The Prophecies of Amos Joel and Hosea      

A Bible Study     To navigate click on desired portion

Amos
      Introduction
      "The Lord Roars"
      God's Detailed Charges
      God's Verdict
      "Yet you did not return to me"
      The Word of God is Repeated
      God Speaks to the Leaders
      Three Visions
      Amos .v. Amaziah
      A Basket of Ripe Fruit
      "In that day I will Restore"

Joel
      Introduction
      The Word of the Lord
      "Blow the Trumpet!"
      The Lord Thunders
      Offer and Promise of Restoration
      All Nations Attack Jerusalem
      End-time Judgement and Restoration

Hosea
      Introduction
      Hosea's Personal Experience 1-3
      Marriage and 3 Children
            Jezreel = 'For I will punish/scatter'
            Lo-Ruhamah = 'I will no longer show love or mercy'
            Lo-Ammi = 'You are not my people'
      Vainly Tries to Save Broken Marriage
      "Go and buy her back !!"
      Israel's Fatal Choice 4 - 14
            The Root Problem
            The Judgement
            False Confidence
            The Agony - Sin Cannot be Ignored
      "And Yet ..."
            The Result of Real Repentance

 

Amos         [Contents]

"Introduction"       [Contents]

In about 755 BC Israel had enjoyed over 30 years of peace.
They were financially prosperous, morally corrupt and spiritually wicked.

Solomon started the rot when to satisfy his many foreign wives he built many idols 1 Kg 117. He had also introduced slavery for his massive building programme. After he died one of his servants, Jeroboam led a successful 'freedom' coup against Solomon's son, Rehoboam. Having no Temple in the separated northern kingdom, Jeroboam I installed a golden calf at Bethel and Dan, and worshipped them.

Why do men worship the Lord Almighty?
      Deserved because the Almighty Creator and Master of the Universe.
      Gratitude for his mercy, forgiveness and grace

Why do men worship idols?
      Appeasement and fear of gods.
      Hope to gain wealth and power - Baal (weather, harvest and thus prosperity)
      Fertility - 'High Places', Asherah, Ishtar.

In 755 BC after 2 centuries and a dozen evil, idol worshipping kings, God had become side-lined and his challenging or inconvenient commandments ignored by this religious arrogant, wealthy, unjust, immoral, indulgent, 'we know better' society. Jeroboam II ruled Israel that was now politically secure and spiritually smug.

So what did the God of grace and truth do?
He sent them Amos, the first of a trio of prophets to awaken their dull hearts. They were very different, but each had the same 'warning' message. God's final appeal to a prosperous, proud, indulgent, wicked Israel to repent. They had become a people who sought only their own pleasure, where the rich became richer, second homes etc, while others had no shelter, status symbols everywhere, coveting, 7 day trading, bribery, alcohol, sexual laxity ...
But God had chosen Abraham and his descendants and he would not give them up. So he sent these prophets to reveal his truth that if his warning was rejected, then the inevitable consequence would be destruction and permanent exile.

 
Who?
Amos was a Judean farmer and tree-surgeon, who cared passionately that the name of the Lord God had become dishonoured and his Word ignored throughout Judah and the northern neighbour, Israel. In the eyes of the world he was nothing special. The book introduces him as just "one of the shepherds of Tekoa".  11 714 But God would show that he calls ordinary people to do very special things. Amos had no connection with the ruling class like Isaiah. And unlike Isaiah or Daniel, his ministry was brief. The vital prophetic warning that he delivered was rejected.

Today Amos is ignored as irrelevant. The vital words of the Sovereign Lord remain unread in now dusty Bibles. In 1955 as a teenager at school, our Chaplain, Jack Cobham, tried to take us through Amos. We laughed - I hope it was more at him, rather than Almighty God. 9 years later as a new Christian I went to Hildenborough Hall and listened intently to John Taylor (senior OT tutor at Oak Hill) expounding this amazing little book. It is only little in length.

Where and Why?
God sent Amos to the northern tribes of Israel. Humanly a surprising choice because Israel and Judah had only recently (30 years) been at war. But he gave Amos the right Word, at the right time. He was the right messenger to a people that were financially prosperous, religiously smug and morally corrupt. It was the last opportunity given by the gracious God for them to hear the truth, to repent and avoid the inevitable judgement. However Amos was not welcomed; both he and God were rejected. So northern Israel would be exiled by the brutal Assyrians in 722 and become 'the lost tribes', never to be heard of again. God was faithful to his word of warning. This 'little' book has been included in the Scriptures by the Sovereign Lord as a testimony to the truth that he always keeps his Word. Its relevancy for today is stunning.
'He who has ears to hear, let him hear!'

Style
Some have described Amos as a rude, crude yokel, no manners, no finesse. He did not hold back in revealing God’s unpopular truth. But it is nearly all written in Hebrew poetry, all carefully structured, woven together, so that anyone whose heart was touched would be able to understand what Almighty God was telling them. Selfish arrogance and pride are like thick clots of wax in the ears, that makes it so difficult for any man to hear. But it was not the wax, the style, or the ‘foreign’ God-chosen preacher that was the problem. It was the stubborn hearts of the hearers that Amos had to battle with. And that has not changed in over two and a half thousand years.

O may I never rest till I find rest in Thee Till, of my pardon here possessed I feel thy love for me! Unseal my darkened eyes, my fettered feet unbind; The lame shall, when thou say’st “Arise” run swifter than the hind.

 
"The Lord Roars"       [Contents]

"The Lord roars from Zion and thunders from Jerusalem;
the pastures of the shepherds dry up, and the top of Carmel withers."
 12

The scriptures tell us nothing about how or where Amos gathered his listeners.
There is no gentle, meek and mild preamble, no little joke to gain attention.
Just the loud, ear shattering statement, “The Lord Roars!”
What a real surprise to many who have little concept of God as the Almighty.
The Sovereign Lord who cast Adam and eve out of Eden, flooded the world in the days of Noah, and destroyed Sodom for homosexual wickedness, who exiled the Jews to Assyria, Babylon and to the Roman world. The same God who warns us in the Old and New Testament about the Great Tribulation in the ‘last days’.
Most preaching today omits God’s just judgement of sin. And especially the fact that Jesus had to be crucified to gain forgiveness for my sin.
Amos reveals God’s warning to Israel to save them from God’s judgement.
He had to tell Israel the full gravity and consequence of their sin.
The Bible never teaches that sin does not matter.
There is no costless forgiveness.
God requires that men repent and plead for his mercy.

The ‘Lion’ roars from Jerusalem and tells them that he has brought the drought.
      The modern insurance term for such disasters as ‘an act of God’ is correct.
God is indeed filled with love and compassion, that is why he sent Amos.
      Israel needed to hear that there was an opportunity to escape judgement.

 
God's Detailed Charges       [Contents]

Amos roars God’s detailed charges against the surrounding nations,
      for their sinfulness and for its consequences.
This is what the Lord says:
“For three sins of .... , even for four, I will not turn back my wrath.”

