Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Hosea|
Introduction to Hosea
To understand Hosea, we need to understand what was happening when he was prophesying. Most of what he says was to Israel, the divided northern kingdom. Note the following approximate dates and events. (Warning: different chronological systems of dating vary dates, so these are only guidelines).
From 1:1 we see Hosea prophesied up to and through (apparently) the fall of Israel as the northern kingdom. Israel, as a nation, had divided after Solomon, into Judah in the south and Israel in the north (see 1 Kings 12). Apart from 1:1 there are no historical clues in the book as to times and events. It is quite clear however, that Hosea brought warning after warning in the closing years of the northern kingdom.
The Purpose of the Book
The book of Hosea is an indictment against the northern kingdom of Israel. The inception of the northern kingdom had been because of wrong attitudes, and idol worship had been established from the outset (you must read 1 Kings 12!) and for most of its history, it had been a downward path spiritually. Yet God's voice comes again and again to this nation calling them back, but they refuse.
P art 1 : A Picture of God's Love
In this first section of Hosea we will see a most amazing prophetic picture being acted out, showing the incredible love that God has for His people. We will never be able to say He didn't love this people He judged.
Chapter: Hosea 1
Passage: Hosea 1:1-5
A. Find Out:
1. Through how many kings' reigns did Hosea prophesy? v.1
2. What sort of wife and children was Hosea to have? v.2a
3. Why? v.2b
4. So what did Hosea do and with what result? v.3
5. What was Hosea to call him? v.4a
6. Why? v.4b,5
If today a prophecy came to a young man, “Take a wife who is of poor character, who will be unfaithful to you, have children who will be a grief to you”, we would probably denounce it as a false prophecy because prophecy “speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort” (1 Cor 14:3). Yet this WAS God's intention for this young prophet, with the greater aim that he would learn to feel as God felt.
We tend to think that prophetic gifting is something good, something that brings blessing immediately, but the word that comes to Hosea is going to bring him pain and anguish and it will be over the long term. God wants his servant to feel fully as He feels so that he can communicate the truth about Israel more adequately. Israel had been unfaithful to God and so after many years of warning, the Lord was going to destroy the northern kingdom of Israel, but He was not doing it harshly, He was doing it with all the anguish of a husband who has been deserted, and Hosea, as His servant, is to share in that anguish through very practical means.
SPECIAL NOTE : Jezreel
We have focused on Hosea's role as one who is to feel as God feels. In doing that we have not taken note of the significance of the name that was to be given to his first son.
Jezreel & Jehu
Jezreel was both a city and a valley in the centre of the northern kingdom of Israel. Ahab had used it as a home for his family many years before (see 2 Kings 9 & 10). Elisha the prophet had anointed Jehu to come against the family of Ahab after his death (2 Kings 9:6-10).
Jehu proceeded against Joram, Ahab's son now ruling, (2 Kings 9:14 -24), and against Jezebel, Ahab's wife still alive (2 Kings 9:30 -37), and finally against the seventy sons of Ahab at Jezreel (2 Kings 10:1-11,17). He also destroyed all the prophets of Baal (2 Kings 10:18 -28) but did not himself fully turn to the Lord (2 Kings 10:29 ,31). He was praised by God for dealing with Ahab's family and was promised the throne for four generations. Jehoahaz, Jehoash, Jeroboam and Zechariah followed as kings of Israel until Shallum assassinated Zechariah and Jehu's family tree was broken, just as prophesied. (2 Kings 15:10-12)
Why an end to Jehu's family?
The one thing that comes over again and again about Jehu and his subsequent sons who were kings, was that they followed in the way of Jeroboam, son of Nebat when he had led Israel astray to worship idols (1 Kings 12:26-29, 2 Kings 10:29,31, 13:2,11, 14:24, 15:9). It is clear from this that Jehu's zeal in dealing with Ahab's family was less zeal for the Lord and more zeal for his own position. For this reason the Lord held him and his family accountable for the massacre at Jezreel. Because he had been obedient and responded to the prophetic word, Jehu had been commended by the Lord but his sin went down the generations to the fourth generation (See Exo 20:5, 34:7, Num 14:18 , Deut 5:9)
God looks at the true intent of the heart and will respond to a bad heart, and He does not forget! When He declares a word, He will fulfil it, even four generations later. Hosea is the reminder of that!
