OT Survey 113 Seminar 21 Hosea
Andrew Hodge 13th October 2006
Old Testament Survey OTE113
Jensen, Irving L. Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament 1978, Moody Press, Chicago pp 411-418; Hosea; Libronix
Explain how the narrative of Hosea demonstrates God’s relationship with His people:
If it is accepted that Hebrew names indicate character or life role, Hosea shares the same root as Joshua and Jesus, indicating [Jehovah is] “salvation”. If this is then coupled with Hosea’s wife Gomer (“completion”) we have a picture of God’s complete overruling in salvation: the Bride - totally incapable of any spiritual cleanliness, is made absolutely sinless by an infinitely gracious Husband, so that she is able to freely enter into the intimate and pure relationship that He so lovingly desires.
Not only does the Husband suitably prepare His Wife (at great cost to Himself) but He is also willing to keep her pure and to bring her back to Him when she deliberately decides to stray. Jehovah has already proven His intention almost time without number in the centuries before the Northern Kingdom (Israel) is taken into captivity by Assyria. The Southern Kingdom (Judah) has exactly the same heritage but is already on track to be removed from the Land 136 years later.
Jonah, Amos and Hosea are the only writing prophets to the Northern Kingdom (Jensen pp 188-189). Neither Jonah nor Amos were native to this kingdom, making Hosea the only writing prophet of Israel to Israel (Jensen p 412). Some believe that Hosea moved to Judah in 722 BC at the time of the Northern Captivity; his prophecies continue to 714 BC (according to Jensen he prophesied to someone for 8 years after the Northerners were removed although Jensen qualifies this by quoting Gleason Archer1 who believes the book was compiled by 725 BC, 3 years prior to the predicted Northern captivity - Jensen footnote 16, p 412).
There seems to be more than a little confusion here in that Jensen notes two things - Hosea prophesied until 714 BC (p 412, Chart 102) but the book was finished in 725 BC (Jensen p 415 quoting Archer). If both Jensen and Archer are correct, the resolution perhaps is that he did indeed forthtell after the book was finished but ceased foretelling in 725 BC, all events happening after that date being foretold by the time of writing. There are other possibilities.
1Gleason L. Archer A Survey of Old Testament Introduction Moody Chicago 1964 p310
Jeremiah was the prophet ministering to the Southern Kingdom at the time of their Babylonian Captivity (605-586 BC). Both he and Hosea had similar messages; both were “weeping prophets” (Jensen p 412), their missions being to plead with the people of Israel to return to the worship of Jehovah. It is entirely consistent with the nature of God that even when His promised and predicted judgment is about to fall on His Chosen people that He would send a final patient messenger of grace, tenderness and deep entreaty appealing for repentance (10:12, 11:9).
In a sense this is what is now happening on a global basis in our Age of Grace before the judgment of the Tribulation, the Messenger being the Holy Spirit Who “is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance”.
God reminds the Northern Kingdom that He is their only Saviour and wants to accept them back (13:9-10, 14:1) and prophesies that this will happen (physically and politically 2:14-23, 11:10-11 - as well as spiritually 13:14, 14:4-9) depending on when they repent.
Isaiah and Micah were ministering to Judah at the time Hosea prophesied in Israel; some of Hosea’s passages refer to Judah (eg 1:1, 8:14, 11:12 etc), some of Micah’s, and some oblique references in Isaiah, refer to Israel.
All of these prophets were successful in their prophesying ie they did their job as God wanted it done. It did not matter that neither the Northern nor the Southern Kingdoms avoided captivity. Both Kingdoms reaped what they had personally sown and were responsible for their own consequences. In the same way we are responsible for communicating the Gospel, but each listening individual is responsible for what they do with the message - they, not the messenger, determine the outcome which occurs between themselves and God direct.
