Sermon: Hosea's Prophecy (Part Three)
Hosea 5:1 to 7:16
Martin G. Collins
Given 15-Sep-12; 79 minutes
In my series of sermons on Hosea, in looking at the chapters, I can give many sermons on each chapter, but I thought that would be too much for too long, so I have chosen to actually just give brief summaries on the chapters. That is my intention.
Let me briefly summarize what I have already presented to you in chapters 1-4 of Hosea's prophecy.
God had a marriage relationship with Israel, but Israel turned to other gods, made alliances with other countries, and took on their pagan cultures. As a result physical Israel became Jezreel, meaning God will scatter, Lo Ruhamah, meaning not having obtained pity or mercy from God, and Lo Ammi, meaning not God's people or not My loved one.
In other words they were cut off from God, divorced. Today the church of God is the spiritual Israel of God and we have become Jezreel meaning God will sow. He has increased His body and His family (He is in the process of that); Lo Ruhamah, having obtained mercy; and Lo Ammi, God's people.
Physical Israel is commanded to repent and turn to God, but this will not happen until toward the end of the Great Tribulation and on into the beginning of the Millennium. At that time God will have mercy on all of Israel. At the beginning of the Millennium the descendants of ancient Israel will grow in understanding; they will receive mercy and once again be God's people.
Through the Israel of God, most if not all of the Gentile nations will also eventually enter into a covenant relationship with God. Then all the world will have the opportunity to obtain mercy and be God's people.
Chapters 1-3 use Hosea's own marriage to Gomer as a parable for the relationship between God and Israel with the dominate image of Israel as an unfaithful wife. Hosea's personal biography exemplifies the Eternal s compassion. In Hosea chapter 3, we saw the redemptive work promised to be accomplished by Christ.
In chapter 4, Hosea's prophecy launches into a formal accusation against Israel in which the sins of the people are brought forth as evidence for the justice of God's judgments. In legal terms you might say that it was the case for the prosecution.
Hosea describes five consequences for Israel’s rejection of God. 1) Moral depravity. 2) Destruction of the environment. 3) The debasement of leadership, particularly religious leadership. 4) Personal emptiness. 5) Ruin on a national scale. The descendants of Israel today have, for the most part, declared themselves secular nations—worldly, Godless nations.
Even the supreme court of Canada has declared officially that they are secular. United States has done the same thing. Chapters 4-14 spell out the details of the parable with its series of accusations, warnings, appeals and enticements for God's people to return.
The last ten chapters of Hosea illustrate and explain Gods assertion and intermittently reminds Israel of their need for repentance. Now we begin to analyze chapter 5.
The theme of this chapter is adultery and leadership; the role of Israel had led the way into unfaithfulness; both political and religious leaders are addressed in these verses. We find here a summation of the evidence that the judge applied to all the accused. He condemned the leaders for trapping innocent people and exploiting them, and there was no justice in the land. They were sinking deep into sin and lacked the spiritual power to repent and turn back to God, because their sins had paralyzed them in confusion and resentment.
Certainly the present government and religious leaders are paralyzed in confusion because of sin, as we see in the news every day. One of the things people tell themselves when they attempt to run away from God is that if they forget Him, He will forget them. But God does not forget us. On the contrary, He knows all things including all we do and are. This is frightening for the one who is trying to run away from God. Actually it is a cause for resentment and even hatred of God. What are the attributes of God that sinful men and women dislike, and why do they dislike them?
God has wonderful attributes, ones that we want very badly, and the world hates them. In a sense everyone is naturally God's enemy because of five things. 1) God's holiness, because we are not naturally holy. 2) God's omniscience, because He knows we are not naturally righteous. 3) God's omnipotence, because it offends our natural desire for autonomy. 4) God's mercy, because we are not naturally forgiving and merciful. 5) God's unchangeability, because God will never be other than He is, in these “offensive attributes” (man’s words). He is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
What an interesting contrast we have between this theme in chapter 5 and their dislike of God's attributes and the complementary theme of knowing God which we found in chapter 4. The primary complaint against Israel was that she abandoned her knowledge of God; she knew God in one sense and turned her back on Him and ran away. God desired her to have such knowledge, but Israel had chosen sin instead, and the knowledge of God that she once possessed had vanished.
Like Hosea's wife, she had been running from God, attempting to put this former knowledge behind her. Although she had forgotten Him, He had not forgotten her as we see in Hosea's example. This is what this nation today has done, by removing prayer from schools, removing the Ten Commandments from public, glorifying homosexuality, changing the definition of marriage, flagrantly murdering tens of millions of babies, literally tearing them limb from limb.
God comes to remind Israel of this holy knowledge that they had forgotten. Here in Hosea 5, we will read verses 1-3, which is regarding a pending judgment on Israel and Judah.
Hosea 5:1-3 Hear this O priests take heed, O house of Israel, give ear, O house of the king. For yours is the judgment, because you have been a snare to Mizpah and a net spread on Tabor. The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, though I rebuke them all. I know Ephraim, and Israel is not hidden from Me. For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry, Israel is defiled.
