Hosea 1:11 Jezreel
Remember when looking at verse one that all Jewish names are actually words that the people would use in daily conversation, for example, the word Hosea, according to Strong’s Hebrew lexicon comes from a word that means to “be safe” or “bring salvation” and the name itself means “deliverer”. Here there is an especial combination with the name of the prophet’s father Beeri which again according to Strong, means “fountained” or a past tense of the noun referring to a well made into an adjective. The combination describes a well bursting with salvation promises and reminds us of Isaiah 12:3 which speaks of wells of salvation. Hosea certainly had a message of hope for a wicked people.
This seems all the more important as we move further into the text and find Jehovah naming Hosea’s children with names having prophetic significance!
But first, we must be careful to observe the when aspect of this book if we are determined to “rightly divide the word of truth”. The period from the beginning of Uzziah’s reign (which was very long - 52 years) to the date of the last chapter of this book is a period of 85 years and we see in the first verse which kings of both Israel and Judah reigned during those years. There are about 200 years between the events in Daniel and those in Hosea so if one has been reading the Bible consecutively he must be prepared to shift gears at this point and go backward in time to a very different era.
The content here as indicated by the various names of the children is sharply explicit. Israel will be “taken away” as later was done by the Assyrians. Judah will be saved by fiat (not struggle) and in the end shall be reunited (gathered together) with Israel with one head (Christ) in the final “great day”.
That Hosea here prophesied Israel’s soon collapse in a day when things were flourishing under Jeroboam II is a wonderful demonstration of the prophetic gift. God’s ways are sometimes hard to understand, but are profoundly precious (Romans 11:33).
Hosea 2:23 I Will Have Mercy
Haley ends his brief treatment of Hosea with three words: “an amazing book”.
It wouldn’t be so amazing if it were a commentary on today in America but this is coming from a holy God Who hates sin and especally marital infidelity. It is pointed out that almost every sentence throughout the entire 14 chapters seems to hit on one or more of the four themes; Israel’s idolatry, her wickedness, her captivity and her restoration (Halley).
Before making a study of each chapter it would be well to read the whole book at one sitting, or at least do a quick preview. O Israel, O Ephraim, Samaria, “thou hast destroyed thyself but in me is thy help” (13:9 ). They have, as it were, “committed great whoredom (1:3) yet He says He will “heal their backsliding (and) love them freely” (14:4), so we see one theme from beginning to end.
I don’t think it is such a strange thing today in our society to hear of a man taking a wife who has previously fallen into a lascivious life but for Jehovah to require a prophet to do it, especially a Jewish one certainly gets our attention.
But taken even further, which seems to be the case, to ask that same prophet to take her back after whe has “played him false” makes us wonder if we are still reading the Bible, especially if we have just come from the pages of the law in Exodus where a man is condemned to be executed for picking up sticks on the Sabbath.
Go further still, for when we reach the next chapter we will see how this man of God is tested to the nth degree as he is told to “love” her. No one who reads this can ever say, “how can I be expected to forgive my partner who has sinned against me?”
Thus Jehovah sets the stage for His act of grace. By the time we have read this book we should understand the fact that “God so loved the world that He gave ...” (John 3:16). What a door of hope!
Hosea 3:5 In The Latter Days
What a powerful little chapter this is! In J.F.B the author declares that here is found “one of the most explicit prophecies respecting Israel” that is found anywhere in the Bible. Just think, their whole worship was centered in sacrifice, but they have maintained their system without it (v. 4). They must have a king or so they thought (I Sam.8:5) but they have existed for centuries without one. No image, no ephod, not even a teraphim (a family idol) for hundreds of years and yet without even a land to call their own they maintained their national identity. Whether we realize it or not, this alone defends the premise that these forlorn people, “scattered and peeled” (Isa.18:2,7), harassed and maligned having wandered the earth seeking rest for the soles of their feet are yet and forever the people of God.
And what have they done to Him in thanks for His choosing them above all nations on the face of the earth (Deut.7:6)? They have carried, in their long journey, a book under their arm which condemns them, they give lip service to a law which accuses their heart of hypocrisy and they reject the Son of the owner of the vineyard in which they labor and in fact they killed Him (Matt.21:33-45).
Like Gomer they have rejected their Friend and Husband but like Hosea God buys her back from the slave market of sin (for half price) and constructs this scenario as yet another testimony deploring her unfaithfulness and demonstrating His grace.
