HOSEA

Intro to Hosea – As a contemporary of Amos, Jonah, Isaiah, and Micah, Hosea’s ministry began about 750 B.C. and ended in the early years of Hezekiah’s reign, so it lasted maybe 45 years, ending near 715 B.C. Hosea began ministering to Israel in the north near the end of an era of great material prosperity and military success. Assyria, however, defeated the capital of the Northern Kingdom, in 722 B.C., and deported the people of Israel into captivity according to 2 Kings 17:1-6; 18:10-12. Judah also became a vassal state in the Assyrian Empire during Hosea’s ministry (2 Kings 16:5-10). God’s Word via Hosea reflects conditions of economic prosperity, religious formalism and apostasy. Hosea, like Amos, addressed the Northern Kingdom of Israel primarily. His purpose was to announce that because the nation had broken the covenant of Moses, judgment was coming. It was similar to Jeremiah’s work. If the people repent, God would bless. If not, judgment would come. Hosea, however, knew that the nation would not change, but individuals could. Lastly, God’s promise to restore and bless Israel in the future was continuously proclaimed.

Hosea 1 – God tells Hosea to marry a woman that will prove to be unfaithful to him. They are to have children also.

I think this happened because God wanted to “drill home” what it is like for Him to have a people who refuse to stay faithful. But why would God order a righteous prophet like Hosea to marry and have sex with a woman who had and will have other sex partners? We don’t know for sure if she was sexually promiscuous or spiritually worshiping idols. “Harlotry” in Scripture usually does not mean sexual immorality. We also do not know if she had premarital sex. Perhaps she would have sex with other men after she married Hosea, considering Israel was at one time faithful to God before falling into apostasy. There’s certainly enough room here to not convict God of doing something wrong. The names of Hosea’s children reminded everyone who heard them of the broken relationship that existed between God and Israel. The northern kingdom of Israel was in trouble whereas God would have compassion on Judah because they trusted in God while Israel trusted in men’s strength and armies. The was a definite severing between God and the people of Israel at this point in history. Judah may be representing a picture of the Church and Israel a picture of the World.

Great promise giving hope in verses 10-11. In spite of all the apostasy and harlotry and God saying He is no longer their God and they are no longer His people, He says they will some day reunite and their numbers will be so big that no one will be able to number them.

I have a difficult time interpreting 10-11 as “God’s people” always being bloodline Jews. The Messiah would soon be upon the earth, and yet the nation of Israel rejected Him. Then they were destroyed in 70 AD. and have rough times until 1948 A.D. But then, and now, there have been no Jewish mass conversions to Jesus, although a small number have been converted during this Church Age. What I’m trying to say is that I don’t see any “great numbers” of Jews who are saved. I do, however, see “two kingdoms” joining resulting in vast numbers of true people of God when Gentiles began becoming saved along with some Jews.

Christ’s success cancelled the Old Covenant, so I tend to see behind the “printed Jewish page” when I read such prophecies. Perhaps there was a literal fulfilling of these verses to some extent historically, but not to the extent of producing those “vast numbers.” I tend to think that God does do things via the literal Jewish nation only to give us glimpses of what He is accomplishing in the spirit (1 Corinthians 15:46). A classic example is His instituting a physical, literal circumcision, then revealing that the only thing that really “sets us apart for God” is spiritual circumcision that comes only through the born-again experience with His Messiah. OT circumcision only had meaning in that covenant. To say that these kinds of verses always pertain to bloodline Jews following OT rules seems to be missing the bigger picture of the ways and works of God.

That said, however, the miraculous establishment of Israel as a nation in 1948 lends credibility to the belief that God has good things in store for the Jewish bloodline. It was literally wiped off the world map in 70 AD and, as a result of WW1 and WW2, became a recognized state in 1948. I cannot deny that this means something important. Massive Jewish conversions to Jesus, however, has not yet occurred. But all things are possible with God, and the final chapter has not yet occurred.

Hosea 2 – I strongly recommend that you read this chapter before my commentary. It will make more sense. (Hopefully, you read all chapters before my commentaries).

This chapter speaks about real people and their roles in this phase of Hosea’s life. However, there is a bigger picture described in allegory form in my opinion. I believe this describes the history of Christ’s Bride, the Church. Jesus’ Bride, in her early years (the idolatrous Jewish people) continually strayed from God being her “ruler.” But there will come a time when God’s people would call Him “husband.” This would be accomplished through the work of the Cross of Christ. Verse 23 even says that those who were not God’s people (probably the Gentiles) will be His people (many Gentiles have been saved since Jesus). So God’s true people do not always follow Jewish blood lines, but rather possess the faith that Abraham demonstrated years earlier. Christ’s Bride in early times (Jews) too often turned toward the things of this world for her security and wealth rather than trusting God and putting Him first (v5). Consequently, God made her way difficult in life (v6). Even verse 10 may relate to the horrors of WWII. We think the Nazi treatment of the Jews was horrible, and it was. But it was not new to Jewish history. Similar horrors were experienced by them throughout the O.T. God will not allow her (Jews) to obtain her wants, and this will finally bring her to her senses and desire Him back (v7) much like the prodigal son mentioned by Jesus.

