Summary: Before developing the themes of guilt and judgement (12:9-13:16), Hosea reminds Israel of its unfaithfulness (vv.1-2), and of its need to repent (vv. 5-6). In doing so he draws a lesson from the life of Jacob (vv. 3-4). Much like the people of our day the
THOUGHTS ABOUT THE PASSAGE:
Svetlana Stalin, the daughter of Josef Stalin, told the incredible story is told of how her father Josef Stalin had been a seminary student, preparing for the ministry. Then he came to a point in life where he made a decisive break from his belief in God. This dramatic and complete reversal of conviction that resulted in his hatred for all religion is why Lenin had earlier chosen Stalin and positioned him in authority. (The name Stalin, which means “steel,” was not his real name, but was given to him by his contemporaries who fell under the steel-like determination of his will.) And as Stalin lay dying, his one last gesture was a clenched fist toward God, his heart as cold and hard as steel. (Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live Without God, (Word Publ., Dallas: 1994), p. 26.)
Before developing the themes of guilt and judgement (12:9-13:16), Hosea reminds Israel of its unfaithfulness (vv.1-2), and of its need to repent (vv. 5-6). In doing so he draws a lesson from the life of Jacob (vv. 3-4). Much like the people of our day the people of Hosea’s day were not in agreement with God’s purpose, but out of line with God’s standard and out of touch with God’s power. In their idolatrous condition they attempted to buy Egypt’s favor through gifts of oil instead of seeking God’s blessing through obedience (v. 10). Judah will also experience God’s judgement because they have also forsaken God and gone after idols (v. 2).
Next, Israel is reminded of the vast spiritual difference between Jacob and themselves (vv. 3-4). Rebellion has replaced the submissive spirit which made their forefathers great. Jacob always wanted God’s best, even though he did not always seek it God’s way. Like Jacob, Israel needed to return to the Lord (vv. 5-6) with tears and prayers (v. 4). Israel’s repentance would necessitate a complete reversal in her dealings and attitudes. The nation was obsessed with economic dishonesty, pride, and insensitivity to her sin. The Lord however would not overlook such blatant disobedience and ingratitude. As a sign of His continued love and faithfulness to Israel, He sends prophets to call the people back to God (v. 10). Eventually their altars will be reduced to piles of stone (v. 11).
Israel thought their wealth was a sign of God’s approval and they didn’t consider how they had gotten it. God’s measure of success in my life is faithfulness and not affluence. Godly character in my life is more important to Him than anything I may possess.