1. Damascus. Extreme cruelty of threshing Gilead with iron-teethed sledges.
            Thus fire, destruction and exile.
2. Gaza. Sold defeated enemies as slaves.
            Thus Philistines will die and fortresses destroyed.
3.  Tyre. Sold defeated enemies as slaves.
            Thus fortresses will be destroyed.
4.  Edom. Anger that stifled all compassion.
            Thus fortresses destroyed.
5.  Ammon. Ripped open pregnant women to extend borders.
            Thus fortresses destroyed.
6.  Moab. Burned bones of Edom's king.
            Thus death and fortresses destroyed.

God was angry at their completely inhuman lack of compassion.
      Notice it was not because they didn't worship the one true God.
      In God's timing each of these nations were destroyed.
No doubt Israel listened to this judgement approvingly;

Amos then gets nearer home and declares the sins of Judah.
7.  Judah has rejected the Law of the Lord and been led astray by false gods. 24,5
      So God will send fire and destroy their fortresses.
            God gave Judah the law; they should have known better and obeyed it.
      If Israel at this stage were smug, saying, ‘just what they deserved -
            they shouldn't have been.
      For now Amos puts God’s spotlight directly on the home nation.

8.  Israel.
            They sell the righteous for silver ...
            They trample on the heads of the poor ...
            They deny justice to the oppressed.
            Father and son use the same girl and so profane my holy name.
            They lie down beside every altar on garments taken in pledge.
            In the house of their god they drink wine taken as fines. ...
            You made the Nazirites drink wine
            You commanded the prophets not to prophesy.
            Thus I will crush you ...
26-16

They had never heard such a detailed and devastating list of sins,
      nor the warning of just punishment.
We are not told the reaction of the hearers at this stage.

It is not difficult to align the UK sins with this list.
      Human trafficking, labour gangs for agriculture
      Abortion (legalised murder) rate remains at >180,000 abortions/year
      Wide-spread fornication, homosexuality and same-sex marriage legalised
      Political deceit, 'economy of the truth' and fake news is common
      Gap between rich and poor is increasing
      Profit seen to be more important than human welfare
      Promises are regularly broken, especially marriage vows
      Church often more concerned with popularity than with mission and truth
      Good is called evil and evil good, especially homosexuality.  Is 520
      Ecumenical and multi-faith is promoted and evolution theory taught as truth
      Almighty God is ridiculed in the media and ignored in state education
      Police stop street preachers and Government insists on political correctness
      Gideon Bibles are removed from most hotels and discouraged in schools,
      BBC Religious broadcasting currently headed by a Muslim!
      .... the list is endless.

What will Almighty God do to the UK?
Do we think he is blind, or can safely be discarded / ignored?
      He gave us the Scriptures in English 500 years ago.
We are without excuse and will pay the price if we ignore the warning.

 
God's Verdict       [Contents]

To Israel he declared,
      "You only have I chosen of all the families of the earth;
            therefore I will punish you for all your sins."
32

As a loving Father, God had to punish his chosen people.

Are we any less chosen?
      God has given this little nation so much privilege.
            Not only the Scriptures, but also resources, climate and history.
Why do we fail to understand or believe the Biblical truth about God?
            He punished Israel not because he had stopped loving them,
                  but quite the reverse, he punished because he always loves them.
      As Jesus wrote to the church in Laodicea, (Rev 319)
            Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.

      The 'reproval', the punishment is intended to turn us to God (repentance).
            a) To seek his forgiveness.
            b) To admit we need help and that we need a change of character.
            c) To take away the attractiveness of sin, and enable us to hate it.
            d) To affirm that God's way, God's instructions are always the best.
For all who refuse to turn to God, the punishment is severe, as promised.
      It is far greater than any earthly disaster; it is eternal condemnation.

When disaster comes to a city, has not the Lord caused it? 36

Even insurance companies call natural disasters 'an act of God' !
But when disaster strikes, how often do we consider it to be the hand of God?
      Is it ever reported as a warning from God about the consequences of sin?
      Is it ever seen as having the opportunity to seek God, repent and live?
In Luke 13, some people asked Jesus about the Galileans who had suffered,
      Was it because they were worse sinners?
      Jesus answered,
            "I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.
            Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them -
            do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem?
            I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

But if men choose to reject this God given, God directed, opportunity,
      then the result is punishment fulfilled, as promised.

Israel was in grave danger of punishment;
      they were purposfully busy rejecting all the warnings of Almighty God.
God had sent Amos specially to save them, but they did not want to hear.
      In love and grace he was presenting them with a way of escape.
      Thomas Jefferson, the third US President said,
            "I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just."
Amos had heard God accurately, the Lion has roared. But who will hear?
      There would only be a short time to avoid God's judgement.

Today how many ever read this book, repent, and so learn how merciful God is?
      Or are we like the people to whom Amos spoke; too busy, too distracted,
            too concerned with money and enjoying our greedy, selfish lives?
      To what does modern advertising make its appeal?
      In 2020 £20,000 million was spent on UK advertising. Why?
            They never quote the prophecy of Amos!
      But then, neither does the church.

Surely the Sovereign Lord does nothing without revealing his plan
      to his servants the prophets.
37

Almighty God is so patient, so gracious.
      He always gives men the opportunity to repent.

In Noah's day he waited 120 years while he built the Ark.
      Indeed his warning was broadcast by his grandfather for 969 years.
            It was Enoch 'who walked with God' who named his son Methuselah.
            And Methuselah means 'In the day that I die it shall happen'.
            What would happen? The world-wide flood that only 8 survived.
            One of the last things Noah did was to bury grand-dad.
                  Read and put together the numbers in Gen 5.
            God warned. The people laughed - until it was too late.

The lion has roared - who will not fear?
The Sovereign Lord has spoken - who can but prophesy?
 38

Once again Amos emphasises who is speaking; it is the 'Sovereign Lord'. (x18)
      It is not a pleasant summer evening chat in the shade of an olive tree.
      Israel, so far, had shown no interest in the Word of the Lord.
      Like UK, they presumed they could ignore him; there was no fear of the Lord.
            So there was no wisdom. And "They do not know how to do right."  310
      From the start Amos knew.
      Obviously God knew, he had to 'Roar',
            if there was any hope that they might take any notice. But they didn't.
So instead of mercy and grace; the penalty must be judgement.

Therefore this is what the Sovereign Lord says:
"An enemy will overrun the land ...
 311

"On the day I punish Israel for her sins,
      I will destroy the altars of Bethel ...
      I will tear down the winter house along with the summer house ...
      and the mansions will be demolished," declares the Lord.
 314,15

There is nothing complicated in God's verdict. It is staggeringly clear.
      All their trusted wealth would be destroyed,
      None of the pathetic offerings to false gods will be of any help.

"The time will surely come when you will be taken away with hooks."  42

Assyria would soon take them into exile tethered, 'hooked' to a long rope!

 
"Yet you did not return to me"       [Contents]

God had not only 'roared' his warning, he had also sent a series of disasters.
Yes, it was Almighty himself who sent them to the deaf, presumptuous people.
      'I gave you empty stomachs' ...
      'I withheld rain' to some particular places ...
      'I struck their gardens with blight and mildew' ...
      'I sent locusts to devour your figs and olive trees', ...
      'I sent plagues among you as I did to Egypt', ...
      'I killed your young men with the sword,' ...
      'I filled your nostrils with the stench of your camps,' ...
      'I overthrew some of you as I overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah.' ...
Yet you did not return to me !
 46-11

There was nothing they could do to alleviate these disasters.
Not once did any distress cause them to seek God, which was why he sent them.
Never did they for a moment humble themselves and listen to the 'Roar'.
They stubbornly refused to humble themselves or listen to God’s 'Roar'.
Thus there was only one possible response:
      "Therefore this is what I will do to you, Israel,
            and because I will do this to you,
            prepare to meet your God, O Israel."
 412

But even this warning failed to cause them to sit up and take notice.