Now, as we know Ephraim is one of the twelve tribes of Israel, and we generally thought of it as being the British Empire or the British people, and United States as being Manasseh. That is speculation, the best we can come up with at this time. Some people speculate that Ephraim is actually the United States.
Keep in mind that Ephraim was breaking these things and turning her back on God in a worse way than any of the other tribes had. So Ephraim, here, represents in the worst way: all of Israel. So I will use the term Ephraim and Israel intermittently throughout this.
The omniscience of God has been a cause of shaking fear for the one who has something to hide. But since we all have something to hide, this attribute is a terror to all of us. We have a strange ambivalence at this point as human beings; on the one hand we want to be known, but on the other hand we do not want to be known too well.
The fact that we want to be known comes from our being made in the image of God. “Let us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness.” as God tells us. That phrase means many things, but one thing it means is that God has made us persons as He is a person.
One of the characteristics of persons is that they want to be known by other persons. They want to have relationships. That is key: all persons want to have relationships. If you come into a room one day and no one bothers to look up and say hello, you feel slighted. If someone regularly slights you, you come to dislike that person. Some who have been slighted or neglected in their childhood developed personality traits that seek to attract attention. They become loud and aggressive or they are always showing off.
Others who are unable to develop such personality compensations often become warped and introverted. These behavior problems show that we want to be known; we have a need to be known by others because we want relationships. At the same time, we do not want to be known too thoroughly; we have our guard up, psychologically, and allow ourselves to be known only to the extent that we sense acceptance and even then never totally.
Why do we fear exposure? Why did Israel fear exposure? The answer is not an irrational fear at this point because our fear is not irrational. It is rather that we do have something to hide, and we are not what we should be. We occasionally sin and whether we admit it openly or not, we know it and develop psychological defense mechanisms. That is human nature.
We hide on three levels. 1) We hide from ourselves. The proof is our failure to face the facts about ourselves squarely. We hide from ourselves and make excuses. 3) We hide from others; our posturing is the evidence of that. 3) We hide from God.
There is the problem: we can hide from others, we can even do a good job of hiding from ourselves, but how do you hide from the one before whom all hearts are open, all desires are known. Remember what Peter told the other apostles in Acts 15?
Now we will turn to Hebrews 4:12. How do you do deal with one from whom nothing is hidden?
Hebrews 4:12-13 For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two- edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are naked and open to the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.
Remember Gomer, Hosea's wife, standing on the auction block stark naked? That was our condition when we were called.
Now we start to squirm because deep down we know we are not perfect. Faithlessness with disobedience will not go unnoticed. The phrase “word of God” in verse 12, in Hebrew, refers to the message of salvation, but here the word is pictured as God's personal statement. Living, active, sharp, piercing and discerning with eyes that expose. The word of God then acts as God Himself so that our innermost thoughts and intentions are exposed.
Israel was unwilling to face the fact that God really did know her. Sin blinds us even to such obvious facts as this. Therefore God follows the statement that He knows Israel with specifics; these occupy the next four verses in Hosea 5.
Hosea 5:5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face. Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity, Judah also stumbles with them. With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him. He has withdrawn Himself from them.
This is not a true seeking of God that the Israelites, Judah, and Ephraim were going through here. It corresponds to the universal religiosity of the Gentiles who, having turned from the knowledge of the true God, substitute idols in His place. Still it is a kind of seeking—seeking for something while they are actually running away from God, and God is pointing out that He sees it. He knows what is happening, and He is not fooled.
If the question were put to Israel: “What are you doing?” They would say, “We are seeking God.” And they would probably point to their flocks and herds dedicated for sacrifice as proof of the sincerity of their intentions. If the question were put to many people today, they would claim the same thing. “We are seeking God; look how religious we are.”
God says that they are not seeking, and the reason He knows that they are not seeking is that they are refusing to abandon the sin that always keeps a person from actually coming to Him.
Hosea 5:4 They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.
They claim to seek God but without faith, repentance, or overcoming, so their seeking is worthless. This is the same thing Paul says in Romans 3.
Romans 3:10-12 As it is written. There is none righteous, no, not one. There is none who understands, There is none that seeks after God. They have all gone out of the way. They have together become unprofitable. There is none who does good, no not one.
“But, [says someone] I have been seeking God, I have been looking for Him everywhere, but I have not been able to find Him.” What was the cause of Ephraim's paralysis? They did not know God, and their arrogance only led them to stumble and fall.
The parallels between Israel at that time and Ephraim are almost unbelievable to what we see today in the Israelitish nations including Canada, United States, UK, and so on.
Even if they came to God with entire flocks and herds to sacrifice, God would not meet them. Because He had withdrawn Himself from them; He rejected their illegitimate children and their monthly feasts which soon become funerals.
The second thing God says about the religiosity of Israel is that He knows it is not satisfying for the Israelites; in fact He tells them about it in advance, saying that it will not be satisfying. Again we will read in Hosea 5:6.
Hosea 5:6 With their flocks and herds they shall go to seek the Lord, but they will not find Him. He has withdrawn Himself from them.
