Daily Bible Studies
|Series Theme: Studies in Hosea|
Chapter: Hosea 11
Passage: Hosea 11:1-4
A. Find Out:
1. How does God refer to Israel? v.1
2. What happened though? v.2
3. What had He done? v.3
4. What further 3 things does He say He did? v.4
The previous chapter had been all about the punishment that was coming to Israel, but now the tone changes completely. It is as if we are allowed a glimpse into the heart of God, a glimpse behind all the words of judgement, into the heart that feels. In these verses there is almost a wistful longing as the Lord remembers the early years of Israel. Sometimes parents reminisce over their grown up children, remembering what they were like when they were babies. There is an element of this here.
The Lord remembers when He called Israel out of Egypt, how He had loved, protected and provided for this infant nation when He first brought them into being. He had taught them to walk, and they had walked out of Egypt into the Promised Land and into nationhood. He had taken them in His arms and they had known His protection in their travels and in the early years of their existence. He had brought healing to them and blessed them with health. He had taken the yoke of slavery off them, brought them out of Egypt and fed them.
This was all the care of a loving Father for His little child. Yet they had turned away, they had not appreciated the wonder of what they had, they turned to the idols of foreign religions and allowed false worship to take over the life of the nation. Do you catch the sense of sorrow in the Lord's heart here?
Chapter: Hosea 11
Passage: Hosea 11:5-11
A. Find Out:
1. What is almost certain to happen? v.5
2. What will actually happen? v.6
3. What are they determined to do? v.7
4. What is happening in the Lord's heart? v.8
5. What does He resolve? v.9
6. For what does He see can happen? v.10,11
Here is a very precious passage, showing the struggle going on in the Lord's heart. First of all the Lord sees the outcome of the present situation: Israel will not repent and therefore, as they refuse the Lord's blessing and protection, they will end up being taken by the invading nations. They have determined to go their own way and even if they do call out to God it will be for their own selfish motives and not because they see their sin and want to turn away from it.
Then comes the Lord's compassion. His heart goes out to His Israel. He considers the two cities of the plains that were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah, and He resolves that Israel must not be totally destroyed like they were. Yet they WILL be carried away into exile. Will this be their end? What will He do?
He will send them into exile but He will call them back again. He will not leave them in exile, He will move upon their captors, He will call out to them and turn their hearts and He will call them back to the land again. How amazing this prophecy, for years later after the southern two tribes had been carried away as well, the Lord moved on Cyrus, and moved on the hearts of the Israelites in captivity, and brought them back once again. It was done!
SPECIAL NOTE : Eternal God v God of Today
Within chapter 11 we have been acknowledging the Lord as one who anguishes over His people, who seems to question Himself about them. As we observe this, we have to remember that God shows Himself to us in two distinct ways:
God of Eternity
On one hand the Bible reveals God to us as the One who dwells in eternity, the One who seems to be outside of time, who oversees all of history. In this sense He is the God who sees all and knows everything. He sees and knows every aspect of history. It is like He stands outside of time and looks down on history as we might look down on a road high up from the view in an aircraft. In this sense He knows everything.
God of Today
On the other hand He comes to us in our everyday lives also as the God of Today, the God who seems to be here and now in our circumstances, who encounters us and has dealings with us in a very personal way. In this way He seems to share with us the anguishes that go on in His heart as He responds to us at every turn.
Reconciling the Two?
How can we reconcile the two? We can't, He is God! He is both outside of time, the eternal God, AND inside of time, the ever-present One. They are just two ways of showing us different facets of God: one one hand the One who is so great, all-mighty, all-powerful, all-knowing, and on the other hand, the One who is caring, compassionate, intimate, personal. Recognise and rejoice in both aspects of the Lord.
Chapter: Hosea 11
Passage: Hosea 11:12 - 12:6
A. Find Out:
1. Against who does the Lord speak? v.12
2. What sins of Israel does He identify? v.1
3. With what does He charge Judah? v.2,6
4. How was that clarified in his early history? v.3
5. Yet what did he come into? v.3,4
Ephraim, or the northern kingdom of the ten tribes of Israel, is once again indicted with the sins of deceit, lies, violence and of consorting with nations who worship other gods. The futility of all this is pictured as chasing the wind (v.1).
But the southern kingdom, Judah, is now also indicted, although the indictment is somewhat enigmatic. First He says He will simply punish Judah for his ways, but then He uses the name Jacob to describe the southern kingdom, and Jacob was a twister or deceiver. The implication from verse 6 is that Judah had drifted away from the Lord, and the previous verses suggest that the same characteristics of self-effort that had been in Jacob are now in Judah.
