Hosea

Hosea 1:1 – 2:1 -The God who won’t let go! Punishment and Promise

THE GOD WHO WON’T LET GO!

Punishment and Promise.

 

Hosea 1v1 – 2v1.

 

BACKGROUND.

 

A brief recap of the background is helpful. The kingdom of Israel had split into North [10 tribes] and South [2 tribes] after the death of King Solomon. The North was called Israel and the South, Judah. It is to the North, Israel, that Hosea is speaking primarily although Judah is mentioned at times.

 

When Hosea came on the scene Jeroboam II was on the throne of Israel. It was a fairly prosperous time for the nation of Israel. BUT they were also far down the road of moral decay. So when Jeroboam died a power struggle began with kings being setup and cut down one after another. Of the six kings who succeeded Jeroboam only one died of natural causes. Some reigned for a very short time. Zechariah 6 months and Shallum only 1!

A keyword that would describe the politics of Israel at this time is “CONSPIRACY”.

Each new king sought help from foreign nations like Egypt and Assyria – they lost their national power and independence and eventually became a vassal of Assyria.

 

It was more than just loss of political power – moral decay had swept the nation.

 

There is no faithfulness, no love,

no acknowledgment of God in the land.

There is only cursing lying and murder,

stealing and adultery;

they break all bounds and bloodshed

follows bloodshed [4v1b-2]

 

Religion had sunk to sensual idolatry! Family life had broken down! Even the priests had become corrupt and rejoiced that the people were sinning because that meant more sacrifices and therefore more revenue.

 

It was into this situation that God called Hosea to be a prophet.

 

INTRODUCTION.

Hosea: the man and his message!

 

When God calls us to be the bearers of his message – and we are all called to that in one way or another – he expects us not only to speak about it but to live it. If this was ever true of any servant of God then it was true of Hosea. He more that any other prophet of the OT was called to live out his message.

 

When we judge a persons ministry today we tend to judge it according to how successful it is. AND we tend to measure success in terms of popularity and growth in the number of people who come or how much material blessing a person receives. Obeying God can, however, be very lonely and difficult – you can be misunderstood, even by fellow Christians, and suffer rejection and anguish.

 

Don’t you sometimes think that if you could hear God give you specific instructions it would be so much easier to obey! Would it? Put yourself in Hosea’s place-

“GO AND MARRY A PROSTITUTE ….” [v2]

 

How do you think his friends reacted? Here is a man of God marrying a street girl from SOHO. It wouldn’t sit very well with us, would it?

 

It is unclear as to whether or not she was a prostitute before he married her or only became one later. I tend to think she was already one but either way Hosea knew the kind of woman she was or would become.

 

“Go, marry a whore, and get children by a whore,

for the country has become nothing but a whore

by abandoning God. [JB v2]

 

What God is asking Hosea to do by marrying Gomer is to symbolize to the nation their relationship with God. The nation of Israel has prostituted itself by running after other gods. Whenever we allow other things or people or philosophies to determine and dominate our lives we are guilty of prostituting ourselves. These are harsh words that God is speaking to his people. And God’s tactics may come as a shock to us and we might feel that they are a bit unrefined. But then God is not an English gentleman who is confine to our social etiquette.

 

  1. GOD’S WARNING. [v2-9]

 

God’s warning is conveyed through Hosea’s life and especially through the birth of his three children. Or rather of the three children born to Gomer, his wife, because it is probable that two of the three where fathered by other men.

 

READ v3-5.

 

Jezreel is born.

The name itself has similar meaning to Israel. It was the name of a valley and a town in Israel. BUT because of what had happened there it took on a whole new meaning.

Jehu had in the past caused a blood bath when he wiped out the household of King Ahab. Through trickery and cruelty he slaughtered the kings family and supporters. So Jezreel conjured up that picture in people’s minds. Just like Belsen or Rwanda or Bosnia brings to mind certain pictures.

 

God used the Jehu to punish Ahab for his wickedness but Jehu never followed God nor did his successors so God is now warning Israel that the same fate awaits them.

 

God is going to use the Assyrians to punish Israel. As a kingdom Israel had ceased to be a force for God – so they were to be removed. It took some time for the final judgement to be fulfilled but it was final. God is patient but he is not soft and if his people refuse to go his way and follow his will he will remove them.

 

ILLUST: Consider the churches of Asia Minor – Where are they today? The became cold and preoccupied with other things and so God removed his Spirit from them.

 

We cannot assume that because Binscombe Church is here today it will always be – God will keep us as long as we follow him.

 

Lo-Ruhamah [not pitied]

 

READ v6-7

 

The first child that Gomer had was Hosea’s but it doesn’t say that the second one was his.

It was tragic enough to have Jezreel who foretold the loss of a war and a kingdom but more tragic was the message of the second child “NOT PITIED” . How desperate to lose the compassion and mercy of God. What a pitiful state to be in. If God is not compassionate and merciful then we are without any hope.