Economically, the Northern Kingdom was prosperous (Hosea 7:14-15, 12:8, 13:6; 2 Kings 14:25, 28) but spiritually they were in deep trouble - backslidden (Hosea 4:1-2, 7:1-7,13, 9:7, 11:7,14:4) in idolatry (13:1-2), immorality and rebellion against God (2 Kings 15 and 17), even going so far as to ally themselves with Damascus and attempt to overthrow Judah. Worse, the idolatry was a syncretism of Jehovah-worship with worship of the gods of the surrounding nations, taking away any distinctiveness that Jehovah had given and wished them to have, and proving Israelite distrust of Him. The Land needed a rest from such evil (4:3); hence the people were removed (5:14, 7:11-12, 8:9).
In terms of straight narrative, the book of Hosea continues the picture of Yahweh as the husband of Israel (Jeremiah 3:1-3, Ezekiel 23) and Israel as His bride. The imagery of marriage as used in Hosea Chh1-3 is entirely appropriate to communicate at a human level the depths of the change in relationship between Jehovah and His Chosen Nation.
As pictured by Gomer (the “wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms” - 1:2), Israel is not only born to idolatry but is destined to continue in it without choice in the matter, their national conscience completely seared on this issue. The analogy falls down a little in that Israel chose to rebel against Jehovah in the first place, but when Hosea prophesied, Israel was so entrenched in idolatry that she was indeed incapable of escaping on her own.
Escape required the intervention of the undeserved and unmerited Grace of God, as an unsolicited gift expressing infinite love, in exactly the same way that everyone in our Age of Grace is saved (Romans 5:8).
When viewed spiritually, equating Gomer’s prostitution with Israel’s idolatry is perfect (see Table in Appendix). Instead of choosing to have the expected intimate relationship with her espoused husband in monogamy, Israel decides to give everything that her husband expects to multiple other ‘men’ and in the process demonstrates complete contempt for who God is, for who they themselves are, and for the preciousness of the expected marriage relationship. Gomer temporarily leaves Hosea; Israel is temporarily taken into captivity, apart from God and from His covenants. Hosea has to buy her back (15 pieces of silver, one and a half homers of barley 3:2); God has to redeem His people. Idolatry is indeed religious prostitution. How hurt God must have been by Israel’s contempt for Him! How hurt He must have been to lose His only begotten Son on humanity’s behalf!
Discuss what lessons can be learned from Hosea’s family:
Israel is Jehovah’s unfaithful wife who has deliberately deserted her husband and cohabited with other lovers. Jehovah’s love is such that He invites Israel to come back without preconditions, fully and unreservedly, offering to bless His wife with qualities that she did not previously possess eg faithfulness (Hosea 2:14-15,19-20, 11:3-4, 14:4-8). This is far beyond the capacity of normal human love, but can be ours in Christ when we allow ourselves to be a channel for exactly the same love expressed by God to Israel, and to others through us by the power of the indwelling Holy Spirit.
Gomer is unable to break her habit of prostitution - the analogy is “dead in trespasses and sins”, but she is still capable of making the choice to return to her husband when powerfully entreated to do so (2:7 “for then was it better with me than now”).
After her marriage to Hosea and before her adultery, Gomer gives birth to a son, a daughter, and a second son. The first son is called Jezreel (“God sows”) because in line with His prophecy concerning the Godless house of Jehu, God will use the occasion of Israel’s unrepentant sinfulness to obliterate Jehu’s line of descendants (? Shallum 752 BC) and cleanse the land of their perpetual evil (near fulfillment 1:4) and ‘break the bow of Israel, in the valley of Jezreel’ (? far fulfillment in the Tribulation 1:5).
The daughter is named Loruhamah (“not having obtained mercy”) “for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away” (1:6). Persistent offences against the infinite holiness and righteousness of God can be corrected only by the exhibition of infinite love - a condition achieved solely in Jesus’ self-giving sacrifice on the Cross. His sacrifice is then offered as a gift which is accepted only by those who realise that they will be utterly lost if they do not accept it. For those who will not receive, the processes of sentencing and punishment according to God’s righteousness inexorably proceed.
