As I read through many of the early chapters in the book of Hosea, I couldn’t help but feel sad and even a bit angry. Hosea was an Old Testament prophet called by God. At a time of relative ease and prosperity in Israel, Hosea was called to bring a message to the people of Ephraim (northern Israel) that God was displeased with their sin and adulterous ways and that judgment would come. They had rejected God and instead worshipped idols. They were living a life of apart from the God who had called them, delivered them and provided for them. Hosea’s personal life was used to illustrate this exact scenario. He was instructed to marry Gomer (a harlot) and as a result his personal life accurately illustrated what God was feeling and dealing with. His people had become rebellious and turned to others over Him.
Through much of the book we see Hosea telling the people of Ephraim that God hates their sin. He will not continue to tolerate their sin. He will bring judgment on them as a result. This message is hammered over and over. Judgment is coming.
Hosea 4 NIV
Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites,
because the Lord has a charge to bring
against you who live in the land:
“There is no faithfulness, no love,
no acknowledgment of God in the land.
2 There is only cursing, lying and murder,
stealing and adultery;
they break all bounds,
and bloodshed follows bloodshed.
3 Because of this the land dries up,
and all who live in it waste away;
the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky
and the fish in the sea are swept away.
4 “But let no one bring a charge,
let no one accuse another,
for your people are like those
who bring charges against a priest.
5 You stumble day and night,
and the prophets stumble with you.
So I will destroy your mother—
6 my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.
“Because you have rejected knowledge,
I also reject you as my priests;
because you have ignored the law of your God,
I also will ignore your children.
7 The more priests there were,
the more they sinned against me;
they exchanged their glorious God for something disgraceful.
8 They feed on the sins of my people
and relish their wickedness.
9 And it will be: Like people, like priests.
I will punish both of them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10 “They will eat but not have enough;
they will engage in prostitution but not flourish,
because they have deserted the Lord
to give themselves 11 to prostitution;
old wine and new wine
take away their understanding.
12 My people consult a wooden idol,
and a diviner’s rod speaks to them.
A spirit of prostitution leads them astray;
they are unfaithful to their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops
and burn offerings on the hills,
under oak, poplar and terebinth,
where the shade is pleasant.
Therefore your daughters turn to prostitution
and your daughters-in-law to adultery.
14 “I will not punish your daughters
when they turn to prostitution,
nor your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
because the men themselves consort with harlots
and sacrifice with shrine prostitutes—
a people without understanding will come to ruin!
15 “Though you, Israel, commit adultery,
do not let Judah become guilty.
“Do not go to Gilgal;
do not go up to Beth Aven.
And do not swear, ‘As surely as the Lord lives!’
16 The Israelites are stubborn,
like a stubborn heifer.
How then can the Lord pasture them
like lambs in a meadow?
17 Ephraim is joined to idols;
leave him alone!
18 Even when their drinks are gone,
they continue their prostitution;
their rulers dearly love shameful ways.
19 A whirlwind will sweep them away,
and their sacrifices will bring them shame.
How God’s heart must have ached to see those whom He had called and favored choosing to “desert the Lord”. Sound familiar? We see the same thing happening today. Multiple people are still choosing to reject knowledge and serve idols and though they may live in relative ease right now, God’s judgment is coming. With the way prophecy is being fulfilled today, it may be sooner than any of us think! I thank God that the message of Hosea was not without hope! Chapter fourteen brings a beautiful message of hope! God doesn’t leave us without a way back to Him!
14 Return, Israel, to the Lord your God.
Your sins have been your downfall!
2 Take words with you
and return to the Lord.
Say to him:
“Forgive all our sins
and receive us graciously,
that we may offer the fruit of our lips.
3 Assyria cannot save us;
we will not mount warhorses.
We will never again say ‘Our gods’
to what our own hands have made,
for in you the fatherless find compassion.”
4 “I will heal their waywardness
and love them freely,
for my anger has turned away from them.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like a lily.
Like a cedar of Lebanon
he will send down his roots;
6 his young shoots will grow.
His splendor will be like an olive tree,
his fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon.
7 People will dwell again in his shade;
they will flourish like the grain,
they will blossom like the vine—
Israel’s fame will be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 Ephraim, what more have I to do with idols?
I will answer him and care for him.
I am like a flourishing juniper;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
9 Who is wise? Let them realize these things.
Who is discerning? Let them understand.
The ways of the Lord are right;
the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
Despite their rebellious hearts, God didn’t give up on His people in the time of Hosea and He is not giving up on us now! We serve a God that loves us so much! He longs for us to fellowship with Him. He gives us every opportunity to turn our messed up, sin ridden lives over to Him. He has provided the most precious and beautiful way to do this and that is through His Son Jesus Christ! By calling on the name of Jesus Christ to be our Lord and Savior we are given the opportunity to be forgiven and be clean before God. Just as Hosea spoke, ” Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips,” God offers us the same opportunity to us. If we have rebelled, we can turn to Him and ask forgiveness, He is faithful and just and will forgive! If we have never known Him as Savior and Lord, all we need to do is ask Him to come into our life and be our Savior and Lord, to forgive us of our sins and to fill us with the Holy Spirit! The same God of Hosea is longing to have fellowship with each one of us today! He has provided a way and that way is Jesus!