As the truth and religion declined, they seemed to have made a great deal more of their sacrifices than their worship and high Holy days and Festivals. They would have said, “How meaningful, how moving, how spiritual an experience” it all was. But God said that it was actually worthless because it had nothing to do with Him. He was not in it, and if He is not in it, it is not true worship no matter how emotionally moving it may seem.
The way many people worship today is producing emptiness and dissatisfaction because it does not actually have to do with God. It is the kind of religion that emphasizes social activities and entertainment instead of the preaching and hearing of the word of God. The heart of God's way of life is a rational message, true doctrine, and not the experience of a fun community or the pulling of emotional strings.
Hosea 5:7-9 They have dealt treacherously with the Lord, for they have begotten pagan children. [They did not raise them up in God's way of life; they allowed their own beliefs to water down the point; the children look just like the world.] Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage. Blow the ram's horn in Gibeah, the trumpet in Ramah, cry aloud at Beth Aven, look behind you, O Benjamin [another tribe of Israel. These are warnings of impending dangers because of the loss of pride of their power, which is mentioned later], Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke, among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.
God warned them ahead of time. Though they bring their sacrifices to places like Mizpah and Tabor, they will not find the Lord. He has withdrawn from them, and this is a reference to the worshipers. As a result they had born alien children—alien to the Lord—not knowing Him and not being of His family, as illustrated by the last two children born to Gomer.
Sadly New Moon festivals, celebrations for Israel to rejoice for an abundant harvest, and now scrutinized with the cults of the Canaanites will devour the Israelites who participate in them. They and their inheritance, that is their land, will be swallowed up.
A day of judgment was coming when the cities of Israel would be conquered by the invading of the Assyrian army, and the citizens would be taken into captivity; Ephraim would be laid waste on the day of reckoning. The reality of the application here for us today as a nation is heart stopping when we realize that Israel went into captivity, national captivity, for the very things we are reading about, here, and the very things that are happening in our nation today and throughout the other Israelitish nations.
Hosea 5:10 The princes [leaders] of Judah are like those who remove a landmark. I will pour out my wrath on them like water.
This brings to mind imminent domain in the United States. Here in this nation they are confiscating vast amount of land from the people. If you see a map on the internet of the land that the government has confiscated…they have more land than the people do. What do they need that for? They are also guarding it from people going onto it.
Hosea 5:11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, because he willingly walked by human precept [tradition].
That is exactly what the churches in this nation are doing; they ignore God's truth and walk by tradition, the heaven and hell doctrine, the trinity doctrine. They also keep Sunday and not a Saturday Sabbath. I could go on and on with that list.
Verse 11 literally says that Ephraim is crushed in judgment. The scriptures elsewhere also combine oppressed and broken in speaking of man’s oppression by men. Ephraim preferred man's commands and laws to God's. They obeyed man and equated God to zero, nothing.
Because of this, it was only just that they suffer at man’s hands, and although Gentile men equally neglected God's will, they never-the-less (by carrying out their own will, in effect) forced God 's. The human precept Ephraim will walk by in Hosea 5:11 was probably by that of Jeroboam.
I Kings 12:28, 32-33 Therefore the king took counsel and made two calves of gold, and said to the people, it is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt. Jeroboam ordained a feast on the fifteenth day of the eighth month, [Do you know what that day is? Exactly one month from the Feast of Tabernacles; ironically, that puts us about the time of Halloween; so I speculate that he was moving Israel’s worship day to “all souls day” or whatever they called it back then. It was an ancient pagan festival] like the feast that was in Judah, and offered sacrifices on the altar. So he did at Bethel, sacrificing to the calves that he had made, and at Bethel he installed the priest of the high places which he had made. So he made offerings on the altar which he had made at Bethel on the fifteenth day of eighth month, in the month which he had devised in his own heart. And he ordained a feast for the children of Israel, and offered sacrifices on the altar and burned incense.
This is exactly what the Catholic Church did to pervert the original apostolic, so to speak, Church of God. They did all these thing that they made, devised these things in their hearts. The daughters of the Catholic Church—the Protestant churches—continued on with that to this day, and they are as pagan as any pagan church on earth.
Through this human precept or tradition, Jeroboam earned the appalling title “who made Israel to sin.” The last thing you want is for God to give you a title. Israel went willingly after it because it is said that this thing became a sin, and the people went to worship before the one, even unto Dan. While they readily accepted Jeroboams plea that it was too much to go up to Jerusalem, they went willingly to the Northern most point of Palestine, even to Dan. So whereas Jeroboam told them it is too far to go to Jerusalem, they went even farther to worship the idols, to the Northern part of the whole kingdom of Northern Israel.
For this sin God judged them justly, even through the unjust judgment of man. God mostly punishes through their own choice and those who choose against His. Remember the Jews later said, “We have no king but Caesar.” It was Caesar who destroyed them in Jesus’ time. “We have no king but Caesar.” That is what this nation is saying now.
There is a new style of worship which is centered, not in Gods' revelation, but in man’s tradition. It is geared to the celebration of the festivity of life instead of the word of God. Its concern is with the search for identity rather than the worship of a living personal God. It is called humanism, new age, purpose driven, Marxism, liberation theology, and many other progressive terms.
is his own birthday. Why? Because it glorifies the self.
