Hosea – Chapter 14

God’s Promise to Restore Israel

Verse 1 – O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity;

Verse 2 – Take words with you, and return to the Lord. Say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.

God requires real heartfelt repentance, not merely annual sacrifices.

Verse 3 – Assyria shall not save us, we will not ride on horses, nor will we say anymore, to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods. for in You the fatherless finds mercy.

Verse 4 – “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from him.

Verse 5 – I will be like the dew to Israel; he shall grow like the lily, and lengthen his roots like Lebanon.

Verse 6 – His branches shall spread; his beauty shall be like an olive tree, and his fragrance like Lebanon.

Verse 7 – Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; they shall be revived like grain, and grow like the vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

Verse 8 – “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’ I have heard and observed him. I am like a green cypress tree; your fruit is found in Me.”

Verse 9 – Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but transgressors stumble in them.

This concludes Hosea.  He spent his life trying to get Israel to repent before the Assyrians came in and took them captive. My question is this: “Why does it take so long before a person will turn everything over to a loving God? What exactly is it that they don’t want to let go of?

 

Hosea – Chapter 13

Verse 1 – When Ephraim spoke, trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died.

Verse 2 – Now they sin more and more, and have made for themselves molded images, idols of their silver, according to their skill; all of its work of craftsman. They say of them, “Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!”

Verse 3 – Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud and like the early dew that passes away, like chaff blown off from thrashing floor and like smoke from chimney.

Verse 4 – “Yet I am the Lord your God ever since the land of Egypt, and you shall know no God but Me; for there is no savior besides Me.

Verse 5 – I knew you in the wilderness, in the land of great drought.

Verse 6 – When they had pasture, they were filled; they were filled and their heart was exalted; therefore they forgot Me.

When we forget the hardships and disappointments that we’ve been through, and how we came out of them, there is a tendency to forget to pray as much as we used to when going through. When people forget to be thankful and grateful for the things God has brought them through and given them, they have forgotten the One who controls it all. Our problems may not have been caused by our own doing, but the Lord sees all and knows just how to bring us out to take us in to a better life. Don’t ever forget where you started from.

Verse 7 – “So I will be to them like a lion; like a leopard by the road I will observe them;

Verse 8 – I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, and there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.

Those who think that God won’t punish sin are shocked when the reality of God being a lion devouring them comes to pass. The fate of those who continually ignore and turn their backs on a loving God, is destruction.

Verse 9 – “O Israel, you are destroyed, but your help is from Me.

Verse 10 – I will be your King; where is any other, that he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, ‘Give me a king and princes’?

Verse 11 – I gave you a king in My anger, and took him away in My wrath.

If you’ll remember back in 1 Samuel 8:4-22, God reluctantly gave Israel their first king. He warned them the problems that would come with appointing a man in the place of a king instead of Him. When Saul began to turn corrupt he died in battle by his own hand.

We are also reminded here, that sometimes we will receive what we ask for and then wish we hadn’t asked when we get it. When God firmly says no about something, stay away from it or pay the consequences.

Verse 12 – “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is stored up.

Verse 13 – The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, for he should not stay long where children are born.

Verse 14 – “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

Although Israel was going to be punished because  they refused to repent, God let them know that only He can give life to things that are dead. Only God has the power to resurrect the dead and give new life to a nation.

Verse 15 – Though he is fruitful among his brethren, an east wind shall come; the wind of the Lord shall come up from the wilderness. Then his spring shall become dry, and his fountain shall be dried up. He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize.

Verse 16 – Samaria is held guilty, for she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child ripped open.

Too many people that don’t know God’s character, think that God is an uncaring violent, harsh,God. However, they need to consider all His word to understand this: God chose Israel to be His people, to represent Him. When they started adapting to other pagan religions by worshiping idols and sacrificing their own children , they had to be punished. God used other countries, nations, and kings to take away what He had so graciously given them.  Sometimes we will lose what we have been given, to remind us, “We are nothing without Him!”

