God and the Prophets
Hosea Says to Worship Our God of Faithfulness
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.”
—Hosea 3:1, emphasis added
Some of the contemporaries prophesying during the time of Hosea (753-715 B.C.) were Jonah (793-753 B.C.), Amos (760-750 B.C.), Micah (742-687 B.C.), and Isaiah (740-681 B.C.). In all twelve minor prophetic books, from Hosea to Malachi, Christ is our "Promised Son of God." Each prophet declares that God is in control. Indeed, they do more than merely declare it; the sovereign hand of God is visible everywhere. Overspreading the words of these twelve writers is the reality that God is the Sovereign Lord of History. They affirm that nothing happens, either to Israel or to the Gentile nations, that is not the result of His direct determination. The destruction by locusts, in Joel, was God’s doing. Nineveh’s ups (revival with Jonah) and downs (complete destruction in Nahum) were sent from the Lord. When Assyria decimated Israel, and Babylon wiped out Judah, it was God who did it. Any doubts over the precise purpose of God’s actions evaporated the moment they remembered that almighty God was in control.
All the Minor Prophets declare that God is holy. It was their comprehension of His utter holiness that was the impetus for their scathing indictments of sin. Wherever sin was found among God’s people or in foreign lands (Edom, as in Obadiah; Assyria, as in Nahum), it was still an affront to the Lord and had to be dealt with. As nowhere else in the Scriptures, sin is denounced and repentance is ardently and earnestly demanded. These prophets declared that without genuine repentance, the judgment of God is inescapable.
The twelve declared that God is lovingly just. His love and justice often appears harsh to some, which simply reveals a basic misunderstanding of the perfections of our Lord. The great love of God for His people (even His love for Nineveh) caused Him to send messengers to warn of coming judgment. At the appointed time, if there was no genuine repentance, judgment fell. Sin is always an affront to God; it always destroys, and is always judged. The purpose of judgment is to turn the wayward from sin to their rightful Master. These truths must be emphasized as much today as they were 2,800 years ago. Individuals are still sinning and running away from God, just as Israel did. Nations are still offending the righteousness of a holy God, just as Israel did. But, as always, God will restore those who come to Him.
Hosea himself had a life of grief. His only beloved wife, Gomer, was persistently unfaithful to their marriage. This sorrow gave Hosea a unique perspective to speak about the parallel unfaithfulness of Israel for their Lord. The compassionate heart of God, with no diminishing of His holy standard, is seen in the book of Hosea, which paints a powerful portrait of the coming revelation of the love and holiness of God perfectly revealed in Christ. There is moral and spiritual bankruptcy in the nation; sin is unashamedly practiced, and God is abandoned. Worship of the true and living God is replaced by false and lifeless idols. Hosea depicts the inward decay of a collapsing nation. Ultimately, in 722 B.C., Assyria captured and deported the people of the northern kingdom to the area we would now call modern-day Iraq.
Hope helps us to clearly see God’s faithfulness in Hosea. We can learn valuable lessons from how God related to His people, and how they responded. For instance, God faithfully warned His people, but Israel forgot their Maker (8:14). However, He never forgot them; rather, God wanted them to remember Him all through their lives. This teaches the value of listening to God. Because Israel faithlessly lived apart from God by their deeds (Hosea 7:2), we are reminded of the importance of following the Lord. Because Israel faithlessly neglected God’s Word and stumbled into sin (4:5; 5:5), but didn’t even know it (7:8-9) because she became satisfied and forgot God (8:14; 13:6), we are cautioned to not neglect feeding upon His Word.
Israel faithlessly compromised God’s plan by mixing with the nations (7:8), which caused them to wander and rebel (7:13). This ultimately led to their going astray by a spirit of harlotry (4:12; 5:4). Yielding to the enticement of “a little compromise” usually leads to full-blown rebellion. We need to obey the Lord.
God faithfully disciplined His disobedient children when they stumbled into sin (4:1; 5:2). He had to chastise them because they transgressed His covenant (6:6-7; 8:1; 13:4). This is true of nations and people alike, and repentance is the only wise choice of action. Hosea thus urged Israel to acknowledge their guilt (5:15), return to the Lord (6:1), know Him (6:3), and wait for Him (12:6).
With that in mind, we should respond daily to God’s Word, and never put off obedience until it is more convenient. Listen to God faithfully, follow Him, feed upon His Word, and then respond in loving obedience. If you do, He will bless you for it!
My Prayer for You This Week: Thank You, dear Lord, for the privilege of looking at many individual books, and just lightly touching on them, but seeing You, Lord Jesus, operative in each one guiding, guarding, blessing, and judging those who would not listen. We want to be blessed and we want Your protection, because we want to obey You with all our heart. With our whole heart, may we seek You. Oh, let us not wander from Your commandments! We pray in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.