the message of God's prophet Hosea, 3:1. God Rules, O.K.?
No other prophet is so close to the New Testament revelation of the Love of God as Hosea. The reason is bizarre. Hosea experienced, at God’s command, a life of absolute heartbreak and betrayal by the one he loved. The consistent, unbreakable love of God for His beloved yet wayward and disobedient people is revealed.
Hosea, like other prophets, preached God’s Law – Genesis to Deuteronomy. They were ‘Covenant Law Enforcement officers’ rather like traffic policemen here blowing their whistles, drawing attention to the colour and meaning of red/green traffic control lights. The lights themselves should be obeyed by everyone. Because they are not, the policeman is sent to remind drivers and enforce, where possible, the law of the road. Yet still many ignore them. Just as God’s people of old ignored God’s prophets.
It is possible this is a collection of Hosea’s speeches, made after his own violent death.
The key question to ask when reading is, ‘What does this teach me about God?’
Succinctly put, I summarise the lesson of Hosea thus:
‘Just as a husband or wife would suffer terribly over their partner’s unfaithfulness,
so God suffers over the unfaithfulness of His people to Him’.
The book is in two parts:
1. Chapters 1-3 The acted parable of the prophet. (Later).
2. Chapters 4-14 The awesome love of the Lord God.
The prophecy is dated in 1:1 – for about 25 years citing four kings of Judah and one of Israel. Their stories are in 2 Kings 14-18 so you can set them in context by parallel reading. King Uzziah’s name may also remind you of Isaiah who was a contemporary of Hosea, as was Micah. God sent 3 messengers at the same time, such was His loving concern for His people! (In Kings, King Uzziah is known as King Azariah).
Briefly summarised from the Kings chronicle – these rulers “did evil in the eyes of the Lord and did not turn away from sins …” 14:24; or they “did right in the eyes of the Lord … but the (false) high places were not removed.” 15:34, 35. This is incomplete devotion to God. At times they “followed the detestable ways of the nations the Lord had driven out of the land.” 16:3; influenced by local neighbourhood traditions, not God’s word. Or they “did evil in the eyes of the Lord, but not (as bad as some).” 17:2. Compared to other people they were OK, but not when compared to what God wanted.
“Hezekiah did right in the eyes of the Lord” 2 Kings 18:3 – and brought a delay in God’s using the Assyrians to judge His own people.
1. The Acted Parable of the Prophet 1:1-3:5. God means Hosea to live out publicly a parable of what God Himself is going through with His people.
God’s man is asked to do a very difficult thing, by God!
“Go (and marry) an adulterous wife.” 1:2. Not the usual adjective used when describing a bride at her wedding! Dictionary meaning: “Voluntary, intimate sexual intercourse with person or people other than the legal spouse.”
And Hosea obeyed 1:3. What a lesson to all: God’s call is not always easy. But He gives grace to those who will obey. Hosea remained faithful to God’s call – and to “Gomer” throughout this book – remaining confident in God’s call on his life. Perhaps that alone is a challenge to you and me? Three children followed their marriage – only one of which is attributed to Hosea as father, the first, 1:3.
Application: You will get the lesson of this passage by answering this question: Why are we who read this story more shocked by what God asks Hosea to do – than we are saddened by the unfaithfulness of God’s people to God? I’ll tell you why! We have come to accept that God’s people – including ourselves – will be and are being unfaithful to God. We accept that. But we don’t accept that God would call His spokesperson into a life of heartbreak, where his reputation would be sullied, and even his calling questioned.
Application: The fact we accept the unfaithfulness of God’s people shows how terribly backslidden – and therefore how tragically content with second best Christianity – we modern Christians have become.
Chapter 2 fulfils God’s judgement on Israel, attempting always to win the people back to “acknowledge the Lord” 2:20.
Hosea is told in chapter 3 to go to his wife again. By now she has sunk to being a slave prostitute for sale to the highest bidder. And Hosea publicly buys her back to live with himself once more, 3: 2, 3. A picture of Jesus buying back sinners? The parable’s meaning is clearly stated: “Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods …” 3:1. The acted parable of the prophet.