Israel is in this position. There is no record that any Israelite accepted the prophets’ call to repentance - all are killed or taken into captivity ie not one “obtained mercy”.
The second son is named Loammi (“not my people” 1:9, God speaking) for the spiritual condition of Israel is such that they no longer qualify to be associated with Jehovah. In addition God states that He is not willing to be their God.
However, almost in the same breath (vv 10-11) He recalls to His writer Hosea that His promises to the forefathers are indeed forever - “10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 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: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.” This is a reminder that Jehovah may have withdrawn from His Nation temporarily, but in the future He will draw them back to Himself and they will respond in belief, and in the Land (Tribulation and Millennium), all past unbelief and rebellion forgiven and forgotten.
Hosea himself, as Gomer’s husband, represents the Father in the marriage analogy. What God has asked him to do is not easy by any human criterion, but God is expecting His own criterion to be met (3:1). Yet what God did, is doing and will do for Israel and for all humanity is far greater in scope and scale, but nevertheless in human terms the analogy works well. I believe we can reasonably assume that God gave Hosea the capacity to fulfil his task.
Reading between the lines, Hosea’s apt real-life family drama has little or no impact on Israel’s thinking or behaviour. The same is true of all dispensations - there is the same sequence of new rules, human failure, God’s judgment, God’s extension of grace. There are different extents to which the offer of grace is received. In Hosea’s day this appears to be minimal.
Share the final message of Hosea and how it may apply today:
See above and below.
“There is nothing of divine grace that is not found in the book of Hosea” (Jensen p 411). Hosea “should lead you into a deeper knowledge of who God is and how He deals with sinners” (ibid). John has been called the apostle of love in the NT; Hosea could be called the prophet of love in the OT (Jensen p 415). God is the same yesterday, today and forever.
Jensen makes references between verses in Hosea and in the NT (p 416). Both Paul (Romans 9:25) and Peter (1 Peter 2:10) call attention to the parallel between the Israelites of Hosea’s time not obtaining mercy, whereas the early Christians have obtained mercy because they responded in repentance to the pleadings of God through the preaching of the Gospel. Although this applied to the infant Church, there is a further fulfillment to the original “people”, Israel, in the Tribulation and Millennium.
Comparing Hosea 6:6 with Matthew 9:13 and 12:7 shows how Grace supersedes Law ie God told the Israelites the importance of Grace and Mercy in the Dispensation of Law; the importance of the Spirit of the Law rather than the letter. The fact of Grace is revealed in our own day - fulfilling the fundamental spiritual intention of the Law in Christ without dispensing with the judicial Law of Moses.
Comparing Hosea 13:14 with 1 Corinthians 15:55 demonstrates God’s promise and fulfillment of victory over sin and death - a gap of more than 700 years.
These three comparisons are direct quotes of Hosea in the NT demonstrating the unity of God’s word, its trustworthiness, its continuous truth and the nature of the One Who caused it to be successively recorded.
Jensen asks to apply the following phrases to our present day (p 418):
“Like people, like priest” (4:9): in context, this verse shows how the appointed mediators between God and man - the Levitical priesthood in Hosea’s day - failed in their duty to communicate between God and men, so that everyone became ignorant of the necessary God-men relationship. The blind led the blind. Same today in liberal, modernistic, heretical and impotent Christendom. Alive only in those who respond to God’s call to repentance and realise the hunger needed for continued growth in discipleship toward “the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ”.
Hosea 6:6 “For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” Again God is pointing out the superiority of love, mercy and obedience in contrast to following the Law as a set of rules to be dutifully carried out. Describes the Laodicean/Roman/dead Protestant churches of our day. See Chart in Appendix showing the fate of these churches in relationship to the Tribulation.
“For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind” (8:7). The context is the idolatry of the Divided Northern Kingdom when Jeroboam I set up golden calves at either end of the kingdom to be worshipped instead of Jehovah. This was not just planting the seeds of idolatry but outright rebellion against God, 209 years before the Assyrian captivity.