 
The Word of God is Repeated       [Contents]

It is not known how Amos gathered the people to hear him.
Whether it was one group to whom he preached on several occasions,
or whether, more probably, it was to different groups with a similar message.
Amos continues with a very similar message as previously.

Hear this word, O house of Israel, this lament I take up concerning you:
      "Fallen is Virgin Israel, never to rise again,
            deserted in her own land, with no one to lift her up."
 51,2

This is what the Lord says to the house of Israel: Seek the Lord and live, ...
      or he will sweep through the house of Joseph like a fire.
 54,6

Seek good, not evil, that you may live.
      Then the Lord God Almighty will be with you ...
Hate evil, love good; ... Perhaps the Lord God Almighty will have mercy
      on the remnant of Joseph.
 514,15

Notice that he calls this message 'a lament'. He knew how much God cared.
      He experienced the same pain that their sin and refusal to hear had caused.
      When Jesus entered Jerusalem on a donkey, he knew this pain. He wept.
      "If you, even you, had only known on this day what would bring you peace
            - but now it is hidden from your eyes.  Lu 1942

If only proud men could see the truth;
      that God desires to save them from eternal condemnation.
But again and again they refuse to hear, so Amos repeats the judgement:

Therefore this is what the Lord, the Lord God Almighty, says:
      "There will be wailing in all the streets
            and cries of anguish in every public square."
 516

Such was the presumption of religious Israel;
      they didn't see themselves as sinners needing to plead with God for mercy.
In their delusion they thought that 'the day of the Lord' would end their troubles.
So Amos tells them the truth:

      Woe to you who long for the day of the Lord!
      Why do you long for the day of the Lord?
            That day will be darkness, not light.
      I hate, I despise your religious feasts; ...
      Away with the noise of your songs!
 518-23

The problem was that they thought they could play 'fast and loose' with God.
They professed / pretended to be righteous, but their lives were not.
But they worshipped their idols and disobeyed even the basic commandments.
They were more like the religious leaders Jesus spoke to in Math 23.

Down in Jerusalem Isaiah was telling the people of Judea
      that God looked for righteousness, justice and truth; but it was absent.
            He looked for justice, but saw bloodshed;
                  for righteousness, but heard cries of distress.  Is 57b

Amos tells the rich in Israel
You trample on the poor ..
You oppress the righteous and take bribes and you deprive the poor of justice.
  511,12

Therefore:
“There will be wailing in all the streets ...
      There will be wailing in all the vineyards,
      for I will pass through your midst,” says the Lord.
 515,16
“I hate, I despise your religious feasts ...”  521
“Therefore I will send you into exile beyond Damascus,”
      says the Lord, whose name is God Almighty.
 527

They were so ‘off beam’, they believed they buy God with an odd offering
      and then go out and do whatever their sinful hearts wanted.
Why did they think that the Amos was a fanatic,
      his extremist teaching obviously did not apply to them.
Their problem? Deluded self-righteousness.

 
God Speaks to the Leaders       [Contents]

Amos now addresses the leaders, highlighting their careless presumption:

      Woe to you who are complacent in Zion,
            and to you who feel secure on Mount Samaria,
            you notable men of the foremost nation. ...
            You lie on beds inlaid with ivory ... You dine on choice lambs ...
            You drink wine by the bowlful and use the finest lotions,
            but you do not grieve over the ruin of Joseph.
            Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
                  your feasting and lounging will end.
 61-6

They didn’t or wouldn’t see Israel as God saw them.
Totally blind to ruin, the wickedness, of Israel.
Their luxurious lifestyle was very easy, very pleasant ... and selfish.
Self-sufficient, they felt no longing for God.
Acknowledged no sinfulness so no need for God’s forgiveness or mercy.
No wonder or gratitude for God’s amazing creation.
Like the rich man in Luke 1619-31 they were content without God.
God was not impressed or pleased; so Amos passed on the message to them!
Therefore you will be among the first to go into exile;
your feasting and lounging will end.
 67

Others were proud of their military power.
      And used their privileged strength to their own full advantage.
      God was not impressed or pleased with them either.
Therefore:
The Sovereign Lord has sworn by himself – the Lord God Almighty declares:
      “I abhor the pride of Jacob and detest his fortresses;
      I will deliver up the city and everything in it.”
 68

What about those today who trust in Trident submarines, or ICBM’s, or super-computers, hypersonic cruise missiles, cyber skills, drones or nuclear bombs?
Micah summed up what God always looks for, what pleases him most?
      He has showed you, O man, what is good. ...
      To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.  Mic 68
Our modern world needs to learn the same lesson as Israel did in 7th Century BC.

 
Three Visions  71-9       [Contents]

1. Amos sees the Lord sending swarms of locusts to eat 2nd crop
      He cries out and pleads for mercy. So the Lord relented.
2. Amos sees a great fire that devours the land.
      Again he begs the Sovereign Lord to stop. So the Lord relented.
3. Amos sees a plumb-line set among the people of Israel.
      This time The Lord says, "I will spare them no longer."
      With my sword I will rise against the house of Jeroboam."

            Fulfilled 2 Kgs 1721-23

These visions tell us clearly that God greatly desires to have mercy on sinners;
      also that repentance and prayer are truly effective. (See Sodom Gen 18, 19)
      But there does comes a time when it is too late or that repentance is absent.
          e.g. Once Noah and all the animals had gone into the Ark,
            Then the Lord shut him in. And everyone else out!  Gen 716
      With the parable of the 10 virgins, the door was shut to the 5 not ready. Math 24

 
Amos .v. Amaziah 710-17       [Contents]

A spiritual battle between a shepherd and a priest.
Amaziah sought help from the king of Israel, telling him lies.
He said "Amos is raising a conspiracy against you."  He wasn't.
"The land cannot bear his words." It was Amaziah who couldn't bear them.
      The land would have done well to hear and to heed God's Word.
"Jeroboam will die by the sword." No, he said the 'house of Jeroboam' would.
      And 6 kings and 40 years later the 'house' was destroyed.
"Israel will surely go into exile." Amos did say this, but it was demoralising.
Amaziah presumed the king's support and so told Amos:
"Get out, you seer! Go back to the land of Judah.
Earn your bread there and do your prophesying there.
Don't prophesy anymore at Bethel,
      because this is the king's sanctuary and the temple of the kingdom."
 712,13

Amos was not dismayed before 'the great priest'.
      He was told a direct personal Word for Amaziah from God.
            Your wife will become a prostitute ... you will die in a pagan country
            and Israel will certainly go into exile.
717

      We are not told if Amaziah said any more.
This was not the first or the last time God gave his servant the right words to say.