The “many days” in verse 4 have stretched out a long time but the “afterward” is coming. Obviously, the return from seventy years captivity, though it pictured the state mentioned in verse 5, was not a fulfillment such as promised here when “Israel return(s) and seek(s) the LORD their God and David their king.” That is yet to be fulfilled in what still awaits them “in the latter days.”
Hosea 4:16 A Backsliding Heifer
When looking at the chart on the Old Testament Kings and Prophets furnished by Dr. John Whitcomb, it is easy to see the background relationships among the prophets that existed in Hosea’s day. I will mention a few of these which will help us understand this chapter. The dates of this prophecy are about 785 to 725 B.C. (remember, before the time of Christ the dates descend in number). Other associated prophets are Amos whose ministry occurs just before that of Hosea and Micah whose prophetic activity starts at 750 B.C. (J.F.B.) and runs to about 700, these three are voices warning the northern kingdom of Israel that God’s judgement is soon to fall (722).
With the demise of Jeroboam, Jehu’s sons had fulfilled the prophecy of four generations (II Kings 15:12) and perhaps encouraged by this knowledge Shallum conspired against the fifth in the line and slew him (v.10). After doing this, his reign lasted but a month when he was overthrown by Menahem who Josephus says was commander of the armed forces in the northern kingdom.
It could well be that it was conditions in Menahem’s reign about which Hosea spoke in this chapter. It was a bloody period (v.2), certainly truth and mercy were wanting and people were being destroyed in numerous ways. For example, when he took the city of Tipsah, a border city on the western bank of the Euphrates, he committed excessive violence against women and children (II K.15:16) which may have ultimately been the cause of the Assyrian invasion (J.F.B.). Financially, his exaction of 50 shekels of silver from every man of wealth to pay tribute to the Assyrian king (v.20) must have wrought hardship as well.
“Ephraim is joined to idols,” leave him to himself. It was this sin of idolatry for which Jehovah “removed Israel out of his sight” (II K.17:11-23). Whenever He had tried to lead them in the right way they always braced their feet like a calf being loaded in a cart - they were like a backsliding heifer, and resisted Him with all their might. The large place was Assyria (v.16). Thankfully Jehovah’s attitude toward Israel is only temporary and as illustrated in the situation concerning Gomer and Hosea, God will seek their restoration after “many days” (3:4&5). He abideth faithful. He cannot deny Himself (II Tim.2:13).
Hosea 5:3 I Know Ephraim
Yes, if there is anything that Jehovah knows, it is the backslider, as He says, “Israel is not hid from me.” The whoredom of His people is, in a sense, ever before His eyes and yet, it is as if He, knowing so well the way that we take, watches just so long and then He closes His eyes. The backslider may think to himself, “ah, He no longer pursues me, I have finally gotten away from under His persistent nagging– I can do as I please, what a relief!”
But sadly the release is not such a good thing as he will soon find out. For true as it is that Ephraim is known of the LORD, it is just as certain that he does not know the LORD (v.4). His ways, even in the best of days are “past finding out” (Rom.11:33) and little does he know that the closing of His eyes (Ps.11:4) is ultimately no blessing. Not only are His eyes closed, the iniquity has also closed His ears (Psalm 66:18).
There comes a time when he thinks - I am a shepherd and I have a whole flock of sheep - I will just pick out a good one and go to Him, but he cannot find Him . He seeks but the LORD has “withdrawn himself” (v.6). The moth eats away his clothes, he feels a rottenness in his bones. In despair he looks to the hills for relief - he finds that even kings cannot help. The Assyrian has not helped Ephraim, what will Judah do when the lion tears?
Jehovah has a plan, long range though it be. Nationally Ephraim (the Northern Kingdom) will be estranged from Jehovah until the re-gathering at the end of the age whereas Judah will experience seventy years of captivity only to be temporarily restored. Spiritually there is no hope for either entity apart from God’s grace in future restoration. As individual believers we may be comforted in His unchanging grace and love which He extends to His own as seen in the last verse of this chapter and the opening words of the next.
Hosea 6:3 Then Shall We Know
G. Campbell Morgan in his book, Hosea: The Heart And Holiness of God says of these first three verses that “It is one of the most tender and beautiful appeals to be found in the Bible” (p.55). He says that the messages of this prophecy “alternate between the passion of the Divine heart and the perversity of the human will” (p.57).
Knowing the LORD seems to be a recurrent theme. See 2:20, 4:1,6& 6, 5:4 and 8:2 for verses outside of this chapter but for this chapter note 6:3& 6. It is this last one, 6:6, that is such a striking thought. Here God states categorically that knowing Him is more desirable than burnt offerings.
Go back to 5:4, “they have not known the LORD.” It is this about which the heart of God grieves. “O Ephraim what shall I do unto thee?” etc. We see that the problem is due to the fact that their “goodness is as a morning cloud” i.e., it fades as soon as the sun arises (with its heat). It is like the seed in the shallow soil (Mt.13:5). There is no depth because they do not “follow on to know the LORD” (see also Phil.3:10). This is coupled (v.3) with the figure of the “latter rain,” a rainfall in the holy land associated with fruitfulness and revival. See “Ephraim” in Strong’s Heb. Lexicon.
It is most interesting that verse two is sort of interjected into the text and on the surface seems irrelevant to the context. Did we not have confirmation in a more obscure example of prophetic fulfillment seen later in 11:1 taken with Matthew 2:15, we might hesitate to assign to this verse an evangelical application. There seems little doubt that reference to “the third day” is often a foregleam of the resurrection of Christ when seen in O.T. passages and here we have our best example of all. Depending on the translation into the English, we have an amazing combination of thoughts here and we should celebrate Hosea’s use of them whatever we think about the repeated negative themes to which we are so often subjected.
Raised up to live in His sight – then shall we KNOW!
Hosea 7:2 I Remember All Their Wickedness
More of the same as one figure after another is employed by Hosea to illustrate Ephraim’s “iniquity.” At least it keeps the commentators busy explaining, comparing, etc., but overall it records Jehovah’s reproof as He chides His people through His servant. Simile, “their heart like an oven; burneth as a flaming fire,” abounds as does metaphor, “Ephraim is a cake not turned.”
In verse seven, reference to their fallen kings bespeaks a period in Israel’s history, the blackest it has ever been, when five of their kings were assassinated (see II K.15). It was shortly after this that Samaria, its capital, fell and Israel was carried away into Assyria. The following excerpted scriptures emphasize God’s point of view:
II Kings 17:7-18: “For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God which had brought them up out of the land of Egypt.” They “walked in the statutes of the heathen whom the LORD cast out” and “did secretly those things that were not right against the LORD their God. They set up images and groves in every high hill and under every green tree, they served idols whereof the LORD had said unto them, ye shall not do this thing. Yet the LORD testified against Israel by all the prophets and by all the seers saying, Turn ye from your evil ways. Notwithstanding they would not hear but hardened their necks. They caused their sons and daughters to pass through the fire and used divinations and enchantments and sold themselves to do evil in the sight of the LORD to provoke him to anger. Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel and removed them out of his sight.”
Hosea was one of these prophets. Do you think he was doing a good job?
Hosea 8:7 They Shall Reap the Whirlwind
Someone asks, “Do you know the LORD?” How quickly we respond, “Oh yes, I received Him when I was a child in vacation Bible School,” or “ I became a Christian when a teenager at youth group.” As glad as we are for any response to the invitation to receive the Lord Jesus Christ as Savior, we all realize how superficial those responses may sometimes be.
Israel could cry, “My God we know thee,” but Jehovah responds, “you may say so with words, but your actions say differently. Do you go to worship Me on the hill at Bethel and justify doing so because the name means house of God? Do you think you are worshiping Me when you bow down to a golden calf like the Egyptians? Do you say nothing against the practice of passing one’s children through the fire to Molech in this same grove where you pretend to worship Me? What is the chaff to the wheat” (Jer.23:28)?
Do you know, my friend, that less than 15 miles from Bethel as the crow flies, is the city of Jerusalem and a temple where Jehovah is worshiped correctly? There you will find a brazen altar where you are to bring a blood sacrifice. Good king Hezekiah (725 BC) will show you the right way to come to God with a “free heart” (IIChr.29:31). Do you think you know Me when you do not the things that I say?
Sadly we reap what we sow. The stubborn flesh of the Israelite said, “surely God does not expect me to go to Jerusalem. My ancestors have always done it this way. I know God and He will understand. But He says, “you reap what you sow. You are sowing to the wind– you will reap the whirlwind” (See Galations 6:7&8). The whirlwind was the Assyrian conquest and ultimately the lake of fire.
Hosea 9:16 Ephraim Shall Bear No Fruit
Jehovah’s great displeasure with Ephraim is expressed in numerous statements throughout this short chapter. The sweet wine of joy and the attitude of rejoicing cannot be the lot of a people whose unfaithfulness characterizes their relationship with Him. Once it had been His delight to hear the songs of the sons of Abraham as they trod the winepress, but no more. He would see to it that the wine would fail but furthermore, as if to be certain not to hear such conflicting sounds, He would cast them out of His land (v.3).