Application: Is your life, calling and ministry tough? Don’t forget Who you serve. Jesus Christ suffered to bring you to God and you and I are both called to follow in His steps.
2. The Awesome Love of the Lord God. As a brief summary of chapters 4-14,
I can find seven charges God brings against His people, Israel.
4:1 “Hear the word of the Lord, you Israelites, because the Lord has a charge to bring against you who live in the land:” God accuses His people of seven sins – sins which will bring God’s judgement. Application: We all had better check our lives for these things. God loves us enough tonight, to warn us where we are heading, revealing where are lives are presently taking us!
(i) You are not faithful to Me, 4:1. To make these easier to remember, think of learning to drive a car. The key words all begin with ‘L’. No Loyalty. 5:7 challenges similarly. In your unfaithfulness to God – your taking of other lovers in place of God – you have conceived illegitimate babies!
(ii) You do not love only Me, 4:1. No love. See 4:12 “a spirit of prostitution leads (you) astray.” 5:4 “a spirit of prostitution is in (your) hearts.” 9:1 “You have been unfaithful to your God; you love the wages of a prostitute.” Assimilating the many fertility gods of Canaanites around them. Have you given yourself to God alone? Or are there other loves in your life that make you into a whore? Prostitution = pleasure with no commitment. Blessings, not responsibilities.
(iii) 4:1 You do not acknowledge (Me) the Lord God. You do not fear Me. You do not reverence or respect Me. There is no living under My authority. Too many Christians (as well as others) worship their own concept of God rather than the true and living God revealed in creation, in the Bible and in His human image, Jesus. For example He is swapped for an academic God, a disinterested God, a frustrated God, an unable God. The result of all such false worship is idolatry.
(iv) 6:1-6 You do not live by what you profess. There is no life of worship. “Your love is like the morning mist (that quickly vanishes).” Vs4. Isaiah prophesied like this, concurrently. See 58:6, 7. God doesn’t want empty words. He is not so much interested in our Sunday Worship Service – with singing, praying, giving, preaching, responding. He is more interested in our Daily Service: “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loosen the chains of injustice and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood.”
Too many Christians have a life of worship only in church or with other Christians: not in the daily decisions and actions of the workaday world. God accuses such people of leaving Him.
(v) No looking for God. Hosea 7:10, 14, 16. Proudly we serve Christ outwardly, knowing inwardly we are far from Him and we seem content with that hypocrisy! God charges: “You do not return to Me: search for Me: cry out to Me from your hearts: turn to the Most High.” We say “I know I should, but I’m so busy.” We say “I really must”, then we forget.
(vi) No law keeping. 8:12. God’s provided rules are ignored. Buy an electronic item, or a mechanical item: want instruction book. This KIC piano, had one but it got lost in Port Sudan customs! It tells us how to work the piano properly, but we now have to guess!
(vii) No listening to God. 11:1, 2. Sad verse 2, God is speaking: “But the more I called Israel, the further they went from Me.” 11:7 “My people are determined to turn from Me.”
Application: Do you hear God’s charges against you tonight? No loyalty. No love. No living under authority. No life of worship. No looking for God. No law keeping. No listening to God.
You say to me: ‘I thought we were going to hear about God’s faithful love’. ‘We only seem to have been criticised for every one of seven failings I can see in my own life’.
But that is the point where God’s faithful love is best expressed. How different from man!!
Illustration: He doesn’t endanger peace talks by violent selfish-action. He doesn’t walk out of peace talks on violations.
You’ve ignored Him – He has not ignored you. He still faithfully loves even you.
Chapter 14:1, 2 “Return to the Lord your God.”
Reject your sins – the cause of your problem.
Chapter 14: 9 The choice is yours:
“Righteousness or rebelliousness?”
God’s love will accept you, will forgive you, will teach you, will help you. His hand and heart are outstretched to you tonight.
Will you accept them now?
God Rules, O.K.?
Khartoum International Church 15th September 2002.