Hosea prophesied and preached in the northern
kingdom of Israel
during the last and tragically evil years before their permanent exile.
The last 6 kings of Israel would span only 31 years (753 - 722 BC),
and of these 6 kings, 4 were murdered.
It was a time of great prosperity and greedy indulgence.
It was not much better down in Judah.
Ahaz was king and he sacrificed his own son as an offering.
He bribed Tiglath-pileser of Assyria to help relieve the siege of Rezin king of Syria.
He made a copy of the altar to the Assyrian god, Ashur
and put it in the place of God's Altar in the Temple at Jerusalem.
Isaiah, the prophet, was God's man in Judah.
Hosea was a young man with all the passion of youth.
A man with a sensitive spirit who loved
The God of Abraham who first received the covenant,
The God of Moses who miraculously delivered them 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.
Hosea knew God. And that he is the mighty God.
But no one else seemed to know, or even care. It troubled him greatly.
Where was all God's mighty power now?
He had seen kings murdered, adultery was rife, it was the rule by the strong,
everyone sought pleasure and entertainment.
Very like UK today!
Many even worshipped wooden idols in the hope of fertility and fun.
And they worshipped the golden calf at Bethel. (Made by Jereboam some 300 years earlier)
Amos had come up from Judah.
No one liked his outspoken warnings against their love of ease and luxury.
Even the priests condemned and rejected him.
But like it or not, it was God who had spoken to them.
So in rejecting Amos, they also rejected the one true God who sent him.
Then God spoke to Hosea, ... "Go, take for yourself an adulterous wife" !
His young idealist heart must have missed about 5 beats! But ... he obeyed.
"If anyone would come after me, he must deny
and take up his cross daily and follow me." Lu 923
He married Gomer.
Soon they had a son and he called him Jezreel = 'for I will punish or scatter'
Gomer wasn't too happy about the name!
Their initial harmony became strained.
They seemed to be on different wavelengths - they were!
Hosea had to bear a heavy cross.
Every time he spoke his son's name he was reminded that God had said 'I will punish'.
Slowly the penny dropped.
His life was a parable, a sermon to all.
But his anguish was a pale reflection of the agony and tears in heart of God.
For God was preparing to send his own Son to his chosen people -
"But his own received him not" (Jn 111)
"They hated him without reason" (Jn 1525)
and they plotted to kill him - and succeeded. The Son of God was crucified.
But God showed Hosea that even this was the plan that Father and Son agreed.
For Jezreel not only means 'to scatter' but also 'to sow'.
God later 'sowed' his seed. The seed was willing to fall into the ground and die.
Hosea longed for that day, but he did not know how or when it would happen.
Then Gomer had a daughter, but Hosea was not sure that she was his child.
His wife had being going out a lot recently, enjoying the 'bright lights'.
Hosea's company was probably not much fun.
He was bearing the message that God had given him.
He could not give her the carefree laughter and the sensuous, indulgent joy that she sought.
So he named the child Lo-Ruhamah = 'I will no longer show love or mercy'.
But God, 'Love' is your name. Everyone knows that.
How can you say that you will not show love?
But 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)
Then they had a son. Or more correctly, Gomer had a son.
This time Hosea knew that he was not the father.
So he called him Lo-Ammi = 'You are not my people'
What a family. 3 children: I will punish. I will no longer show love. You
are not my people.
And Gomer - an adulterous wife.
Hosea's heart was in torment - wouldn't yours be?
God, why all this judgement when your name is faithfulness, love, mercy and grace?
"I saw heaven open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True.
With justice he judges and makes war." (Rev 1911)
or as Isaiah, his contemporary down in Judah, was saying:
"In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;
he will not falter or be discouraged till he establishes justice on earth." (Is 423,4)
Yes Hosea, in your agony you heard correctly - however unpalatable it seemed
You were warning them about what God was going to do.
Your family was an accurate picture.
But the people took no notice; so in 722 Israel went into permanent exile.
God did to his people exactly what he had said!
I will punish - I will no longer show love - You are not my people
No wonder Hosea wept and Amos wept, 'grieved over the ruin of Joseph'.
Just over a 100 years later Judah would be exiled to Babylon for 70 years.
Jeremiah in Jerusalem wept. Ezekiel and Daniel in Babylon both wept.
They too were grieved.
If God so punished Israel and Judah, his chosen, what will he do to England?
When we have enjoyed unprecedented privilege and opportunity.
We have Circuits and Parishes throughout the land.
The Scriptures, God's Word, is readily available everywhere in English.
But today a ¼ of all babies born are to unmarried parents.
Of those who do make promises to each other more than 1/3 break them and divorce.
We have legalised homosexuality that God so hated that he destroyed Sodom.
Down in Judah, Ahaz the king had sacrificed his son,
but in this country we legally sacrifice >170,000 children by abortion each year.
God sees this. He hears their cry even if we are deaf.
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 - and we know what he
did to them!
So Hosea cried:
"I will punish her for the days ...
she decked herself with rings and jewellery, and went after her lovers,
but forgot me, declares the Lord." (Hos 213)
Yes, Hosea, history has proved that you heard correctly.
You had the courage to be obedient.
You could have run away, but you didn't.
You agonized at the message you brought, but you were more concerned that it was true than that it was popular.
Hosea, tell me, in the midst of your despair, did your hope die completely?
"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 ...
She will chase after her lovers but not catch them, she will look for them but not find them.'