When a people’s heart is not right with Him there is no sacrifice made that can please Him. Whatever they might bring, even on the highest of their feast days would be polluted by their sinfulness. These days bring to mind the horrible episode at Gibeah (v.9) in Judges 19 when the Levite’s concubine was severed into twelve parts and sent into all the coast of Israel, a crime for which thousands of Benjamites paid the supreme price (20:46).
But what is that sin of theirs in comparison to what was going on in the pleasant hills of Ephraim (v.13) where her children were being brought forth only to be murdered at the hands of Molech. It would be an act of mercy to deny conception to such a people, to “give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.” This He said He would do for He “hated them for the wickedness of their doings.” For this, He would drive them out of His house, He would “love them no more” (vs.14&15).
There is a play on words in verse 16 for the word “Ephraim” means fruitful. God says they shall “bear no fruit.”
As this sad chapter closes Jehovah reiterates His judgement upon them. He will cast them out of His land and “they shall be wanderers among the nations,” a fact still their experience today.
Hosea 10:12 Til He Come
When the Lord Jesus was being led to His sacrificial death at the place of the skull He turned to a group of women who were following with the crowd, weeping and lamenting for Him and drew from His knowledge of this book words that must have been suggested to His mind.
“Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children. For behold, the days are coming in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us, and to the hills, cover us. For if they do these things in a green tree, what shall be done in a dry” (Luke 23:28-31)?
Thus these judgements spoken by Hosea 9:14 and 10: 8 stretch across the ages to be fulfilled in the future for if they had been fulfilled in the immediate situation with the Assyrian conquest, as certainly intended by Hosea, why then would the Lord Jesus have spoken of a later day? He was certainly the “green tree” of which He spoke and the “dry” would include Israel as in Rev.6:15&16 “every” bondman and “every” free man would hide “themselves in the dens and in the rocks of the mountains” and say, “to the mountains and rocks, Fall on us and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb.” Notice, the very words of Hosea, “Fall on us” are used by the Lord and are found in the text in Revelation.
Even as that day is yet future, so is the repentance of verse twelve. “Til he come.” We all long for that day when He will “rain righteousness” upon us.
In Jeremiah God calls Ephraim “my firstborn” (31:9) and verse 20, “...my dear son. I will surely have mercy upon him saith the LORD.” See Isa.11:4 and Ezekiel 37:15-20. Note that it is specifically Ephraim that is addressed in these passages, certainly the theme of Hosea found 37 times! Fruitful at last!
Hosea 11:9 I Will Not
In my opinion, what G. Campbell Morgan says on this passage in his book, Hosea, The Heart and Holiness of God, is well worth its price. (Paperback reprinted in 1974 by Baker Book House- does not appear to be copy-writed). Having said that, I think I would qualify my endorsement a bit to disagree with what he states on p.130 about “human nature” being worth dying for. If Paul saw it correctly, it is totally depraved and thus worthless, but perhaps it is a case of semantics.
It is what is said about Jehovah’s love for Ephraim that is so rich! And it is his pointing out the words used by God that makes Morgan’s work here so choice. “How shall I give thee up Ephraim?” Does a parent yearn over a wayward child because of what he sees as possibilities (as Morgan) or is it the oneness of relationship that kindles an inexplicable love?
It was love that called the son out of Egypt (v.1) and love that “drew them” (v.4) and as the hymn writer so wonderfully put it, it is love that will not let them go, though they are a “people bent to backsliding” (v.7).
Hear the repetitive affirmation and determination of that love in verse 9; “I will not, I will not, I will not. Why? Because I am God and not man.” Malachi 3:6 says, “I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed.” Love never fails (I Cor.13:8).
Of the mother of the child that Solomon ostensibly would divide between the two claimants in I K.3, it is said (v.26) that her bowels “yearned” upon her son and in love she surrendered him, if only momentarily, to her counterpart. The Hebrew word yearned is the same word as found here in verse 8 translated kindled. God says His heart is so filled with compassion that it is constricted in spasm. An anthropomorphism for certain but how else could He convey to us the depth of His covenanted love? And He is also in the midst of us (v. 9)!
Hosea 12:8 Merchant – Canaanite!
Sticking a bit longer with Morgan, if his breakdown is right, he says that verse one goes with
the last chapter and that verses 2 -6 is the prophet’s intervention followed by Jehovah’s words through Hosea, to verse eleven, then it is the prophet speaking his own words thru to verse 13:1. Try it, you may like it! It is sort of like Paul in Corinthians when he is speaking and then it is the Lord - but it is all God’s word spoken under inspiration. Get it? Good. (See page 123 if you have access to G.C.M. on Hosea, pub. by Baker Book House, Grand Rapids, MI.)