Quite apart from the outright rejection of Jehovah, the only God, by non-Christian faiths (including today’s Jewry), most of so-called Christendom is in the same boat - faithless, uncaring in concern for others and possessing no true knowledge of God. For example, the only effective defence against world domination by Islam is Christianity. Christianity is in disarray because we are currently reaping the whirlwind of sowing in liberalism and apostasy. In God’s plan, Islam will not overcome the Lord’s people, but both Islam and apostate Christendom will suffer crushing judgment at God’s hand.
“The days of punishment have come” (9:7). Judgment on Israel was inevitable (near fulfilment), and judgment on Godless humanity is also inevitable (far fulfilment).
“It is time to seek the LORD” (10:12). The context is that judgment was about to descend on Israel for their sinfulness, so that NOW is the time for repentance, because in the fullness of time He will “rain righteousness upon you” irrespective of whether judgment has descended. The early Church had the same message (2 Corinthians 6:2) and applies equally to today in that we do not know when death as a judgment for our treatment of the Saviour, will overtake us.
Picture how Hosea demonstrates who God is and how He deals with sinners:
There are 57 “I will(s)” of Jehovah in the Book of Hosea. These are all of either judgment or mercy, demonstrating God’s simultaneously applied holiness and love. This is expressed most clearly in the Cross where justice and mercy meet, satisfying on that one occasion the infinite righteousness and infinite mercy of our Creator in the context of His infinite love, at the cost of His only begotten Son who voluntarily gave His life for us.
"But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." (Romans 5:8). Also John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9, etc.
God’s love leaves room for discipline, but no room for abandonment.a
Describe the unique relationship Christ has with His followers:
He is at one and the same time Creator, Saviour, Lord, Judge, Servant, Mediator, our Righteousness, Shepherd, Light of Life, Bread of Life, Door, Living Water, Teacher, our Way, our Truth, our Life, our Victory, Advocate, Author and Finisher of our faith, Everlasting Father, in His Family as joint-heirs with Him, our Passover, our Prophet, Priest and King, our Rock, Fortress, Shield and Buckler. I’ve probably missed out hundreds more.
In the Church, He is our Head and we are the components of His Body, each with a unique role as predetermined by Him (Ephesians 2:10). He is the Bridegroom, the Church - presented by Himself to Himself - is his spotless Bride. Our marriage supper is in heaven after the rapture (? In the early part of the Millennium according to some), but I am not clear as to the significance of any consummation after this (does this happen at salvation?).
Most of the Names which associate us with Christ can be taken quite literally eg Creator, Saviour. Some need to be firmly placed in context eg Advocate - not in a human court of law but continuously before the Father in heaven. Some must be spiritualised, but this is also contained within context eg Bread of Life, Fortress. Some currently exist eg Light of Life; some are yet to be completed eg inheritance as joint heirs.
|God’s Lovingkindness to Israel|
|HOSEA and GOMER||GOD and ISRAEL|
|BETROTHAL||Hos. 1:2||Assumed; Jer. 2:2; Ezek. 16:8|
|ONE FLESH||Hos. 1:3||Assumed; Jer. 3:1; Ezek. 16:9–14|
|ADULTERY||Hos. 2:2; 3:1||Hos. 2:5; 4:12; Jer. 3:6; 5:7; Ezek. 16:15–34|
|DIVORCE||Hos. 3:1||Hos. 2:2; Jer. 3:8–10, 20; Ezek. 16:35–59|
|REMARRIAGE||Hos. 3:3–5||Hos. 1:10,11; 2:14–23; 14:4–9; Jer. 3:22–4:2; Ezek. 16:60–63|
aLarry Richards, The Bible Reader's Companion, Includes index., 529 (Wheaton, Ill.: Victor Books, 1991).
John Jr MacArthur, The MacArthur Study Bible, electronic ed., Ho 1:4 (Nashville: Word Pub., 1997, c1997).
3John R. Ecob Herald of Hope