Hosea – Chapter 12

Israel’s Continuing sin

Verse 1 – “Ephraim feeds on the wind, and pursues the east wind; he daily increases lies and desolation. Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried to Egypt.

You can’t grasp or hold onto the wind, so by Israel going from Assyria back to Egypt to help them, it amounted to nothing.

Verse 2 – “The Lord also brings a charge against Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his deeds He will recompense him.

Verse 3 – He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and in strength he struggled with God.

Verse 4 – Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; he wept and sought favor from Him. He found Him in Bethel, and there He spoke to us –

Verse 5 – That is , the Lord God of hosts. The Lord is His memorial.

Hosea rebukes Israel by pointing out that although their namesake Jacob had once been faithless, self-centered and conniving, he met God first at Bethel and was later changed in the encounter at the Jabbok River. The people of Israel, on the other hand, met Baal at Bethel and , in effect, died.

Verse 6 – So you, by the help of your God, return; observe mercy and justice, and wait on your God continually.

There are two principles that Hosea called the nation to live by, love and justice, which Israel wasn’t doing. Some people are loving to the point that they excuse wrongdoing. Others execute justice, but forget love and compassion. Love without justice leaves people in their sin. Justice without love because it has no heart, turn people away from God. There has to be an equal balance.

Verse 7 – “A cunning Canaanite! Deceitful scales are in his hands; he loves to oppress.

Verse 8 – And Ephraim said, ‘Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; in all my labors they shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.’

In Israel, dishonesty had become a means to gain wealth. Because God had allowed it for a time, they didn’t think they had committed any sin. They thought their wealth was a sign of God’s approval.

Oh, how wrong they were. People think because the consequences of their sin are not immediate, that God must approve. Take any sin, for instance; lying, cheating, deceiving, and even murder. There is always a price to pay, especially once you know the truth and continue to do what’s wrong. Israel ended up paying the ultimate price.

Verse 9 – “But I am the Lord your God, ever since the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, as in the days of appointed feasts.

God reminded them of their Feast of Tabernacles, which was a celebration of God’s protection and provision in the wilderness for 40 years where they would live in tents during this time. Now He’s telling them, they would live in tents again only this time under bondage.

Verse 10 – I have also spoken by the prophets, and have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets.”

Verse 11 – Though Gilead has idols – surely they are vanity – though they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal, indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field.

Verse 12 – Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse, and for a wife he tended sheep.

In other words: “Don’t forget your humble beginnings. What you have is not the result of your own efforts, but is yours because God has been gracious to you.”

Verse 13 – By a prophet the Lord brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet he has preserved.

Verse 14 – Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly; therefore his Lord will leave on him his bloodguilt, and return his reproach upon him.

In the same way that Moses, Gods prophet, brought the Israelites out of bondage and looked after them and they rebelled, the Israelites had abandon God for pagan idols. Their worship of Baal is called “bloodguilt” or murder.

God still speaks today, through pastors, prophets, an leaders, and His holy Word, trying to get people to see the truth. He even uses people who have no title other that “Christian,” to tell people there is a God who loves them and wants a relationship with them!

Hosea – Chapter 11

God’s Love for Israel

Verse 1 – “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son.

In the final four chapters, Hosea shifts to the theme of God’s love for His beloved people. Because God’s love is so intense, He would not let Israel escape discipline.

Verse 2 – As they called them, so they went from them; they sacrificed to the Baals, and burned incense to carved images.

Verse 3 – “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them.

Verse 4 – I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.

God brought Israel up the way a parent does a child, step by step, holding their hand. He fed them, guided them, and gave them shelter, and placed Godly men in their midst to instruct them.

Verse 5 – “He shall not return to the land of Egypt; but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refuse to repent.

The northern kingdom only survived two hundred years after the split from Jerusalem. They refused to repent, so God used the Assyrians to capture them in 722 B.C.

Verse 6 – And the sword shall slash in his cities, devour his districts, and consume them, because of their own counsels.

