of Israel during the ministry of Hosea. Since there were four kings violently overthrown during his ministry, it’s hard to exactly know which one he means.
2. (4-7) Israel’s heart is inflamed after idols.
“They are all adulterers.
Like an oven heated by a baker;
He ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough,
Until it is leavened.
In the day of our king
Princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine;
He stretched out his hand with scoffers.
They prepare their heart like an oven,
While they lie in wait;
Their baker sleeps all night;
In the morning it burns like a flaming fire.
They are all hot, like an oven,
And have devoured their judges;
All their kings have fallen.
None among them calls upon Me.”
a. Like an oven heated by a baker: Israel was inflamed with desire and passion after idols like the coals of a freshly stoked fire, ready to bake bread.
i. Paul used the same image of “burning lust” in 1 Corinthians 7:9: but if they cannot exercise self-control, let them marry. For it is better to marry than to burn with passion.
b. None among them calls upon Me: Israel could not be hot, like an oven after idols and also call upon the LORD. They did in fact continue to sacrifice to the LORD (Hosea 5:6) but it was empty ceremony, not a true calling upon their covenant God.
3. (8-10) The pride and stubbornness of Israel.
“Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples;
Ephraim is a cake unturned.
Aliens have devoured his strength,
But he does not know it;
Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him,
Yet he does not know it.
And the pride of Israel testifies to his face,
But they do not return to the LORD their God,
Nor seek Him for all this.”
a. Ephraim is a cake unturned: The idea is of a “half-baked” cake. In that day, bread was often prepared as a cake that was cooked on both sides, something like a pancake. In thinking they can serve both the Lord and idols, Israel is like an unturned pancake – burned on one side, uncooked on the other.
b. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it: This makes the tragedy of Israel’s ruin worse. The nation is being ravaged by sin but does not know it. They should know it, because even the pride of Israel testifies to his face – yet in their blind ignorance they do not return to the LORD their God.
i. Man has an amazing ability to deceive himself when he is in sin. Well did Jeremiah say, The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked; who can know it? (Jeremiah 17:9). Considering how easily we deceive our self, and how our sin can be apparent to everyone but us, Israel’s condition isn’t unusual:
· Burned and ruined – but he does not know it.
· Strength devoured – but he does not know it.
· Aging and weakening – but he does not know it.
· Pride testifies against him – but he does not know it.
ii. It was said of Samson after Deliliah cut his hair: But he did not know that the LORD had departed from him (Judges 16:20). This is where the people of Israel – and some followers of God today – were. They are far from God and already suffering the effects, but they can’t see it.
c. Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it: Israel is as foolish as an old man who thinks and acts like he is still young.
i. “He began but to decline and decay, as a man doth when he grows toward 50.” (John Trapp, 1654)
B. Silly like a dove.
1. (11-12) Like a dove, Israel flies about to the nations.
“Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense;
They call to Egypt,
They go to Assyria.
Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them;
I will bring them down like birds of the air;
I will chastise them
According to what their congregation has heard.”
a. Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense: Hosea piles image upon image. Now Israel is like a bird fluttering about, confused and without direction. They think they can escape God by running to other nations, but the Lord says, “I will spread My net on them.”
b. I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard: Israel’s guilt is increased according to what they have heard. Greater knowledge means great accountability. As Jesus said, for everyone to whom much is given, from him much will be required; and to whom much has been committed, of him they will ask the more (Luke 12:48).
2. (13-16) In running to the nations, Israel has run away from God.
“Woe to them, for they have fled from Me!
Destruction to them,
Because they have transgressed against Me!
Though I redeemed them,
Yet they have spoken lies against Me.
They did not cry out to Me with their heart
When they wailed upon their beds.
They assemble together for grain and new wine,
They rebel against Me;
Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms,
Yet they devise evil against Me;
They return, but not to the Most High;
They are like a treacherous bow.
Their princes shall fall by the sword
For the cursings of their tongue.
This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.”
a. They return, but not the Most High: Israel saw their problem, but not their sin. When God’s hand is against man, he easily sees he has a problem but often does not see it as sin against the LORD. So when Israel had problems, they wailed upon their beds, but not to the LORD. They sought remedies, but not from the Most High.
b. They are like a treacherous bow: Hosea adds another image, of a faulty bow that won’t shoot an arrow straight. Everything that comes from Israel misses the mark, because they are like a treacherous bow. They are like a useless and dangerous weapon.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 6 – “Come, Let Us Return to the Lord”
A. A call to return to the LORD.
1. (1-2) Israel should trust in the God who chastened her.