Then she said, 'I will go back to my husband ...' " (Hos 25,7)
It was just as in the story of the prodigal son.
"In that day, declares the Lord, you will call me 'my husband' ...
In that day I will make a covenant for them ...
I will betroth you to me for ever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion.
I will betroth you in faithfulness and you will acknowledge the Lord ...
I will say to those called 'Not my people', 'You are my people'; and they will say,`You are my God.'" (Hos 216-21)
But Hosea cries, "When will these things be? When will 'that day' be?
Will it be soon?"
He cannot know the answer to this question.
In fact it was 7 ½ centuries before the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem.
But he knew for sure that one day the Messiah would come.
Like Abraham, he saw the day of Jesus Christ and he rejoiced.
They could not evade God's just punishment, but there was great hope for salvation.
As the Lord said to Hosea,
"Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her ...
I will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope ..." (Hos 214,15)
What was God saying to the world in Hosea's family situation?
Remember his 3 heart-breaking children and an adulterous wife who had left him.
Did the story end there? Can God do nothing for the men who reject him?
God tells Hosea the answer:
"Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is an adulteress.
Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites ... So I bought her for 15 shekels of silver and a homer of barley ..." (Hos 31,2)
Hosea again obeys. He redeems his unfaithful wife.
God showed him, and us, what he would do.
Jesus, the Bridegroom, would give his life to save his precious - but unfaithful bride.
This same Bridegroom that instructed Hosea knew only too well what the cost would be!
"Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will." (Math 2639)
But Israel refused all the Lord's overtures.
"Whenever I would restore the fortunes of my people,
whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed.
They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets;
but they do not realise that I remember all their evil deeds.
Their sins engulf them; they are always before me." (Hos 71,2)
So the Lord had to punish them. There could be no escape.
This nation has also refused all God's gracious overtures and warnings.
We are without excuse and as a nation we cannot escape.
... and we must accept that his punishment of us is totally justified.
The sovereign Lord is just and true, sang all the redeemed in Revelation.
and so do all his saints.
God chose Hosea and Gomer to be an living witness to:
the waywardness and stubbornness of man,
and to the justice of God and the faithfulness of God.
Hosea tells his unfaithful wife,
"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 ...
For the Israelites will live for many days without king ...
Afterwards they will return and seek the Lord their God ...
They will come trembling to the Lord ... in the last days." (Hos33-5)
"I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion ..." (Hos 219)
Hosea, thank you for being so 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.
Lord, thank you for loving us while we were yet enemies! (Ro 58)
God's faithfulness is such that having chosen Israel, he will not reject
Yes, he will punish; - twice Judah has been exiled. In 586 BC and again in 70 AD.
But now for the second time they are returning.
Israel is again a nation and Jews are returning - over 60,000 this year (1990)
One day we shall see the fulfilment of the word of the Lord to Hosea,
"I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion ..."
For God has always kept his word, and he always will. Hos 219
As Jeremiah prophesied,
"This is what the Lord says, he who appoints the sun to shine by day,
who decrees the moon and stars to shine by night,
who stirs up the sea so that its waves roar, the Lord Almighty is his name:
'Only if these decrees vanish from my sight,' declares the Lord,
'will the descendants of Israel ever cease to be a nation before me.'
This is what the Lord says: 'Only if the heavens above can be measured
and the foundations of the earth below be searched out
will I reject all the descendants of Israel because of all they have done,' declares the Lord." (Jer 3135-37)
We have already thanked Hosea for his witness.
And we thank God that Israel is still a living witness.
They constantly remind us that:
God will remain faithful to his covenant to all who believe and trust in Jesus the Saviour,
God is just and he will certainly punish all who wilfully disobey him rejecting his free offer of salvation.
Lord Jesus we bless you, the Christ of God, yet born of a woman.
You created this earth by your word, yet you did not retaliate when by men you were crucified.
Lord, thank you for your obedience to your Father's will; for paying what you thought we were worth!
Lord Jesus have mercy upon us for we strut about your earth as if we owned it.
We think that we are so clever when we make some trivial discovery in your great design.
Forgive our pride, our vanity, our stupidity.
Forgive too our weakness and reticence to be your witnesses,
Have mercy upon us: for we never deserve your forgiveness:
there is nothing we can do to earn your grace.
Jesus, please will you to be our Advocate and plead for us.
May your blood be our covering,
that we may counted pure in your sight, and holy - totally cleansed and new.
Lord, may our hearts be so transformed
that our whole desire is to obey you, to be everything you desire us to be.
Come, Holy Spirit and fill us, guide us, strengthen us
and equip us to fulfil your purposes in this world.
May we learn to lift up the name of Jesus with meekness and praise,
so that your name is honoured and no longer ignored.
Father, we ask that your Son may be glorified for ever. Amen.
Before the throne of God above,
I have a strong, a perfect plea;
A great High-priest, whose name is Love,
Who ever lives and pleads for me.
My name is graven on his hands,
My name is written on his heart;
I know that while in heaven he stands
No tongue can bid me thence depart.
When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there,
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because the sinless Saviour died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on him and pardon me.
Behold him there! the risen Lamb!
My perfect, spotless Righteousness,
The great unchangeable I AM,
The King of glory and of grace!
One with himself, I cannot die;
My soul is purchased by his blood;
My life is hid with Christ on high,
With Christ, my Saviour and my God.