Verse 7 – My people are bent on backsliding from Me, though they call to the Most High, none at all exalt Him.

Verse 8 – “How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me; My sympathy is stirred.

Admah and Zeboiim were cities near Sodom and Gomorrah (Genesis 10:19). God destroyed these two cities when He destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. Just because punishment or judgment is not immediate, doesn’t mean that it wont’ come.

Verse 9 – I will not execute the fierceness of My anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim. For I am God, and not man, the Holy One in your midst; and I will not come with terror.

God’s ways are not like our ways, nor His thoughts like ours. Hosea is telling them that they won’t be completely annihilated, but a remnant will come out of Judah.

Verse 10 – “They shall walk after the Lord. He will roar like a lion. When He roars, then His sons shall come trembling from the west;

Verse 11 – They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt, like a dove from the land of Assyria. And I will let them dwell in their houses,” says the Lord.

Verse 12 – “Ephraim has encompassed Me with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit; but Judah still walks with God, even with the Holy One who is faithful.

We know from reading Isaiah, Ezekiel, and Jeremiah, that Judah ended up doing the same sins as Israel did. However, at this stage, Hosea reminded them that Judah had good kings up until they didn’t. Asa, Jehoshaphat, Joash, Amaziah, Uzziah, Jotham and especially Hezekiah and Josiah. Under some of these kings God’s law was taught to the people. Unfortunately, these kings were unable to completely wipe out the idol worship. Still the good kings enabled Judah to survive 150 Years longer than Israel.

Hosea – Chapter 10

Judgment of Destruction

Verse 1 – Israel empties his vine; he brings forth fruit for himself. According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the bounty of his land they have embellished his sacred pillars.

As Israel prospered, they built more and more altars to worship their idols. Where does our true prosperity come from? Who gives us the physical health and ability to acquire what we have? Is more money given to buy bigger houses, more lavish cars and cloths? Or is our prosperity to be used to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Israel forgot God and prospered for themselves.

I’m not against anyone bettering themselves or buying nice things, but helping others when we can should be a priority.

Verse 2 – Their heart is divided; now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars.

Verse 3 – For now they say, “We have no king, because we did not fear the Lord. And as for a king, what would he do for us?”

Verse 4 – They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field.

The people of Israel had entered into a covenant with God to keep all His laws, but never kept them. God never breaks His promises to us, but we do to him and others.

Verse 5 – The inhabitants of Samaria fear because of the calf of Beth Aven. For its people mourn for it, and its priests shriek for it – because its glory has departed from it.

Beth Aven means, “house of wickedness,” and refers to Bethel (“house of God”) where false worship took place.

Verse 6 – The idol also shall be carried to Assyria as a present from King Jareb. Ephraim shall receive shame, and Israel shall be ashamed of his own counsel.

Verse 7 – As for Samaria, her king is cut off like a twig on the water.

Verse 8 – Also the high places of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed. The thorn and thistle shall grow on their altars.; they shall say to the mountains, “Cover us!” and the hills, “Fall on us!”

When God destroys their high places and idols, the people will mourn and cry for the mountains and idols to fall on them too. They had put so much faith in these idols that when they were destroyed the people were devastated!

Verse 9 – “O Israel, you have sinned from the days of Gibeah; there they stood. The battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them.

God refers back to the time when perverted men were to be judged and the leaders refused to do it (Judges 19). In the same way that war came to Gibeah, war would come to Israel.

Verse 10 – When it is My desire, I will chasten them. Peoples shall be gathered against them when I bind them for their two transgressions.

The two transgressions – sexual immorality and rebellion.

Verse 11 – Ephraim is a trained heifer that loves to thresh grain; but I harnessed her fair neck, I will make Ephraim pull a plow. Judah shall plow; Jacob shall break his clods.”

Calves were allowed to walk on top of the grain stalks that had been laid out on the ground in order to separate the husks from the kernels. The calves could eat some of the grain. Israel would cease to be like the calves and would have to plow with the yoke of discipline.