From verses 14-23 good news comes, but I think it is far into the future and even Hosea probably did not grasp it all. Here, God speaks of abolishing war and He will marry His people by giving righteousness to them (or “her,” the Bride of Christ, the Church). Verse 18 speaks of animals living in safety. It reminds me of heaven where the “wolf will lay down with the lamb” (Isaiah 11:6 – it does not say “lion” as many people think). Even verse 22 mentions “the new wine” which represents the New Covenant sealed with Jesus’ Blood. The only time when there will be no war is when the new heaven is established on the new earth, and the ending to this chapter is replete with this concept.

In short, it seems that this chapter covers the complete history of God’s true people from Abraham to the Jews, to the Gentiles, and Jews who are saved during the Church Age. This covers thousands of years in our time, but in God’s time it is but a few days. To be fair to another viewpoint, Paul does stress the importance of being Jewish by blood in Romans 11. He seems to be saying that there will always be “Jewish blood” being saved but not all Jews will be saved. “Branches” (Jews) were definitely lopped off and “wild branches” (Gentiles) grafted in for salvation. The confusing verse for me is 26 where Paul says that “thus all Israel will be saved.” This is why dispensationalists believe a large number of Jews will accept Christ just before He returns. A large number, however, does not literally mean “all.”¬†Romans 11:5 again emphasizes only a remnant from the Jewish lineage¬† will be saved. Perhaps “all Israel” in verse 26 means every Jewish person who is truly born of God (born again in Christ) will be saved, along with true believers among Gentiles. This is what makes up True Israel. I think Paul is simply stating that heaven’s door is not closed to Jews since the Temple’s destruction in 70 A.D.

Hosea 3 – Once again, God promises good things to His people in the last days, even though they have been unfaithful. Verse 4 may refer to the fact that since 70 A.D. the Jews have had no temple or animal sacrificing going on throughout the Age of the Gentiles. According to Hebrews 1:2 and Acts 2:17, the “last days” began with the first coming of Jesus Christ and the Gospel going forth into the world.

Hosea 4 – God proclaims there is no faithfulness or knowledge of God in the land. These are the results – swearing, murder, stealing, deception, adultery, violence. This destroys the people because they have rejected knowledge of God. Oh that our country could learn from Jewish history!

Hosea 5 – Israel is getting so bad that Judah also is finally being affected by pride (v5) and practicing deceit (v10). God withdraws Himself from them until they acknowledge their guilt and seek His face.

Hosea 6 – There is an appeal to return to God because the prophet realizes that they can be healed and restored even though God is the One that has torn them apart. God tells them that He values loyalty over sacrifice, and knowledge of Him rather than burnt offerings (v6). Judah is mentioned again as going to have a good thing in the future (v11).

Application for Today: I think Hosea 6:6 touches upon a common problem – religion. Any religion, including false Christianity, deceives us into thinking we are secure with God, but God wants a loyal, loving relationship with us rather than rituals. This is of much more value to Him than people who just go to church unchanged and unchallenged. People who think God is satisfied with rituals, man-made traditions, and holding various positions within a church, have missed the heartbeat of our Father. It is quite amazing that a person can attend a church most of their life and never come to know God. I went to church up to about grade 9, then my parents stopped going, so I stopped too (much to my delight). Looking back, we had a organist/choir leader that was focused on performing perfectly each Sunday rather than seeking God (and extremely proud of her work). We also had a minister that stymied personal Bible study home groups in favor of finding ways to bring in more money to the church.

Religion is man’s attempt to reach God. Christianity is God’s attempt to reach man. True Christianity makes all the difference in the world and is totally unique compared to ANY OTHER religion. It’s all about God becoming a human and doing what we could not do, including laying down His earthly life accompanied by excruciating pain and rejection and embarrassment thus making eternal life for fallen humans possible. This concept is not contained in any other religion. In turn, those redeemed souls will be changed from the inside out and desire to follow and serve Jesus rather than merely believe in Him. The challenge in this life is not being true to man-made rituals and/or holding on to a belief. The road less traveled is the one where we allow God to perform the spiritual surgery necessary to become born-again (changed from the inside out). If we experience this, we will want to follow and serve Him and get Him as much credit and glory as we can reflect to Him during this life.

