Good Morning, Siblings!
Today’s readings are Hosea 1-7
Today we begin the book of Hosea. Don’t get too comfy, though, because we finish it tomorrow.
The Hebrew transliterated name for this book is Hoshea. Hosea is a name that means “Salvation”. There are other figures in the Bible who share variations of this name, one being Joshua. While they shared the same Hebrew name, it ended up being translated to different English versions. Do you recall another key figure whose name means salvation? His Hebrew name is very close to this as well. Yeshua. While His given name was Yeshua, we came to know Him in English as Jesus.
Hosea was a prophet who was told to live his life in such a way that his life itself would deliver YHWH’s prophecy to Israel. He is considered to be the author of this book.
We cannot possibly truly wrap our heads around the message of Hosea without having first studied the books preceding it.
In this case, most notable in my mind is the book of 1 Kings. Why is that? Because in that book, we studied the Kings of Israel and how they were judged. We learned a LOT in 1 &2 Kings and 1&2 Chronicles and at the time you may not have realized how important this information that you were learning was. It would have been easy to dismiss these books as historical info that is interesting to know and nothing more. I can see how folks could easily think that. But the thing about historical info is that it can feel dusty and irrelevant – until it’s not, and then it becomes vital in a heartbeat.
In this book, as we read of the relationship between Hosea and Gomer, Hosea is living out the role of YHWH in the life of Israel and Gomer is, of course, Israel. However, there is a vital connection we need to make between what Israel was doing at the time that this prophecy was being told in order to truly understand the story of Hosea’s life. That vital connection is told to us in the first verse of Hosea.
The word of the LORD that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. -Hosea 1:1
If a people are willingly following their king (ie, not in slavery to Him), we can tell a lot about those people by their king. Who is the king of Israel at this time? Jeroboam, son of Joash.
Now the Jeroboam being referenced here in Hosea is Jeroboam II. His reign began a little over 100 years after that of his noted namesake, Jeroboam’s (the first) ended. But what his ancestor put into place was still very much a way of life during his reign and because of this, the wrath of YHWH was swiftly coming upon the people of Israel.
This realization hit me like a ton of bricks and that one detail alone finally transferred the book of Hosea from something a bit wearied and awkward to read into a great and heartbreaking revelation that was all too real.
If this is not doing the same to you, you either missed this part in 1 Kings or I failed to drive home the significance of what Jeroboam (the first) did as a King. Therefore, I’m going to reiterate that today because it cannot be stressed enough. The actions of the elder Jeroboam (hereafter referred to simply as Jeroboam) need to be a well studied part of our history as YHWH’s people because, in far too many ways, we have been repeating that history for quite some time now.
When Jeroboam became King of Israel, he set up a system of worship that was a point by point counterfeit of YHWH’s system.
Why did he do this? He tells us, that he did it out of fear that if the people continued in YHWH’s ways they would eventually return to Him in their hearts. 1 Kings 12:26-27.
Therefore, he set out to offer an “alternative” to YHWH’s system that would keep his people in his kingdom.
He made sure that his counterfeits were close enough to the original that the people would feel okay going along with it, but just off enough that it will keep them from truly worshipping their God.
He marketed this new system along the lines of “Hey, I’m going to make this easier for you. This is just as good as what you’ve been doing but it will work so much better and be far less disruptive to your life.”
Here are some of the things we know he did:
- He created not one (like Aaron did) but TWO golden calves and declared them “gods” to Israel.
Israel has ONE God, this was a benchmark, a huge deviation from the rest of the culture at the time, they were known for having ONE God and now just like that, they are worshipping plural idols as gods instead.
- He also set up his own feasts and appointed times
- Made temples, which were not consecrated to YHWH in any way AND
- He created his own counterfeit priest system from among the people, whom we are explicitly told are not Levites – the only priest system YHWH had ordained.
His system was a complete counterfeit of YHWH’s because it was modeled after it.
How did Jeroboam get away with this?
His ability to be successful with this plan is a tragic reflection of the state of Israel in that day, just as it is among many of YHWH’s people today.
How could YHWH’s chosen people not recognize a counterfeit?
They didn’t know the original.
That statement deserves a pause and a moment of silence.
Think about it: We won’t recognize a counterfeit if we don’t know the original. If we don’t know the word of YHWH, its pretty easy for us to be convinced that it says something that it does not. If we don’t know the Word of YHWH, and we are following or sitting under the teaching of someone who claims to be walking in that word, we are following blindly and it is a willful blindness that is not excused. If WE don’t know the Word of YHWH, we have settled for, at best, a secondhand relationship with Him. And there is no such thing as a secondhand relationship with the Father.
