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A Bird's-Eye View of Hosea
As introductory to our study of the Book of Hosea, we propose to show how God wrote His messages in Hosea, as well as by him.
There is a verse in the Book of Hebrews which says: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the Prophets." The word "by" is the Greek word, "en," which means in. God certainly did speak by the Prophets; that is, they wrote as they were led along by the Holy Ghost. He also spoke in the Prophets; that is, the deeds and lives of the Prophets oftentimes gave a definite and Divinely appointed message.
1. In Hosea God spoke of how He took unto Himself a people of the whoredoms. To Hosea, the Lord said: "Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and the children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord." Hosea obeyed and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblain.
There is a wonderful application in all of this to us. God loved us while we were yet sinners. He found us in the wilderness and said unto us, Live. We can all remember how our feet were stuck in the miry clay of sin and shame, and of how He placed them upon the Rock Christ Jesus.
Had we been left in our sins there is no depth to which our unholy natures might not have led us.
2. In Hosea God set forth the wanderings of His people Israel and His curses upon them. When his first-born son was presented to Hosea, the Lord said unto him, "Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the House of Israel" (Hosea 1:4 ). All of this was fulfilled. The Children of Israel did cease to be a nation. Unto this hour they are scattered among the nations, and no living man can tell where they are. We speak of the lost ten tribes. To us they are lost, indeed, but not to God. He has kept His eye on them during the centuries.
When Hosea's second child was born God said unto Hosea, "Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the House of Israel; but I will utterly take them away."
When the third child was born to Hosea, God said: "Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not My people, and I will not be your God."
From that day until now, Israel has been scattered among the nations as corn is scattered in a sieve.
3. By Hosea God wrote: "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" (Hosea 1:11 ).
I. THE SINS OF ISRAEL SET FORTH (Hosea 2:8-9 )
The opening verses of chapter 2 under the picture of the folly of Gomer, Hosea's wife, describes Israel's titter sin and wretchedness. Not only is the wife under the curse for having done shamefully, but her children, also, are under it. Their mother played the harlot. She went after her lovers. Therefore, the Lord said: "I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths."
1. Let us observe some of the sad misconceptions of Israel. Hosea 2:8 says, "She did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold." Let us not, however, judge Israel too harshly. How many Christians are there who are in danger of forgetting that it is God from whom all blessings flow?
The negation of God as the bestower of good, breeds pride and self trust which always comes before a fall.
2. Let us observe that Israel took God's gifts and prepared them for Baal (Hosea 2:8 , l.c.). Here again Israel does not sin alone. How many saints, at least saints so-called, use their corn, and wine, and oil, and silver, and gold, as tokens of their affection for Baal. They go to worldly amusements, and functions, and there they make their donation of those very things which God gave unto them for Divine service.
3. Let us observe the result of Israel's perfidy. God said, in Hosea 2:9 , I will "take away My corn * *, and My wine * *, and will recover My wool and My flax." Our crops are also eaten up with the cankerworms because we have refused to bring unto the Lord our tithes and offerings. This is the message of Malachi.
The same God, who so dealt with Israel, will so deal with His people, the Church.
II. ISRAEL'S DOOR OF HOPE (Hosea 2:13-15 )
1. God's pronunciation of the curse upon His people.
Hosea 2:9 says: I will "return, and take away My corn in the time thereof."
Hosea 2:10 says: I will "discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers."
Hosea 2:11 says: "I will also cause all her mirth to cease."
Hosea 2:12 adds: "And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees."
Hosea 2:13 follows: "I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them."
Let the young people who study these words remember that he who leaves his God will be punished of God, for, "whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth."
It is an evil thing and bitter to forsake the Living God, and the Lord, in His love will follow us up with the curse. When Jonah disobeyed Jehovah and took ship to Tarshish, God followed him with a great storm. God still follows the unfaithful with sorrows and travails.
2. God's future allurement. In Hosea 2:14 we read: "I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." We believe this is a future scene, and awaits the day when the Lord will turn His hand to restore Israel. In the 12th chapter of Revelation we read: "To the woman were given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness, into her place, where she is nourished * *, from the face of the serpent." It is there that God will speak comfortably unto His people.