A couple of things he points out that I thought were very helpful, one I basically knew, one I didn’t. In verse one, reference to carrying oil to Egypt, this is olive oil not petroleum of course, but the modern reader might not be apt to catch it. This was for the purpose of gaining Egypt’s alliance (J.F.B.). Ordinarily they exported oil to Tyre.
The second helpful hint is the reminder that the word “merchant” in verse seven is actually the Hebrew word for Canaan as a quick look at Strong’s will show you. Number 3667 is the one always used as the proper noun for that people.
Morgan becomes eloquent here. He points out that the words “He is” are not in the original and rather confuse the sense. It is, he says, like this. The prophet is making a lengthy statement as to the wonderful story of Jacob’s history with Jehovah (certainly to appeal to their willful hearts but perhaps a little too gently). Here Jehovah breaks in with the word “Canaanite.” As if to say, yes, and today he is not an Israelite but a downright Canaanite, a word in Scripture to speak of corruption and degradation, the antithesis of the name “Israel.” “To treat the word as a synonym for a merchant is wrong” he says.
Whether we can agree with Morgan or not, from here he launches into a lengthy lecture on how wrong it is to think (and sing) of Canaan as a picture of heaven, and with that I totally agree! It is rather the land of victory over everything Canaanitic all of which God hates, the world, the flesh and the devil!
Hosea 13:9 In Me Is Thine Help
Dear reader, you probably know this, but in case it hasn’t dawned on you by this time, these prophetic books were not really written to be read consecutively as devotional material. That’s my opinion but how else to handle them I have not figured out. I hope it helps to know something of the background.
For example, J.F.B. helpfully suggests that “this chapter and XIV (14) probably belong to the troubled times that followed Pekah’s murder by Hoshea, (not Hosea).” See verse 11 and II K. 15:30. The subject is idolatry.
In this first verse reference is probably to Joshua of the tribe of Ephraim (Num.13:8) but J.F.B. thinks that it should be read that when Ephraim spoke it caused “trembling” (Joshua 4:14). Later the term “Ephraim” became a general name for all Israel, and died in the sense that Paul spoke of in Rom.7:9. Baal worship was introduced by Ahab and Jezebel (I K.16:31) but calf worship went back to Aaron and the golden calf at the base of Mt. Sinai. It was there said the Psalmist, “they changed their glory into the similitude of an ox that eateth grass” (Ps.106:20).
Kissing a calf (v.2) is a far cry from worshiping the God Who made heaven and earth, but, I suppose, not much worse than kissing the toe of St. Peter at the Vatican until it is completely worn away. In contrast, we are told (Ps.2:12) to “kiss the Son” (receive Him).
In closing, we should look briefly at verse 14. We are ransomed from the (lit.-grasp) of the grave. Paul (I Cor. 15:55) actually is quoting from the Septuagint’s paraphrase of this passage. Applied here to the Assyrian captivity being threatened and likened to the grave of an unborn child in the birth canal (v.13) of its mother which Jehovah promises to forestall but not without dire consequences which would befall Samaria (v.16). In Christ our victory is secure and so will Israel’s be in the distant future.
Hosea 14:9 The Ways of the LORD
Believe it or not, we have finally reached the end of this book. It only takes up seven and a half pages in my King James Bible but its fourteen chapters seemed to me to go on forever. Our hearts go out to the prophet who had to act out the scene of Jehovah’s displeasure with his “wife of whoredom,” Ephraim (1:2) “ye are not my people,” He said “there is no truth, nor mercy nor knowledge of God in the land (4:1). O Ephraim what shall I do unto thee? They call to Egypt, they go to Assyria...woe unto them! Destruction unto them! (7:11-13). They shall not dwell in the LORD’s land...I will drive them out of mine house...yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb...they shall be wanderers among the nations” (ch.9). Such is the judgement of sinners!
“O, Israel thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help (13:9). I will give her her vineyards and the valley of Acher for a door of hope...I will betroth thee unto me forever...in righteousness and in judgement and in loving-kindness and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness and thou shalt know the LORD” (3:14-20). Such is the mercy of God!
Hosea was told to love an adulteress and to purchase her from the market to physically demonstrate God’s love for His people who must go into long years of exile but “afterward...return and seek the LORD their God...in the latter days” (chap.3).
“Who is wise and he shall understand these things? prudent and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein” (v.9).
So endeth the lesson.