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Hosea - God's Unfailing Love

Minor Prophets  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  52:15
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Introduction - marital faithfulness
Marriage vows: In most marriage ceremonies, there are promises made by each person to the other as they stand before God. These promises run the gamut of life’s circumstances - sickness and health, richer or poorer, adversity and prosperity, for better or for worse, till death brings separation. Other than death, NOTHING is supposed to separate those who covenant before God in this way.
And, just about everyone who stands before a preacher and makes these vows firmly believes they will keep them. I’m sure there are very few, even among unbelievers, that on their wedding day are thinking about ways to break up their marriage. Everyone believes they can make it work. Why? Well, love, of course. They’re in love and we all no that nothing is stronger than love. We sing songs about love - All You Need is Love, I Will Always Love You, I Wanna Know What Love Is.
But, what does love really look like? How do we really know what love is? And, is love all that matters? Sometimes, we act as if love is the ultimate force in the universe. We sometimes act as if 1 John says “love is God” rather than “God is love”. Is love really all we need. Does a feeling of love justify any relationship? What is love?

I. The Love Story

A. The Minor Prophets

Last portion of the Old Testament (New is not necessarily better just because it is “new”)
Shorter than the Major Prophets (not minor in importance) - not like major league and minor league

B. Hosea’s Background

The first of the minor prophets is Hosea. The unusual thing you will notice if you look at each of the minor prophets is that the book of Hosea is rather long. It, along with Zechariah, has 14 chapters.
We’re not exactly sure why Hosea is the first book in this grouping, but it could have to do with the fact that it one of the oldest of the Minor Prophets. That is, it was written earlier than most of the other books. Hosea, Amos and Micah were all written before the fall of the Northern Kingdom of Israel to Assyria. By contrast, the last three books of the Old Testament, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi were written some time in the 5th Century BC, that’s the 400’s, after the return of the exiles from Babylon.
Another interesting thing about Hosea is that, unlike most of the other major and minor prophetical books, it centers around the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Most of the other prophets ministered and wrote to the southern kingdom of Judah and, specifically, the capital city of Jerusalem. Of course, most of the other minor prophets were written after the fall of the northern kingdom, so it wasn’t even around when they were prophesying.
The northern kingdom of Israel existed because of the failure of Solomon to remain faithful to God. He married many foreign wives and, as the Bible describes, they carried away his heart after foreign gods. As a result, God said that He would tear away 10 tribes from Solomon’s son and give them to Jereboam to rule. Thus began the split between Israel, with the capital city of Samaria, and Judah, with the capital city of Jerusalem.
As you read through the books of Kings and Chronicles, one thing you will notice is that, from the very beginning Israel proved to be a rebellious people with rebellious leaders. They were idolatrous from the beginning as Jereboam built two golden calfs and claimed they were representations of Israel’s god. This idolatry was disastrous for the nations, bringing with it all kinds of evil and trouble. At the time Hosea was prophesying, centuries had passed and Jereboam II, who is no relation to the first Jereboam, was in power. But, his power was on the decline. And Assyria was on the rise. He and Amos were prophesying in the northern kingdom around the same time Isaiah and Micah were prophesying in the southern kingdom.
Hosea contains some personal information about the prophet’s life that you don’t see in most of the other minor prophets. It also has a lengthy section, chapters 4-14, with prophecies relating the incidents in Hosea’s life to the nation to which he was prophesying. It is a book of sinful unfaithfulness, pronouncements of judgment, loving forgiveness, covenant faithfulness, and glorious restoration. In the account of Hosea and his wife, we see a beautiful picture of a God who, despite our own unfaithfulness, pursues those He loves and brings them back to himself. We see a God who never fails and is always faithful. And we learn a lot about what that type of love looks like.

C. Hosea and Gomer’s Story

Verse 1 tells us who his father was and when he lived, but more importantly that God spoke to Him and through Him. God told Hosea to marry a woman and so he did.
The woman’s name was Gomer. She is said to be the daughter of Diblaim and, unfortunately for Hosea, very unfaithful.
Hosea 1:1–9 NKJV
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. 2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the Lord said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” 6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away. 7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the Lord their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen.” 8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God.
Most of the rest of the book is the actual prophecy that God gave to Hosea regarding the sin and judgment of His people. God speaks through Hosea to His people as a husband would to an unfaithful wife. Hosea and Gomer come back into the narrative in chapter 3:
Hosea 3:1–3 NKJV
1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.” 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”
So, first, Hosea has married a woman who is called unfaithful and then that unfaithfulness plays out. Gomer had left and become an adulterous woman. Perhaps she had even gone into prostitution in the temple of Israel’s gods. The one true God tells Hosea to pursue Gomer and buy her back and love her without fail.
And, that is the sum total of all we know of Hosea and Gomer. He never speaks of himself again. So, what do we make of all this? Why did God have the history of His prophet and his unfaithful wife included in sacred Scripture?
In chapter 2, God begins to show how these historical events in the lives of Hosea and Gomer relate to God and His people. Throughout Hosea’s prophecy, God and Israel are characterized as husband and wife. At times in this prophecy, God is very blunt in His description of Israel’s unfaithfulness and His impending judgment. The first warning of God’s judgment is contained even in the names of the children born to Hosea, Jezreel and Lo-Ruhamah.
Hosea 1:4–6 NKJV
4 Then the Lord said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” 6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away.
In chapters 4-14, God promises many judgments that will come on His people: they will be devastated, destroyed, rejected, shamed, punished, struck, pursued by enemies and ultimately cut off. All of this, God promises, is His judgment against His people. And the reason God gives for this judgement is the unfaithfulness of His people.