3. God's valley of Achor, becomes a door of hope. The word "Achor" means bitterness. What God is evidently saying is that Israel's judgments will be steppingstones by which her heart will be prepared to seek the Lord.
Sometimes those who wander from God like Naomi, say: "The Mighty hath dealt very bitterly with me." No doubt that is true, but His dealings prove that He is calling you back to Himself. The bitter cup proves to be no more than a door, through which the rays of hope are shining.
III. GOD'S BLESSINGS IN THE LATTER DAYS (Hosea 2:18-20 )
1. The coming day of Israel's safety. The expression, "In that day" carries our minds to the time of Christ's Return to earth, and to Israel's restoration, as twelve tribes under one King. It is then that God will make a covenant with the beasts of the field and the fowls of the air. It is then that God will break the bow, and the sword, and the battle out of the earth and make them lie down safely. Read Isaiah 11:6 , Isaiah 11:7 .
2. The coming day of Israel's betrothal. God says in Hosea 2:19 , "I will betroth thee unto Me for ever." Then He adds: "I will betroth thee unto Me in righteousness." That, however, was not enough, so the Lord said another thing, "I will even betroth thee unto Me in faithfulness."
A betrothal bespeaks a marital union. Jesus Christ will rejoice among His people when He comes. He will rejoice with singing, and rest in His love. In that day Israel's stony heart will be replaced by a heart of flesh. As they, in the past, blasphemed His Name among the nations, so will they also honor that sacred Name.
3. The coming day of Israel's restoration. In Hosea 2:23 we read that God will sow His people unto Himself in the earth. Just now He has scattered her and she is a fruitless vine. By and by, after her betrothal is completed He will send her forth to evangelize the world. In that day she shall bring forth fruit unto God. She who had not, in the past, obtained mercy will then obtain it. She who was not a people, will become a people and the Lord will be her God.
IV. A DIVINE SIMILITUDE (Hosea 3:1-5 )
1. "Go yet, love a woman * *, according to the love of the Lord toward the Children of Israel." The first part of the Divine similitude was given when God commanded Hosea to take unto himself a wife of the children of sin. We remember how this woman whom he married was the mother of Hosea's three children, and how afterward she left her husband and went back into a life of sin.
In chapter 3, God commanded Hosea to go and take his wandering wife unto himself again. So Hosea bought her unto himself. Then he said unto her: "Thou shalt abide for me many days; * * thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee."
These words which Hosea said to Gomer his wife, the Lord is even how saying to us. If we will be for Him, and not for another, He will be for us.
2. The similitude completed. After Hosea had done as we have just stated the Lord said: "For the Children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, * * afterward shall the Children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days."
Does not all of this carry a wonderful lesson to us? We who have been unfaithful to God, He will not cast off forever. If we confess our sins we will find Him faithful and just to forgive us and to cleanse us.
V. THE INNER CAUSE FOR ISRAEL'S FOLLY (Hosea 4:5 )
1. The 4th chapter opens with the statement, " There is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." The result of this great lack led Israel to swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and to all impurity. The result of this lack brought God's judgments upon His people and everything which concerned them.
Every unbeliever of today who denies truth and mercy and the knowledge of God will soon become involved in immorality. When we go to God's picture of the. Gentile world, as it is found in the 1st chapter of Romans, we read that they refused to retain God in their knowledge. Read Romans 1:18-32 .
2. The 4th chapter continues with this statement, " My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge." They did not, at the first, lack the knowledge of God, because they had not known Him; however, they rejected the knowledge of Him. Therefore, they disobeyed His laws, forgot their knowledge of Him, and were eaten up by their sin. It was like people, like priest.
There is a verse which says, then shall ye know Him if ye follow on to know the Lord. When we, however, reject the knowledge of God, He turns us over to our own ignorance. It is ever true that when people reject the light, they are engulfed in darkness.