In setting up this system, Jeroboam broke so many commandments we can’t even go into them all. But I want to add in some words from our Messiah, spoken during His famous Sermon On The Mount, about how He feels regarding those who would lead others astray:
“So then, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do likewise will be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever practices and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” ~Matthew 5:19
YHWH sent a warning to Jeroboam in 1 Kings 13
We aren’t told the name of the man that was sent to deliver God’s warning. He is simply referred to as a “Man of YHWH” – what a title to strive for! When this man of YHWH delivered his news and then subsequently healed Jeroboam (Make sure you read this chapter), Jeroboam then tried to entreat this messenger to return to his palace so that he could reward him.
The man of YHWH reiterates that YHWH had told him not to have any fellowship with him.
This is reminding us, as if we didn’t know already, that YHWH detests these things:
- counterfeit gods
- counterfeit feasts
- and the entire counterfeit system that had been set up and dressed up to look like His.
This system was designed to “trick” His people into going against His commandments, to get them to NOT live according to His Word. Of course He is going to detest that.
So Jeroboam II’s reign began a little less than 200 years after all of this was set into place and the Father’s beloved people, His bride, is STILL openly committing adultery against Him while YHWH remains faithful. With this in mind, knowing this timeframe and that all of this has been taking place for so long, this prophetic book makes far more sense.
The warning is the same to us as it was to Israel : You won’t recognize a counterfeit if you don’t know the original.
I add this caveat warning as well, though: Once you recognize a counterfeit, choosing to continue on that path is choosing the counterfeit over YHWH. This is adultery against our Creator.
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” Hosea 1:2
Notice that as we begin this book, YHWH does not give Hosea a prophecy to tell others, but one to live out himself and apply to his own life. It is much easier for Believers to tell others how they should live than it is for us to apply YHWH’s word to our own lives. Many Believers today like to use the Bible as a microscope with which to examine others when, in reality, it is meant as a mirror in which we examine ourselves.
When this verse tells Hosea that he is to take a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, this is more significant than we realize at first.
In this situation, the paternity of her children would have been considered uncertain in the eyes of the culture -and in reality it would have likely been uncertain in reality. Hosea would need to adopt those children as his in order for them to be considered his by society.
This brings to mind the Father’s adoption of us from this uncertain world. We, as gentiles, come from all manner of upbringings, faith, and backgrounds. I am absolutely certain that, while in the world, we and our ancestors have been unfaithful to YHWH. And yet, when we join ourselves to Him, making Him our God (which means following in His wisdom over our own), He adopts us and gives us a name better than sons and daughters (Isaiah 56:5). This is a generous and Grace filled act on His part, just as Hosea’s act was towards Gomer and her children.
And YHWH said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.” Hosea 1:9
The Hebrew name that was given here transliterates to Lo-ammi. Notice that, while these were the people who still considered themselves YHWH’s people, their actions spoke louder then their words. YHWH did not simply look at them and say “Oh, they say they are Believers so it’s all good.” No, He determined their identity by their actions.
“Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; Hosea 2:2
Plead. Plead. The Bible is a love letter to us and a great part of that love letter is our Father begging, pleading for us to return. Entreating us to see the error of our ways, to learn from our past, and to recognize the value of and accept the gifts which He is longing to give us. When we inevitably persist in not doing this, He punishes us in hopes of getting us to awaken to our own error.
In Hosea 2:5 we see that Israel is going after the things of the world and therein lies their delight. Even though, as we see in Hosea 2:8 that all along, it was the Father providing for them, just as, all along it is He who has carried us, even in our disobedience.
And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts. Hosea 2:11
The hammer is about to come down. It is important to note the ownership YHWH assigns to the feast days and sabbaths being spoken of here. Throughout the Word, when He speaks of the appointed times and Sabbaths, He takes personal ownership of them. “These are My Feasts…these are My Sabbaths…” but here He gives ownership to the people.
I’m going to share two opinions on this:
In my current opinion (which should not hold any authority): knowing that these were people living in the time in which Jeroboam’s counterfeit system is still in operation is key to this ownership being assigned to the people. We can surmise that these could be the counterfeit “holy” days that Jeroboam introduced. Remember that YHWH said His feasts and Sabbaths are forever. However, we know that He will surely put an end to counterfeit versions of His Holiness.
Note: Only YHWH can make something Holy. Manmade or synthetic holiness may be revered for a time on this earth but it will inevitably be proven to be a worthless knockoff that will crumble and fall away.
There is another opinion from my friend, Debbie (which, like mine, should not hold any authority), which also makes a great deal of sense and I may switch over to this mindset sooner rather than later: She is of the opinion that YHVH is here taking away HIS sabbaths, feasts, new moons, etc. This is a judgment that we have been under until very recently and that is part of why the church has lost her way. Consequently, the judgment is ending and that is why so many are waking up to sabbaths, feasts, etc b/c the time of punishment spoken about here has ended.