 
A Basket of Ripe Fruit       [Contents]

God asks Amos what he sees; replies "a basket of ripe fruit" (Hebrew qayis)
God says, "Yes, the time (Hebrew the qes =end) is ripe for my people Israel.
      I will spare them no longer.... The songs in the temple will turn to wailing.
      Many, many bodies - flung everywhere! Silence! "
 81-3

Then Amos tells them why God had declared his judgement.
      You trample on the needy.  84
            The poor always get a rough deal, or no deal!
      You ask, "When will the Sabbath be ended that we may market wheat?"  85
            They found no joy in worshipping God, nor in keeping his laws.  Ps 197-11
            They cheated in the market, dishonest scales, price fixing, added chaff.
            They may have got away with it, but the Lord was watching and said,
      "I will never forget anything they have done."  87
            This is in direct contrast to the sins of the penitent to whom God says:
                  "I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake,
                  and remembers your sins no more."  Is 4325
      God changed the name of the scheming cheat Jacob to Israel
            when he pleaded for God's mercy and blessing at Peniel.  Gen 3228
      Called Peniel because I saw God face to face, and yet my life was spared.
      At this time the nation of Israel knew no such repentance;
            they had forgotten how Jacob became Israel.
                  So God could not forget their sin.

"The days are coming," declares the Sovereign Lord,
      "when I will send a famine through the land -
            not a famine of food or a thirst for water,
            but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord."
 811

Nothing can devastate a land more thoroughly
      than being unable to hear God's Word.

Consider our history in the 'dark ages'.
      Remember the Reformation and our emancipation from Rome
            when the Bible was printed in English
            and God's Word revealed and believed.

      Today we have the Bible, but there are few who can truthfully expound it.
            We suffer from a famine of 'hearing' the Word that God has given us.

The ministry of Amos was to repeatedly warn Israel of their destruction.

 
"In that day I will Restore"       [Contents]

At the end the Lord gave Amos 5 verses of hope and assurance.

"In that day I will restore David's fallen tent.
I will repair its broken places, restore its ruins,
      and build it as it used to be. ...
I will bring back my exiled people Israel;
      they will rebuild the ruined cities and live in them. ...
I will plant Israel in their own land,
      never again to be uprooted from the land I have given them,"
      says the Lord your God.
 911-15

Restoration is always a miracle. This is no exception.
Israel was exiled to Assyria and beyond. There has been no known return.
So where and when will they return?
A few were left in Samaria (became mixed race of Samaritans)
      Jesus spoke to and saved the woman and people of Samaria.  Jn 4
      Philip and the Apostles did a good work of God in Samaria.  Act 84-8
Some Gentiles will be 'added'
      so that they (Israel) may possess the remnant of Edom
            and all the nations that bear my name.
 912

In 1948 Israel became a nation again;
      much to the disgust of the Muslin nations.
Almighty God has prospered and protected them through 3 major wars;
      and will continue to do so.
Currently Israel has yet to be transformed into a righteous nation.
      Abortion rates are the same as UK.
      TelAviv is now the homosexual centre of the ME.
But as Zechariah would later prophesy:
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child ... On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great ... On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. "On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more," declares the Lord Almighty.  Zech 1211 - 132

But God also told Amos:

      "Yet I will not totally destroy the house of Jacob," declares the Lord.  98b

The 'house of Jacob' will become the true and beautiful house of Israel;
      redeemed and clothed in white as the Bride of the Lamb of God.  Rev 196-8

And Amos will among the great multitude of people rejoicing
      in what the Sovereign Lord has achieved in his faithful grace and mercy.

For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.  Rev 199

 

The Prophecy of Joel      

A Bible Study     To navigate click on desired portion

      Introduction
      The Word of the Lord
      Blow the Trumpet
      Offer and Promise of Restoration
      All nations will attack Jerusalem
      End-time Judgement and Restoration

 
Introduction

There is little evidence in Scripture to date Joel. From the prophetic message it seems likely to be about the same time as Amos and Hosea, whom God sent to warn the northern tribes of Israel of God’s impending judgement if they did not repent of their evil ways. However applicable, this message has always proved to be unpopular. In every generation the gracious Almighty God would much prefer to propitiate for man’s sins than execute the just punishment. Joel also reveals some of God’s future plans for the end time.

 
The Word of the Lord       [Contents]

The word of the LORD that came to Joel.  11
The opening verse reveals that this book was not the wild ideas of an ancient fanatic, but was, and remains, what the Lord God wants all men to know.

Hear this, you elders ... give ear, all inhabitants ... tell your children ... 12,3
God’s word was written to everyone, no exceptions. Only fools will ignore it.

      O the love that drew salvation's plan,
      O the grace that brought it down to man,
      O the mighty gulf that God did span at Calvary.
      Mercy there was great and grace was free,
      Pardon there was multiplied for me
      There my burdened soul found liberty, at Calvary.

Mercy and pardon is so much better than disaster and death.

 
Blow the Trumpet       [Contents]

What was the first ‘word’ that the Lord spoke to Joel?
It was just one verse that prophesied total destruction:
What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten.
What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten,
and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.
 14

The judgement of God was complete destruction: no escape, no half measures.
The next 8 verses detail how a nation has come up against my land.  16
It concludes that gladness dries up from the children of man.  112
And all because they are so unwilling to seek the Lord and his righteousness.

Therefore:
Put on sackcloth and lament, O priests ... Consecrate a fast ...
      and cry out to the Lord.
Alas for the day! For the day of the LORD is near,
      and as destruction from the Almighty it comes.
 113-15

What did Lord’s urgent trumpet warn them about?
Why were they so heedless of the imminent danger -
Why so self-satisfied, so intent on enjoying life - and sinning!
Why were they so stubborn and deaf.
But the Lord God and Joel would not be put off from the truth they proclaimed.
For the day of the LORD is coming; it is near, a day of darkness and gloom.  21,2
But they took no notice.
50 years ago in UK you would often see ‘bill-board’ men with signs like :
      “Prepare to meet your God!!”
We scorned or ignored the warnings. But the consequences will surely follow.

Joel describes this mighty army, the noise of chariots and horsemen,
      the devastation both before and after them, the unrelenting anguish.
Before them the earth shakes, the sky trembles,
      the sun and moon are darkened, and the stars no longer shine.
 210

 
The Lord Thunders       [Contents]

The Lord thunders at the head of his army.  211 (NIV)
This revelation really shook them; it was so totally unexpected:
Many people were religious folk. they attended the temples in Bethel and Dan.
They offered their regular sacrifices.
But they did not seek the Lord. They did not even try to obey his commands.
They rejected the Word of God from the prophets.
But how could their own God of Israel attack Israel - Ridiculous! they said.
But that is exactly what he did.
The Lord commanded the Assyrian army to conquer Israel and exile them.

Some today even dare to preach that this army in Joel 211 is the church triumphant! But in the context, it is the Assyrian army of judgement sent by God. When will the Church wake up and realise the context of scripture really matters? Habakkuk found it difficult nearly two centuries later when God told him he was bringing his servant Nebuchadnezzar to destroy Jerusalem. But Habakkuk humbled himself and believed God.