The Lord reminds them that from the beginning Jacob was named as a deceiver (see footnote in your Bible). Yes, he had even wrestled with God in his folly but yet out of that had been commended by God and had entered into a long term relationship with the Lord. Now the Lord reminds them of that relationship and that old propensity, and simply calls them to leave the life of self-effort and come back to Him. There is within this word almost a sense of gentleness in the Lord's call as He remembers Jacob's youth, almost with a sense of affection, perhaps even a sense of wistful yearning for them. This is the grace and love of God expressed.
Chapter: Hosea 12
Passage: Hosea 12:7-14
A. Find Out:
1. Who does what ? v.7
2. How does Israel act and think? v.8
3. What did the Lord do and what will He do? v.9,10
4. What have the people done but what will happen? v.11
5. What had Jacob done in his life? v.12
6. Yet how had Israel, the nation, been brought forth? v.13
In the first half of the chapter, Judah is likened to Jacob the twister, the self-sufficient one. Now it is Israel's turn for a similar comparison. The word for “merchant” is similar in sound in the Hebrew to the word Canaan with the subtle inference that Israel have become more like the Canaanites in their behaviour. They boast that they have become rich and self-sufficient, and that leads into the deception of feeling that they are secure. The Lord challenges that security.
First He reminds them that when He brought them out of Egypt they had lived in tents and had not had the security of established towns. He will return them to that state! He had spoken to Israel throughout its history by His prophets, and He will continue to do so. The word will continue to come against the false worship of idols, and the pagan altars will be destroyed and scattered.
Next He contrasts the way Jacob had originally worked in his self-sufficient manner to establish himself and his family. Yet by the time they had grown to the size of a nation, they needed God to deliver them and enable them to come out as a nation. The same is still true today but they, in their foolishness, have fallen for the lie that they can exist without God. They will soon see that they cannot!
Chapter: Hosea 13
Passage: Hosea 13:1-8
A. Find Out:
1. What had Ephraim been like and had done what? v.1
2. What extent had they gone to? v.2
3. So what will happen to them? v.3
4. What does the Lord command them? v.4
5. What had he done but how had they responded? v.5,6
6. So what will the Lord do? v.7,8
We see in this passage why the Lord refers again and again to Israel as Ephraim. Ephraim had been a strong tribe and out of it came Jeroboam who rebelled against Rehoboam, Solomon's son, and led the ten northern tribes out from under his reign. In that Ephraim was exalted (v.1) but then he set up the two calves at Bethel and Dan and that led the northern kingdom into idol worship from which they never escaped. In fact it got worse and worse until they were charged with even offering child sacrifices like some of their pagan neighbours.
The Lord thunders against them with the first of the ten commandments (see Exo 20:2,3) and reminds them that He it was who had saved them from Egypt and in the desert and established them as a strong nation, yet they turned away in their pride.
Very well, says the Lord, you will be like the morning mist, or the morning dew, or chaff from a threshing floor, or smoke from a fire; you will be wafted away, you will exist no more! Indeed I will be seen to come at them like an angry, wild animal and destroy them. In this we see the two aspects of the Lord's heart. One part cries out in compassion for them and refuses to totally destroy them (11:8-11) while the other part cries out in righteous anger against the sin that is there.
Chapter: Hosea 13
Passage: Hosea 13:9-16
A. Find Out:
1. Why will Israel be destroyed? v.9
2. At whom does the Lord scoff? v.10a
3. What had they asked and what had the Lord done? v.10b,11
4. What does the prophet say Israel is like? v.13
5. Yet what does God say He will do? v.14
6. Yet what will still happen? v.15,16
Not an easy passage! First of all explanation (v.9-11): you will be destroyed because you didn't turn to God for help. You had asked for a king early in your history as if he would be able to help you in times of trouble but now you see that that isn't so. You broke away from the Davidic kings and now you are in trouble that is beyond you!
Next a condemnation (12,13): Your guilt has been piling up and all your wrongs noted. You deserve judgement. Pains have come to you as a nation, pains of suffering under the enemy and in internal social turmoil, pains that are meant to call you out into the open to face your God in repentance. Instead, like a child in the womb refusing to be born, you refuse to come to God.