Verse 12 – Sow for yourselves righteousness; reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground, for it is time to seek the Lord, till He comes and rains righteousness on you.

Plowing up the ground means it is ready for seed to be planted. It is no longer stony and hard; it has been carefully prepared and is available. When Christ comes into a person’s heart, there are places that have hardened. Through His love, forgiveness, and kindness, He will break up that heart of stone and prepare it to receive. Are there some hard places, stubbornness, or rebellion, that need to be plowed up in you? There is in me.

Verse 13 – You have plowed wickedness; you have reaped iniquity. You have eaten the fruit of lies, because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men.

Look at Galatians 6:7 – Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. If you sow discord, strife, anger, and hatred, that is what you will receive in return. “God is not mocked,” because it will come to pass in your life whatsoever we sow. Sow mercy, because mercy will be shown to you.

Verse 14 – Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered as Shalman plundered Beth Arbel in the day of battle – a mother dashed in pieces upon her children.

Such would be Israel’s fate as when a Moabite king had invaded Gilead and destroyed the city of Beth Arbel, killing many people, including women and children.

Verse 15 – Thus it shall be done to you, O Bethel, because of your great wickedness, in a morning the king of Israel shall be cut off utterly.

The Assyrians took king Hoshea and put him in prison (2 Kings 17:4). Everything Hosea said would happen came true.

Hosea – Chapter 9

Verse 1 – Do not rejoice, O Israel, with joy like other peoples, for you have played the harlot against your God. You have loved for reward of every threshing floor.

The threshing floors were placed on the hilltops, where harvesters beat the wheat and separated it from the chaff. Often men would stay overnight to protect the wheat from thieves. Prostitutes would visit them there. Because theses threshing floors were on the hilltops, they began to use these places to sacrifice to false gods.

Verse 2 – The threshing floor and the wine-press shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail her.

Verse 3 – They shall not dwell in the Lord’s land, but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and shall eat unclean things in Assyria.

God withheld their harvest and they had to live under the rule of a king that didn’t follow God’s laws. They wouldn’t be able to have their regular sacrifices to God and would eat things that had been sacrificed to foreign gods – unclean.

Verse 4 – They shall not offer wine offerings to the LOrd, nor shall their sacrifices be pleasing to Him. It shall be like bread of mourners to them; all who eat it shall be defiled. For their bread shall be for their life; it shall not come into the house of the LOrd.

Verse 5 – What will you do in the appointed day, and in the day of the feasts of the Lord?

Verse 6 – For indeed they are gone because of destruction. Egypt shall gather them up; Memphis shall bury them. Nettles shall posses their valuables of silver, thorns shall be in their tents.

Memphis is where they buried people. The people would try to make an alliance with Assyria and Egypt, both would fail.

Verse 7 – The days of punishment have come; the days of recompense have come. Israel knows! The prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is insane, because of the greatness of your iniquity and great enmity.

By the time Israel begins to experience the consequences of their sins, they think Hosea is a fool. They were no longer listening to what God had to say. We do the same thing, only listening selectively to what directly concerns us. We sometimes ignore a radical change that needs to take place in our lives. When we are listening, changes begin to take place little by little, that’s how we grow and mature in the Lord.

Verse 8 – The watchman of Ephraim is with my God; but the prophet is a fowler’s snare in all his ways, and enmity in the house of his God.

The prophet was a snare to Israel’s ways, because they were wrong in all their ways.

Verse 9 – They are deeply corrupted, as in the days of Gibeah. He will remember their iniquity; He will punish their sins.

In Judges 19:14-30 and 20:8-48, Gibeah was a place that a couple came to stay overnight. They had nowhere to stay so an old man took them into his house. Before long the men of the city knocked on the door and told the old man to send the man out so that they could have sex with him. Instead the traveler gave them his concubine. They raped and abused her all night and then left her dead on the doorstep. So Gibeah was destroyed for its evil (just as Sodom and Gomorrah was). Hosea said that the whole nation was now as evil as that city. That city didn’t escape punishment and neither would this nation.

