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Lessons from the
Book of Hosea

By Ken Raggio

Hosea And His Wife Of Whoredoms

Hosea was contemporary with Isaiah, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah. The northern ten tribes of Israel were completely apostate, and Judah was in the process of backsliding. God instructed the prophet to engage in a provocative pantomime before the people. He was to marry a prostitute, and adopt the children of her whoredoms. The pantomime dramatized the appalling unfaithfulness of His whorish people.

Hosea 1:2 - "The LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD."

The Sin Of Unfaithfulness

It is a foolish thing to presume that God does not notice our unfaithfulness. When God sees us being intimate with the world, He calls it infidelity. God requires His people to love Him purely, and never compromise ourselves with the world, the flesh or the devil. No man can serve two masters. If you are torn between two lovers, you are an adulterer, a whoremonger in God's eyes. Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. Love the LORD your God.

Hosea 1:2 - "...the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD."

Gomer, Jezreel, Loruhamah, and Loammi

Gomer was the "wife of whoredoms" that Hosea took, as per God's instructions. She bore him three children. God gave Hosea the names of all three. Jezreel - "God will scatter" - was to notify Israel and King Jehu that God would soon judge them. A daughter was named Loruhamah - "no more mercy." The second son was named Loammi - "not my people." Nevertheless, God prophesied a future day of mercy.

Hosea 1:10 - "In the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God."

The Day Of Jezreel - Armageddon

Hosea was one of the first prophets in the days of the divided kingdom of Israel, even before Isaiah. His "doomsday" prophecies concerning Jezreel allude to the dreadful battle of Armageddon, and the complete regathering and restoration of a united Israel afterward, under one King.

Hosea 1:10-11 - "The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, ...Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel."

That Which Is Not Shall Be

In the first chapter, God named two of Hosea's children Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah, meaning "not my people," and "no more mercy," respectively - words of condemnation. But because of the wondrous and unconditional love of God for His people, he commanded them to be renamed, "my people," and "obtained mercy." If God was like men, he would have permanently cast His adulterous people away. But God truly loved Israel, and could not ultimately disown them. We should be profoundly encouraged by such inexplicable mercy.

Hosea 2:1 - "Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah."

Israel Turned Into Dry Wilderness Land

Mark Twain described his visit to the Holy Land in 1867. "Palestine sits in sackcloth and ashes. Over it broods the spell of a curse that has withered its fields and fettered its energies... Palestine is desolate and unlovely... It is a hopeless, dreary, heartbroken land... [a] desolate country ...given over wholly to weeds - a silent mournful expanse." God often warned Israel that unrepented sin would bring this judgment.

Hosea 2:2-3 - "Plead with your mother, plead: ...let her therefore put away her whoredoms ...her adulteries ...Lest I ...make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land."

Illicit Lovers Cannot Compare To True Love

Gomer - Hosea's "wife of whoredoms" symbolized Israel, who "played the harlot," saying, "I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink." For worshipping and burning incense to Baal, God cut off His blessings from Israel.

Hosea 2:8 - "Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now. For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal."

Earrings And Other Jewelry

When God first brought Israel out of Egypt, He blessed them with riches in jewelry. But after they turned their jewelry into golden calves, and worshipped them (Exodus 32:2-3), God ALWAYS hated jewelry after that. In Numbers 31, the people gave all their jewelry to Moses and Eleazar for a sin offering. God views jewelry with great disdain.

Hosea 2:13 - "I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD."

The Valley Of Achor; Ishi And Baali

God called Israel, His unfaithful wife, back to Him. "I will give her the valley of Achor for a door of hope." In Joshua's day, the place where Achan sinned became known as the "valley of trouble." God said to Israel, in effect, "I give you a valley full of trouble, and it will be your doorway back to God - your hope. Then you will love Me as a spouse, instead of a slave-master."

Hosea 2:16 - "At that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi [Husband]; and shalt call me no more Baali [Master]."

God Will Hear His Unfaithful Lover If She Will Return

God drafted the prophet Hosea to portray a divine moral lesson, by marrying a harlot. Hosea's corrupted marriage symbolized God's own spoiled relationship with whoremongering Israel. God denounced Israel for taking other lovers, and determined to break her evil habits. He begged her to quit her whoremongering and promised mercy in exchange for her faithfulness.

Hosea 2:21 - "I will hear, saith the LORD, ...I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God."