Third, is warning of destruction, without it meaning the end. First here, a promise that God will redeem them as a nation from total death, i.e. as a nation this will not be their end. Yes destruction will come and many will be killed by the invading enemy, but it will not be the end of the nation. We must see here the difference between destruction of the individual and destruction of the nation. Israel will go into captivity but it will not be the end of the nation for God still has plans for its future, but sinful individuals will die, now.
A. Find Out:
1. What does Hosea exhort Israel to do? v.1,2
2. What 3 things do they need to realise? v.3
3. What does the Lord want to do with Israel? v.4,5a
4. How does He picture Israel? v.5b-7
5. What does He yearn to do? v.8
6. Who does He look for to do what? v.9
This last chapter is almost a heart yearning of the Lord. There is first the cry of the prophet to the people, reflecting God's heart, to come back to God. In the light of the verses that follow there is almost a gentle pleading in it. The call is to ask for forgiveness, to recognise that other nations can't help, their own strength can't help and idols certainly can't help, only the Lord can.
Then comes the Lord's response, which must be seen as a response IF that happens. Almost as an encouragement to repent He tells them what He will do IF they come back to Him: He will heal them, love them, be a source of life and refreshment to them, care for them.
They could be like a tall, strong cedar, beautiful to behold, that would provide shade and protection for many others to come to. They could be like the corn or a vine at harvest time that produces sustenance and pleasure for many others. If only they could see their potential and turn away from all the things the Lord has spoken against and come back to Him. Then all these things could be theirs again. It simply needs them to be wise and to face their present state and its causes and come back. There is here a cry of hope from the Lord, it is a winning cry that any wise person would heed, yet, tragically, Israel will not heed it!
In this final group of 7 studies we have seen :
In these final chapters of the book of Hosea, in the midst of the continuing judgement of Israel, we are allowed to glimpse the heart of the Lord. In some ways the last four chapters balance the first three chapters with their revelation of the anguishing heart of God for His nation, Israel.
At the beginning had been the picture of the unfaithful wife being bought back, a picture of incredible grace and mercy. Here at the end of the book, there are similar glimmers of the Lord's grace as He reveals His heart, anguishing for the nation, and offering it hope for the future, a glorious future, if only they will return.
1. The Lord sees us as little children.
2. The Lord does not delight in judgement and death (see Ezek 18:32).
3. Yet the Lord sees us as we are, and cannot be fooled by us.
4. He constantly holds out the offer of forgiveness to us.
5. Forgiveness can only come after repentance.
6. Blessing will always follow repentance and forgiveness.
Thank the Lord for the wonder of His love that keeps on reaching out, seeking to bring foolish man back to Himself. Thank Him for the expressions of His love and compassion that you have seen in these last chapters. Thank Him for the wonder of His love that has reached out to us through the Cross of Christ.
Ask that the wonder of the things seen in this book, as well as the awesome holiness of the God who cannot be deceived, will be indelibly printed on your heart for the rest of your life.
In this book of Hosea we have seen:
So, as we conclude our readings in this book (which is not an easy one to read!), what have we seen that we ought to take away with us? The following are some suggestions:
1. The Sinfulness of Man
The book is, after all, largely made up of prophecies that expose the sin of Israel, the northern kingdom after Solomon's reign. When the northern tribes had rebelled against the reign of Solomon's son they were aware that they lacked a spiritual dimension to their national life - and so created their own spiritual focus in the form of two golden calves. From then on it was mostly spiritual decline caused by the snare of idol worship.
Many people acknowledge the need for such a spiritual dimension in their lives, but so often they want it on their terms! They don't want a “God” who will tell them what is right and wrong; they prefer to decide for themselves. This is “godless religion”!
2. The Judgement of God
The Lord alone can truly judge the situation because He knows all things and knows the heart of man. Therefore His judgement is true. He judges Israel and He judges the world. He found them, and He finds us, wanting. We deserve punishment; we deserve death.
3. The Grace and Mercy of God
While God brings loud declarations of our guilt, He also brings a means of dealing with it. The call is always to repent, to turn away from our sin, to forsake it and come back to God. Why should He do that? Because He has a heart of compassion that feels for us. Yet how can He do that and not ignore the calls for justice?
He can do it because one has already taken the punishment that we deserve for our sin. Jesus has already died in our place. We can receive God's forgiveness and cleansing from sin, but ONLY when we repent and come to God acknowledging our situation. When we come like that He gives us forgiveness and the power to change. He brings His full blessing to bear on our lives. As He so offered Israel through Hosea, so He offers us today, a hope for a glorious future with Him, blessing in abundance.
Praise and worship Him!