Verse 10 – “I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstfruits on the fig tree in its first season. But they went to Baal Peor, and separated themselves to that shame; they became an abomination like the thing they loved.

Baal Peor was the god of Peor, and a mountain in Moab. At first, Israel had brought God as much pleasure as grapes found in the wilderness, but they had changed by the incident of pagan sexuality at Baal Peor where the people tried to ensure fertility by worshiping Baal.

Verse 11 – As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird – no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception!

Verse 12 – Though  they bring up her children yet I will bereave them to the last man. Yes, woe to them when I depart from them!

Ephraim’s glory was the Lord, whose departure would end their fertility and cause them woe.

Verse 13 – Just as I saw Ephraim like Tyre, planted in a pleasant place, so Ephraim will bring out his children to the murderer.”

God had placed both Ephraim and Tyre in surroundings in which they should have flourished, but both had turned to the pagan practice of child sacrifice.

Verse 14 – Give them, O Lord – what will You give? Give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts.

Verse 15 – “All their wickedness is in Gilgal, for there I hated them. Because of the evil of their deeds I will drive them from My house; I will love them no more. All their princes are rebellious.

It was at Gilgal where both the political and religious failures of he nation began. Saul, Israel’s first king was crowned here, but by the time of Hosea, they had begun to worship Baal.

Verse 16 – Ephraim is stricken their root is dried up; they shall bear no fruit. Yes, were they to bear children, I would kill the beloved fruit of their womb.”

Verse 17 – My God will cast them away, because they did not obey Him; and they shall be wanderers among the nations.

How sad for us to think these same evil practices that we do as a nation will not bring God’s judgment .

Hosea – Chapter 7

Willful Refusal to Return to the Lord

Verse 1 – “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud; the thief comes in; a band of robbers takes spoil outside.

Verse 2 – They do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness; now their own deeds have surrounded them; they are before My face.

I believe we are less likely to sin if we remember that God sees and hears everything from everybody.

Verse 3 – They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their lies.

Verse 4 – “They are all adulterers. Like an oven heated by a baker – He ceases stirring like fire after kneading the dough, until it is leavened.

Verse 5 – In the day of our king princes have made him sick, inflamed with wine; he stretched out his hand with scoffers.

The wine made them do stupid things, consenting to more and more evil.

Verse 6 – They prepare their heart like an oven, while they lie in wait; their baker sleeps all night; in the morning it burns like a flaming fire.

Verse 7 – They are all hot like an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings have fallen. There is none among them who calls upon Me.

They came to power because they have killed kings. The only one they didn’t kill was Menahem, which was after the death of Jeroboam II.

Verse 8 – “Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples; Ephraim is a cake unturned.

Way back, Israel had intermarried with foreign people that only knew pagan gods. After a while the Israelites began to be influenced by their practices. Be aware of who you hang out with because after a while instead of you influencing them, they will influence you.

Verse 9 – Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it; yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.

Verse 10 – And the pride of Israel testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this.

Pride intensifies all other sins because it thinks it’s always right, always knows better, and will never admit it needs God.

Verse 11 – “Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense – they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.

Verse 12 – Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them; I will bring them down like birds of the air; I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard.

Israel’s King Menahem had paid Assyria to support him. King Hoshea turned against Assyria and went to Egypt for help. Israel’s king went back and forth, allying themselves with different nations when they should have allied themselves with God.

Verse 13 – “Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeem them, yet they have spoken lies against Me.

They had false prophets that were not appointed by God, telling lies by saying, “God said…,” but God didn’t say. Israel could flee from God in rebellion but they couldn’t’ outrun the destruction that was about to come on them.

Verse 14 – They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds. “They assemble together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me;

Verse 15 – Though I discipline and strengthen their arms, yet they devise evil against Me;

Verse 16 – They return, but not to the Most High; they are like a deceitful bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursing of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.