Come, and let us return to the LORD;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
a. He has torn, but He will heal us: Hosea prays with the right heart in response to the chastening hand of God. Instead of arguing with God, or resenting His correction, Hosea leads Israel in humble prayer.
i. This is a prayer that trusts the love of God, and sees His loving hand even in correction. Often, a rebellious child will complain that their parents do not love them. Of course, the parents do love the child, but in their rebellion and lack of submission, they can’t receive or respond to that love. Hosea prays with a different heart.
b. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up: Hosea prayed this full of confidence in God’s love and power to restore. In the prayer, there is a shadowy prophecy of Jesus’ resurrection on the third day. The context supports this wonderfully; on the cross Jesus was torn and stricken for our sake, yet He was also gloriously raised up on the third day.
2. (3) Walking in confidence.
Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
a. Let us pursue the knowledge of the LORD: Israel’s problem was described back in Hosea 4:6 (My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge). Hosea leads the nation in a repentant correction of this problem.
i. We should also know that when we pursue the knowledge of the Lord, He blesses it. It must be more than superficial, it must be a pursuit. But when we endeavor to know the Lord, especially through His word, He reveals Himself to us. He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6)
b. He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain: In Israel, the only way crops were watered was by rain. So farmer waited for the rain with great anticipation. When we anticipate and wait for God with this kind of earnest expectation, He answers and will come to us.
i. Clarke on the latter and former rain to the earth: “The first, to prepare the earth for seed; this fell in autumn: the second, to prepare the full ear for the harvest; this fell in spring.”
ii. “Notice, again, it is a repeated gift. He shall give the former rain and the latter rain. If you have had grace once the Lord has more for you. Did you have happy times when old Dr. So-and-so was your pastor? Well, the doctor is dead, but God is not. Were you very much delighted when you used to sit in such-and-such a church, in years gone by, and have you moved into the country now? Yes, but God has not moved. He is in the country as well as in the town. You tell me you had such happy times when you were young. Yes, but God is neither younger nor older. Go to him, for he is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever. Do you suppose that, because he gave you the former rain, he has emptied the bottles of heaven?” (Spurgeon)
c. He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth: This passage along with others (Deuteronomy 11:14, Joel 2:23) were taken to give the name of the “Latter Rain Movement” starting in 1948.
i. In 1948, a Oneness Pentecostal minister named William Branham held meetings at an orphanage and school founded by a Foursquare Church in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Those attending the meeting were so impressed by the supernatural works – healing, prophecy, word of knowledge, and strange phenomenon – that they considered it a beginning of a new work of God on earth. In their newsletter, this is how they described it:
“All the great outpourings of the past have had their outstanding truths. Luther’s truth was Justification by Faith. Wesley’s was Sanctification. The Baptists taught the premillennial coming of Christ. The Missionary Alliance taught Divine Healing. The Pentecostal outpouring has restored the Baptism of the Holy Ghost to its rightful place. But the next great outpouring is going to be marked by all these other truths plus such a demonstration of the nine gifts of the Spirit as the world, not even the Apostolic world, has ever witnessed before. This revival will be short and will be the last before the Rapture of the Church.”
ii. They felt that the Pentecostal denominations of their day were “dead” and “dry,” and needed the blessing of the “Latter Rain,” which would especially be marked by miraculous signs and supernatural works. The Pentecostal denominations – notably the Assemblies of God and the Foursquare Church denounced the Branham and the Latter Rain movement for both their teaching and practices.
iii. William Branham continued, drawing large crowds to his prophecy and healing crusades. He and a young evangelist named Oral Roberts led the Latter Rain Movement for several years. Branham’s doctrine became more and more aberrant. Branham believed that the word of God was given in three forms: the Zodiac, the Egyptian pyramids, and the written scriptures. He also taught the “serpent seed” doctrine, which was based on his interpretation of Genesis 3:13, saying that Eve had sexual relations with the serpent in the Garden of Eden.
iv. The Latter Rain Movement, as led by William Branham and Oral Roberts eventually faded from prominence. Branham himself died in a traffic collision with a drunk driver in 1965. He died on Christmas Eve, and his faithful followers believed that he would rise from the dead, so they delayed his burial for several days. But the influence of the Latter Rain movement lived on. The Latter Rain popularized many attitudes and doctrines popular in revival movements today:
· The “five-fold ministry” and “restoration of apostle and prophets.”
· The “foundational truths” of Hebrews 6:1-2.