 

God is a compassionate and forgiving God but he can’t simply gloss over disobedience and sin. He has been patient with Israel but year upon year they have turned away from him. God was willing to show mercy but they were unwilling to obey. God was willing to forgive but they were unwilling to repent. There comes a point where God says enough!

 

Remember Jesus’s words about Jerusalem:

O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets

and stoned those sent to you, how often I have longed

to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks

under her wings, BUT YOU WERE NOT WILLING,

Look your house is left to you desolate. [Matt.23v37]

 

You see the warning is clear: Persistent impenitence brings the judgement of God.

 

It need to be said that these prophetic utterance were not irrevocable sentence but servere warnings.

 

The same Assyrian army that destroyed Israel set its sights on Judah [the Southern Kingdom] as well. The difference was that Hezekiah who was king of Judah did not turn to a foreign power for help but turned to God and God delivered them {Isaiah 37}. Ultimately they were conquered and taken into exile because they fell into the same sin as their brothers in the north.

 

God is long-suffering and compassionate but there comes a time when he says, “ENOUGH”

 

READ Jeremiah 18v7-10

 

Judah repented and God relented but the next generation refused to repent so God punished them. We cannot rely on the faith of the previous generation and we are responsible to teach our children to obey God. Not only by what we tell they but by what we show them by our lifestyle -what we do with our time and our money how we relate to each other and so on….

 

ILLUST: The first time I went to Wales I was saddened to see so many Churches boarded up. The one we attended could probably seat 1000 but there were 30 there. Something has gone wrong along the way.

 

There is no guarantee that because a Church is alive today that it will be tomorrow. We have to guard the gospel God has entrusted to us.

 

Lo-Ammi. [v8-9]

 

Lo-ammi like his sister seems to be the product of Gomer’s adulterous relationships.

 

Imagine the heartache of Hosea as he contemplated his children – realising that two of the three were not his – and the sadness of the words to Israel “YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE”

 

You see Israel wanted other gods beside Yahweh – They were not content to follow Yahweh alone – they wanted God plus … . Israel wanted to pay lip service to God and then live like the Nations around her. BUT God says that is not good enough.

 

Yahweh is a jealous God. He is not for sharing. God likened himself to a husband – and he is a jealous one – he is not prepared to share his people with another lover. He says; “You have me exclusively or you do not have me at all!”

 

“You are not my people and I am not yours”

 

ILLUST: Would you be prepared to marry someone who said: “I’ll marry you as long as I can continue to live my own life as I please and just fit you in when it suits me”

 

Sadly some marriages operate that ways and inevitably end in disaster. We would not expect that from our partners and we cannot expect God to be content with that attitude.

 

The message is; If you reject God, then ultimately he will reject you. He is patient and forgiving but he is a jealous God who will not tolerate being pushed into second place.

 

  1. GOD’S PROMISE. [v10-11]

 

READ v10-11

 

Through the messages of doom and gloom there are always God’s promises shining through. God’s message of destruction is not the final word – there is the message of Hope. There will be a time says Hosea when the people of God will be restored.

 

There is a clear reminder in v.10 of the promises God made to Abraham.

 

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants

as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand

on the seashore, …. through your offspring all nations

on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me

[Gen,22v17-18]

 

I will make you offspring like the dust of the earth,

so that if anyone could count the dust then your

offspring could be counted [Gen.13v16]

 

God did not totally destroy Israel nor Judah when they went into exile. We know that some of the people from the North joined Judah and God brought back a remnant from Babylon. In that Israel and Judah were united again into one nation. The concept of a single people of God was far from dead and God would bring them together and build a new nation.

 

BUT it does not stop there. The NT does not allow us to stop there.

Paul in writing to the Romans quotes from Hosea:

I will call them my people who are not my people

and I will call her my loved one who is not my loved one.

AND It will happen in the very place where it was

said to them ‘you are not my people’ they will be called

‘sons of the living God.

[Rom.9v25-26]

 

PETER. “Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God

Once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy

[1 Peter 2v10]

 

This idea of the gentiles being part of the people of God was no after thought. It was part of the promise that God made to Abraham. “In you shall all nations of the earth be blessed” [Gen.12v3] . Jesus came to die not just for one nation but for the world and to bring together one holy nation, the people of God.

John tells us this in his gospel: John 11v52.

Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,

BUT not only for that nation, but

also for the scattered children of God

and bring them together and make them one.

 

We are the recipients of this promise. We were once ‘not the people of God’ but now we are ‘the people of God’. We have received mercy.

 

If you have wandered away from God – return God is gracious and loving.

 

The warning to the church is that if we wander from path of obedience to follow Christ out in the world where he is going – he will withdraw his presence from us. God’s concern is that in the places where it is said “NOT MY PEOPLE” there it will be said “YOU ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD”. God is not content to have second place in our lives or for us to set our own agenda.

 

God is infinitely loving and compassionate – he is always willing to forgive if we will return to him.

God is in the business of rebuilding the ruins and calling out a people for himself. He includes us in that business if we follow him and obey him.

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