If you asked me in my religious days if I believed in God, I would have said yes. Did I believe also in Jesus? Yes. Those questions, however, were the wrong ones to ask. The correct one is, “Do you love Jesus with all of your heart, mind, soul, and strength, and are you following and serving Him?” I would have said no. Therefore, I was missing God until age 21 when I was born-again and fell in love with Jesus and suddenly wanted to do anything He asked of me. What caused this change? Reading the New Testament.

Hosea 7 – Describes Israel’s deep iniquity. They do not even consider that God remembers all their sin. Kings have all fallen and they have intermingled with surrounding heathen nations. This has weakened them without their realizing it. They turn to Egypt and Assyria for help rather than God. Those two nations have always been known for their worldliness and always have been at enmity with the Hebrews.

Hosea 8 – More announcements of judgments against Israel. Since they have rejected good, enemies will pursue them. They are so bad that they, as a nation, have melted in with the other pagan ones so that no one can see a difference. God’s purpose for Israel was to produce a Messiah for the entire world and to set them up as a beacon light so other people from other nations would want to get to know the real God. In spite of the Hebrew harlotry, God will still accomplish His Plan, but it will take time.

Hosea 9 – Israel regarded her prophets as crazy fools. God had enough. He will drive them out of Israel, even most of their children will not survive long.

Hosea 10Israel is portrayed as a “fat calf.” The more wealth she gets, the more altars to false gods she builds. The richer she becomes, the better quality are their “sacred” pillars. So the heart of Israel is faithless at this point. God will see to it that those altars and pillars are destroyed, and because they trust in strong armies, God will send hordes of armies to destroy them. Their condition is hardened against God like hard, lifeless soil that needs to be plowed up to be renewed and made useful again.

Applications for Today:

1) When Israel gained wealth, they spent it on their “sacred pillars.” This reminds me of churches today that spend their money on fancy church things rather than helping people, including mission work. If we have eyes to see, we can learn much from Jewish history.
2) God seems to destroy people by whatever they worship or trust in. A good example is the plagues against Egypt. Many were things the Egyptians worshiped such as frogs and the Nile River. Today it is similar. If we worship money, we will always long for more and that path destroys us (and maybe others). If we lust after drugs, they will turn on us and destroy us (and maybe others). If we worship (or lust after) power, power will destroy us (and maybe others). The list goes on. This is why God tells people to worship Him alone. There is a purity and a cleanness to this, unlike anything this world offers us. Israel was supposed to be the first group of people to not only discover this concept, but live it out so that other nations would “join the parade.”

Hosea 11 – Verse 1 says, “When Israel was a youth I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.” This might reflect God’s passion and nurturing of His people via the “Moses Exodus,” because Israel was a very young nation in Egypt. But Matthew 2:15 claims this verse is a prophecy of Jesus being led out of Egypt by Joseph and Mary when He was just an infant. Perhaps God is accomplishing two things here. This verse belongs to both the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. In both cases, Satan was about to destroy both the nation of Israel while in Egypt and the infant Jesus while in Bethlehem. Verses 8-11 speaks again of restoration and hope. In addition, it also may reflect the notion that Jesus Christ (and all who would be in Him) is the true Israel rather than full-blooded Jews.

Hosea 12 – Alliances with foreign nations is condemned because it reflects a lack of trust in God. (It seems they might be doing this very thing today with the United States). God used Jacob’s life as an example for His people to motivate them to desire to cling onto God and realize that human conniving and trickery (or alliances) will not work, but clinging to God does.

Application for Today: Each day we are challenged to fully trust in Christ for our needs. If we do not have enemies poised to kill us and if we have enough money, it is easy to take many needs for granted. But in a twinkling of an eye, false securities can evaporate. So let us be ever mindful of Who is allowing our every heart beat to continue. In today’s political world, it is rare to find a leader of a nation that fully trusts in God. Many seem to rely on alliances and military strength for their security. It is the way of this world, but not the way of the Kingdom of God, which will be the only Kingdom that lasts forever.

Hosea 13 – Easy times = Difficult Test

Again Hosea charged Israel with covenant unfaithfulness that called for destruction. They had become prosperous which made them forget God (v6). Israel’s helper would become her destroyer, yet in their future, judgment and death will loose their sting via Christ’s resurrection. Paul actually quoted verse 14 in 1 Cor. 15:55.

Hosea 14 – This was perhaps a final appeal to Israel to forsake its trust in vain things such as their own skills, horses (military strength), or alliances with foreign countries. If they repent, God still promises to forgive and restore. The last verse sums up the entire Book.

Application for Today: When we are prosperous (comfortable) in this life we are actually being sent a difficult test because few people will maintain their personal fervency for the Lord when times are easy.