· An emphasis on signs and wonders as marks of true revival.
· A strong emphasis on unity.
· Replacement theology, replacing Israel with the church.
· Dominion theology, saying the church will conquer and rule the world.
· An elitist attitude, promoting the idea of a group of “super-christians.”
v. Many researchers – and many within these modern groups today – believe that many modern “revival” movements are really just a continuation of the Latter Rain movement. Movements such as “Joel’s Army,” the Manifest Sons of God, the Dominion Movement, the Kansas City Prophets, the Toronto Blessing, the Pensacola Revival are connected in some way to the Latter Rain movement. For example, Paul Cain – later to re-emerge as head of the Kansas City Prophets in 1989 – traveled with William Branham and called him “the greatest prophet that ever lived.”
vi. The modern Latter Rain movement believes: “The Latter Rain is God’s great end-time ministry. This concept as revealed in the Bible, comprises the restitution of the church to it’s rightful place, the enormous last day revival and the harvest of souls before the great and terrible Day of the Lord. It is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon all flesh promised to us in the last days and the restoration of apostolic and prophetic gifts.” (From latter-rain.com)
B. The sin of Israel and Judah.
1. (4-6) How God’s people missed God’s heart.
“O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
a. Your faithfulness is like a morning cloud: It wasn’t that there was no faithfulness among the people of God. It’s just that whatever faithfulness there was quickly dissipated like the early dew.
b. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice: At this time, God’s people were still good at bringing sacrifice (Hosea 5:6). But they had forsaken mercy, and they abandoned mercy because they gave up the knowledge of God and truth (Hosea 4:1). God would rather have right hearts, full of truth and mercy than sacrifice.
i. Jesus twice quoted this passage of Hosea to the religious leaders of His day (Matthew 9:13 and 12:7). They also missed the heart of God, focusing on the wrong and superficial things.
c. And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings: Israel brought animals for sacrifice, but they never brought themselves as a living sacrifice (Romans 12:1). They missed what God really wants: a deep, close relationship with Him.
2. (7-11) The transgression of idolatry.
“But like men they transgressed the covenant;
There they dealt treacherously with Me.
Gilead is a city of evildoers,
And defiled with blood.
As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man,
So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they commit lewdness.
I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel:
There is the harlotry of Ephraim;
Israel is defiled.
Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you,
When I return the captives of My people.”
a. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder: When the priests went to places of pagan sacrifice, it was a thieving, killing sin.
b. Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives: When the people of God came back into the land after the Babylonian exile, they mainly settled in the area of Judah. The harvest of returned exiles was mainly for Judah, not for Israel.
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Hosea 5 – The Folly of Trusting in Man’s Deliverance
A. Israel’s sinful idolatry.
1. (1-3) Israel’s leaders are rebuked for the sinful state of the nation.
“Hear this, O priests!
Take heed, O house of Israel!
Give ear, O house of the king!
For yours is the judgment,
Because you have been a snare to Mizpah
And a net spread on Tabor.
The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter,
Though I rebuke them all.
I know Ephraim,
And Israel is not hidden from Me;
For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry;
Israel is defiled.”
a. Hear this, O priests: When God saw the sinful state of the nation of Israel, He saw that it was because the leaders did not lead in a godly way. It would be tempting for the priests to blame the people, but it was really the fault of the spiritual leadership (priests) and political leadership (house of Israel) of the nation.
b. The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, though rebuke I them all: The real tragedy of Israel’s sin wasn’t so much that they stumbled. It was more so that they did not respond to God’s rebuke when they did stumble. If a man knows how to humbly respond to God’s correction, God can always work with him.
2. (4-9) Israel’s double desolation.
“They do not direct their deeds
Toward turning to their God,
For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst,
And they do not know the LORD.
The pride of Israel testifies to his face;
Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity;
Judah also stumbles with them.
With their flocks and herds
They shall go to seek the LORD,
But they will not find Him;
He has withdrawn Himself from them.
They have dealt treacherously with the LORD,
For they have begotten pagan children.
Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.
Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah,
The trumpet in Ramah!
Cry aloud at Beth Aven,
‘Look behind you, O Benjamin!’
Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke;
Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.”
a. The pride of Israel testifies to his face: Like all rebellion, Israel’s rebellion was centered on pride. They arrogantly thought that what God said didn’t really matter compared to their own opinions and desires.
b. They shall go to seek the LORD, but they will not find Him: When God promised to leave rebellious Israel alone (Hosea 4:17), it means that when they make superficial gestures of repentance, they will not find Him. Their repentance was superficial because they do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God.
i. In many ways today, people think they are seeking God when they really aren’t. It’s just a superficial investigation. For example, a man might say, “I grew up in the Baptist church and couldn’t find God there. So I went to the Methodist church and couldn’t find God there. Then I went to the Pentecostal church, but couldn’t find God there. Now I’m at the Presbyterian church and can’t find God” (paraphrased from Boice). You may imagine you have searched hard after God, but that is an illusion. The truth is that you are running away from God. When He started to get close to you at the Baptist church, you left it and became a Methodist. When He started to get close to you at the Methodist church, you became a Pentecostal. You’ve followed the same pattern – a superficial search for God that backs away when you really start getting close to God.
ii. He has withdrawn Himself from them: It can happen. We can be so set in our sin and rebellion that God just leaves us to ourselves. Usually we don’t even notice at first, but when we call upon the LORD and do not find Him, then we start to see the result of pushing God away.
c. Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke: Because God has withdrawn Himself from them, they will find no help or refuge when the Assyrian army attacks. They will be made desolate.
B. Israel’s sinful trust in man for deliverance.
1. (10-13) Israel and Judah looked to man’s wisdom.
“The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark;
I will pour out my wrath on them like water.
Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment,
Because he willingly walked by human precept.
Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth,
And to the house of Judah like rottenness.
When Ephraim saw his sickness,
And Judah saw his wound,
Then Ephraim went to Assyria
And sent to King Jareb;
Yet he cannot cure you,
Nor heal you of your wound.”
a. The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark: This means that the political leaders of Judah were corrupt and cheaters. They were the kind of men who would change property boundaries to their advantage if they thought they could get away with it. This reminds us that while Judah may have been better than Israel, they still had to repent.
i. “Judah’s leaders, however, were not shifting physical property lines but spiritual lines established by God, changing the boundary between right and wrong, between true and false religion, between the true God and the idols.” (Wood)
ii. We can imagine a citizen of Judah reading Hosea’s prophecy and being a bit smug that their neighbor to the north was so roundly rebuked. God reminds Judah that she has her own sin to deal with.
b. He willingly walked by human precept: Ephraim’s sinned by living by man’s standards and opinions instead of God’s. We can’t walk by human precept unless we first reject God’s precepts, and that was exactly what Israel did.
i. Ephraim went to Assyria: Israel was foolish enough to trust in man – her eventual conqueror – instead of trusting in God. Choosing a King Jareb instead of the LORD is always foolish and ends in ruin.
ii. “‘Jareb’ is not a known Assyrian’s name but means ‘warrior’.” (Wood)
c. Like a moth… like rottenness: God will be the one who eats away and corrodes what Israel and Judah have. They will not be blessed, and they will not increase.
2. (14-15) God’s judgment and the goal behind it.
“For I will be like a lion to Ephraim,
And like a young lion to the house of Judah.
I, even I, will tear them and go away;
I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.
I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
a. I will be like a lion: God’s judgment would come against Israel and Judah in subtle ways (like a moth… like rottenness). But it would also come in obvious, unmistakable ways. Both a moth and a lion bring destruction, just in different ways.
b. In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me: This was the goal of God’s judgment against Israel. The goal was not destruction, but restoration. Sadly, it is often only in our affliction that we earnestly seek the LORD. Why not seek the LORD now, before affliction forces you to?
©2018 David Guzik – No distribution beyond personal use without permission
Cookie and Privacy Settings
Click on the different category headings to find out more. You can also change some of your preferences. Note that blocking some types of cookies may impact your experience on our websites and the services we are able to offer.
These cookies are strictly necessary to provide you with services available through our website and to use some of its features.
We provide you with a list of stored cookies on your computer in our domain so you can check what we stored. Due to security reasons we are not able to show or modify cookies from other domains. You can check these in your browser security settings.
These cookies collect information that is used either in aggregate form to help us understand how our website is being used or how effective our marketing campaigns are, or to help us customize our website and application for you in order to enhance your experience.
If you do not want that we track your visit to our site you can disable tracking in your browser here:
We also use different external services like Google Webfonts, Google Maps, and external Video providers. Since these providers may collect personal data like your IP address we allow you to block them here. Please be aware that this might heavily reduce the functionality and appearance of our site. Changes will take effect once you reload the page.
Google Webfont Settings:
Google Map Settings:
Google reCaptcha Settings:
Vimeo and Youtube video embeds:
The following cookies are also needed - You can choose if you want to allow them: