The life of Hosea is one of the strangest of the prophets. He was required by God to marry a “harlot” and use his marriage as a teaching tool for telling Israel about their sins and betrayal of God. It is ultimately a story about God’s love for His people. This study will give an overview of the life and writings of the prophet Hosea.
[Gary Petty] Well, good evening everyone. If you will please rise, we’ll ask for God’s blessing on the Bible study: Father we come before you, we just thank You for your blessings. We thank You, Father, for all that You give to us. We thank You for a Bible — people have died just to have a little piece of this book and we take it for granted. Most of us have many copies, many translations and yet, Father, it’s so special that we have this information that You can give to us and You can teach us. We ask you to help us Father as we continue to go through the series on the minor prophets. And realize that these are very important books; they’re important in Israel’s history, they’re important in prophecy, and they’re important as a message to our country and our world today. So, Father, we thank You and we praise You. We ask for Your guidance, Your help, and Your direction, Your inspiration. We ask this all in Christ Jesus’ name… amen.
We produced two Beyond Today programs today. We’re actually going back through some of our programs. We’re going back through some of the ones that we did years ago, and redoing them to put them into a format that’s much better for streaming, and different things that we want to do. So Mr. McNeely went through a program we did a number of years ago on “The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse,” and redid that. We can use all the video that we used or that we filmed and special effects, we can use that, and we redid that program.
And then we also did a program, a new program on why God is so harsh on idolatry, and why idolatry is an important thing to God, and that issues that we find in modern Christianity like the veneration of Mary is actually a form of idolatry. So it’s a subject we have not dealt with exactly like this before, it will not make us a lot… it’s not a good way to win friends and influence people, but it’s something we need to say, we need to deal with. And as we go through the minor prophets, and so far, I know you’ve done about three or four I think, of the minor prophets already, idolatry is a major issue in all of these books. It is something that is very serious to God, so we just did this program on it.
We’re going to go through the book of Hosea, so we’re moving… Hosea was skipped in this rotation of what we’ve been going through. Hosea is a very interesting book. It is one of the longer of the minor prophets. As you know, they’re not minor prophets because they are less important, but that they all fit on one scroll. So they became the collection of the prophets or just known over time as the minor prophets.
Hosea is a very complicated book in many ways. The imagery of it is very Hebrew. The imagery would be… if you knew Hebrew, it would make a whole lot more sense. It is rather graphic at times and places. I think we would consider it if we really understood and really looked at it, it’s a little risqué, at times. But it tells us a very important message about what God was telling to ancient Israel. And Hosea, whose name just means salvation, was sent to the northern tribe of Israel.
There’s a couple of themes we have to go through, and obviously, we’re not going to go through all the 14 chapters. But we are going to go through some high spots to be able to understand the overall message. If you understand the overall message, you can go home and read Hosea, and you will see things that you’ve never seen before.
I also want to emphasize that Hosea’s message is remarkable and that he is dealing in a society that is so much like ours today, it’s uncanny. His message is given to the northern tribes who are in a very particular time in their history. Most historians will say that his prophetic message lasted from about 753 to 715, give or a take a few years on either side, 753 to 715. To really understand that… Hosea’s message, we have to understand what was going on in Israel between 753 and 715.
When Hosea comes along and starts his message, it is a time of one of the greatest economic revivals, an apex of time in Israel’s history. They hadn’t had a time like that since Solomon. It’s under Jeroboam II is the king, and they have a huge economic boom. Jeroboam actually conquers some land that Israel had lost over the years to other tribes.
So Israel was at one is its greatest extents in size. Most historians believe that it probably, at this time, was maybe its greatest… in just sheer numbers of people living in the land. So it had a very high population, lots of money, very prosperous, especially among the upper and middle classes. And they were trading partners with the whole known world. So they were in a vibrant time, and they were at a time when Israel was making deals with everybody. And it was a time when they knew God had to be blessing them because everybody was making money.
And Hosea comes along and says, “God’s going to punish you.” Now, this did not make him a popular man, because they can prove he’s wrong. It’s a good time, it’s a real good time. And of course, human beings, human being, human beings, you know what we usually do, wealth equals God’s blessing. So the more money pouring in, the more goods pulling in, the more rich everybody is getting, the more we must be pleasing God. And he comes along with a different message. He comes along with a message that they’re not pleasing God at all.
Israel was also, during this time period, playing a very, very dangerous game, political game. They were being power brokers on the world scene, with Egypt, with Assyria, with other nations. So they were constantly shifting alliances. In fact, Israel, during this time period, actually got into a war with Judah because Israel went to Damascus, and the Syrians had made a pact and ended up fighting their own brothers. So they’re involved in these wars all over the Middle East, they’re involved in all these trade deals all over the Middle East, and they got money pouring in. And it’s a good time to be an Israelite. And then Hosea comes along.
Now, after Jeroboam II death, the prosperity seemed to linger on. Now, between his… the time of Jeroboam II, and when the Assyrians probably destroyed Israel was about 70 years in which the time that, give or take a little bit, at the time that Hosea lived. To really understand what was happening politically, okay, we say, “Okay, we understand that there is an economic boom. We understand that a lot of good things are happening. We understand that they’re playing power politics, and they have an army to back it up. And they’re playing power politics all through the Middle East.”
But their political system inside was collapsing in the chaos. Inside their country, it was collapsing in the chaos. Give an example, Jeroboam II dies, you have this… one of the greatest economic booms in Israel’s history. Like I said, the only thing you could probably compare it to is the time of Solomon. And there’s this economic boom, things are good, and he dies. His son Zechariah becomes king. He reigns six months and he’s assassinated.
Israel’s history had been… it wasn’t like other nations where the assassination of kings was sort of common. It was not all that common in Israel, Judah’s history. And here we have a man who had only reigned six months, and he’s assassinated like Shallum. Shallum lasts one month and he’s assassinated. Economically, they’re still doing pretty good. They still have a pretty good standing army. They’re still making all kinds of deals with everybody. But the chaos within their own political system, because their system reflected their society really, was becoming more and more chaotic. So you have two assassinations within a year.
Menahem becomes the next king, and he has some trouble with Assyria. So Assyria invades Israel. And Assyria, this was sort of the way they did things, they invaded Israel and said, “Okay, we’ll go home as long as you pay us tribute.” So basically they become a vassal state. In other words, they have to pay high taxes to Assyria, and Assyria says, “Okay, we’ll leave you alone, but you’re now our ally.” So they had to start jumping and bowing and scraping to Assyria, but Assyria went home.
So okay, Jeroboam II, great time. Now Hosea comes along and says there are problems. Hosea seems to have lived through all these. So then, next king is assassinated, next king is assassinated, and then finally they’re so weak that Assyria comes in and makes them a vassal state. And they’re paying all these tribute and taxes. So now, their economy is being drained by Assyria. And so Menahem dies, his son becomes king, and guess what? Somebody kills him. So now you’ve had a third assassination.
So now you have a different king, Pekah takes over. And he somehow…and the Assyrians don’t get along, so the Assyrians invade a second time. And they basically say, “Okay you’re going to have to give us more and we’re going to…” They come in and they pillage a little bit and they really… So now Israel is just being subjugated, subjugated down, losing strength. They no longer are a military power to speak of. They still have a military because you know they fought a war with Judah. But they’re just not what they were economically, politically — they’re just waning away. And then he’s assassinated, that’s the fourth assassination there.
So finally we get Hoshea as the king. He gets into power about 732 and 722, 721, the Assyrians invade and say, “We’ve had enough of you people. You keep rebelling, you won’t do what we say,” and they literally just destroyed the nation. They just packed most people up and shipped them off, moved them out of the area, brought other people in, and said, “Now, you’re not the people of Israel anymore.”
So this is the time which Hosea comes along, but remember when Hosea starts his message, they’re at a peak of the good times, which means that people aren’t going to pay much attention to it. Hosea has been called a tragic love story. And in many ways, it is. It is supposed to be a tragic but hopeful love story. When you go through the prophets, you will see that there was a theme, it’s in Isaiah, it’s in Jeremiah, it’s in Ezekiel, that Israel and Judah were married to God. And He uses very enduring terms to describe His relationship with those people as a husband to a wife. Now, He took the most intense relationship that human beings can have, and that’s how He described, God describes His relationship with those people. And therefore, when they don’t adhere to the covenant, it’s like they’re committing adultery against Him. In other words, God actually expresses not only what they’re doing wrong… here’s what’s amazing, He expresses how He feels.
And you go through the book of Hosea and God constantly expresses how He feels, and He says, “I feel like a man who loves his woman. And once again, last night you were out drinking and partying, and then went home with another man.” So there is an expression of God’s emotions, I say feelings… I mean He’s not physical, so His emotions. There’s expression of His emotions in these analogies.
One of them is in Ezekiel, just turn to Ezekiel for a minute, Ezekiel 16. Because here is how He describes His relationship with Judah. Ezekiel 16, I won’t go through the whole… but the whole chapter is fascinating, because, at the beginning of Ezekiel 16, He tells Ezekiel to go it Jerusalem and tell Judah that “here is what My relationship is like to you.” He said it was like a young man, a wealthy young man, an educated young man, walking along one day and saw, abandoned in a field, a little baby girl left to die. And he felt so much compassion for her, he went over, he cleaned her up, he made sure she was taken care of and made sure that she would be raised and everything was okay.
Years later that same man is passing by that same area, and he sees that same girl. But now she’s of marrying age, which in that society had been probably mid-teens. And he looked at her and says, “Hi, you’re wonderful, you’re beautiful, I love you.” So it says he married her. And Ezekiel 16, in Hebrew poetic imagery, is very graphic. “I saw her nakedness and I covered her up,” that doesn’t mean he threw clothes on her. So he’s very graphic in trying to explain, “Here is how I feel about you people.” You never think about God expressing emotions, do you? And He’s trying to express… I want you to understand. So I’m using this physical analogy because, you know, okay, you know how that feels, understand this is how I feel. And He says, “I gave her the best clothes, I gave her the most beautiful earrings. And I made her royalty, and I gave her the best food, and everything was great.”
And then you get down to verse 15 and it says, “She trusted in her own beauty so much she started fooling around with other men.” And he says, “You’re still my wife, I still love you. I just want you to stop fooling around with other men.” And He explains, that means idolatry, that means false religion, that means taking in all the religions around them. Remember when Israel always committed idolatry, that doesn’t mean they gave up the worship of Yahweh. So we think well, they gave up and forgot His name, didn’t even know who He was, that’s not true. Because the world view of the time was that there were local gods every place.
That’s why when you went to Egypt, you better submit to the Egyptian government. Well, for one thing, Pharaoh was a god, and all the gods of Egypt make sure he has power. So you mess with him, you mess with all the gods of Egypt. But the gods of Egypt didn’t necessarily have power outside of Egypt. So if you wanted to fight a battle against the Egyptians, you tried to get them out away from Egypt, where their gods can’t be there. Everybody believed in the God of Israel, nobody denied the God of Israel. Whether you were the Babylonians, or the Assyrians, or the Egyptians, or the Amorites, they all believed in the God of Israel. Sure, there’s a God of Israel, and He has a temple, the temple still existed. And there were priests, and they probably, and had some kind of Sabbath-keeping, at least part of it. They did sacrifices. But you know, it’s good to cover all bases, especially if you’re going to make a good business deal with Amorites. So we need to make sure that their God is happy too. Besides there’s all kinds of great things that happen when you participate in all these sort of mixture of religion including a lot of sexual freedom.
So don’t think they gave up the worship of God of Israel. No, the God of Israel became just one of many gods. He was their primary God, but they worshiped these other gods, Baal worship was huge. And the God of Israel became subjugated more, and more, and more in their minds. And He said, “You know what? Yeah, you tell everybody I’m your husband while you sleep around with everybody in the neighborhood.” So that’s the analogy, that’s what we see here, what He tells Judah, what he tells Judah in Ezekiel 16.
He actually tells them, “You know I destroyed Israel, and they weren’t half as bad as you are.” If you read all of Ezekiel 16, He literally tells them I destroyed Israel, which is what we read about, and what’s the time of Hosea was during this time where they were deteriorating, and finally ended up being destroyed. But He says, “They weren’t half as bad as you are.” And He talks about how their idolatry are their shrines, their idols, the false religious services that they do. And He tells them that their lovers will abuse them. In other words, the nations they’re playing these games with are going to abuse them. And there isn’t anything they can do about it, because He, as their husband, wasn’t going to protect them anymore.
But what’s very interesting in this end of Ezekiel 16 is He says, “But I will remember my covenant, I will remember that I was married to you, even after I turn you over to be raped, and plundered, and abused by your lovers. Someday, I will come and I will clean you up again, and I will marry you again. I will bring you back in relationship with Me.”
Ezekiel 16 is so remarkable in its graphic description, and its explanation of how God feels — His emotions. And He tells them, they were going to be punished. This is the message of Hosea. The message of Hosea is a tragic love story between God and Israel, but how was he going to get them to understand it? Hosea is one of the most remarkable people in the entire Bible. God said, “I have a message I want you to give to my people and I want them to see it. They’re not going to listen to you unless we do something dramatic. They’re just not going to listen to you. Times are too good. Money is rolling in, everybody is happy. So we’re going to have to do something to get their attention. Everybody believes Hosea is a prophet, so we’re going to make him a spectacle.”
So let’s go to Hosea now, Hosea 1. “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.” So we know from the list here of Judah, now when his ministry took place, but we know when it started. It started with Jeroboam II was the king of Israel.
Verse 2, “When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land, has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” He said, “Here’s how we’re going to get their attention, Hosea. You’re going to go find a prostitute and you’re going to marry her.” And later, he commanded him to love her. “You’re going to go find a prostitute and marry her. And when everyone says, ‘Whoa, whoa, whoa, no, this is wrong. No, this prophet can’t marry her.’ You’re going to get up and say, ‘Oh no, in this story, I represent God, and you represent the prostitute.’” Now you can see why he wasn’t that popular.
What makes Hosea so amazing is he did it. I’ve met people along the way in my life that say, “Oh, I think I’m a prophet. I want to be a prophet.” You do? What idiot wants to be a prophet? You’ll lay out on your side. Remember the prophets had to lay out on his side in the street and cook his food over dung? Oh, that’s fun. “Go marry a prostitute,” and he did. He goes, he finds Gomer, and he marries her. He not only marries her, he treats her as a wife. He shows her love, he takes care of her, and they have a child. And God says, “I want you to name the child Jezreel,” which means God sows. “And I want you to announce to everybody, ‘God is going to punish the house of Jehu,’” because of some things that they had done. In other words, God is bringing punishment here on Israel. God’s bringing punishment on Israel, that’s what you name your child.
You know, it’s terrible, that you go to school, I mean, they didn’t have public schools then. Can you imagine, you’re five years old, you go to school, “What’s your name?” “Jezreel, Hosea’s son.” “Oh, your mom’s the…” “Yeah.” “And you’re…” “Yeah.” “You think that God’s going to punish us? My mommy told me not to even talk to you.” If we could just somehow get into a little bit of the environment this is taking on, once again, there is no public schools. But you believe me, the children in the neighborhood would have said those things, the people in the neighborhoods would have said those things. And Hosea is known throughout the country. It’s not like Hosea can sneak around, every place he goes, “That’s Hosea the prophet who married a prostitute.”
So he has a second child. And it says, verse 6, “She conceived again, and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: ‘Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away.’” He says, “Her name will be no mercy, no pity, and you’re to tell everybody, ‘This little baby,’” yeah, he holds up this little baby. “‘This little baby is named No Mercy because she is a representative of what you people are and God’s not going to show you any mercy.’ And everybody said, ‘Hosea, the crazy man.’”
What would possess this man to do this? Where do you want to go for lunch? He said, “Times are too good.” Now, as times go on, I don’t know some people, he never did get a revival within the country. But it wasn’t long after he did this that it really begins to disintegrate, as we saw with four assassinations out of seven kings. And they were invaded three times in that 70-year period by Assyria, the last time they destroyed the nation.
Verse 7 says, “’Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.’ Now when she had weaned the little girl, she conceived, and God said, ‘Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God.’”
So here is Hosea, now remember, children were weaned at two to three years old. So years have gone by, he’s had three children. And he’s got to get up and make these public proclamations all the time, “Yes, I have married a prostitute.” She had to be pointed out for what she was, “And here are my children, and my children are named these things because this is what God says you are.” And he faithfully did this. Unlike Jeremiah or some of the other prophets who probably said to God, “Nope, this is too hard. I’m not going to do this anymore,” Hosea never said this, or at least it’s not recorded. It’s not recorded that he ever said, “No, this is too hard.” This is what God told him to do, and he had this message to this country, and he took it to that country. And it was his people, he loved his people.
So here we have this beginning of this story, this tragic love story. And then in verse 10, it suddenly changes. And we begin to see what God is telling them, “I am disgusted with what you’re doing. I will punish you for what you’re doing. You have turned your back on me.” This is like a man who is watching his wife go out and just sleep around. In fact, it’s interesting, that Ezekiel, he actually told Judah, he said, “You know what? I shouldn’t call you a prostitute because prostitutes have men pay them. And you pay the men to be with you.” How perverted is that? I say this is pretty graphic. So he told Judah, he says, “I can’t even call you a prostitute because you pay the man to be with you.” Because of these deals they were making, the power politics they were playing. Not trusting in God, not trusting in God in what they were doing.
So verse 10 says, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea,” He said “I’m going to punish you, but you will survive my punishment,” “which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it said to them, ‘You are My people,’ then it shall be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’” In Hebrew, this is a play on that word, that in other words, your name will be changed, from not my people to my people. “Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together and appointed for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, and great will be the day of Jezreel!”
“So say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ and to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’” And here we have a pattern that appears five times in the book of Hosea. God says, “I am upset. I have given you all this, I have taken care of you, and yet, you continue these vulgar, horrible religious practices.” And as we’ll see, he begins to attack the social issues within their country. Amos hit social issues, Hosea hits social issues. Their religions produced sin and all kinds of social issues. But it seemed okay because the economy was pretty good for a while.
The Assyrians keep coming in and beating them up and taking their things, and they still won’t repent. Twice they came in and beat them up, and said, “Now, you pay us even more.” They still didn’t get it, even though there were prophets all through this time period saying, “Hey, you have to repent, you have to repent. God is going to turn His back on you.”
He now starts in verse 2 of chapter 2, the whole thing all over again. “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges,” Here, he has these three little babies and he says, “Okay, you three children here, you are the children of a harlot that I’m married to, and you need to bring charges against your mother.” He tells all the people of Israel, “It’s time to stand up here, stand up for God against the leaders, against the priests. It’s time to stand up.” Nobody wants to stand up, nobody wants to follow what God wants them to do.
And so he goes on here, all through chapter 2, and explains to them why he is going to punish them again. Cries out for them to repent and says, “I will destroy you because of your adulteries.” So he compares idolatry and adultery because he is explaining the relationship, “I was your husband. I cared for you as a husband. I just loved you and still do, if you’ll just repent.”
It’s interesting, verse 8 says, “For she did not know that I gave her grain, and new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold — which they prepared for Baal.” He said, “You know, Israel just couldn’t get it.” They kept trying to build wealth through all these practices. And it’s interesting, one of the things, one of the prophets attacks them for is their banking system. They had the audacity to charge 1% interest, and God was furious. What do you think He thinks of our banking system? What do you think God thinks of our banking system?
We have to realize if you look at the United States today, Hosea’s message is just as real as the exact same problems: A nation that claims to follow God, but is filled with idols. A nation that claims to follow God, but won’t listen to his commands. A nation that God has blessed, and we thump our chest and say, “Aren’t we great?” And God gets no credit, or He gets a little lip service. “Oh thank you God, it’s Thanksgiving.”
We have to be real careful. I don’t know what’s ahead for the United States, we could have some economic boom just like Jeroboam II didn’t or did. Do not confuse that with returning to God. This nation has made no steps towards returning to God, zero. There is no outcry against abortion. There is no outcry against the murders that take place in this country. Nashville, they just had their 215th murder this week. I think that’s more than the entire nation of Great Britain, or France, or Germany.
But we’re comfortable with it because we’re great, we have power, and we have an army, and we have an economy. Just like Israel did and they slipped into chaos soon as Jeroboam II died. And Jeroboam II is condemned by God, by the way, because for all the economic boom, he did not turn the people to God. And our political system would not allow a leader to turn people to God, understand that. There is no president or congress that can turn people to God in this country. So don’t confuse a good economy with turning to God, or we can end up like they were.
Look at verse 11, “I will also” cease all her mirth… or “I’ll cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths, and her appointed feasts.” You know it’s interesting, these Sabbaths, this is God’s Sabbaths. He says, “Now, they’re not mine anymore. You people, yeah, you, you keep the Sabbath and the New Moons. But you do it in worshiping all these other idols, in all these ways that I find disgusting.” He says, “They’re not mine anymore, they’re yours.” “But we do worship the God of Israel. We are the children of Abraham. We are the people of Mt. Sinai.” That’s what they believed, but they weren’t anymore.
And so you get to verse 14, and so all of chapter 2, here, is once again condemning them, and verse 14 is… Now, notice, once again, God’s emotions. “Therefore…” now he just said he’s going to punish her. In fact, verse 13 says, “I will punish her because she’s a prostitute.” And then verse 14 says, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her back.” God says, “After I punish this prostituted nation, I’m going to go after her like a man trying to woo a young virgin. I’m going to go back and try to win her.”
It’s remarkable how God expresses, in Hosea, how He feels towards the people. “You’re evil and I will punish you. And then I will try to bring you to repentance. I will allure her and bring her to the wilderness and speak comfort to her. I will give her vineyards from there.” He goes on and describes what’s he’s going to do. In fact, verse 16 is very interesting, “’It shall be, in that day,’ says the Lord, ‘that you will call Me “My Husband,” and no longer call Me “My master.”’” “You will call Me ‘Ishi,’ not ‘Baali.’ Baal, of course, was Lord, not Baali. “You won’t call me ‘Baali,’ you won’t call Me ‘Master’ anymore. You will call Me ‘Ishi,’ you will call Me ‘Husband.’” God says, “There will come a time when our covenant, our relationship will be rebound together,” He said, “with these people.” Then He says, “I will feel like a husband towards you again, and you will be like a wife to Me again.” There’s so much revealed about God in this book. And five times, this pattern is repeated. We’ve just looked at two of them here.
So now, chapter 3 is very difficult to translate at times. I don’t know Hebrew, but I’ve read a number of places, because of the tense. But most translators say that chapter 3 starts a problem with Hosea and Gomer after he married her. Verse 1, “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by her lover, and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who took to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’”
Now, is he telling him to go get another woman? He threw out… There’s a problem here, and the whole analogy breaks down if he’s married to two harlots, okay? And there is nothing that says he ever divorced Gomer. What it appears here is she left him at some time in this, she left him. You know, the raisin cakes are interesting, because the raisin cakes of the pagans, that was… one of the offerings for Baal was raisin cakes.
“So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and a half homers of barley.” That’s interesting. He went and bought her after she ran away from him. If that’s a proper understanding of it, which it seems to me it is, she ran away from him, even in the midst of him marrying her and this love story, and God says, “Go get her back.” And he goes back and pays for her. He pays the man she’s living with. And the man so despicable, he sells her, and he takes her back.
What’s really interesting is this is actually against the law of God, for a man to go back and take a woman who has done this. So everybody would have seen it, everybody was saying, “Wait a minute, that’s not what the law says.” But understand the point God’s making, “I love you and you have broken the law, and I will still buy you back. I will still buy you back,” just like He had to buy them back, buy all of us, through what? The sacrifice of Jesus Christ. So he’s making this huge statement that everybody would have seen. “This prophet’s nuts, he went to buy back his prostitute wife.”
He says to her in verse 3, “And I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man -– so, too, I will be towards you.’” Verse 4 now, here’s the message, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. And shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.” And here he says, “Okay, go buy her back, but basically say, ‘You are not ever leaving again this house.’”
The restraints upon were enormous. And he says, “You know what this shows? Go tell everybody. Pretty soon, you won’t have a kingdom. Pretty soon, you won’t have an economy. Pretty soon, you won’t have an army. Pretty soon, you won’t have all these nice houses and your vineyards and your fields. Pretty soon, you’re not going to have the nation of Israel. Pretty soon, it’s going to be gone, and it’s going to be gone for a long time. And then you will seek David.” The Messiah comes from David, the king from the Davidic line, and He will come to you in the latter days.