Chapter: Hosea 1
Passage: Hosea 1:6 - 2:1
A. Find Out:
1. What was Hosea to call his daughter? v.6a
2. Why? v.6b
3. Yet what did the Lord promise? v.7
4. What was Hosea to call his second son? v.8,9a
5. Why? v.9b
6. Yet what did the Lord promise? v.10,11,1
Hebrew names so often had a meaning, so that every time they were spoken the meaning would be spoken out and the people reminded. How terrible therefore, that every time the two children were called there would be the awful proclamation that God no longer loved this people and indeed declared they were no longer His people. What a prophetic couple of children!
Despite this, the Lord declares His long-term intention for Israel and Judah IS GOOD! He will show love to them, He WILL save them, He WILL bring them into a new relationship with Him whereby they WILL be called sons of God, and they WILL be a mighty people and they WILL be united under one ruler! There is nothing indefinite about all this: in the short term He will deal with their apostasy, and yet in such a way that His long-term purposes will continue.
In Rom 8:28 Paul said that God would work all things together for good for us. That doesn't mean that “all things” are good, for some times the sin of the world or even our own sin gets us into difficulties, yet this wonderful God of grace and mercy will still work these things through for our long-term good. In the short term there may be discipline and pain but in the long-term..... blessing!
Chapter: Hosea 2
Passage: Hosea 2:2-7
A. Find Out:
1. What is he commanded to do? v.2a
2. Why? v.2b,5a
3. What does the Lord threaten to do? v.3,4
4. What had Israel done? v.5b
5. So what did the Lord say He would do? v.6,7a
6. With what result? v.7b
The Lord pictures Israel as His wife, the nation as the mother of the people alive that day. But then He says, “She is not my wife, she has become adulterous and unfaithful and has left me for others, so I am no longer the one she is solely committed to”. True marriage is two people solely committed to each other, and adultery breaks that commitment.
Very well, says the Lord, rebuke her, so that she might come back, otherwise I will completely expose her for what she is. I will no longer show love to those who are alive today, her children, because they haven't grown up in relationship with me but in relationship with others. Israel had relied upon others instead of God. They have looked to others for their provision, and not the Lord, therefore He says, I will block her off from them in the hope she will come back to me.
Here we have first an angry and rightly jealous God who has been rejected. But we also find that His desire is still to bring them back to Himself if that is possible. Still there is grace in the midst of discipline, mercy in the midst of judgement. Look back to the Special Note on Jezreel and see again how the Jehu and those who had followed after him continued in idol worship. No wonder God is angry!
Chapter: Hosea 2
Passage: Hosea 2:8-13
A. Find Out:
1. What has Israel not acknowledged? v.8
2. Therefore what will the Lord do? v.9
3. How will it appear to others? v.10
4. What will the Lord stop? v.11
5. What will He then do to the land? v.12
6. Why will the Lord punish her? v.13
Let's first observe the various sins of Israel that are identified in this passage. First there is the sin of ungratefulness as they refuse to acknowledge who it is that provides for them (see also Rom 1:21 ).
Second, there is idol worship as they offered food to Baal.
Third, there is spiritual adultery (which is just another aspect of idolatry) as they went to others rather than God. Ultimately all this can be lumped under the one heading: rejection of God . All sin is ultimately that, rejection of God.
We are the same when we take for granted our daily provision, when we take for granted the good things that come to us, and fail to give thanks to God for HIS good provision. When we place our reliance in anything other than God, we too are turning to idols at the expense of our personal relationship with God.
The Lord's intentions were quite clear: He would take away all of His provision for Israel and He would let their bankruptcy be seen by all nations round about. We need to be quite clear, this is no capricious act of a piqued God; this is the action of an all-wise God who knows that how all nations think of Him is all important. He wants to reach the whole world with His love but if they appear to be His people yet worship idols, that conveys a very wrong message.