 
Offer and Promise of Restoration       [Contents]

The Word of God is full of surprises to this rebellious people:
Joel pleaded with the people:
“Yet even now,” declares the LORD, “return to me with all your heart ...
      and with mourning ... for he is gracious and merciful.”
 212,13

God offers them one last chance, in spite of their devotion to enjoy sin.

And that is not all. In days to come God promises:

I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten ...

You shall know that I am in the midst of Israel,
      and that I am the LORD your God and there is none else.
And my people shall never again be put to shame.
 225,27

It shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh ...
And I will show wonders in the heavens and on the earth, blood and fire and columns of smoke. The sun shall be turned to darkness, and the moon to blood, before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.
 228-30

A key to understanding the significance of these verses is seeing when the 'afterward' or the 'awesome day' refer to. Peter rightly proclaimed it was partly at Pentecost, after Calvary, in 33 AD.  Act 216-21   But what else will happen when God ‘pours out his Spirit’ ?   There will be signs and wonders. But they are not pleasant! They are not the healing and deliverance of God. Joel tells us that it will be a time of blood and fire, smoke. and darkness. As Paul warns us, The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders.  2 Thes 29   also  Rev 133,13,14  While God has been pleased to continually pour out his Spirit since that first Pentecost, this Joel quotation refers to the days of the Great Tribulation, persecution and widespread martyrdom.  Rev 137  Math 2421,22

If we are living in those days we will surely need the outpouring of his Spirit more than ever, if we are to resist Satan’s deceptions and to have the courage to stand.
Should this be our privilege, God has promised to give us the fulness of his Spirit. He will be our strength and security. He will be our safe fortress.  Prov 1810

The Lord Almighty is faithful and will never renegue on his word.
The Reformation martyrs proved this. So do today’s martyrs.
And maybe we will too!

 
All Nations will Attack Jerusalem       [Contents]

Joel continues upon the end times theme:
“In those days and at that time,
      when I restore the fortunes of Judah and Jerusalem,
I will gather all the nations and bring them down to the Valley of Jehoshaphat.
And I will enter into judgment against them there ...
      Because they have scattered my people among the nations
      and divided up my land.”
 31,2

Wicked nations have always opposed God’s chosen people, the Jews.
In 1948 the Jews became a nation once more, speaking their ancient Hebrew.
But all the Muslim Arab nations objected strongly; it was an insult to Allah.
Three times they went to war against modern Israel and three times they failed.
      The Independence War in 1948,
      The Six Day War in 1967
      The Yom Kippur War in 1973.
      Each time Almighty God protected and supported his people.
The Palestinians are supported by nearly all the world, they have partially divided Judea, Samaria, Hebron and Bethlehem from Israel. At the end they and the other wicked nations will try to divide Jerusalem.

But as Joel prophesied, they will then come under God’s judgement.
They will divide God’s land of Israel and make every effort to destroy her.

This is confirmed by the prophet Zechariah:
“I am going to make Jerusalem a cup that sends all the surrounding peoples reeling. Judah will be besieged as well as Jerusalem. On that day, when all the nations of the earth are gathered against her, I will make Jerusalem an immovable rock for all the nations. All who try to move it will injure themselves.”  Zech 122,3

On that day the Lord will shield those who live in Jerusalem, so that the feeblest among them will be like David, and the house of David will be like God, like the Angel of the Lord going before them. On that day I will set out to destroy all the nations that attack Jerusalem.  Zech 128,9

Ro 11 + below reveal God’s plan for Israel at the end.

 
End-time Judgement and Restoration       [Contents]

Let the nations stir themselves up and come up to the Valley of Jehoshaphat;
      for there I will sit to judge all the surrounding nations. ...
The LORD roars from Zion, and utters his voice from Jerusalem,
      and the heavens and the earth quake.
 312,16

The judgement of God upon those attacking Jerusalem will be fierce.
In strong contrast with the blessing of Almighty God upon his people.

But the LORD is a refuge to his people, a stronghold to the people of Israel.
So you shall know that I am the LORD your God,
      who dwells in Zion, my holy mountain.
But Judah shall be inhabited forever, and Jerusalem to all generations. ...
      for the LORD dwells in Zion.”
 316,17, 20,21

God also revealed this to the prophet Zechariah;
      that at that time Israel will look upon Jesus Christ in a new way and be saved:
They will look on me, the one they have pierced, and they will mourn for him as one mourns for an only child, and grieve bitterly for him as one grieves for a firstborn son. On that day the weeping in Jerusalem will be great ...
On that day a fountain will be opened to the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, to cleanse them from sin and impurity. “On that day, I will banish the names of the idols from the land, and they will be remembered no more,” declares the Lord Almighty.
 Zech 1210,11 131,2

This is often misunderstood, even by the church, yet the meaning is clear.
      Sadly they either distort or ignore his Word.
      So when these events unfold many will not be ready.

In that day (the Millennium) Jerusalem will be holy and the Lord will reign there. Then there will be righteousness and justice and the Word of God will go out to a hungry world.  Is 22-5
At last, the life-giving fountain which was opened by Jesus 2000 years ago at Calvary, will flow in abundance.  Zech 131  Ezek 471-12  Rev 211

In that day the healing of the nations will be completed. All men, even believers, need healing from the many various hurts or scars. In that day the Saviour will touch us all. What a day this will be.

God revealed to Joel the glorious eternal kingdom of God with the returned Jesus reigning as King. So different from the Israel of his day to whom he also had to declare God’s certain judgement.

 

Hosea

Introduction       [Contents]

Hosea preached and prophesied for nearly 40 years (760-722 BC)
A contemporary of Amos who came up from Judah and probably also of Joel.
The first 3 chapters tell us of the obedient life that Hosea experienced.
The remainder is the parallel revelation of how God is also broken-hearted when his love is ignored or rejected. It recounts God’s love, his Judgement and his longing to pour out mercy and grace on a stubborn rebellious people.

In Hosea’s day national traditions were honoured, but the reason for them vanished. At Passover few sought deliverance from the slavery of sin. They focussed on the creation, not the Creator; 'Mother Nature', Baal, Astarte and Fertility cults. They worshipped the two golden calves than Jeroboam I had made and which had ensnared Israel for nearly 200 years. O yes, religion flourished!!  211  101  Amos 521  But the Lord Almighty was way out of the frame for the citizens of N. Israel. Just like today, where outside the new stock-exchange in Frankfurt (the centre of European finance) there is a golden calf! and the parliament building at Strasbourg is built to depict Babel with the blasphemous caption "Many nations - one voice".

 
Hosea's Personal Experience 1-3       [Contents]

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel.  111

As with Joel, Hosea began his ministry because God chose to speak to him personally and make him his prophet. These opening words are vital. What follows is ‘the word of the Lord’, not his personal opinions. God wants us to know what Hosea experienced because it reveals how Almighty God responds when his own people reject him.

Hosea was a young man with all the ideals, hope and passion of youth.
He was a man with a sensitive spirit.
He loved:
      The God of Abraham who first received God's covenant,
      The God of Moses who led the miraculous delivery from Egyptian slavery,
      The mighty God of David, who enabled his son Solomon to build the Temple.
He was deeply moved by the stories of Elijah and Elisha just 100 years earlier.
He may well have heard the preaching of Amos who had come up from Judah.
      He certainly knew that he was preaching the unheeded truth.
      Even the priests condemned and rejected him.
Hosea knew that God is the one, mighty, holy Sovereign Lord of all his creation.
      But no one else seemed to know, or even care.
What was the response of this deeply troubled man?
      He sought God, who told him what he would do!