There is one more thing that God says He knows about these people—their Hypocrisy. Hosea 5 does not use the word hypocrisy, but this is what is meant when God speaks against them for turning to the King of Assyria for help.
Hosea 5:13 When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah saw his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria and sent to King Jareb. Yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wound.
In their worship, they had been voicing confidence in God while practically in their politics; they had been depending on their alliances with the godless statesmen around them. This was hypocrisy. Many people will do the same today; they go out and act exactly like pagans as they scramble, cheat, scheme, and use every device at their disposal to get what they want out of life.
Israel and Judah were weak, sick nations, but instead of turning to God for healing, both of them turned to the King of Assyria for help. They needed heart-felt prayer and true repentance, but instead they trusted politics and useless treaties. All God did was withdrawal and wait for them to seek Him in humility and truth. They had to fall pretty far before they actually did that.
What should we know from this? So far we have seen two types of knowledge, 1) Knowledge of God, which humans have rejected because people do not like the God who must be known. 2) The knowledge that God has of us. The second area of knowledge is unsettling because if we are not right with God, we fear having that wrong relationship, and our fears cause our sin to be exposed.
There is also a third kind of knowledge—the knowledge of God's ways with sinners which He now reveals in spite of peoples rejection of Him, so that we might see His hand in the things that come into our lives and be led back by Him by that discovery.
God uses an illustration to make this truth stick in our minds; it concerns a moth and a lion, after having spoken clearly of Israel’s sin, which had turned the heart of the nation from Him. God says that He will first be like a moth to the people.
Hosea 5:12 Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth, and to the house of Judah like rottenness.
There are two things a moth does. First, a moth distracts us or bothers us in a harmless way. If you have had the experience of reading outdoors on a porch on a summer evening, you know how a moth can be attracted by the light and suddenly flutter by in front of you, when you are trying to read, and it is bothersome. It is only a light touch but it distracts your attention and maybe even makes you stop reading.
By comparing Himself to a moth, God seems to be saying that at the beginning of our path of disobedience, He is like that. Ever so quietly, He distracts us from sin, bothers us, tries to get us away from it and back to thinking of Him once again.
Second, many moths are destructive. It is in the larva or caterpillar stage that the damage is done. The young feed off plants, crops, wool, cotton clothing, upholstery, fur, carpets on which the eggs have been laid by the female moth. These thing can rot away as Hosea suggests… “to the house of Judah, like rottenness.”
Here is a case where we having resisted the flutter of the moth and now find it to have gotten into the things we value, and have destroyed them. God says He will also do that to turn us to Him. Whether it be the nation of Israel or whether it be those of us in the church who occasionally sin.
The descendants of Israelites are seeing all that we hold dear disintegrate before our eyes. Marriages, children, family, national infrastructure, peace, safety, our economy…the list goes on and on. The destruction of the moth.
Suppose we do not turn to God when He sends us insect troubles; suppose we resist these warnings. Two verses farther on we find a word that is much more terrible; the inner decay of the nation was like the slow hidden destruction caused by a moth, but the coming of the Assyrians was like the sudden open attack of a lion. Both were unavoidable and both brought ruin.
Hosea 5:14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim. And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue [national captivity].
If anyone has seen the “Ghost and the darkness,” you can picture this very vividly—a lion attacks and drags the person into the jungle.
What happens if even then we do not turn to Him? What happens if our garments and food are destroyed by insects and our bodies mangled to the point of death, and we still will not hear Him?
In that case, God reluctantly pours out on us the greatest judgment of all. He leaves us alone. He turns away from us. He abandons us to precisely what we want. He lets us have our way.
I can think of no more horrible judgment than to be abandoned by God, in the very depths of our unhappiness, misery, and need of Him. Yet this is our hope because even at this point God is being good to those who are His. He will hide His face; we will grope in our darkness; but even this, dreadful as it is, exists only until we admit our guilt and turn to Him.
Thus it is, that even in the darkest hour there is a glimmer of hope and love in God's judgments. So does this nation and other nations of Israel have that hope? Most people do not realize it, but they do have that hope in their future.
What happens when we do turn to Him? We fear His omniscience because it brings exposure of ourselves as we truly are, and we have done everything possible to avoid admitting our guilt. When we finally come to God and submit to Him, so that we can remove the robes of our self-righteousness to which we have clung so desperately, we find that He is waiting with the blood of Christ to cleanse our sins with the oil of His spirit to anoint our wounded bodies and with the robes of Christ's own righteousness to cloth us.
That is our hope; we always have that to look forward to, and that is what God is working and doing in our lives today. Israel, the national Israel of this world also has that hope in their future.
When Adam and Eve sinned, they ran from God when they heard His voice in the garden, but God sought them out and confronted them in their sin, and then He clothed them with skins of animals that He Himself killed.
When Hosea found Gomer, she was exposed on the auction block in Samaria, naked in the sight of all the people. But Hosea purchased her for himself and clothed her again, so it is with us, we have hidden from God, but in Christ we can now stand before Him; we can be known and yet clothed at the same time. We can certainly relate to Isaiah when he says,
Isaiah 61:10 I will greatly rejoice in the Lord, my soul shall be joyful in my God. For He has clothed me with the garments of salvation, He has covered me with the robe of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with ornaments, and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
This is a reference to God's church which, when it is spiritually prosperous and growing, is a cause for joy and should lead to thanksgiving and praise, always.
Now we will look at the kind of repentance that does not count. Repentance with which the sixth and seventh chapter of Hosea prophesy opens is as disingenuous as a murdering, repeat sex offender in a court room.
Israel had rebelled against God and had suffered for it. A cry for repentance went out; this call was probably voiced with great intensity and even conviction, but it was insincere. It is unusual for the accused, repeat offender in a trial to express regret and remorse for what he has done, and to ask for another chance. That is just what Israel did, but God anticipated their hypocritical deception and exposed not only their duplicity but the sinful way they had treated their God.
Look over theses verses in Hosea 5 and see if you can detect what is wrong with this confession. Does Israel seem to be honest and forthright? They have the right vocabulary; the two main verbs that they use are return and acknowledge. These are certainly what God had been calling on the people to do.
There is recognition that the hand of God was in their calamities because He is the one who has “torn to pieces” and “injured the people.” These words even have a proper sense of God's sovereignty, not on the basis of Israel deeds, but of His mercy.
The essential elements of a true confession are missing here. The first element that is missing is the obvious and most inescapable element: a reference to sin. There is acknowledgment of the consequences of Israel’s sin, injury, and the absence of God Himself, but there is total non-acknowledgment of the sin that caused them. There is nothing of the acceptable prayer of the publican who cried out, “God have mercy on me, a sinner.”
Moving into Hosea chapter 6, the caption is: A Call to Repentance. God seems to be forever calling Israel to repentance to give them a chance.
Hosea 6:1-3 Come and let us return to the Lord. For He has torn, but, He will heal us. He has stricken, but He will raise up. After two days He will revive us. On the third day He will raise us up. That we may live in His sight. 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.
The second missing element in the alleged repentance recorded here in verses 1-3, is a personal relationship with God. This is not as easy to detect as the first admission—t e confession of sin—but, it is there non-the-less. It is seen in the mechanical way the people will conceive of God's restoring them. God punishes them, but He will restore them again, and that is the way He always does it.
Deuteronomy 32:39 Now see that I, even I, am He. And there is no God besides Me. I kill and I make alive, I wound and I heal, nor is there any who can deliver from My hand.
In Hosea 6:1-3, the Ephraimites’ call is issued in presumptuous confidence that God will be quick to respond. It is always wrong to presume that God is at our beckon call. People try to force Him into their little boxes thinking that by doing so, they can somehow control Him and get Him to do whatever they say.
God cannot be controlled, rather He conforms us to His will. It is a great mistake to assume that He will always forgive us as long as we show even superficial forms of repentance. There are two terrible consequences of our doing this. First, people depersonalize God rather than working with Him as their great personal God. He discloses Himself in creation, history, and in His written word, but from this becomes (for them) something like a great scientific equation and no more, which can always be expected to work so long as they get the ingredients of the chemical reaction right. They do not worship a God like that; they use Him or they think they do.
Second, people are empty of the Biblical vocabulary of meaning, in this case of the words return and acknowledge. Once God is thought of in this impersonal fashion, the concepts of return and know God lose their validity and power for the motivation of repentance and restoration, because they have no focus on the covenant relationship, so they can only stir a superficial, hypocritical, religiosity in Israel.
This is true for vast segments of so called Christianity today. There is no real awareness of sin and turning from it. Consequently the biblical terms lose meaning. Sin no longer means rebellion against God and His righteous law for which we are held accountable, but rather it stands for ignorance. If you sin, you are just ignorant. Or a kind of oppression that is imagined to reside in social structures. If you sin, you are just being oppressed.
Salvation, for example, ceases to be getting right with God or even God moving to redeem us in Christ. Faith is mere awareness. It will always go this way until men and women see themselves as sinners before a Holy God and turn from that sin, and go to God through faith in Jesus Christ. Until that happens, our little repentances do not count. We can repent superficially; we can go through all the rituals of religion: going to church, singing hymns, giving money, serving in Sabbath services, and even doing good deeds, but it will all be worthless as far as finding God is concerned if there is no true repentance and love does not exist.
Hosea 7:14 They did not cry out to Me with their heart. When they wailed upon their beds. They assembled together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me.
Hosea 4:1 Hear the word of the Lord, you children of Israel, For the Lord brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land. There is no truth or mercy, or knowledge of God in the land.
Hosea 6:4-7 O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away. Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth. And your judgments are like light that goes forth. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. But like men they transgressed the covenant. There they dealt treacherously with Me.
In spite of the protest of repentance with which chapter 6 began, God says the charge still stands. Like Adam, they had broken the covenant; they were unfaithful to God. We will take these accusations in order in which they occurred in chapter 6.
The first item in God's charge is a lack of love for God. God says, that it is like the morning mist or the early dew that disappears. This does not mean that the people do not have a genuine love for God, but only that what they do have does not stand the test of time. It means that this love is inadequate. In fact it is so inadequate, it really cannot be called love. At least not agape love. It is a preference rather than a conviction.