I had not heard this opinion until a few days ago when Debbie and I were discussing this passage and I have to say, it makes a lot of sense to me.
Now, why did I say that neither mine nor Debbie’s opinion should hold any authority? Because each of us are responsible for testing everything against the Word and holding tight to what is true. See the very bottom of this post for a verse about that.
Throughout this book, the pattern repeats of a tugging from YHWH’s people in their turning away from Him and a pulling from YHWH as He seeks to draw them back to His embrace. Time and again.
Chapter 4 begins the judgement of YHWH to Israel. However, you’ll notice that Ephraim in particular is singled out repeatedly for not living in covenant with YHWH. Recall the parallels and thoughts regarding Ephraim with the Gentiles today. Those striking similarities continue in our reading.
Hosea 4:1 “…There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land…”
Even when we are not steadfast – He is.
This next verse is one that I cannot read with dry eyes.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge;
because you have rejected knowledge,
I reject you from being a priest to me.
And since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I also will forget your children.
Notice that this does not say that atheists are destroyed for lack of knowledge. It says “My people”, these are the ones who call themselves by His name – Christians are absolutely the modern equivalent of this.
These people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Why do they not have that knowledge? The next line tells us – they have rejected it.
The modern equivalent of this is our rejection of part or all of the Bible. Examples of this are when Believers declare part of the Bible to be “old” or “done away with” or “not relevant” to us. Another example is when we have the Bible but neglect our duty as Believers to study, know, and live by it.
The Bible is a vast book. It contains books of the prophets, books of wisdom, poetry, history, the gospels. It also contains the Torah or Pentateuch, which are the first five books, known as “the law” of God because these books are where his commandments are laid out and instated. What part of His book is Israel charged with forgetting? The fourth line in the above verse tells us.
Can we apply this indictment to ourselves as well? While individuals and a remnant may not fit the bill, the body as a whole certainly does. Like Daniel, we should include ourselves in that number when praying for the body. If we don’t fit into that group now, chance are we have in the past, and if we don’t pray and remain steadfast today, we are prone to falling into it once more.
My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. Hosea 4:12
According to the Archeology Study Bible, this is likely referring to Asherah Poles and that is a fascinating rabbit trail if you’ve a mind to take it. Either way, these are clear references to idols which were considered gods. Referring to them as pieces of wood and walking staffs shows how utterly useless they are in the eyes of YHWH – and should be in the eyes of His people as well.
Think about some of the things people consult today for guidance as what they really are: A statue is a piece of marble or rock, a tarot deck is a stack of paper, a piece of jewelry is a cheap trinket purchased from a vendor, a crystal ball is a sphere of glass.
Diminish the idols of world to what they are in YHWH’s eyes, instead of seeing them as the false elevation they have in man’s eyes.
Ephraim is joined to idols, leave him alone. When their drink is gone, they give themselves to whoring; their rulers dearly love shame. A wind has wrapped them in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices. Hosea 4:17-19
“Joined to” in this passage, is used as a way of saying to be married too. To be this far gone that the Father sees a people as being married to their idols instead of to Him, leaves a people at a point wherein the Father declares that they are to be left alone.
They have chosen their rulers and their rulers love their own shame– a bold declaration with limitless implications. They are caught up in the wind of their own revelry. Imagine this to be similar to being caught up in a celebratory parade full of people. Singing, dancing, revelry. You join in with all of it, the air is charged with excitement. The parade moves forward, you are in the center and thus move forward by default, continuing in the celebration. All participants are oblivious to the implications of what they are doing, so caught up in the moment, but shame is coming and it will cut deeply when it does. For me right now, the application of this passage to us today is one of the most painful passages in Hosea. Second only to “My people perish for lack of knowledge.”
Hosea 5:11 This passage needs to be looked at in numerous translations to pick the meat off of the bones. We’ll stick with the ESV but I trust you’ll dig deeper and read a few others.
Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment, because he was determined to go after filth. Hosea 5:11
Ephraim chose to walk by man’s ways and, in doing so, they chose to ignore YHWH’s ways. They chose idols over Him. Unholy over Holy. He was faithful and yet they chose to be unfaithful.
And yet again, we see, the Father hopes for their return!
I’m going to leave this on a high note. In actuality, Hosea is full of high notes because though it is a story of the unfaithfulness of YHWH’s people, it is also the story of a faithful and steadfast husband with undying love who remains determined to heal the relationship.
I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me. “Come, let us return to YHWH; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.” Hosea 5:15-6:1
Test everything, hold tight to what is good.~ 1 Thess 5:21
We are saved by Grace alone: Obedience is not the root of our salvation, it is the fruit!
May YHWH bless the reading of His Word!