God had already sent Israel several disasters!  Amos 46-11
      But no one saw them as the hand of Almighty God warning his people.
Murder was common, adultery was rife, bribery was the norm.
It was rule by the rich and strong, at the expense of the weak and vulnerable.
Everyone sought their own pleasure and profit.
Many worshipped Baal and the fertility gods
      hoping for ever greater prosperity, sex and fun.  Hos 25,8
Costly compassion was rare.
In fact all was very like the U.K. today!

They worshipped the golden calves at Bethel and Dan that Jeroboam I had made.
      God obviously hated this blatant evil.
Israel clearly and carelessly transgressed the first two commandments -
      and most of the other eight.

What would God do? What was his verdict? That is what really mattered.
Like Daniel and others, Hosea was determined to find out.
There was so little that Hosea could do. It all seemed so hopeless.
But it did not stop Hosea from earnestly seeking God.
      Then I turned my face to the Lord God, seeking him by prayer and pleas
            for mercy with fasting and sackcloth and ashes.
 Dan 9329
And faithful to his promise, God spoke to him ...  Deut 429  Jer 2913
      Hence this book - one that is full of surprises!

Almighty God does not waste any time with a long preamble; or even a short one.
      He dives straight in with an intensely personal instruction.

"Go, take for yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness,
because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.
So he married Gomer ..."
 12,3a

Hosea's young, idealist heart must have missed about 5 beats!
      This was certainly not what he wanted or expected to hear - from God!
      But ... he obeyed. 'So he married Gomer ...'
      "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself
            and take up his cross daily and follow me."  Lu 923

From what is written we cannot be sure whether
      a) Gomer was already a prostitute
or   b) whether God was telling him that is what she would become.
As we shall see what matters is that Hosea's personal life would be a reflection
       of what God would do with unfaithful Israel, and all sinful men and women.

 
Marriage and 3 Children

1. Jezreel = 'For I will punish / scatter'       [Contents]

So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to Hosea, "Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel's bow in the Valley of Jezreel."  13b-5

As a young married man Hosea learned to love his young bride.
No doubt there was much to learn - both good and bad.
God told him to call their first son Jezreel = 'for I will punish/scatter'
Neither of the young marrieds were happy about God's choice of name!
      Who would be? Do you know any children called 'Jezreel'?!
      They both knew what Jehu had done to the house of Ahab 60 years ago.
      Jehu killed everyone in Jezreel who remained of the house of Ahab,
            as well as all his chief men, his close friends and his priests,
            leaving him no survivor.
 2 Kg 1011
Now God was telling them that Israel was just as wicked as Ahab and Jezabel,
      and his intention was do the same thing to Jeroboam II and Israel!
The future didn’t look very bright.

Hosea had to carry a heavy cross.
      Every time he spoke his son's name he was reminded of what God had said.
            'I will punish'.  It was hard to bear.
      "O God, why are you doing this to me?"
The penny dropped. He realised his life was to be a parable, a sermon to all.
      His life with Gomer accurately portrayed the relationship of Israel and God.
      But his anguish was only a pale reflection of the agony and tears in heart of God.

God did just what any loving husband would do.  26-15
      He tried everything to warn her, to restrain her, to keep her faithful.
      Sadly at every step she had spurned him.
But Jezreel not only means ‘to scatter’, but also ‘to sow’.
      Maybe God was showing Hosea that God’s plan stil had an element of hope.

2. Lo-Ruhamah = 'I will no longer show love or mercy'       [Contents]

Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them." 16

Their second child was a daughter,
Hosea knew that she was unlikely to be his child.
      His company was probably not much fun.
      He always reflected the message that God had given him was true.
      He could not give Gomer the carefree laughter and joy that she sought.
The child was named Lo-Ruhamah = 'I will no longer show love or mercy'.
      If the first name, Jezreel, caused family distress, this was worse.
But God, 'Love' is your name and your desire is to have mercy.
      How can you say that you will not show love?.

Jesus said, "This is the verdict: Light has come into the world, but men loved darkness instead of light because their deeds were evil."  Jn 319

"Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God's wrath remains on him."  Jn 336

Israel, and Gomer, had chosen to ignore God,
      because they loved what God called sin.
      The more they enjoyed their sin, the more they ignored God.
      And the more they ignored God, the more they sinned.
            "Some seed fell among thistles," which choked it.
How many youngsters have become ensnared by sex, drugs, 'heavy metal music?
      Or maybe the lure of money, popularity, power, success,
            or even just wrong priorities ...
      Each can put the goal of God on the back burner,
            and eventually off the cooker altogether!  Math 1310-18

Israel, and Gomer, stubbornly refused to seek the mercy of God:
      'Why bother? Life is good!' So God gave them their desires:
But beware, there is always a high price to pay, usually now and certainly later!
      And there comes a day when it is too late.  Ro 124,25  Jn 318
      Man's choice canmake it too late for love. Too late for mercy.
      A day when the door is shut.  Gen 716
            No love, and no mercy could then be shown.
            The opportunity is then lost; shut out for ever.
      Jesus warned, “What will it profit a man if he gains the whole world
            and forfeits his soul?”  Math 1626

Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them - not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God.  17

'Yet ...' What a precious word!
Israel would be forsaken, and Judah would be saved;
      not by sword or might, but by the Lord.
      By the coming of Jesus Christ, the Son of God.

God was preparing to send his own Son to his chosen people -
      It was God’s plan for his Son to be crucified in order for us to be forgiven.
Hosea longed for this day;
      though he obviously did not know exactly how or when it would happen.
A little over a century later and in very similar circumstances, down in Judah,
      God would reveal the same prophecy to Jeremiah.  Jer 110
            It was the same as 'Jezreel' - God's plan to destroy and to plant.

Even in the darkest hours of a sinful nation, God reveals his promised intention
      to save repentant, believing people; redeeming them by the blood of Jesus.

God has never had any other way for a man to be saved.
At the Passover, they were spared only when the angel saw the blood.
      At the Seder meal every year the youngest in the Jewish family is asked,
            "What do these things mean?"
            And once again the story is told of their deliverance.
      No wonder many looked forward with such longing for their Messiah.

But for the northern tribes of Israel there would be no national deliverance.
However, many Samaritans (their descendants) would be saved.  Jn 439  Act 814

 
3. Lo-Ammi = 'You are not my people'       [Contents]

After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, "Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God."  18,9

Then they had a son. Or more correctly, Gomer had a son. 'They' didn't.
This time Hosea knew for sure that he was not the father.  24,5
He was again obedient and called him Lo-Ammi = 'You are not my people'.
God intended to show them, and all Israel, this awful truth.
      It was now all so obvious - to all who had their eyes even half open.

Gomer had now left him.
Israel had left God.
So God speaks the truth, 'You are not my people'.
      Not because I don't want you to be, but by your own foolish choice.