What the people of Israel probably had in this period was an emotional attachment to the ancient god of their fathers. Similar to the ways some people today consider themselves Christians because of the faith of their parents and grandparents. The people of Israel were worshipers of God, much like many of those in America, Britain, Canada, and other western nations are worshipers of Christ. God says that it is all meaningless; it is as a passing morning mist or dew. You know how long that stays around and how tangible it is.
The second item in God's charge is the absence of any true knowledge of Himself. He repeats it over and over again in Hosea. At first glance it seems like a strange and even unfair accusation, because the earlier repentance of the people had contained this very word, knowledge, as their desire, their request from God. They were not interested in that knowledge much the same as the scientists are not really interested in true knowledge today.
Hosea 6:3 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.
People seem to want to do that, but God explains the apparent unfairness by showing that they wrongly want to define this knowledge in their own way that is ritualistically or as tradition but without any true transformation happening in their lives. They would not put forth any effort to change the way they lived. That is crucial. Overcoming is absolutely a must for Christians.
What they want is sacrifice and burnt offerings ceremonies, as mentioned in Hosea 6:6, but God wants confession of sin and practice of righteousness and justice by those who claim to know Him.
In these ancient days, sacrifice was the essential religious act, so it must have sounded strange for Hosea's listeners to be told that God loves mercy and knowledge of Himself rather than burnt offerings, still it was true then and is true also today . Amos says it forcefully; notice what he declares on behalf of God.
Amos 5:21-24 I hate, I despise your feast days, and I do not savor your sacred assemblies. Though you offer Me burnt offerings and your grain offerings, I will not accept them, Nor will I regard your fattened peace offerings. Take away from Me the noise of your songs, For I will not hear the melody of your stringed instruments. But let justice run down like water, and righteousness like a mighty stream.
Another example of this is in Isaiah 1:11-15. We will listen now to how David captures it.
Psalm 51:16-17 For you do not desires sacrifice, or else I would give it. You do not delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit, a broken and a contrite heart. These, O god, You will not despise.
God wants us to be humble and meek, contrite, genuine and submissive. That is what He is looking for in us.
The third and final item in God's charge against the people is unfaithfulness.
Hosea 6:7 But like men they transgressed the covenant, there they dealt treacherously with Me.
Dealing treacherously with someone, whether it be your own spouse or with God or whomever is unfaithfulness; it is disloyalty. The rebellion of Israel is something that lies deep in human nature and therefore does not surprise God. This does not excuse Israel, because it is they who have broken the covenant.
What is the consequence? It is the same two-fold consequence seen in the early history of mankind. On the one hand there was an attempt to cover up sin. Remember what Adam and Eve did? Adam tried to blame Eve and Eve tried to blame the serpent. On the other hand at the same time sin began to flourish.
Hosea 6:8—7:3 Gilead is a city of evildoers, and is defiled with blood. As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, so the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem. Surely they commit lewdness. I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel. There is the harlotry of Ephraim. Israel is defiled, also Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, when I return the captives of My people. When I would have healed Israel, Then the iniquity of Ephraim was uncovered, and the wickedness of Samaria. For they have committed fraud. The thief comes in a band of robbers takes spoil outside. Thy do not consider in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness. Now their own deeds have surrounded them. They are before My face. They make a king glad with their wickedness, and princes with their lies.
Think of our politicians today. Are they happier with lies and corruptness, or are they happier with only being honest and having honest people around them?
One of sins tragedies is that sin causes us to think it can be hidden; it cannot. God reminds us that it is always before Him. The only escape from judgment for sin is a true repentance—a turning to God for forgiveness and salvation through the death of Jesus Christ. The remaining parts of chapter 7 give four images that show how God regards those who confess His name while continuing in their rebellious way of life.
The four images are: an oven, a cake unturned, a dove, and a faulty weapon. The portrait that Hosea now paints of Israel sickens the heart as it reveals the extremes to which Israel went in her sins. Hosea pointedly denounces all the people as habitual adulterers. The sin here is not as much a spiritual defection from God as it is the sin of adultery in the moral realm.
Hosea 7:4 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 is the same process of sin that James 1:14-15 talks about.
Hosea 7:5-7 In the day of our King, Princes have made him sick inflamed with wine. He stretched out his hand with scoffers. They prepare their heart like an oven while they lie in wait. Their baker sleeps all night. In the morning it burns like a flaming fire. They are all hot, like an oven, and have devoured their judges. All their kings have fallen. There is none among them who calls upon Me.
What is one of the greatest sins that we find out about our politicians and leaders and even quite often our religious leaders? It is sexual sins. That is what he is talking about here, in verse7; they are all hot like an oven. They have devoured all their judges, their kings have fallen; none of them calls upon Me.
The first image—an oven—“hot like an oven” is common both in the Bible and in secular sources. It refers to excessive sexual desires, primarily portraying them as intense fires that drive the adulterers and eventually consume him. No doubt there are overtones of that spiritual adultery that the story of Hosea and his wife Gomer were to illustrate.
