Hosea is a hard book for those who love Israel and the Jewish people. It chronicles God’s disappointment with their sin and talks about what Israel would suffer because of that sin. And, when you take a closer look at the sins of Israel, you see our own churches going down the same road.
If God will punish Israel for her sins, what will He do to us, when we do the same thing?
We have a connection to the Holy Spirit that they never had. We have a closeness to God that can only come through Jesus Christ and the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, yet… our churches have turned their back on the precious sacrifice of Jesus and turned towards fables and worldliness. And, I have the feeling that, as we fall, the children of Jacob will rise. And, our fall will be great.
However, in the midst of the condemnation that Israel rightly suffers in the Book of Hosea, there is great promise. God WILL bring Jacob back to Himself. He WILL save these rebellious children, and that’s what we will focus on.
The first nine verses of Hosea strongly condemn both Israel and Judah, and two and a half millennia have demonstrated the suffering that they would endure. But, it’s the last two verses of Hosea 1 that are interesting and point to the other prophecies of Israel’s salvation:
10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’
11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel
Shall be gathered together,
And appoint for themselves one head;
And they shall come up out of the land,
For great will be the day of Jezreel!
The Jezreel Valley is where Gog and Magog will take place. And, as I have said before, Armageddon is the Anglicized Greek word for Har Megido, or Mount Megido – in Hebrew: הר מגידו (pronounced: Har Meh-Gee-Doh). And, Mount Megido marks the southern border of the Jezreel Valley. That is where most of the great battles have been fought, by Israel in ancient history. And, I believe that the first battle of Gog and Magog will reach the Jezreel Valley, even though Ezekiel does not mention Jezreel. And, I look at Hosea as confirming my assumption that Gog and Magog will be fought in and around the Jezreel Valley.
Great will be the Day of Jezreel, because the death and destruction that happens there will lead to the Return of Jacob to God. Zechariah details the terrible price that will be paid in northern Israel, but no price is too great with eternal salvation in Christ Jesus is the result.
After verse 11, the Book of Hosea continues with chapter 2, and verses 1 through 13 are a stinging accusation of Israel’s spiritual adultery. Israel prostituted herself with other religions, and it made the feasts and sacrifices that she made to God, disgusting to God. So, He sent her away, out of the Land of Israel. But, even before He did this, Yehovah still had the intention of bringing her back, as we see in verses 14 through to the end of the chapter:
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
Will bring her into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to her.
15 I will give her her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
She shall sing there,
As in the days of her youth,
As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
Right now, the Valley of Achor – the part of the Jordan Valley where Jericho sits – is occupied by Palestinians. There are quite a few Israeli settlements in the area, but God seems to be saying here that He will hand over ALL of the Valley of Achor to Israel, when the time of her salvation happens. This is consistent with the other descriptions of this moment in time, when it seems that the Palestinians will rise up and attempt to kill as many Israelis as possible. When the Palestinians are eventually defeated, Israel will probably force them out, due to the massive number of Israelis that they will have murdered.
16 “And it shall be, in that day,”
Says the Lord,
“That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’
And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’
Here is where we get our next Hebrew lesson. And, there’s some irony involved in this one.
Today in Israel, when a woman’s husband is called her בעל (pronounced ba’al). I’ve never been very comfortable with that word, but it’s the one that Israelis use.
Why am I uncomfortable with the word baal?
Well, it means master, and I don’t like the idea of anyone being a master – except God. But, in Israel, if my wife wants to ask where her husband is… she needs to use the word baal.
What is the word for wife in Hebrew?
אישה (pronounced: ee’sha)
That’s the word for woman. If we’re in Israel, and I want to find my wife, I’ll ask where ‘my woman’ (אישתי) is.
Yes, ‘my woman’.
So, when verse 16 says, ‘My Husband’ and ‘My Master’, it’s turning modern Hebrew on its head. When verse 16 says ‘My Husband’, the word is:
אישי (pronounced: ee’shee)
or, ‘my man’
Today, Israelis use that word to mean ‘personal’. But, אישי can can literally mean, ‘my man’ – just like wife means ‘my woman’ in Hebrew.
This is making an extremely powerful statement. God is saying that He will elevate Israel. He will bring her away from the old covenant, in which He was Israel’s master, to the new covenant in which He is her loving and devoted husband.
Isn’t that how the church is portrayed in the New Testament?
As the Bride of Christ?
Right. Same thing.