So now Hosea goes to buy the woman back. And you think, “Well, why would God have him do that? Isn’t that cruel? It’s even against the law.” No, He’s showing us the price that He is willing to pay, even though He feels like a man whose wife is committing adultery. So the book of Hosea opens up this realm into God. It’s just remarkable how God expresses His emotions here with these people. So it’s a tragic love story, but it’s hopeful love story because He keeps saying, “I’ll fix this. But boy are you… I’m going to put you away as my wife and you’re going to spend…” Because they didn’t realize it would be thousands of years, “…you’re going to spend thousands of years lost, lost and without a husband. And there will come a time where you will no longer call Me ‘Baali,’ you will call Me ‘Ishi,’ you will call Me ‘Husband.’”
In chapter 4, He begins to explain some of the particular sins now that their country is having. Verse 1 says, “Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: ‘There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed.’” So here we have a land in which people use God’s name in vain, they swear, but their word means nothing. They lie, they steal, they’re violent, and they’re just sexually free. Sound like any place you’ve ever lived? But they make good business deals. They play good power politics because they got an army with a punch behind it. But they don’t trust God at all. There is no trust of God at all.
And so we have in verse 6, probably the most quoted verse in Hosea, He says, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I will also reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I will forget your children.” Verse 4 to 5 talk about the priest and the prophets. So He goes, right after the priests and the prophets and He says, “The religious leaders have not taught you God’s way, so you don’t know God’s way, and therefore you are going to fail. You don’t know My way,” God says. And He directly goes after the priests and the prophets and says, “You should have told them My way and you didn’t do it.”
Verse 7 says, “The more they increased,” the better things got, “the more they sinned against Me; And I will change their glory into shame.” Because it was good, God had to be blessing them. And the priests and the prophets supported that story. They must have had a real health and wealth message. And as God kept blessing… or the nation kept being blessed, they kept growing, and they kept having a great economy. “See, God’s blessing us, we’re good. God’s happy with us.” Except for poor Hosea, and if you… well, there’s other prophets coming around here too, the unpopular prophets who are telling them, “No, no, God is not happy with you.”
This is the United States today. No, I mean, Hosea was writing to those people, but you understand what I’m saying, it’s the same place, it’s the same type of situation. A nation that’s the most powerful in the world: economically, militarily, with influence, and power. But we’re not turning to God. We’re headed down a path that gets farther and farther away from God every day. And we can cry out for them to repent. I do not believe the United States is going to repent any more than Israel did. Individuals will repent. Individuals that God calls, they will repent. And we’re just trying to reach those. Now, that’s my personal opinion, by the way. If the United States repents, that’s wonderful. Do you think this country is going to repent? I don’t know. Maybe if God… I mean, he’d have to do something beyond imagination to get this country to even notice. I mean when “Star Wars” comes out tomorrow night, right? You go see that movie, how many miracles does God have to do just to get your attention after that? So the similarities are just amazing.
Look at chapter 7. He just goes on and on. In fact, Judah gets mentioned in here now, after a while, though it’s like, “Okay, Judah, you’re headed down the same path. You’re headed down the same path,” He tells them. Hosea 7:11 Hosea 7:11Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
American King James Version×, now He calls Israel Ephraim. Ephraim was a major tribe. But I think part of this is because Jeroboam II was from Ephraim. So you know, this famous king is an Ephraimite, so He uses Ephraim as just an analogy, or as a word to mean “all of Israel.” He says, “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.”
In other words, they’re playing all these politics and He says, “You really think Egypt is going to be your friend? You really think Assyria is going to be your friend? Yeah, just pay them more tribute, and they’ll be your friend.” But Israel was just… they were playing a very dangerous game. And God said, “Now, you will fall because of this game because I’m not in it. I’m not in it.”
And so He actually tells them, in chapter 11, that the Assyrians are going to destroy them. And Assyria attacks them twice and then goes home. And they still don’t believe Assyria is going to destroy them. Now, finally, the Assyrians do come in and actually destroys them. In chapter 14, at the very end then, it’s the same cycle. You can read through this now and you’ll start to see where the cycles are. And you’ll start to see where He’s telling them, “Here’s your sins.” And they have to do with social issues, they have to do with personal sin, they have to do with the priest, they have to deal with the prophets, they have to do with the leaders, they have to do with their politics. Everything in this country is sick. And at the core of it, they’ve just mixed paganism so much into their religion and worship of the God of Israel that the God of Israel isn’t being worshiped at all.