3. The conclusion of all of this is stated in Hosea 4:17 . "Ephraim is joined to idols: let him alone." There comes a time when God no longer strives with His people. Let us be very careful to listen to His voice, and seek always to do His will, lest we fall after the same example of unbelief.
VI. A FEW TERSE STATEMENTS RELATIVE TO EPHRAIM (Scriptures as noted below)
1. In Hosea 5:11 we read: " Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment." This was the sequence of Israel's lack of knowledge. We cannot expect to know the will of God, unless we seek His face. To refuse Him is the steppingstone to our complete undoing.
2. In Hosea 6:4 we read: " O Ephraim what shall I do unto thee? * * for your goodness is as a morning cloud." We immediately think of the words spoken to the Galatians, "Ye did run well; who did hinder you?"
3. In Hosea 7:8 we read: " Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned." This is a unique comparison. The 2d verse says, "They consider not in their hearts." Read also Hosea 7:6 .
There is much of world mixing in these days. There are also many people who are half-baked Christians, burned on one side, and raw on the other. They have a Sunday religion, but on Monday they follow after evil.
4. In Hosea 8:1-14 is the expression, " Ephraim hath made many altars to sin." Whenever one falls away from their integrity, they lead others with them. No man liveth unto himself. No life is without its influence, and when that influence is not for good, it is for evil.
5. In Hosea 9:1-17 is this message. "As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird." The Lord is our glory. His life within us is our beauty. When, however, we leave Him and run after other lovers, our glory departs. Instead of a blessing and a praise in all of the earth, we become a stigma and a shame to our Lord.
VII. THE FINAL RESUME (Hosea 11:1 ; Hosea 11:3 )
1. In chapter Hosea 11:1 , Hosea 11:3 the Lord is looking backward to Israel's childhood. It was then that He taught Ephraim how to walk, taking her by her arm. It was then that He drew her with bands of love. He called her out of Egypt. He took away the yoke that was laid upon her. Can we not remember the time when God found us, and bought us with His Blood? God pity us if we have forgotten our first love.
2. In Hosea 11:8 the Lord is crying out, " How shall I give thee up, Ephraim?" The Lord knew that it would become necessary for Him to execute judgment upon His people, and yet He longed after them with deep yearning. Here is the way it is written: "Mine heart is turned within Me, My repentings are kindled together."
The Lord's corrections and judgments are passed upon His children because He loves them.
3. In Hosea 13:14 the Lord promises to redeem Ephraim. He says: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death." The Lord permitted Ephraim to suffer much, but He would not suffer them forever to be delivered up to destruction. For a little while He hid His face, but with everlasting mercy will He yet redeem them.
4. In Hosea 14:1-9 we have the prophecy of Ephraim's return. God first of all calls upon His people to approach Him with words of confession. God then says, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely."
Let God's healing of Ephraim's backsliding, assure the hearts of those who wander that, if they confess their sins, He is faithful and just to forgive them.
They of Ephraim who have so long lost the face of Jehovah will find Him again when He returns. Not long ago there was a researcher of art in Italy who, reading in some book that there was a portrait of Dante painted by Giotto, was led to believe that he had found where it had been placed. There was an apartment used for the storage of wood, hay and the like. He sought and obtained permission to examine it. Clearing out the rubbish and experimenting upon the whitewashed wall, he soon detected the signs of the long hidden portrait. Little by little, with loving skill, he opened up the sad, thoughtful, stern face of the old Tuscan poet.
Sometimes it seems to me that thus the very sanctuary of God has been filled with wood, hay and stubble, and the Divine lineaments of Christ have been swept over and covered by human plastering. When such thoughts come to me I am seized with an invincible desire to draw forth from its hiding place and to reveal to men the glory of God as it shines in the face of Jesus Christ. It matters little to me what school of theology rises or what falls, if only Christ may rise and appear in all His Father's glory, full-orbed upon the darkness of this world. Henry Ward Beecher.
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Neighbour, Robert E. "Wells of Living Water Commentary on Hosea 11". "Living Water". https://www.studylight.org/
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