II. The Unfaithfulness of God’s People

The whole reason God spoke to Hosea was to confront His people for their sin. They had consistently rejected the Lord and His Law and refused to listen to Him when confronted by His prophets. In chapter 4, God describes them as “stubborn, like a stubborn calf” (4:16), calls them “adulterers” in chapter 7 (7:4), and in chapter 13, He declares that they had “forgotten [Him]” (13:6).
Again in chapter 4, we are told that God’s people had “[broken] all restraint” (4:2), have “rejected knowledge” and “forgotten the Law (4:6), “sinned against God” (4:7), and “ceased obeying the Lord” (4:10). As if that wasn’t enough, in chapter 8:1, they have “rebelled against God’s law” and in so doing are describes as having “rebelled against God” in chapter 13. In fact, they were determined to have it so. They wanted it this way.
This is how God’s people treated God - like an unfaithful wife who hate her spouse. This isn’t some abstract, impersonal act against an arbitrary rule or law. This is a breaking of a sacred vow or covenant, just like a marital covenant. They have cheated on the only One who ever really loved them.
So, this is how God describes his people generally. And he has good reason! He goes into great detail in chapters 4-14 about the specific sinful unfaithfulness of His people.

A. Specific Acts

Unrighteous Rulers
Hosea 9:15 NKJV
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.
They were deceitful
Hosea 10:4 NKJV
4 They have spoken words, Swearing falsely in making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field.
Hosea 12:7 NKJV
7 “A cunning Canaanite! Deceitful scales are in his hand; He loves to oppress.
They were murderers
Hosea 4:2 NKJV
2 By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed.
Hosea 6:8 NKJV
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers And defiled with blood.
They were adulterers
Hosea 4:10 NKJV
10 For they shall eat, but not have enough; They shall commit harlotry, but not increase; Because they have ceased obeying the Lord.
Hosea 5:7 NKJV
7 They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, For they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.
Hosea 7:4 NKJV
4 “They are all adulterers. Like an oven heated by a baker— He ceases stirring the fire after kneading the dough, Until it is leavened.
This all showed up in their idolatrous worship
Hosea 4:6–8 NKJV
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. 7 “The more they increased, The more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of My people; They set their heart on their iniquity.
Hosea 8:4–6 NKJV
4 “They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold They made idols for themselves— That they might be cut off. 5 Your calf is rejected, O Samaria! My anger is aroused against them— How long until they attain to innocence? 6 For from Israel is even this: A workman made it, and it is not God; But the calf of Samaria shall be broken to pieces.
APPLICATION - deal with sin of idolatry and it’s results

B. Root Cause - Pride

Hosea 5:5 NKJV
5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them.
Hosea 7:10 NKJV
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.
Hosea 10:13 NKJV
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.
RESULT - they forgot their God
Hosea 13:6 NKJV
6 When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me.
APPLICATION - we are not that much different from them. how faithful are we? what would happen if we had everything we wanted? what would happen if we had nothing that we wanted?

III. The Cure for Unfaithfulness - God’s Love

A. God’s Love brings about Repentance
Hosea 2:14–15 NKJV
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. 15 I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
Hosea 10:12 NKJV
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.
B. Repentance is Shown by a Change of Life
Hosea 6:1–3 NKJV
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. 2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. 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.
Hosea 12:6 NKJV
6 So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.
C. Repentance caused by God’s Love Results in Restoration
Hosea 2:14–23 NKJV
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. 15 I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 16 “And it shall be, in that day,” Says the Lord, That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ 17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, With the birds of the air, And with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely. 19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; 20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the Lord. 21 “It shall come to pass in that day That I will answer,” says the Lord; “I will answer the heavens, And they shall answer the earth. 22 The earth shall answer With grain, With new wine, And with oil; They shall answer Jezreel. 23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”
Hosea 14:4–9 NKJV
4 “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him. 5 I will be like the dew to Israel; He shall grow like the lily, And lengthen his roots like Lebanon. 6 His branches shall spread; His beauty shall be like an olive tree, And his fragrance like Lebanon. 7 Those who dwell under his shadow shall return; They shall be revived like grain, And grow like a vine. Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon. 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.” 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.
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