Verse 1 of chapter 14, “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.” It’s interesting here, He is now… the analogy of the marriage and the relationship, now He’s just laying it all out. Okay, let’s take away all the analogies, and all the imagery, and just lay this out. Here’s the reality of it, “Return to Me,” God says, “to be your God. Assyria shall not save us.”
They kept making pacts with Assyria because Assyria was a rising power. “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.” In other words, we are going to have to turn away from our pact with Assyria and we are going to have to turn away from our idolatry. “I will heal their backsliding,” verse 4. We see God’s harsh judgment in Hosea, and we see God’s love, and we see how they both work together.
He ends this harsh book with, “I’ll heal you if you come back,” “I will love them freely,” just like Hosea had to go love freely a prostitute and then go buy her back when she ran away. Yeah, that’s how much I love. “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, they shall grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
“Ephraim shall say,” at this time, when this happens, “‘What shall I have to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; your fruit is found in Me.” So He predicts the time just like He did in chapter 3. And you’ll see a number of places throughout this book where he predicts the time. “I’m going to send in David, I’m going to take care of this, but boy, they’re going to go through a long time of being punished.”
“Who is wise?” verse 9, “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.” So what we have, at the end of this book, is this incredible message of hope. The tragic love story has a wonderful ending. The husband and wife are brought back together, and love each other. That’s the story.
There is this one other interesting thing about Hosea and that is Peter quotes Hosea, a play on it, in one of his writings. And it’s fascinating how he uses it. Let’s go 1 Peter 2. 1 Peter 2, here Peter is writing not to Israel but to the Church. The Church is made up of peoples from all ethnic groups, all races, as God brings these people together to create a spiritual Israel. And so these people are coming together. We come together not because of some bloodline, we’re brought together because God is binding us with His Spirit, as he brings people together from all different backgrounds.
And here, Peter writes to the Church and says, “You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light,” now, notice the play on words, and think of Hosea, “who were once not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” It’s the same play on words. I mean, this is, obviously, in Greek, but it’s the same play on words.
God said, “You’re a people,” He told Israel, “who are not My people anymore, but you will be My people. And you’re a people who are not going to receive any mercy, but you will receive mercy.” And then Peter looks at Hosea, he looks at the Church and says, “You know what? That’s what God’s doing with us. We’re not a people. There’s nothing for us to be brought together except God brings us together. We have no mercy except God has given us mercy.” And so he takes Hosea and says, “That’s the way He is with the Church too.” That’s who we are.
So I hope that gives you… It’s hard to cover 14 chapters in 55 minutes. But you can now study the book of Hosea, and I think really get a lot more out of it, in understanding this message in its ancient context. Remember something, always read the Bible in its original context. Who is it written to? What did it mean to the people who read it? Then figure out what it means to us.
We do the opposite, we try to figure out what it means to us, with no concept to what it meant to the people who first got it. If you would have known Hosea as the prophet who lived next door, what would that have been like? Once you figure that out and his message to them, then you can begin to understand more of God’s message to us later. So always reverse that process. Don’t look for what God said to us at first, what did it mean to the people who first picked it up and read it? Now, what does it mean to me?
Well, thanks for coming out. I know it’s rather cold out there. We got like five minutes. Are there any quick questions or comments or…? Good, you’re ready for the test. Okay. I know it’s cold out there. Thank you so much for coming out tonight. And in two weeks, what are we covering in two weeks?
[Darris McNeely] Obadiah.
[Gary Petty] Are you really?
[Darris McNeely] You are.
[Gary Petty] Oh, in two weeks, I may be covering Obadiah. I told them I didn’t want to do Obadiah.
[Darris McNeely] It’ll be three weeks.
[Gary Petty] Oh, three weeks. I can only talk about Obadiah for 15 minutes, that’s it, that’s all I got. So I don’t know, we’re going to see what happens. So in three weeks, we do have whichever next of the…
[Steve Myers] Jonah.
[Gary Petty] Jonah? Okay, so in three weeks we’ll be going through Jonah. Okay, have a safe trip home.