Many Days Without A King

God has the power and the ability to dismantle everything you put your trust in, other than Him. He warned Israel that He would completely dismantle their nation, their government and their religion if they did not repent. That happened exactly as they were warned. They suffered about 2000 years under that sentence of judgment.

Hosea 3:4-5 - "For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim. Afterward shall [they] seek the LORD... and David their king."

Israel Will Seek The LORD In The Latter Days

God instructed Hosea to purchase an adulteress harlot, and love her, to symbolize how He had to buy Israel's love. They loved other gods and strong drink. But God's blessings do not always buy people's love for Him. Israel's relationship with God was failing. He would make them "abide many days without a king, and without a prince," and love them from afar until their hearts turned back to Him.

Hosea 3:5 - "Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, ...and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days."

My People Are Destroyed For Lack Of Knowledge

This oft-quoted passage is a frightening rebuke from God. "Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." All Israel committed grievous sins: swearing, lying, stealing, adulteries, and murders. "Thou shalt fall, ...and the prophet ...with thee." Surely, our generation must face the same judgments. O, hear the word of the LORD!

Hosea 4:6 - "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee."

My People Ask Counsel At Their Stocks

Hosea prophesied during the same general time-frame as did Isaiah; concurrent with Kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah. During that time, Jeroboam led the northern ten tribes into gross idolatry. We cannot fully appreciate the intense fury that God feels when His people pray to other gods - which are no gods. Few things provoke God any worse than idolatry.

Hosea 4:12 - "My people ask counsel at their stocks [idols], and their staff [divining rods] declareth unto them: for the spirit of whoredoms hath caused them to err, and they have gone a whoring from under their God."

They Shall Seek Him And Not Find Him

Most people cannot comprehend the concept of spiritual adultery. They do not realize how God is offended when they are spiritually engaged with evil spirits. It is spiritual whoredom - spiritual adultery. Like Achan who had "goodly Babylonish" treasures hidden in his tent (in Joshua's day), men died because there was sin in the camp. Do not foolishly presume that God will receive you while you are in love with forbidden things.

Hosea 5:6 - "They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the LORD; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them."

Ephraim Must Pay For Their Bad Example

God leveled criticism and condemnation upon Ephraim, representing the northern tribes, because of their evil influence. "Judgment is toward you, because ye have been a snare on Mizpah, and a net spread upon [Mount] Tabor." They were "profound to make slaughter." God said "the spirit of whoredoms is in the midst of them, and they have not known the LORD."

Hosea 5:12,14 - "Therefore will I be unto Ephraim as a moth, and to the house of Judah as rottenness. ...I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, ...I will tear and go away; ...and none shall rescue him."

Return Unto The LORD - He Hath Torn, He Will Heal

In so many prophecies, God used metaphor and simile. Comparing Israel to a broken vessel, God promised to make them over, as a meticulous potter would. Comparing Israel to a valley of dry bones, God promised to raise them and make them live again. Like a smoking flax, God will not quench, but fan it into flames. And like a bruised reed, God will not break it, but mend it.

Hosea 6:1 - "Come, and let us return unto the LORD: for he hath torn, and he will heal us; he hath smitten, and he will bind us up."

After Two Days He Will Revive Us

The Apostle Peter declared that "one day is with the LORD as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day," (2 Peter 3:8). So God relegated Israel to TWO DAYS (two thousand years) of suffering and discipline (following their rejection of their Messiah), followed by ONE DAY (one thousand years) of glorious living in their Promised Land under the perfect rule of Jesus Christ - King of Kings and Lord of Lords.

Hosea 6:2 - "After two days will he revive us: in the third day he will raise us up, and we shall live in his sight."

The Former Rain And The Latter Rain

Jeremiah, Hosea and Joel prophesied former and latter rains. Most Israeli crops grow in winter. Most rain falls between November and May. Early rains sprout the plants, and latter rains finish the crops. Typologically, the Old Testament works of God were the first rain (Joel 2:23,28). The Holy Ghost outpouring on the New Testament church is the latter rain.

Hosea 6:3 - "Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth."

A Lament For Ephraim

Hosea was one of the first to mourn for the loss of the northern ten tribes of Israel. The idolatries and adulteries they began to do in Samaria and Shechem under the leadership of King Jeroboam never stopped for over 200 years (ca. 930-730 BC). The Assyrians finally carried them away. Hosea lamented their demise, which he witnessed with his own eyes. All their goodness fled away, like clouds and morning dew.

