Hosea WBC 2 May 04 pm
I wonder how many of you would like to be a prophet? Well, you might feel quite different after this evening!
The context in which Hosea is written is approx 8C BC.
- So he’s a contemporary of the first 40 chapters of Isaiah, and of Jonah
- but unlike Jonah his prophetic ministry is not exercised to the ’threatening’ Assyrians- rather primarily to the disobedient northern kingdom of the Jews: “Israel”
o ... who God is threatening to judge with the Assyrians. Things do get so bad that he even prophesies occasionally to/against the southern kingdom, Judah, as well.
Historical records of Hosea’s period are found in 1Kings 14-20 and 1 Chron 3ff.
The situation: (Israel and Hosea’s situation.)
Things are bad in Israel!
- (Worse than they were in Judah because they didn’t have the controlling influence of the centrality of worship/faith/practice given by Jerusalem and the temple.)
Read abridged Ch4.:
HOS 4:1 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.
HOS 4:2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
HOS 4:5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother--
HOS 4:6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
"Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.
HOS 4:7 The more the priests increased,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their Glory for something disgraceful.
HOS 4:8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.
HOS 4:9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.
I will punish both of them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
HOS 4:10 "They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not increase,
because they have deserted the LORD
to give themselves 11 to prostitution,
to old wine and new,
which take away the understanding 12 of my people.
They consult a wooden idol
and are answered by a stick of wood.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
There’s lying, murder, bloodshed. Worshipping of idols, adultery is rife and even religious prostitution- shrine prostitutes.
- The description of them is so bad that Paul uses it (Roms 1:23) to describe a society that is beyond reversal and being ’given over to sin’ and God’s judgement-
o V7 Those "exchanging God’s glory for something disgraceful.."
What’s worse- even the priest are doing the same... or encouraging it... not teaching what is right... and people are being destroyed by their ignorance (4:6).
- Physically/sexually they prostitute themselves to anyone who comes their way.... and politically and spiritually they do the same.
- Because of the threat of destruction from Assyria- one minute they’re pleading with Assyria not to do it... the next they’re trying to make an alliance with Egypt to drive off the Assyrians.
They’re described like a ’silly dove’- read 7:11.
HOS 7:11 "Ephraim is like a dove,
easily deceived and senseless--
now calling to Egypt,
now turning to Assyria.
- Fickle... changing affections. Running to whoever has the best deal.
They’re so fickle that when they don’t get what they want from Assyria and Egypt they think they might as well try GOD,
- and so feign returning to Him... saying:
HOS 6:1 "Come, let us return to the LORD.
He has torn us to pieces
but he will heal us;
he has injured us
but he will bind up our wounds.
HOS 6:2 After two days he will revive us;
on the third day he will restore us,
that we may live in his presence.
HOS 6:3 Let us acknowledge the LORD;
let us press on to acknowledge him.
As surely as the sun rises,
he will appear;
he will come to us like the winter rains,
like the spring rains that water the earth."
But Israel (and even Judah) are only after ’what they can get’,
- imagining God to be like a slot machine who will "come up with the goods’ if they “act” like pressing the right button-
- and God knows they don’t really mean it. It’s only words... their deeds haven’t changed ..
- and God cries despairingly:
HOS 6:4 "What can I do with you, Ephraim?
What can I do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist,
like the early dew that disappears.
What a height they’ve fallen from.... 13:1- "when Ephraim spoke, men trembled.... but he became guilty of Baal worship and died"
The tough thing about the book of Hosea... or for Hosea the prophet himself... is how God chooses to show his steadfast love for Israel and Judah.
- God uses a man’s relationship with his wayward wife as a parallel, an enacted allegory, of how he feels about the Jews.
- God uses Hosea’s emotions about his adulterous wife to say ’that’s just how I feel about MY people’.
God tells Hosea to go and marry a woman of dodgy reputation: Gomer.
HOS 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:
HOS 1:2 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." 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Perhaps she already had children by other men
- (“and children of unfaithfulness”)(1:2)
- and God tells Hosea to take these on... as God himself is willing to take on the Jews and their past, lock, stock and barrel.
It may just be that Hosea loved Gomer, but you’ve gotta understand- this a pretty unique call... not the thing God usually asks for!...
- but many prophets became living examples of what God had to say cf Ezekiel.
Gomer has three children (chapter 1). The first one is definitely Hosea’s and here the parallel with what is happening in the spiritual realm starts.
- He’s to be called Jezreel- symbolising God’s unhappiness with Jehu bumping off a king of Judah, Ahaziah, in the Valley of Jezreel. (2 Ki 9:14ff).
The second is Hosea’s as well.... called Lo-Ruhama, meaning not loved... or better ’not pitied’ (more of this word later)
- how God (and Hosea) feel about Israel and Gomer.
We’re not so sure whose the third is! Hosea names him ’not my people’.. so his parenting is a bit dubious
- but, again, it parallels that God feels like disowning His people.
God feels desperate about His people’s decline and self-inflicted bondage
- in the same way that Hosea grieves when Gomer finally leaves Him for another man.. and when that doesn’t work out- ends up in slavery (3:1& 2).
She’s taken all she wanted.. his love, affection, compassion, forgiveness and money... abused them...
