Hosea, son of Beeri, was a prophet to the Northern Kingdom between 750 – 722 BC. He lived in a time of rapid religious and moral decline, and political collapse. In 722 BC the Northern Kingdom was invaded by Assyria, and the people were carried off as slaves and scattered throughout the mid-east, never to return again to the land. They became the ten lost tribes. His message was one of warning of their impending fate unless they repented and changed their ways. There are significant parallels with our country today.
Last week we looked at the timeline of Israel from David to the fall of both Israel and Judah. Hosea appears near the end of the Northern Kingdom, around 760 BC and will be ministering to both the northern Kingdom and to Judah until the fall of the Northern kingdom to the Assyrian invasion in 722 BC.
We know very little about Hosea outside of what we read in the book with his name. He was the son of Beeri. There is a town in the territory of Benjamin near Bethel called Beeroth. It is possible that this was Hosea’s hometown. It is near the border of Judah and the northern Kingdom. Hosea would have access to both nations from this location. We know almost nothing more about him or where he ministered. He was ignored initially and resented later. A small group of Northerners who remained faithful toYHWH probably appreciated his message.
His message was an affirmation of the Mosaic covenant. He did not have any other esoteric prophetic message. Both nations knew, or should have known, the terms of the covenant. The covenant contained blessings based on obedience to the covenant and curses for disobedience. These are codified best in Deuteronomy 27-30.
27:1-3 Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep the whole commandment that I command you today. And on the day you cross over the Jordan to the land that the LORD your God is giving you, you shall set up large stones and plaster them with plaster. And you shall write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over to enter the land that the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has promised you.
28:1-14 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the LORD your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the LORD your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground and the fruit of your cattle, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
“The LORD will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before you. They shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways. The LORD will command the blessing on you in your barns and in all that you undertake. And he will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. The LORD will establish you as a people holy to himself, as he has sworn to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in his ways. And all the peoples of the earth shall see that you are called by the name of the LORD, and they shall be afraid of you. And the LORD will make you abound in prosperity, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your livestock and in the fruit of your ground, within the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. The LORD will open to you his good treasury, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season and to bless all the work of your hands. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And the LORD will make you the head and not the tail, and you shall only go up and not down, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you today, being careful to do them, and if you do not turn aside from any of the words that I command you today, to the right hand or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
28:15-37 “But if you will not obey the voice of the LORD your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you. Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl. Cursed shall be the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, the increase of your herds and the young of your flock. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
“The LORD will send on you curses, confusion, and frustration in all that you undertake to do, until you are destroyed and perish quickly on account of the evil of your deeds, because you have forsaken me. The LORD will make the pestilence stick to you until he has consumed you off the land that you are entering to take possession of it. The LORD will strike you with wasting disease and with fever, inflammation and fiery heat, and with drought and with blight and with mildew. They shall pursue you until you perish. And the heavens over your head shall be bronze, and the earth under you shall be iron. The LORD will make the rain of your land powder. From heaven dust shall come down on you until you are destroyed.
“The LORD will cause you to be defeated before your enemies. You shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them. And you shall be a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And your dead body shall be food for all birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth, and there shall be no one to frighten them away. The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors and scabs and itch, of which you cannot be healed. The LORD will strike you with madness and blindness and confusion of mind, and you shall grope at noonday, as the blind grope in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways. And you shall be only oppressed and robbed continually, and there shall be no one to help you. You shall betroth a wife, but another man shall ravish her. You shall build a house, but you shall not dwell in it. You shall plant a vineyard, but you shall not enjoy its fruit. Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat any of it. Your donkey shall be seized before your face, but shall not be restored to you. Your sheep shall be given to your enemies, but there shall be no one to help you. Your sons and your daughters shall be given to another people, while your eyes look on and fail with longing for them all day long, but you shall be helpless. A nation that you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors, and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually, so that you are driven mad by the sights that your eyes see. The LORD will strike you on the knees and on the legs with grievous boils of which you cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.
“The LORD will bring you and your king whom you set over you to a nation that neither you nor your fathers have known. And there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone. And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples where the LORD will lead you away.