Some people look everywhere for help to happiness. God is the only One who can truly make us joyful down to our very soul. He will and does meet our spiritual and physical as well as material needs. Seek Him who holds your world in His mighty hands!

Hosea – Chapter 6

Verse 1 – Come and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

Verse 2 – After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.

Some believe this verse refers to Christ’s two days in the grave and raised to life the third. However, look how it is worded; it says after two days “He” will revive “us”, and the third day He will raise “us” up. I believe these days spoke of, remain a mystery. Maybe Hosea was telling them to spend some time repenting and when they were done, God would raise them up to new life. They spent 70 years in captivity, so the short time they thought it would last was false.

Verse 3 – Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth.

As sure as morning comes, just as sure as the former and later rains supply the earth with nutrition, learn to know our God and He will be there.

Verse 4 – “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away.

Many find it easy and comfortable to maintain the appearance of being committed without a deep sense of loyalty. But our loyalty should line up with our actions.

Verse 5 – Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; and your judgments are like light that goes forth.

“Hewn them by the prophets” – Since the people despised His gentle warnings, just as men hewn stones out of a quarry with hard blows and sharp instruments, these warnings would be harsher to break their stony hearts.

Verse 6 – For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

Rituals and worship that is not accompanied by faithfulness and love, is not based on the knowledge of God. The affectionate knowledge of God, which fills the mind and heart with reverence of His majesty, will bring knowledge , goodness, love of His holiness, trust in all His promises, and submission to His will.

Verse 7 – “But like men they transgressed the covenant; there they dealt treacherously with Me.

Verse 8 – Gilead is a city of evildoers, and is defiled with blood.

Verse 9 – As band of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; surely they commit lewdness.

Gilead was once a city of refuge designated by Joshua (Joshua 20:1, 2, 7, 8). It was a halting place for people on their way to Jerusalem for the feasts. They had turned it into a place where bands of evil priests were lying in wait to murder travelers passing through.

Verse 10 – I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled.

Verse 11 – Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people.

Hosea injects a strong warning to Judah not to follow the same way the northern kingdom did. But Judah thought because the temple was located in Jerusalem, that same judgment would not come to them.

Hosea – Chapter 5

Judgment on Israel

Verse 1 – “Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For Yours is the judgment, because you have been a snare to Mizpah and a net spread on Tabor.

Mizpah and Tabor are the high places that idol worship was set up.

Verse 2 – The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, though I rebuke them all.

Verse 3 – I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me; for now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry; Israel is defiled.

Verse 4 – They do not direct their deeds toward turning their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.

Persistent and continual sin will harden a person’s heart. Deliberately sinning will eventually sear the conscience; each sin makes the next one easier to commit. Just like backsliding – the more one drifts away, the less they can hear God.

Verse 5 – The pride of Israel and Ephraim testifies to his face, therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them.

Verse 6 – “With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them.

We can go through the motions of going to church, saying all the “churchy” things, and bringing gifts to the Lord, but unless we repent and come before Him with a humble heart, it is all useless. Some do all these things but still think they know better than God and don’t follow His teachings of treating others the way God wants us to. This was Israel.

Verse 7 – They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.

God regarded Israel’s children as strangers, because they did not know Him. The parents hadn’t taught them anything but pagan idol worship. Rather than grateful celebrations during the New Moon, first of the month, Israel had turned these festivals into hypocritical, idolatrous drains on the economy, so in return, God would end these feasts with destruction.

This reminds me of what culture and society have turned the birth of Christ into, Christmas, and His death and resurrection, Easter. It’s all commercial, buy, buy, buy.

Verse 8 – “Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah! Cry aloud at Beth Aven, ‘Look behind you, O Benjamin!’

These cities were Israelite cities near Jerusalem. Hosea prophesied for them to sound the horn for coming judgment.

Verse 9 – Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.

Verse 10 – The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out My wrath on them like water.

Hosea was saying that Judah was like those who move a boundary stone by cheating. This was a serious crime.