- and then waits for him to bail her out of trouble.
- In the same way that the Israelites have abused God and taken His goodness for granted. In fact Hosea’s and God’s feelings are so intertwined it’s hard to tell who’s talking about who..
HOS 2:7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will say,
`I will go back to my husband as at first,
for then I was better off than now.’
HOS 2:8 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.
Illustr: Don Francisco song? (I don’t care..),
Vallaces? (thanks God.. but no thanks)
Many who are healed but don’t want to know about Jesus (healed but not whole. Take the goods and run)
The sentiments- (charged with emotions.)
The whole book is charged with emotions.. Both God’s and Hosea’s: despair... jealousy... love.
God despairs over the whole situation:
- (6:4) "what can I do with you, Israel and Judah... what can I do!?"
- (4:6) "MY people are being destroyed through lack of knowledge"
- and you can almost feel the tension between God’s reproofing, remedial, justice and His love in chapter one:
o where after smacking Gomer by the naming of the 2nd and 3rd child He immediately says YET (v7) "Yet (V9).. the Israelites will be like sand on the seashore". ......
Love, justice, blessing and wrath all mixed in together.
God cries out with Jealousy for those he loves:
- 13:4 "But I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me... no saviour except me"
- Jealousy... and tremendous love, like a Father for His child:
Read 11:1-4 I taught them to walk. I changed their nappies.
HOS 11:1 "When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
HOS 11:2 But the more I called Israel,
the further they went from me.
They sacrificed to the Baals
and they burned incense to images.
HOS 11:3 It was I who taught Ephraim to walk,
taking them by the arms;
but they did not realize
it was I who healed them.
HOS 11:4 I led them with cords of human kindness,
with ties of love;
I lifted the yoke from their neck
and bent down to feed them.
Illustr: You’ll know of families where, having done all they can… their best… the child then turns on the parent and blames them for everything
- (because it’s the trend)
- (then wonders why they are not getting healed)
And God cries out, in love, 11:8
- "How can I give you up, Ephraim... how can I hand you over, Israel... my heart is changed within me and all my compassion aroused... I will not come in wrath".
The solution- (God’s steadfast love)
What I’m impressed with in this passage.. and what I believe God would have you understand/experience tonight is God’s tremendous, all consuming, steadfast love for His people. For you. (His jealousy for you?).
A unique word for God’s love is used in this book,
- a word that is primarily used of God’s covenant love.
- It’s the word we most often translate (from the Hebrew)- "steadfast love" (as in Lamentations 3:22).
- The word is ’hesed’- as I say it a kind of steadfast, covenant, marital love. Find it in 2:19, marriage context.
Other words are used for Hosea’s love, here.
- Hosea knew ’ahaba’, the love of affection... even sexual affection,
- and ’ruhamim’- a kind of pity for the helpless,
o like parents would have for a child- expressed in the name "Lo-ruhamah".
But in the same way that God’s love drives Him(God) to love the unlovable… and those who reject Him… have turned from Him, or take advantage of Him …
- God tells Hosea to (3:1) "Love your wife again" (not show) "even though she is loved by another, and an adulteress.
- LOVE HER AS THE LORD LOVES THE ISRAELITES".
Hosea learned hesed in the reclaiming of His wife.
- in showing her love he once again feels love for her (an example to all who feel they can’t love their partner again)
This is the love that God loves you with. I want you to take it in, tonight. I want you to REVEL IN IT.
- I pray that you may receive a revelation, tonight, of just how much the Father loves you.
- Just how faithful He is
If you have abused Him, or gone away from Him, the need for repentance and turning is still there (14:1 “return- take words with you’)
- = something the Israelites never fully grasped, so they eventually spiralled themselves into the Assyrian’s arms, rather than God’s.
- BUT SO IS GOD’S STEADFAST LOVE.
Maybe you aren’t abusing God’s love, but at times you still doubt it... for you.
- If God’s love can overcome Israel’s and Gomer’s obstacles- let us not doubt He loves us in the same way.
And let us, particularly, not doubt it as we come to this special table to remember God’s demonstration of His love for us
Listen to God’s promise of HIS restoration of these wayward people:
HOS 2:20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the LORD.
HOS 2:21 "In that day I will respond,"
declares the LORD--
"I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
HOS 2:22 and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
HOS 2:23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called `Not my loved one. ’
I will say to those called `Not my people, ’ `You are my people’;
and they will say, `You are my God.’ "
SING: faithful one, so unchanging
Read ch 14
HOS 14:1 Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
HOS 14:2 Take words with you
and return to the LORD.
Say to him:
"Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
HOS 14:3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount war-horses.
We will never again say `Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion."
HOS 14:4 "I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
HOS 14:5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
HOS 14:6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
HOS 14:7 Men will dwell again in his shade.
He will flourish like the grain.
He will blossom like a vine,
and his fame will be like the wine from Lebanon.
HOS 14:8 O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a green pine tree;
your fruitfulness comes from me."
HOS 14:9 Who is wise? He will realize these things.
Who is discerning? He will understand them.
The ways of the LORD are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
Silence, confession, ‘returning’, ‘taking words’ with us
WINE- sing as distribute:
“here I am once again”
Closing: Great is thy faithfulness