But as God speaks in these verses, we also sense that there were very literal adulteries all over the nation and in all levels of society. The verses immediately before this, speak of murder, robbery, deceit, and prostitution. They refer to intoxicating feasts, where such adulteries were most likely to occur.
What God is saying is that these were not the innocent or harmless acts between “consenting adults” as our society makes them out to be. They were actually passions, and flamed by sin, they were characterized by lust, obsessions, intense, uncontrolled cravings. Intensified by alcohol.
How many single women in this world, and in this nation especially, have lost their virginity or gotten pregnant while under the influence of alcohol or drugs? We would probably be shocked to know the percentage of that.
There is also a direct political reference in verses 1-7—a description of what we would call a coo. It begins with flattery of the king and his princes, seen in verse 1; it contains a plot in which the rulers are encouraged to become drunk at a festival, seen in verse 5. Then there is the stealth approach, seen in verse 6, as a result of which the king and rulers fall, as seen in verse 7.
Something similar to this occurred several times in the waiting day of Israel’s political life, king quickly followed king, and the nation suffered accompanying uncertainties and instabilities. In her quest for autonomy, she was literally burning herself up, yet neither she nor her kings had called to God for help.
Ephraim forgot the great principle of separation, which God repeatedly sought to inculcate in the hearts of the people of Israel; they mixed themselves among the heathen nations. God always denounces mixture, always. This is the very thing this nation today has promoted in its decade long diversity movement.
Hosea 7:8-10 Ephraim has mixed himself among the peoples. Ephraim is a cake unturned. Aliens have devoured his strength, but he does not know it. Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it. And he does not know it. And the pride of Israel [United States, Britain, Canada, Australia, etc.] testifies to his face, but they do not return to the Lord their God, nor seek Him for all this.
The second image that God uses of the rebellious nation is a cake unturned. We would say half baked—cooked more on one side but completely undone on the other side. This suggests two things: first that Israel in her present state was useless; second, she might be said to make God sick.
This brings to mind the description of the church of Laodicea in the book of Revelation. She is described as being lukewarm, neither hot nor cold. As a result of which God was about to spit her out of His mouth. If that is true of that church, which is merely lukewarm, how much more must it be true with Israel at this stage? A cake, half of which was almost raw dough and lukewarm.
Israel did not even seem to be aware of what she was like. In verse 9, speaking of Ephraim, Hosea says, “Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it.” In other words
Israel was in a national old age, but did not know it or even fear it. Since power is absolutely binding, our nation today along with other Israelitish nations are in their waning years. The way human nature works is that signs of self-indulgence, which are obvious to others are undiscovered by ourselves. This is a nation that we live in that cannot see that it is self-indulgent. It just wants more and more.
People in the world are the victims of receding strength, spirituality, and morality. They are becoming degenerate without knowing it. It is spiraling down to its lowest depths. We humans are blind to the signs which are evident to bystanders. There is no condition more dangerous to our spiritual wellbeing, than unconscious self-indulgence.
Hosea's wife Gomer was guilty of this very thing; it was as true of Israel as it had been of Samson so many years before. Regarding Samson, please turn to Judges 16:20.
Judges 16:20 And she said, The Philistines are upon you, Samson. So he awoke from his sleep, and said, I will go out as before, at other times, and shake myself free. But he did not know that the Lord had departed from him.
So as Samson went, so this nation goes, and so do all the Israelitish nations under sin. Very saddening that this is their condition: U.S., Britain, France, Australia, Canada, etc. Ephraim had been flitting back and forth between two powerful nations of the day: Egypt and Assyria. The object was to play one against the other in order to maintain the illusive international condition called the balance of power that man so strongly tries to keep. Neither one of them had Ephraim's interest at heart, and in the final analysis neither one of them could help Israel out her demise.
God's people looked to every human agency; they ignored and disregarded God—the only one who could help.
Hosea 7:11-12 Ephraim also is like a silly dove, without sense, they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria. Wherever they go, I will spread My net on them. I will bring them down like birds of the air. I will chastise them according to what their congregation has heard.
We are responsible and accountable for what we hear. We in God's church have heard a tremendous amount. A dove brings thoughts of beauty, symbolically it means peace, but this is not the meaning here. In these verse the dove suggests a helpless silly creature, easily deceived and senseless. An eastern proverb says, there is nothing simpler than a dove. A silly dove listens to every beckon call and uncertainly flies to and fro; such a dove has no affection for its benefactor.
Having forsaken God, who is her only true source of national security, Israel now does not know where to turn. Egypt has failed her; Assyria has failed her; all the nations of the earth are failing us in this nation today. She looks to Egypt, the great power to the south; she looks to Assyria the prominent strength, in the east. God says that He will now pull her down.
God has no intention of allowing Israel to go about her silly way; He warns her that He will spread his net upon her and bring her down as the birds of the heavens. God loves her too much to let her go, so He spreads His net upon her to squelch her aimless flying to and fro.
God’s love for her is evident enough throughout this book of prophesy as well as the entire word of God, but God's love does not preclude His chastening of His own. A reminder in verse 12 shows that the spreading of God's net over her is in chastisement.