No one can become 'people of God' by circumcision or Bar-mitzvah,
      nor by going to church, and not even just by being baptised.
Much of the UK has now rejected Creation, the Creator
      and the risen, Crucified Saviour.
      We can no longer be called a Christian country.
      Christianity is too divisive to be included in the so called 'British Values'.
In Israel none harkened to the warning of God.
Hosea is left alone - with God. Like Jacob at Peniel.  Gen 3224 and Ezek 1415-24
      Hosea's heart was in torment - wouldn't yours be?
Hosea knew that he had heard correctly.
God had clearly shown what he was about to do.
His family was an accurate picture. A living, heart-rending disaster.
Is there any solution? Is there any answer?
Can nothing that can be done to reverse the awful judgement of Almighty God?

Again, Hosea earnestly sought God's answer.
And God told him.

Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people,' they will be called 'sons of the living God.' The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel. Say of your brothers, 'My people,' and of your sisters, 'My loved one.'  110-21

'Yet ...'   Truly, God does have an answer.
It would not be in Hosea's day, but over 700 years later.
The tearful Jeremiah would reveal that same answer 150 years later.  Jer 3131-34
God would offer a new covenant, and many would receive it.
      Indeed there would be a multitude who would do so.
            As many as the sand on the shore, or stars in the sky.  Gen 155,6
They both saw that God would provide a Saviour, a Redeemer,
      who would truly enable forgiveness and a new relationship with God.
So God reveals the real situation with Hosea's family and with the nation.

Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.  22

Hosea now applies his home-life experience to God and Israel.
God rebukes Israel and commands repentance.
What was the response of Gomer, and of Israel ? And of UK ?
      'I will do whatever I want. I'm free.
      Who are you to tell me what is right or wrong?'
How arrogant and deceived most men and women are!
      They think they know better than God, our Maker, what is best!
And like Gomer and Israel refuse to repent.
So God issues a stern and accurate warning.

Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst. I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery. Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, 'I will go after my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.'  23-5

'Otherwise ...' God warns them what will happen.  Rev 216
And God always does what he has promised - good or bad!

On the political scene, cracks were beginning to show -
      In 743 Damascus started to pay tribute to Tiglath-pileser III, (Assyria)
            and the following year Israel's king Menahim had to do so too.  2 Kg 1519,20
      In 732 Galilee was annexed by Assyria.  Hos 78,9
      King Hoshea's appeal to Egypt for help failed.  Hos 93 115 121  Is 301-3,7
            Just as 120 years later Judah's plea to Egypt for help also failed.
                  (As Jeremiah prophesied it would.  Jer 236,37)

God's hope is that chastening, disaster and need will cause repentance;
      as with the 'prodigal son.'  Lu 1518 'I will go back ...' 27
      But nearly all refused. The nature of man has not changed much!
Strangely, Gomer and Israel still thought it was Baal who provided the harvest.
      How wrong can you be? They were deceived and bewitched.

 
Vainly Ties to Save Broken Marriage       [Contents]

Reveals how God tries to save his broken marriage with Israel.

1.  He tried to keep his wife at home and away from the 'bright lights',
            hoping that the attraction would become dull with time.

Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way. She will chase after her lovers but not catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now.' She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold - which they used for Baal.  26-8

      But it failed. She chose Baal - more fun than God!

2.  God then causes the harvests and prosperity to fail, and thus discredit Baal.

"Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her nakedness. So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands. I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath days - all her appointed feasts. I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewellery, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot," declares the Lord. 28-13

      But it also failed.

3.  God tries one last way.  In the deserts of disaster he spoke tenderly to them.
      "What shall I do? I will send my son, whom I love;
            perhaps they will respect him."
 Lu 2013
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.  214,15

      But sadly, even this failed. "They hated him without reason."  Jn 1525
      Neither the stick nor the carrot would persuade her to change her ways.

The people took no notice of God's warnings

They had so diminished the Almighty that they never considered that it was God
      who was sending the disasters.
They continued to do whatever they pleased.
Why are we so slow to heed?
Does the Church today say, 'God is love. We know better now.
      Judging is an old-fashioned idea - just a Victorian threat ?'
What else could God do but fulfill his promise of punishment?
Hosea's 3 children revealed God's answer:
      Jezreel - "I will punish"
      Lo-Ruhamah - "I will no longer show love"
      Lo-Ammi - "You are not my people"
And in 722 Assyria attacked Israel and drove them into permanent exile.

So God punished Israel and Judah

Hosea wept.
Amos wept; 'grieved over the ruin of Joseph'  Amos 66
Jeremiah in Jerusalem wept when Judah was about to be exiled to Babylon.
In Babylon, Ezekiel and Daniel wept.
In their own day each were deeply 'grieved'.
And Jesus wept over Jerusalem as he rode the donkey into the city.  Lu 1940

God still desires to have mercy and to spare his people.
God still has a plan.  And he tells these grieving prophets what it is:

"I will betroth you to me forever"

Hosea 2 closes the same way as Hosea 1 closed;
      with the promise of eventual repentance and restoration.

"In that day," declares the Lord, "you will call me 'my husband'; you will no longer call me 'my master.' I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety. I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord. "In that day I will respond," declares the Lord - "I will respond to the skies, and they will respond to the earth; and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will plant her for myself in the land; I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one.' I will say to those called 'Not my people,' 'You are my people'; and they will say, 'You are my God.'"  214-23

God is so full of mercy. Amazing.
      What can we say? It is so undeserved.
Mixed with the judgement there is such compassion, such reluctance to punish.
      God reveals his promise of the new Kingdom.

'Not my loved one' will stand utterly amazed at the warmth of God.
      And her name is changed to 'Chosen, Betrothed.'
With great compassion God gives Hosea a vision of righteousness, justice, love and faithfulness.
How else could he have survived his deep personal grief?
Jezreel that means 'scatter' also means 'to sow'.
      Seed that dies and grows in good ground yields good fruit.  Jn 1223-28
      The fruit of righteousness, justice, faithfulness.

I will betroth you to me forever;
      I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the Lord.
 219,20

Every day orthodox Jews recite these two verses as they bind on their tefillin
      and tie the ring of leather around their middle finger (i.e. marriage).
      For most there needs to be added the revelation of Jesus' sacrifice.

But back to Hosea and his personal situation.
He too had tried every means of saving his marriage - and failed.
      The fact that God had warned him that she would be an adulteress
            did not diminish his love for her.
His wife was now a common prostitute.

What was he to do? God had told him that it would happen
      But that did not make it much easier!

He could legitimately have had her stoned,
      but he would have to cast the first rock.
He could legally divorce her.
He could do nothing and just hope that she would one day return.

But God said, 'no' to each of these options.
      He had another plan:
      A much better plan, which he then revealed !

 
"Go and buy her back !!"       [Contents]

The Lord said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes." So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.  31,2

Sin is not ignored.  It never can be.
      It is revealed as rejection and unfaithfulness, then ignored or conquered.
God shows that his timeless and only conquering solution requires redemption.

Again Hosea chooses to obey his Lord.
Jesus obeyed too.
      He always did what he knew his Father wanted.  Jn 827-29  Lu 951 2242
      He came and bought us.
            And not just for £20 of silver and 12 cwt (~£60 worth) of barley.
            Jesus paid the much higher price for my sin with his life.
            He 'paid in full.'  Rev 217
With Hosea, God wanted to reveal the extent of his love for us.
      His willingness to forgive. He will do anything to save us.
Salvation is free but it is not cheap;
      Jesus had to die and we do have to repent, admit our helplessness
            and trust that by the Cross his payment is sufficient.