28:45-50 “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that he commanded you. They shall be a sign and a wonder against you and your offspring forever. Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joyfulness and gladness of heart, because of the abundance of all things, therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the LORD will send against you, in hunger and thirst, in nakedness, and lacking everything. And he will put a yoke of iron on your neck until he has destroyed you. The LORD will bring a nation against you from far away, from the end of the earth, swooping down like the eagle, a nation whose language you do not understand, a hard-faced nation who shall not respect the old or show mercy to the young.
28:58-65 “If you are not careful to do all the words of this law that are written in this book, that you may fear this glorious and awesome name, the LORD your God, then the LORD will bring on you and your offspring extraordinary afflictions, afflictions severe and lasting, and sicknesses grievous and lasting. And he will bring upon you again all the diseases of Egypt, of which you were afraid, and they shall cling to you. Every sickness also and every affliction that is not recorded in the book of this law, the LORD will bring upon you, until you are destroyed. Whereas you were as numerous as the stars of heaven, you shall be left few in number, because you did not obey the voice of the LORD your God. And as the LORD took delight in doing you good and multiplying you, so the LORD will take delight in bringing ruin upon you and destroying you. And you shall be plucked off the land that you are entering to take possession of it.
“And the LORD will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known. And among these nations you shall find no respite, and there shall be no resting place for the sole of your foot, but the LORD will give you there a trembling heart and failing eyes and a languishing soul.
30:11-20 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.
“See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
I am spending all this time on God’s Covenant with Israel, because the same rules apply to all peoples and ought to be appropriated by our country now as they were at our founding.
Hosea’s commission was to bring very bad news to the Northern Kingdom. Jeroboam II was the king (793BC-753BC). The Jehu dynasty began in 842 BC when Ahab and all the members of the Omri clan were killed by Jehu, who then became king of Israel. Unfortunately the Jehu family did not return to the Lord. Soon Jeroboam II will be killed (953 BC), and the Jehu dynasty will come to an end. It was the longest dynasty in the Northern Kingdom. There will be no other. There will be a series of six kings of the North, all of whom die by assassination. Hosea will be pastor and prophet to all of them. He was greeted with complacency at first, but when Tiglath-Pileser III of Assyria appeared in 745 BC in his conquest of Syria, the complacency turned to desperation domestically and in foreign affairs.
Hos. 1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Uzziah was King in Judah when Hosea began his ministry. We know that Isaiah was prophet at that time as well, as we read in Isaiah 6: In the year King Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and the train of his robe filled the Temple. Hosea’s ministry continued into the reign of Hezekiah. Hezekiah was King of Judah when Assyria invaded again under Sennacherib on 702 BC. Isaiah was the prophet to Judah and Hosea was primarily speaking to the Northern Kingdom.
Hos. 1:2-3 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.”
So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
Many teach that God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute. That is probably a wrong interpretation. To take a wife of whoredom probably means to marry a woman of the Northern Kingdom, the apostate Israel. God’s relationship to his people in the OT is one of husband and wife. In the NT the church is being prepared to be the bride of Christ. Here prostitution is scandalous unfaithfulness to God’s covenant. Prostitution is Hosea’s most common metaphor for covenant infidelity.
Hos. 1:4-5 And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
The name Jezreel means ‘God sows’. In this case God sows judgment, not blessing.
Jezreel is also a place name of a valley between the Samaria highlands and the Galilee highlands where Jehu slaughtered the family of Ahab and the Omni dynasty in 842 BC, 100 years earlier. The Jezreel valley is also the valley of Megiddo where Israel was finally defeated by the Assyrian army. It is also the valley in prophesy known to us as Armageddon (Revelation 16:16).
Hos. 1:6-9 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy [Lo-ruhama], for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.” When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, “Call his name Not My People [Lo-ammi], for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
The fate of Israel is set. There will be no more chance for redemption. The course in inexorably headed to 722 BC. The nation will be no more.
