The Prophet Series: Hosea, part 2
Hosea Part 2: Book summary.
Hosea was a man willing to sacrifice his life in order to fulfill the will of God. God instructs him to marry a prostitute, have children with her, give them names signifying judgment, and he is to redeem his prostitute wife after she runs off and commits adultery against him. His is a life called to be a painting depicting the stormy relationship between God and His bride Israel.
How many are willing to sacrifice such things for the plan of God? We are sure that the number is few. God is sovereign. He could force us to do anything He wished, but rather He allows us to make our own choices between the options that are before us. Hosea makes his choice while many in Israel make another kind of choice.
It is clearly stated by God that every man is without excuse, ROM 1:20. The glory of God can be exchanged for the lie.
Hosea’s book is a plea to Israel, a pronouncement of judgment and wrath upon them, and the promise of restoration and hope for the future. The judgments pronounced are dire. The warnings given are as clear and crisp as the loudest siren. The promises are as tender as you will ever read in the scriptures.
Apparently, my challenge at the end of the last blog to go and read the book was actually taken up by some. Bravo! Please keep reading through the prophets. I will not form a habit of that kind of shaming or appealing to the conscience, but then again, maybe I will. Of course, it is not up to me to motivate anyone, but a little push never hurts, too much.
My favorite parts of this book are when God speaks to Israel as a tender lover. He conveys a broken heart that breaks your own. Yet the promise of restoration is several times repeated. He will fulfill His covenant though His dearest has left Him and taken other lovers right before His eyes.
I remind you of the fact that Hosea prophesied for about sixty years, the final sixty years of the life of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He was not alone. There were hundreds and maybe thousands of prophets in Israel of whom we have never heard. Yet Hosea does have contemporaries that we have heard and we will learn of them as well.
I’ll try and keep the rest of the prophets in as chronological an order as I can.
As for Hosea’s book, chapters 1-3 are a summary of the whole, which refers to the next 60 years and the good news of the Second Coming of Christ when He will make Israel “My people.”
Isaiah was told to walk around naked for three years. Ezekiel was told to lay on his side for many days. Hosea was told to marry a prostitute. If these were not actions at all and were only symbolic then they lose all their import. They are real and the lessons in them are symbolic.
Harlotry in the OT was a picture of Israel’s idol worship. Hosea was to actually live this out, experience it for himself, and turn a mirror to the clouded eyes of Israel’s people. Hosea was to marry someone who would cause him grief as Israel had caused grief to God.
The opening of chapter two immediately draws the eyes of the reader to the salvation of the Lord.
HOS 2:1 Say to your brothers, "Ammi," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah."
The Lord calls the people to greet one another with “My people” (God’s people) and “favored.” These words are simply the names of two of Hosea’s children without the negative “lo” at the front. Is it not amazing of our God to still call for glad tidings in the midst of such a people who have rejected Him?
To the stiff-necked, these greetings would mean nothing. They would mock them and go right on with their foolish ways. Yet there is, as there always was, a remnant of believers in the nation. They would find the comfort they craved in these words.
Sin has to be judged.
Salvation is a matter of life and death, and so it is in chapter two. God’s promise of a future came with a warning for the present as well as the future. Those who reject Him will be judged. God is holy and God is love. His love is not some sentimental kind that pampers sinners and looks away from sin. All sin was to be judged in Christ. The gospel is a fragrance of Christ, Who is life to some and death to others.
2CO 2:15-16 For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?
In Hos 2 God comes down harshly on three sins: idolatry (spiritual adultery), ingratitude, and hypocrisy. He calls Israel to put away her idolatry and return to Him. The imagery of God’s brutality mixed in with His broken heart is magnificent. He speaks like a tender husband who once could freely give to his beloved in great abundance, loving her with all His soul, and to which she responded in kind.
God speaks of Himself and Israel as impassioned lovers. But then she turned from the Great Husband to follow after the filth of other men who were not worthy of her. She defiled herself right before the eyes of Him who saved her and blessed her with such abundance. Yet, she laughs with her false lovers in greater and steadier ignorance. His response as a Husband was brutal. She would reap all that she sowed.
Through the prophet Ezekiel God describes His calling of Israel out of Egypt, so many years before this, as Himself passing by an abandoned, naked newborn infant thrown into an empty field, unwashed, and with umbilical cord still attached, to whom He had pity, and to whom He gave life. He loved her and adorned her as His wife, and now, some 700 years later, she has come to this.
The beloved wife is a harlot and then an adultress and still the Husband redeems her.
As the bee flies to another garden so God quickly switches back to Israel’s harlotry in chapter three. Hosea must redeem a woman who is loved by her husband but yet she is an adultress.
The adulteress is likely Gomer, and Hosea was to redeem her. She is purchased for the price of a dead slave (EXO 21:32), which means that after she ran off with another man she was unable to support herself and fell into a great debt that a worn out and undesirable harlot could not pay off in the old way. Gomer stands in the market as a slave for sale. No one will redeem her even at the price of a dead slave. Scores of people pass by only to give her a disgusted glance. No one wants her. And yet, her husband appears and redeems her and takes her home.
Praise God for His lovingkindness and mercy that are forever!
“And I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In lovingkindness and in compassion,”
Chapters 4-14 read like a ship crewed by thieves and scallywags on a stormy sea without rudder or compass.
The people are harlots.
They will be judged.
They could so easily repent.. But they won’t.
“I require compassion and not sacrifice” (6:6) says the Captain, and thus said the Lord Jesus, quoting Hosea to the religious leaders of Israel on three separate occasions.
The people are greatly deceived.
Another nation will destroy you.
Punishment is coming.
You took the wonderful wedding gifts that I gave you and you gave them to false gods!?!
You broke My heart. (Chapter 11 is magnificent)
You’re a fool! Even now I plead with you to return to Me.
And the last word:
Just return to Me with words and you will be healed.
O Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
It is I who answer and look after you.
I am like a luxuriant cypress;
From Me comes your fruit.
9 Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
Whoever is discerning, let him know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right,
And the righteous will walk in them,
But transgressors will stumble in them.
Lately I have been finding myself in moments of deep melancholy for the world. The more I come to know of my Lord and Husband I am astounded by the blindness that infects the generations of men. I pray all eyes are opened.
To Him be the glory, both today and forever,
Pastor Joe Sugrue
Grace and Truth Ministries.