Chapter: Hosea 2
Passage: Hosea 2:14-23
A. Find Out:
1. What does the Lord say He will do? v.14
2. With what results? v.15
3. What will happen in respect of relationship? v.16,23
4. What will happen about past idolatry? v.17
5. What will happen in respect of the land? v.18,22
6. What characterise the betrothal mentioned? v.19,20
What a shock! The previous passage spoke of judgement and discipline and destruction and we might expect the “Therefore” of v.14 to continue it, but instead it goes exactly the opposite way! Future restoration is promised (see the following Special Note on Fulfilment) and a graphic picture is given to emphasise it.
First is the call of a lover who will win over the loved one, who promises to change trouble into hope, by the re-establishing of a loving relationship whereby God will be the husband and Israel the betrothed one. Idols will be removed so there will be no competition!
Second is the promise that this restoration will affect their entire lives and the very land will be changed and blessing and security will come again.
Third is the indication of the means of the re-establishing of the relationship, or, if you like, the characteristics of it. The rejoining will be eternal (v.19a) and it will come about through righteousness and justice; it will also involve love and compassion and the Lord's faithfulness. In other words it will not involve just turning a blind eye to sin, but dealing with it, yet with the Lord's love.
SPECIAL NOTE : Fulfilment
Within these prophecies we are finding two recurring strands:
1. Warning of Judgement
2. Promise of Restoration
a) Return from exile
b) The Coming of the Messiah
c) The Formation of the Church
d) The Return of Christ
A. Find Out:
1. What did the Lord tell Hosea to do? v.1a
2. Of what was this to be a picture? v.1b
3. So what did he do? v.2
4. What did he tell her? v.3
5. What will initially happen to Israel ? v.4
6. When will it eventually happen? v.5
There are two parts to this brief chapter: first the prophetic picture and then the practical application.
First the prophetic picture acted out by Hosea. He was to go and find his ex-wife and buy her back from slavery and love her in a practical way. There is nothing to say she regretted her present plight but the application would make us think that this was probably so. This must have been a very real challenge to Hosea who must have felt badly about his wife leaving him for another, but now he must put aside all those hurts and love her again. What a picture.
Yes, says the Lord, Israel will be in captivity without their own king, without their own religious practices and without a sense of being loved. In that state they will come to their senses and will seek God again and look for a deliverer, in the last days. That last phrase suggests there may be more than one prophetic fulfilment to this prophecy. Yes in the near future they will seek God and be returned to their land, but in the long-term history of God there will also come a time when Israel, as a nation, will seek after God and will find their deliverer. Last days, in New Testament language at least, means the days after the coming of Jesus and sometimes the end of the last times, yet to come.
RECAP - "A Picture of God's Love" - Hosea 1 - 3
In this first group of 6 studies we have seen :
This prophetic picture at the beginning of this book is one of the most poignant in the Old Testament. Hosea was to take an unfaithful woman as wife and then was to name his children with names that would speak about Israel's lack of relationship with the Lord. Hosea's wife apparently left him for another and eventually ended up being sold into slavery. It was then that he was told to go and buy her back and restore her to himself.
The prophetic imagery needs little amplification. This is how Israel was with her “husband”, the Lord, committing spiritual adultery, going after foreign gods, and eventually going into captivity. Yet the Lord would bring His people back to Him. This is the grace and mercy of God who persists in His love for His people.
1. God wants His servants to feel as He feels for His people.
2. Short term discipline should be seen with long term blessing.
3. God is rightly jealous when we turn elsewhere.
4. We cannot serve two masters. God will not turn a blind eye.
5. God seeks constantly to restore us to Himself.
Ask the Lord to open your eyes to see the wonder of His love.
PART 2 : "Basic Indictments of Unfaithfulness"
In this next Part we see the prophetic word coming, laying out the charges against Israel. Seek to understand the detail and the depth of the sin of Israel that you may understand why it was that God was going to bring destruction to them as a nation.