He will hem her in her ways and hold her down; this is not a new principle to the people of Israel. They had heard it again and again—punishment followed disobedience. This had been stated repeatedly by Moses and the prophets and by Hosea himself. Here we have the first woe of the prophesy—the only other one in Hosea is in Hosea 9:12.
Hosea's wanderings from God resulted in their destruction, and when He would redeem them, they spoke lies against Him, as if God would not or could not deliver them. This is how the natural man repays God's efforts of love to redeem Him.
Hosea 7:13-15 Woe to them, for they have fled from Me. Destruction to them because they have transgressed against Me. Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me. They did not cry out to Me with their heart when they wailed upon their beds. They assemble together for grain and new wine, they rebel against Me. Though I disciplined and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against Me.
So Israel fled from God, broke His laws, lied about Him, rebelled and devised evil against Him, even though He loved them. In the midst of their terrifying chastisements the people did not pray to God who is their only resort. They cried and sobbed on their beds; their cries did not indicate their repentance and faith. They screamed their misery because of the sting of God's chastisement, but not because of grief over their evil ways. Their distresses occupied their minds and not the heinousness of their sins before their God, who is not their God any more. They turned their back on Him, and now they were aimlessly searching for Him.
Their gathering together was not for the glory of God, but that they might profit in grain and new wine. The holidays of Easter, Halloween and Christmas supply most of the profit for the entire year for businesses in the United States, Canada, and UK. They were bent on rebellion; the strength given them by God they have treacherously used against Him. It is not that they have not changed, but it was never for God, to please Him; their changes were strictly for themselves, their own gratification.
Finally in verse 16, we find the fourth image. God compares Israel to a deceitful bow, a faulty weapon. In this case she is not only useless but downright dangerous. The one who puts his trust in a weapon like this will fall to his enemies and will very likely injure himself.
The phrase shooting yourself in the foot comes to mind. That is what happens when your weapon is faulty.
Hosea 7:16 They return, but not to the most high. They are like a deceitful bow. Their princes shall fall by the sword for the cursings of their tongue. This shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
They were a treacherous or a deceitful bow; no matter how well aimed, they all went astray of the mark. They could never be depended upon, to strike through to the aim. Since they would not return to God, they must experience greater chastisements by the hand of God. They are ridiculed by the very ones—Egypt and Assyria—upon whom they depended for help.
Since their tongues were used unguardedly, the tongues of others—their enemies—would be used against them. That is what is happening today in this nation. Look at the Arabs and what they are saying, look at the Europeans and how they are trying to blame us for all their economic woes, and so on it goes around the world.
How revealing and cutting the images are where by God speaks about Ephraim as an oven, a cake unturned, a silly dove and treacherous bow. Listen to Hosea as he echoes the plaintiff cry of God's broken heart.
Hosea 11:8 How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I set you like Zeboiim? My heart churns within Me. My sympathy is stirred.
That is how our God feels about even the sinning nations of the Israelites. God has not given up and will not. He is even now sending messengers of love to the Israelites, to warn them of His coming judgment and to alert them to the coming Kingdom of God. There is great hope of deliverance for Israel following God's discipline.
What is to be done? Israel, we know, did nothing and judgment came, but that does not need to be our story, nor that of that of our nation. What should we do? The answer is obvious; we must truly humble ourselves, genuinely repent of sin, and joyously turn to God as He reveals Himself through and by His son Jesus Christ.
It seems so simple on the surface, but any of you who have been in God's church for any length of time know that it is easier said than done, because our battle—the real spiritual war—is not only against our own human nature but is more so against demonic forces. You are very familiar with Ephesians 6:12.
Ephesians 6:12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against power, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.
As so often happens with God's call to repentance, there follows astounding promises to convince Israel to return. That call to repentance and the promises hold true for today, for all the descendants of Israel on the national level of the United States, Canada, UK, Australia, and various other Israelites scattered around the world. The Lord God will eventually heal our apostasy as is noted in Hosea 5:13-14. The prophets often depict sin as a sickness and renewal as healing. God says, “I will love them freely.”
It is not that God has stopped loving Israel, but when He is ready to restore her at last He will love her without the prospect of judgment. The secret to deliverance is first, confession of sin, which involves genuine repentance. Second, an appeal to God on the basis of His abundant grace which involves also overcoming. Third, gaining true knowledge of God and His way of life. It is the same in the New Testament.
I John 1:8-9 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us [We could say if we lie to ourselves, the knowledge of God is not in us.]. If we confess our sins [repent and ask forgiveness], He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
True confession requires admission of guilt which is useless if it is not followed by repentance and overcoming. Forgiveness in the scriptures always supposes that there is confession and no promise will be imparted unless a full acknowledgment has been made. The apostle Paul wrote, here in Romans 10:9-10:
Romans 10:9-10 That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes to righteousness, and with the mouth confessions is made to salvation.
In my next sermon on Hosea's prophesy, we will analyze chapter 8 and 9 which deal with Israel's hypocrisy. The people of Israel may claim to know and love the Lord God but their deeds prove otherwise. Because they were sinful and they forgot God, they will reap the whirlwind. Next time we will see God's grounds for judgment; and a major problem with Israel is that they see God as the one who is not there, and God pronounces the sentence.