From Hosea 1-7
Hosea has been called the “death-bed prophet of Israel” because he was the last to prophesy before the northern kingdom fell to Assyria (about 722 B.C.). His ministry followed a golden age in the northern kingdom, with a peace and prosperity not seen since the days of Solomon. Unfortunately, with this prosperity came moral decay, and Israel forsook God to worship idols. So God instructed Hosea to marry a “wife of whoredom” (1:2), whose unfaithfulness to her husband would serve as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. Hosea then explained God’s complaint against Israel and warned of the punishment that would come unless the people returned to the Lord and remained faithful to him. The book shows the depth of God’s love for his people, a love that tolerates no rivals. (The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2001). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.)
This post is part of my bible in a year series.
Passage and Comments
I never knew so much judgement could come out of so little a book. Occasionally when Paul uses the term ‘the law’ he is referring to the narrative of Israel spanning from the Pentateuch right through to the exile (Rom 3.10-19; 1 Cor 14.21). Looking at Hosea, through the law, there certainly does come knowledge of Israel’s sin (Rom 3.20). This must have been a heart wrenching time for the LORD.
The following passage is a crazy mixture of judgement and unintended prophecy.
5.15 I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.
6.1 “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
2 After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.
3 Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hos 5.15-6.3)
Hosea seems to be quoting a series of statements (Hos 6.1-3) Israel and Judah will make when they acknowledge their guilt and seek the LORD’s face. The italiced section of the statement is significant because its talking about resurrection on the third day.
Paul says the gospel is;
that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures,
that he was buried,
that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and
that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. (1 Cor 15.3-5)
After Jesus was crucified, he was raised to life on the third day. Hosea prophesied the resurrection of the Christ here, and in a mysterious way, the spiritual resurrection of those who believe he is the Christ (Rom 6).
Returning to Hosea, he continues speaking the LORD’s thoughts;
4 What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah? Your love is like a morning cloud, like the dew that goes early away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth, and my judgment goes forth as the light. (Hos 6.3-5)
Morning clouds drift away, dew evaporates. Ephraim and Judah’s repentance it seems is short lived. So the LORD’s judgement remains.
6 For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings. (Hos 6.6)
Jesus occasionally quoted this same verse (Mt 9.13; 12.7) at the Jews who continued to elevate the importance of the ceremonial laws (sacrifice, sabbath and purification laws) over love, kindness and mercy towards others. The Jews may have returned to the promised land, but their behaviour and attitudes didnt change. Perhaps we need to think about how this verse applies to us as well. Have we learned what it means?
The next is a strange verse.
7 But like Adam they transgressed the covenant, there they dealt faithlessly with me. (Hos 6.7)
I’ve put ‘there’ in italics because it makes the meaning of ‘covenant’ clearer. When Hosea says ‘covenant’ he means the land promised to them in the covenant. Like Adam they transgressed the land, they sinned against the land. That’s why Adam was kicked out of the Garden of Eden. That’s why Judah and Israel were exiled from the promised land.
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers,
tracked with blood.
9 As robbers lie in wait for a man,
so the priests band together;
they murder on the way to Shechem;
they commit villainy.
10 In the house of Israel I have seen a horrible thing;
Ephraim’s whoredom is there; Israel is defiled.
11 For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed,
when I restore the fortunes of my people. (Hos 6.8-11)
Hosea may have a fair amount of judgement in it. But the LORD still loves and forgives. He intends to restore the fortunes of Israel.
I’ve been jumping back and forth between Hosea and the New Testament today.
The story between shows that the LORD is serious when it comes to judging wrongdoing. He sent Judah and Israel into exile. He is also serious about honouring his promises, about forgiving and loving his people. He brought Judah and Israel back and he sent Jesus.
Copyright © Joshua Washington and thescripturesays, 2014. All Rights Reserved.