Interestingly verse 7 addresses Judah in the middle of this judgment of Israel. Judah will be spared. Assyria will not conquer Judah. But Judah’s salvation will not come through her military prowess, but entirely by the intervention of God. We discussed this last week. As a reminder, this is how it happened. (See 2 Kings 18:13-19:37)
2 Kings 19:35-37 And that night the angel of the LORD went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh. And as he was worshiping in the house of Nisroch his god, Adrammelech and Sharezer, his sons, struck him down with the sword and escaped into the land of Ararat. And Esarhaddon his son reigned in his place.
Hos. 1:10-11 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
The might God of all creation is also a ‘softie’. He must bring judgment because he is a righteous and just God, but he cannot forget the people of his covenant. Therefore, Hosea follows his message of judgment with this gentle and loving message from God, that the people will be restored and Israel and Judah will be reunited and returned to the Promised Land. Today we know that this will happen in the new kingdom under the Messiah, Jesus, the Christ.
Some teach that God is finished with the Jews and the church is the new Israel. Hosea, Isaiah, Ezekiel and many other prophets refute this, as does Paul in
Interestingly, President Trump affirmed this when he said the United States will move its embassy to Jerusalem by the end of 2019, and Vice President Pence, in his message to the Knesset last week, affirmed the American expectation of the physical restoration of Israel in the Holy Land.
Hos. 2:1-15 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”
“Plead with your mother, plead—
for she is not my wife,
and I am not her husband—
that she put away her whoring from her face,
and her adultery from between her breasts;
lest I strip her naked
and make her as in the day she was born,
and make her like a wilderness,
and make her like a parched land,
and kill her with thirst.
Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns,
and I will build a wall against her,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She shall pursue her lovers
but not overtake them,
and she shall seek them
but shall not find them.
Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband,
for it was better for me then than now.’
And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
Therefore I will take back
my grain in its time,
and my wine in its season,
and I will take away my wool and my flax,
which were to cover her nakedness.
Now I will uncover her lewdness
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
And I will put an end to all her mirth,
her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths,
and all her appointed feasts.
And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
‘These are my wages,
which my lovers have given me.’
I will make them a forest,
and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals
when she burned offerings to them
and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry,
and went after her lovers
and forgot me, declares the LORD.
“Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.
And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor* a door of hope.
And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
*Valley of tears, trouble
Hos. 2:16-20 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
Hos. 2:21-23 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and they shall answer Jezreel,
and I will sow her for myself in the land.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ”
Eight Theses on Sex
First Things, February 2018, Hans Boersma
J. I. Packer Professor of Theology at Regent College
- Sex is searching for God
Sexual union is a symbol or a sacrament of union with Christ. Ephesians 5:32
2. God invents sex
God said to Adam and Eve be fruitful and multiply. Genesis 1:28
He invented weddings. Our relationship with God is as bride and bridegroom. Human love is patterned by God’s love for us.
3. Sex is not God
Sex should not be our god. It should not be ultimate in our lives. It is an important aspect of human life, but our union with Christ is the ultimate relationship goal of life. Self denial is an important element of the Christian life.
4. God is chastity
The way we treat sex says a great deal about how we think about God. Jesus says only the pure in heart can see God. Matthew 5:8
5. Sex is temporary
Sex and marriage are institutions for this life only. Jesus aid those raised from the dead neither marry nor are given in marriage. Luke 20:35 Marriage is sacramental, and sacraments are a means to a greater end, that is an eternal union with Christ.
6. Disordered desire makes for disordered sex
Problems related to sex are primarily problems of the mind. It is our disordered desires that lead us astray. Erotic pictures misdirect our minds from our relationship with Christ.
7. Fallen bodies make for fallen sex
Our equality is disordered because of the fall. Today’s gender issues, homosexuality, pornography, etc are distortions brought about because our minds are distorted. Our fallen bodies will be sown into the ground after death, and we will be raised with new spiritual bodies. 1 Cor. 15:42-2-44
8. Sex leads to kids
The primary purpose of sex is to make children. This is obvious in nature. Animals do not appear to have disordered sex. It is a disorder of man, made in the image of God, but distorted by the fall. Sex as an expression of love bears fruit, and the fruit is our children. Children are a blessing throughout the Bible, and the Psalmist says it is a joy to have a quiver full of them (Psalm 127:5), or like olive shots around your table (Psalm 28:3).