This is a direct prophecy of the children of Jacob entering into the same covenant that you and I enjoy. They will join us, in this great congregation of believers that is the Bride. Then, in verse 17, we have an interesting turn of phrase:
17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.
Now, those of you who grew up reading the King James Version, will be familiar with the word ‘Baalim’. The ‘-im’ at the end of the word ‘Baalim’ means that the word is plural – as in, more than one Baal. And, that’s why the New King James Version lops off the ‘im’ and replaces it with an ‘s’.
Doesn’t ‘baal’ mean master?
Isn’t that what I said that the Israelis use for the word ‘husband’?
Yes and YES. The Canaanite gods that Israel prostituted themselves with are generally lumped under the term Baalim or Baal. And yes, again, the word ‘baal’ means ‘master’. I’m tempted to dig deeper into the semantics and etymology of the word Baal, but you didn’t come here for a Hebrew lesson.
So, let’s just say that verse 17 is talking about the removal of the pagan gods from Israel. And, the Lord continues to talk about the incredible relationship that He will have with Israel:
18 In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.
19 “I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me
In righteousness and justice,
In lovingkindness and mercy;
20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness,
And you shall know the Lord.
21 “It shall come to pass in that day
That I will answer,” says the Lord;
“I will answer the heavens,
And they shall answer the earth.
22 The earth shall answer
With new wine,
And with oil;
They shall answer Jezreel.
23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
‘You are My people!’
And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”
After Gog and Magog, there will be tremendous peace and tranquility in Israel – for the survivors. Those of you who have read my book, Ezekiel’s Fire, will know that most things electrical and everything electronic will be destroyed. Personal firearms will still work, but major weapons systems will be completely neutralized.
The world economy will come to a crashing halt. The world will be turned upside down because God is bringing the children of Jacob back to Himself. There won’t be war in Israel anymore, because they won’t be able to go to war.
Then we reach the end of this prophecy and turn to a new one in chapter three. Remember that a lot of the chapters in the Bible are not natural and were not inspired by God. But, Hosea 3 is a good place to start a new chapter.
In fact, it’s so short, we’ll quote the whole thing:
1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days.
Israel prostituted herself and was sent away, but God – even as He is sending her away – promises that He will bring her back in the Last Days. And, notice HOW they will do this:
We’ve had a physical return of Israel, and we are now seeing a growing number of Israelis who are seeking God from the heart. Faith in Christ has taken root in Israel, and it is beginning to bloom and spread. In these Last Days, Israel is seeking the Lord.
The third and last revelation given to Hosea, is found in chapter four through to the end of the book – chapter 14. It is almost unrelenting in its condemnation of Israel’s sin. Israel’s abominations have gotten so foul and evil that God must throw her out. And, He did. But, in the midst of this terrible condemnation, God gives the hope of salvation, when the time of condemnation is complete.
Chapters four and five are unrelenting, except at the very end of chapter five:
15 I will return again to My place
Till they acknowledge their offense.
Then they will seek My face;
In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me.”
If you have been a Christian for long enough, you will eventually run into at least one person who has spent their life, running from God. And, only when they’ve reached their end and hit rock bottom, do they give up running from God. It’s painful to watch, and I’ve seen far too much of this over the years.
Why must some people come to God the hard way?
Of course, I marvel at my own foolishness, so maybe I shouldn’t look farther than the mirror when considering this question. But here, we have a whole nation of people, who have spent thousands of years in rebellion against God. They have run as fast and as far as they could. They’ve done their very best to blind themselves to who the real Messiah is. And then… one day …in the midst of their terrible affliction, they will give up their rebellion and accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.
That acceptance can be found in chapter six. But, even though God speaks of salvation and restoration in chapter six, He shakes His head at the profound evil that must be forgiven. And, I see our own churches doing the same kinds of evil that Israel did:
1 Come, and let us return to the Lord;
For He has torn, but He will heal us;
He has stricken, but He will bind us up.
2 After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
That we may live in His sight.
3 Let us know,
Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord.
His going forth is established as the morning;
He will come to us like the rain,
Like the latter and former rain to the earth.
4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you?
O Judah, what shall I do to you?
For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud,
And like the early dew it goes away.
5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets,
I have slain them by the words of My mouth;
And your judgments are like light that goes forth.
6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice,
And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.
7 “But like men they transgressed the covenant;
There they dealt treacherously with Me.