Hosea 6:4 - "O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? ...for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away."

God Brands Persistent Sinners, Refuses To Forget

God branded all the sinful northern ten tribes of Israel as "Ephraim," because it was an Ephraimite - King Jeroboam - who led them into idolatry and Baal-worship. "Jeroboam, who made all Israel to sin" is often repeated in the Bible. Unless you fully repent of your sins, they will follow you to your grave.

Hosea 7:11-12 - "Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. When they shall go, I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven; I will chastise them."

The Calf Of Samaria

If God has flash-backs, He must have had one when Jeroboam set up two golden calves in Samaria, and led Israel into idolatry. It was the same outrageously foolish stunt that Aaron did hundreds of years earlier, for which God almost killed the entire nation.

Hosea 8:4-6 "...of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them: ...the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces."

Sow To The Wind, Reap The Whirlwind

One of the greatest miracles in all God's creation is the miracle of the seed. Everything living has its seed within itself. But the seed is for reproduction after its kind. The seed is not to be defiled, profaned, or sown in vain. That is at the very heart of all morality. God despises all those who "sow to the wind;" those who frivolously squander their lives on riotous living. He guarantees that bad will come of it. Sow your life unto God.

Hosea 8:7 - "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind."

Reaping The Whirlwind

The whirlwind was a prophetic term used by several prophets in pronouncing judgment on Israel. It symbolized the coming of Armageddon - God's Day of Wrath - when Israel's sin will be finished. God's indignation will finally pass, and Messiah will begin the restitution of all things. Despite all that Israel has ever suffered, the worst is yet to come. Jacob's trouble, the Great Tribulation, will surpass anything they have ever known.

Hosea 8:14 - "For Israel hath forgotten his Maker, ...Judah hath multiplied fenced cities: but I will send a fire upon his cities, and it shall devour the palaces thereof."

They Shall Return To Egypt

God drove Ephraim (the northern tribes) out of the holy land for their sins. "They shall not dwell in the LORD'S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria," Hosea 9:3. Hosea prophesied around 735 BC. Most of Israel was originally taken captive by Assyria, but Josephus the historian records that around 320 BC, Ptolemy I took 120,000 Jews to Egypt from all over Syria and Palestine. As late as 1922 AD, 80,000 Jews lived in Egypt.

Hosea 9:6 - "Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them."

Fruitful Grapes And Figs

God created mankind to be fruitful, as a husbandman expects fruit from his vineyards and orchards. God expected to gather fruit from His chosen people, Israel, whom He often likened unto grapes on the vine, or figs on the tree. But the prophets often lamented the failure of His people to bear fruit. God wants us to bear fruit unto righteousness, not evil.

Hosea 9:10 - "I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame."

The Days Of Visitation

"The days of visitation are come." That is frightening news. These are days when God recompenses sin. In Isaiah, they are associated with desolation. In Jeremiah, they are associated with evil, darkness, falling, being cast down, perishing, and the day of calamity. When sinners face their days of visitation, it is over. "The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, ...the prophet is the snare of a fowler." The game is over.

Hosea 9:15,17 - "For the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, ...they shall be wanderers among the nations."

Israel - An Empty Vine

It is not good to present yourself empty-handed to the LORD, especially if you have given lavishly to self-gratification. God weighs your priorities. If you give your life, your talents, and your energies to selfish, worldly living, He will remember it harshly when you come to judgment.

Hosea 10:1-2 - "Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; ...they have made goodly images. Their heart is divided; now shall they be found faulty: he shall break down their altars, he shall spoil their images."

Unrepentant People Only Grow Worse

Hosea recalled a long-past event, when Jews in Gibeah raped and murdered an innocent woman in the days of the Judges, resulting in a civil war that cost thousands of lives. He declared that Israel had only become more evil since then, adding idolatry and worshipping golden calves to their sins. He prophesied that God swore to shame them by giving their "god" AND the people over to the Assyrians.

Hosea 10:6 - "It shall be also carried unto Assyria for a present to king Jareb: Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel."

It Is Time To Seek The LORD

Just a little earlier, the prophet had denounced the people for their sins and concluded that they would seek the LORD and would not find Him, because "He hath withdrawn Himself from them," (5:6). Then, in a sudden about-face, he said, "It is time to seek the LORD." God may sometimes withdraw from you because you provoked His anger, but that is all the more reason why you should seek Him until He responds.