Did Gomer think Hosea was a soft-hearted fool?
      or did she fall into his arms and weep out her sorrow and sin?
We don't know.
Nothing more of their family life is revealed.
Scripture just says:
Then I told her, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you."  33

And concerning the nation?

"They will come trembling to the Lord"

For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.  34,5

Though Israel would soon cease to be (722 BC),
      Judah would have a king for another 150 years, and sacrifices for 750 years.
Today the Jews have yet to come trembling.
      They have lived nearly 2000 years without sacrifice (from 70 AD)
            and without Jesus as their King.
Many in these last days are beginning to seek the Lord, trembling before him.
      Is this another sign that the end is near?

As Isaiah says:
In that day you will say: "I will praise you, O Lord. Although you were angry with me, your anger has turned away and you have comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation." With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. In that day you will say: "Give thanks to the Lord, call on his name; make known among the nations what he has done, and proclaim that his name is exalted. Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Shout aloud and sing for joy, people of Zion, for great is the Holy One of Israel among you."  Is 121-6

The world has so much to be grateful for to the Jews.
Why have all 'Christian' nations consistently treated them so badly?
      We have persecuted, expelled and murdered them,
            and today we still conspire against them. Why?

True, they have been unfaithful to the Lord God,
      Yes, most rejected the Messiah,
            Yes, they have twice been exiled by God.
But No, this is not the end of the story.
      The Lord remains faithful and will save the house of Israel.
We do well to remember this promise of God.

 
Israel's Fatal Choice 4 - 14       [Contents]

The Root Problem

No faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land.  41
Priests (and therefore people) ignore the law of God (by choice)
      and proudly relish their wickedness.  46,8
Sex, a spirit of prostitution leads them astray.  412 54
They consult a wooden idol (for prosperity) and are unfaithful to their God.   412
The Israelites are stubborn (and they are not the only ones).  416
There is cursing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery, bloodshed.
      And because of this the land mourns.
 42,3
My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.  46
Wine takes away the understanding of my people.  411
A people without understanding will come to ruin.  414
They will eat but not have enough.
(widespread dissatisfaction) 410  Hag 15-11
A whirlwind will sweep them away, (also Is 4024)
      and their sacrifices will bring them shame. (instead of forgiveness)  419

The Judgement

Sound the trumpet ...  58
I know all about Ephraim, Israel is not hidden from me.  53
Israel's arrogance testifies against them.  55
 Prov 813  Is 1311
When they go with their flocks and herds (for sacrifices) to seek the Lord,
      they will not find him ...
 56,15
 Is 556  Amos 812
I will go back to my place until they admit their guilt.  515
Assyria is not able to cure you.  513
 (they will not even be able to defend you)
Therefore I cut you in pieces with my prophets.  65
I will not punish your daughters, prostitutes and adulterers,  414

      but the men who consort with them.  Jn 81-11

False Confidence

People said - the Lord will heal us ... after (just) two days he will revive us.  61-3
      God reveals the folly of Israel's false hope in this sarcasm).
      He tells Israel that their love is like the morning mist. 64
I desire mercy, not (insincere) sacrifice. 66
 Math 127
      The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit ... Ps 5117
      But they sacrificed with pride, not repentance.  Is 98-12
      Men often hope to win approval by their gifts/actions,
            but salvation is only by God's gift of the blood of Jesus.
            We cannot even begin to do what he has done for us.

The Agony - Sin Cannot be Ignored

Whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed.  71 64
I long to redeem them but they speak lies against me.  713
But their sins engulf them; they are always before me.  72

      Deceit and robbery.  71
      Adultery.  74
      Drunken mockery.  75
      None call on me.  77,16
      Arrogant.  710
      Easily deceived.  711
      Rebelled.  713
      Mixed with the idolatrous nations.  78
With nothing but occasional remorse (714) how can God forgive such sins?
No real repentance, no pleading with the mighty Advocate in heaven for mercy.
There is always a price to pay: It is only a question of who pays it!
The people have broken my covenant and rebelled ...  81
They make idols for themselves to their own destruction.
      Throw out your calf-idol ... My anger burns against them.
 84,5 915
Now the Lord will remember their wickedness and punish their sins.  813
Their heart is deceitful, and now they must bear their guilt.  102
You love the wages of a prostitute at every threshing floor.  91
The merchant uses dishonest scales; he loves to defraud.
I cared for you in the desert, ...
      when I fed them, they were satisfied;
      when they were satisfied they became proud;
      then they forgot me.
 135,6

Infidelity - no loyalty or faithfulness, temple prostitutes
Independent - proud, 'only old women and the weak need God'!
Intrigue - lying, pretence, bribery for selfish gain
Idolatry - coveted wealth, worshipped Baal and Astarte (fertility)
Ignorance - careless, ignored God, 'not important, we know better now'
Ingratitude - thought they deserved their prosperity - reward for ability
Impatient - anger, violence, misuse of power, 'me, now!'
Guilty of every crime in the book, but felt none of it;
      their conscience was deadened by repeated sin.
Priests - encouraged idolatry, made rich from fertility/prosperity rites
Prophets - all false. Sought popularity, not truth.
Princes - enjoyed abusing their power, injustice maintained their privileges.
People - sought easy profit and a superstitious religion without repentance.

As Ezekiel said, "This was the sin of your sister Sodom: she was arrogant,
overfed and unconcerned; they did not help the poor and needy.

They were haughty and did detestable things before me."   Ezek 1649

God is no more pleased with us than he was with them.
      We know what he did to Sodom, and to Israel! But who will listen?  Jer 253

 
"And Yet ..."

When Israel was a child, I loved him ... I taught Ephraim to walk ...
I healed them ... I led them ... I lifted the yoke ... and fed them.

(But) They refuse to repent ... my people are determined to turn from me.
(Yet) How can I give you up, Ephraim ... all my compassion is aroused.
(So the day will come when) They will follow the Lord ...
      They will come trembling ... I will settle them in their homes.
 111-11

I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death.
Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?
 1314

      1 Co 1555 (But God had to pay the ransom price; no one else can.) 32

 
The Result of Real Repentance       [Contents]

Return to the Lord. Say to him, 'Forgive all our sins ... Assyria cannot save us;
      We will never again say, 'Our gods' to what our hands have made,
      for in you the fatherless find compassion.'
 142,3

I will heal their waywardness and love them freely.  144

Hosea did not live to see that day - except by faith -
      Like Abraham, he saw it then, shining in the distance,
            Today he still speaks of it.

 
Hosea, thank you for being obedient to such difficult instructions.
Thank you for being faithful and loving to your unfaithful wife.
For refusing to divorce her, even though you had every cause to do so.
You graciously did what Jesus would later come and do perfectly.
      You redeemed her. Jesus has redeemed all who believe and trust in him.

Lord, thank you for loving us while we were yet enemies!  Ro 58

And thank you that Israel is still a living witness - a constant reminder that:
You will remain faithful to your covenant to the chosen people
      and to all believers.

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