8 Gilead is a city of evildoers
And defiled with blood.
9 As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man,
So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem;
Surely they commit lewdness.
10 I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel:
There is the harlotry of Ephraim;
Israel is defiled.
11 Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you,
When I return the captives of My people.
I have highlighted some interesting verses. And, verse two seems to provide us with a clue about the timing of the restoration of the Children of Jacob. It says:
After two days He will revive us;
On the third day He will raise us up,
You ALWAYS must be careful when using ‘numerology’ in the Bible. Far too many have made fools of themselves in doing so. But, I cannot help but wonder about these two days and then a third day.
I truly believe that we are on the doorstep of that moment in time in which Jacob returns to God. And, for two thousand years, Israel has wandered in the wilderness of her rebellion to God. And now, as this third day dawns… she seems ready to return to God. Two thousand year days, followed by salvation at the third.
Of course, this is metaphorical, and all metaphors can be taken way out of context. But, since we stand at the end of history, we can see the pattern that generations of Christians must have wondered at.
Notice also that God is the same during the time of Hosea as He is now. He desires mercy and not sacrifice. He desires that you know Him, more than any burnt offering.
Chapters seven, eight, nine and ten continue God’s description of Israel’s sin and punishment. It is only in chapter eleven that we find a reprieve. In the first seven verses of Hosea 11, God recalls the love and tenderness that He had with Israel. It’s like a father remembering the young child, before he became the vile son.
Verses eight through eleven speak of the salvation that God will bring:
8 “How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.
9 I will not execute the fierceness of My anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim.
For I am God, and not man,
The Holy One in your midst;
And I will not come with terror.
10 “They shall walk after the Lord.
He will roar like a lion.
When He roars,
Then His sons shall come trembling from the west;
11 They shall come trembling like a bird from Egypt,
Like a dove from the land of Assyria.
And I will let them dwell in their houses,”
Says the Lord.
Jacob will return to the Land of Israel, from all directions. And, they have. Even from as far away as China. But, notice the question that God asks of Himself in verse eight:
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
As awful and as evil as they have been… as much as they deserve everlasting punishment …God still cannot give up His child. He will impose a limit upon Himself. He will not completely destroy Israel.
This is a direct answer to those who claim to have replaced Israel in God’s heart. And, while it is true that we have been adopted into the family of Christ, we have not and cannot replace those that God has promised to bring back to Himself.
Replacement theology is a terrible evil, and all who hold such a heresy will be judged by God. In fact, from personal observation, I see God casting away the false preachers who spread this Satanic lie.
In chapters twelve and thirteen, God returns to the sin and punishment of Israel, but He ends this prophecy, in the last chapter, with a message of salvation. In chapter fourteen, the people of Israel cast off their idolatry and embrace their Savior:
1 O Israel, return to the Lord your God,
For you have stumbled because of your iniquity;
2 Take words with you,
And return to the Lord.
Say to Him,
“Take away all iniquity;
Receive us graciously,
For we will offer the sacrifices of our lips.
3 Assyria shall not save us,
We will not ride on horses,
Nor will we say anymore to the work of our hands, ‘You are our gods.’
For in You the fatherless finds mercy.”
4 “I will heal their backsliding,
I will love them freely,
For My anger has turned away from him.
5 I will be like the dew to Israel;
He shall grow like the lily,
And lengthen his roots like Lebanon.
6 His branches shall [d]spread;
His beauty shall be like an olive tree,
And his fragrance like Lebanon.
7 Those who dwell under his shadow shall return;
They shall be revived like grain,
And grow like a vine.
Their scent shall be like the wine of Lebanon.
8 “Ephraim shall say, ‘What have I to do anymore with idols?’
I have heard and observed him.
I am like a green cypress tree;
Your fruit is found in Me.”
9 Who is wise?
Let him understand these things.
Who is prudent?
Let him know them.
For the ways of the Lord are right;
The righteous walk in them,
But transgressors stumble in them.
Foolish Jacob will return and be the wise child. He will be the Israel that he should have been, but rebelled against.
There is a great deal of pain and suffering in the Book of Hosea. And, we’ve seen it reflected in the terrible persecution that the Jewish people have suffered over the past 2500+ years. It is as painful as it was unnecessary – at least, on the surface. But, we also know that this rebellion and suffering had a purpose in God’s great plan for the redemption of the world and the Return of His Son.
There is a reason for all of this, and we will understand that reason perfectly, in the Life to Come.