Verse 11 – Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept.

Verse 12 – Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth and to the house of Judah like rottenness.

Verse 13 – “When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jareb; yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound.

During the reigns of Menahem and Hoshea, Israel went to the Assyrians for help. God says it doesn’t matter who they went to, their judgment was determined. Hebrews 2:3 – how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation, which at first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed to us by those who heard Him.

Plain and simple: If you reject the Gospel of Jesus Christ, there will be judgment – no escape!

Verse 14 – For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them away, and no one shall rescue.

Psalm 50:22 – “Now consider this, you who forget God, least I tear you in pieces, and there be none to deliver:

Verse 15 – I will return again to My place till they acknowledge their offense. Then they will seek My face; in their affliction they will diligently seek Me.”

God intended to withdraw His favor and blessings from them until they acknowledged Him. When people never acknowledge God or realize where their blessings come from, they’re on their own!

Hosea – Chapter 4

Rejection of the Knowledge of God

Verse 1 – Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, for the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.”

In this chapter, God brings a charge of disobedience against Israel. The religious leaders had turned worship into ritual prostitution. The people were quick to criticize Hose’s wife for adultery but didn’t condemn their own adultery against God.

Romans 2:3 – And do you think this, O man, you who judge those practicing such things, and doing the same, that you will escape the judgment of God?

Verse 2 – By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed after bloodshed.

Verse 3 – Therefore the land will mourn; and everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; even the fish of the sea will be taken away.

Verse 4 – “Now let no man contend, or reprove another, for your people are like those who contend with the priest.

Verse 5 – Therefore you shall stumble in that day; the prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; and I will destroy your mother.

Verse 6 – My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

The people’s ignorance of God was willful. They should have known better because the priest knew better. They had let false prophets which were not chosen by God, tell them lies.

Verse 7 – “The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.

When Jeroboam rebelled against Solomon’s son Rehoam and set up a rival kingdom in the north, he also set up his own religious system (1 Kings 12:25-33). In direct violation of God’s laws, he had made two golden calves and told the people they had to worship them. He also appointed his own priests, who were not descendants of Aaron. Before long, the people exchanged Baal for God.

Verse 8 – They eat up the sin of My people; they set their heart on iniquity.

The more the people brought the sin offering, the more the priest received because they received a portion of it. Because they couldn’t eat all the sin offerings themselves, they sold some to their relatives. In other words, the priest profited from the people’s sin; it gave them power and position in the community. So instead of discouraging them from sinning, they encouraged it to increase for their profit.

Verse 9 – And it shall be; like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their deeds.

Verse 10 – For they shall eat, but not have enough; they shall commit harlotry, but not increase; because they have ceased obeying the Lord.

Not only Israel’s wives, but the concubines would be barren. To be childless was great shame.

Verse 11 – “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart.

Verse 12 – My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God.

The rituals of Baal and Asherah worship included vile sexual practices. Male worshipers had sex with female temple prostitutes, or priestesses.

Verse 13 – They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your brides commit adultery.

Verse 14 – “I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your brides when they commit adultery; for the men themselves go apart with harlot, and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled.

The fathers and the husbands will be the one who are punished because they didn’t teach their daughters nor did the leaders.

Verse 15 – “Though you, Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah offend. Do not come up to Gilgal, nor go up to Beth Aven, nor swear an oath, saying, ‘As the Lord lives’ –

God sends a warning to Judah to not become like the northern kingdom. Israel was not going to escape punishment, bu Judah still had time to repent.

Verse 16 – “For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf; now the Lord will let them forage like a lamb in open country.

Verse 17 – “Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone.

Ephraim is another name for Israel, the northern kingdom because Ephraim was the most powerful of the ten tribes that had separated from the other two. In the same way, the southern kingdom was called Judah after its most powerful tribe.

Verse 18 – Their drink is rebellion, they commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly love dishonor.

Verse 19 – The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

The whirlwind that would sweep Israel away was the Assyrians invasion about 20 years later.