Hosea 10:12 - "Break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you."

Backsliding Israel Sent To Serve The King Of Assyria

God said that He loved Israel when he was young, and called him out of Egypt. But they worshipped other gods and graven images. God taught them the ways of life in His law and His word, and He lovingly compelled them by helping them and providing for them. But they would not turn back to Him. So, instead of sending them back to Egypt, He sent them first to Assyria to serve the Assyrian king.

Hosea 11:7 - "My people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him."

God's Heart Would Not Let Him Utterly Destroy Israel

God's wrath was thoroughly kindled against Israel, but He knew that if He loosed His fiercest anger, they would disappear forever. He remembered Admah and Zeboim, cities that were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 14:2), and His heart was turned to mercy.

Hosea 11:8-9 - "How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? ...I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, ...for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee."

Pray Like The Partiarchs

Hosea reminded Israel of their patriarch Jacob, in his efforts to turn them back to righteousness. Jacob was the "heel-grabber" who fought to gain position and favor with God. "He had power over the angel, and prevailed." Hosea struggled to inspire the people to pray. Did you have godly ancestors who were more prayerful than yourself? Remember, and follow their example.

Hosea 12:4,6 - "He wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us; ...Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually."

God Reinforced The Ministry Of Prophets Over Israel

God indicted Ephraim/Israel as a deceitful merchant and an oppressor, boasting of riches, smug in self-confidence, and denying all wrong-doing. But God restated his sovereign rights to them, which He had exercised as far back as their exodus from Egypt. He vowed to continue to put forward His prophets with visions and similitudes to speak to and govern them.

Hosea 12:9-10,14 - "I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt... I have also spoken by the prophets, a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved."

Kissing Calves And Smoking Chimneys

The pagan, idolatrous abominations that became commonplace in Israel defied the best rebukes. Hosea grasped for word-pictures to persuade the people to abandon their loathsome practices. Those who kiss idols, he said, God will blow away like clouds and smoke.

Hosea 13:2-3 - "They ...have made them molten images, ...they say of them, Let the men that sacrifice kiss the calves. Therefore they shall be as the morning cloud, and as the early dew that passeth away, as the chaff that is driven with the whirlwind out of the floor, and as the smoke out of the chimney."

A Lion, A Leopard, And An Angry Bear

I do not want God to pursue me as would a lion, a leopard, or an angry bear. But if personal sin threatens me with eternal damnation, I want God to do whatever it takes to startle me to my senses. The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Scare me.

Hosea 13:7-9 - "Therefore I will be unto them as a lion: as a leopard by the way will I observe them: I will meet them as a bear that is bereaved of her whelps, ...O Israel, thou hast destroyed thyself; but in me is thine help."

Israel's True King Is God

God was always jealous of Israel trusting earthly kings more than Himself. "I will be thy king; where is any other that may save thee?" (13:10). At first, God gave them Saul, but removed him for insubordination. In reality, nobody can truly govern mankind but God. Earthly kings could not keep Israel from gross and unrestrained sins. Only an all-knowing King can uncover and penalize hidden sin.

Hosea 13:12-14 - "The iniquity of Ephraim [Israel] is bound up; his sin is hid. The sorrows of a travailing woman shall come upon him: he is an unwise son."

Take With You Words

I cannot estimate how much of the Old Testament writings consist of rebukes for Israel's backsliding, but it certainly is a major segment. The prophets never stopped trying to waken the people to righteousness. Again and again, they laid out patterns for approaching God in contrition and repentance. Start by opening your mouth and speaking humbly and honestly to God.

Hosea 14:1-2 - "O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity. Take with you words, and turn to the LORD: say unto him, Take away all iniquity, and receive us graciously."

Miraculous, Ultimate Fullness

All the allegories God ever used to describe His people will be epitomized when He returns to save them. Their "vine" will flourish, as will their roots, their branches, even their scent! Only God our Savior can impute miraculous, ultimate fullness.

Hosea 14:5-7 "I will be as the dew unto Israel: he shall grow as the lily, and cast forth his roots as Lebanon. His branches shall spread, and his beauty shall be as the olive tree, ...they shall revive as the corn, and grow as the vine: the scent thereof shall be as the wine of Lebanon."

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