- Check out this guy’s (my brother) recent posts on the law. Good stuff!
- Dr. Ascol is back and blogging on “Confessional integrity and theological education”. His last three posts are good stuff! Closely related to the chapter summary on James Boyce that I will be posting later today.
- Dr. Russell Moore answers the question, “Why Evangelicals Support Israel?”
- 9 Marks has posted an article by David Powlison on “Praying Beyond Health Concerns” (HT: Denny Burk).
- Anthony Carter has posted a list of resources for “Studying Pilgrim’s Progress“. Thanks! (HT: Justin Taylor).
- My dad still hasn’t posted anything!!!
Christian missionaries have always been in the forefront of European approaches to non-European societies, whether in the company of explorers, conquerors or commercial traders. Bringing the Christian faith to non-Christians has left a legacy as complex and mixed as that of European expansionism itself. As shown in “The Tailenders,” this missionary work has found new strength — while raising age-old questions about its moral complexities — through an ingenious melding of technology and marketing.
A portrait of Global Recordings Network (GRN), a grassroots organization founded by Joy Ridderhoff in 1939 in Los Angeles, “The Tailenders” explores the history, techniques and philosophy of a remarkable organization that has recorded Bible stories in over 5,500 of the world’s 8,000-plus languages and dialects, and made those recordings available in the most remote regions through inventive, ultra-low technology. The company has reached out to the “tailenders” — those who are among the last to see missionaries and whose languages and ways of life are disappearing under globalization’s sweep. But what becomes of stories when they cross from one culture to another? At a time when radio was king and the disembodied voices of people as different as Roosevelt, Hitler and early radio evangelists were creating a new impact in America’s living rooms and on world opinion, Ridderhoff had the inspiration to use the technologies of recorded and broadcast sound for a single purpose. Much like the Gideon Society, which strove to place Bibles in every hotel room in America at a time when books were the primary means of mass communication, Ridderhoff and her collaborators at Gospel Recordings (as it was then called) wanted to bring the Bible’s stories to every community in the world in its own spoken language, especially to the poor and illiterate. Read more . . .
Most people today have been influenced by Hollywood and Nashville to believe that love is either only erotic or romantic. But genuine love is not merely a feeling or physical attration. Though, thankfully, love can include those things, but love must be more than this baser elements.
We use the word “love” so flippantly today. It used to describe everything from our favorite food to our lifelong companion. Love surely doesn’t mean the same thing in all of these situations. But real love is on display in this chapter in the story of Hosea’s love for Gomer which is itself a reflection of God’s love for Israel. This love is shown in chapter 3 to be a reclaiming love, a redeeming love, a renewing love and a restoring love.
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.
I. Reclaiming Love, v. 1
In verse one we see that God’s love for the nation of Israel is a reclaiming love. The LORD commands Hosea to “Go again” and “love a woman” who “is committing adultery”. This, He says, is what my love for adulterous Israel looks like!
Notice that the word “love” or a derivation thereof is used four times in this verse. Three of these four times the word “love” has a different connotation. The only time when the meaning is shared is Hosea’s love for Gomer and Yahweh’s love for Israel. In the first instance, Hosea is commanded to love his adulterous wife. In this case, the verb love means to persistently pursue. It probably does not mean to feel fond of or be physically attracted to, but to actively show love in reclaiming an adulterous wife from a life of sin. This is the same kind of love that Yahweh has for the children of Israel who are also adulterous in their pursuit of false gods.
In the second instance, Gomer is said to be loved by a lover. Here the meaning is no doubt an erotic or sexual love. This is clarified in the next phrase as this action is described as adultery.
In the final instance, the children of Israel are said to “love” the raisin cakes of the pagans. There is a different here in some translations. The Hebrew text simply says that they loved the grapes. Some interpret this as a reference to grapes that have been turned into wine. Most, however, believe this to be a reference to dried grapes “raisins” that have been pressed together into cakes. These “raisin cakes” were often used in pagan worship.
Now we see the depth of the folly of Israel’s idolatry. They have forsaken the persistent, pursuing, faithful love of their rightful husband to commit spiritual adultery with a false god and love for Little Debbies©! What a contrast! God loves Israel with an everlasting active love, but Israel loves “raisin cakes”! This is the folly that Jeremiah speaks of in Jeremiah 2:11-13,
Has a nation changed its gods, Which are not gods? But My people have changed their Glory For what does not profit. 12 Be astonished, O heavens, at this, And be horribly afraid; Be very desolate,” says the LORD. 13 “For My people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, And hewn themselves cisterns — broken cisterns that can hold no water.
What folly!!! Forsaking the eternal God of glory for that which “does not profit”! Yet, this is what Israel did! And, it is exactly what you and I do! When we allow our “love” for anything replace our love for God Himself! Yet God’s love sought them out!!! God’s love is faithful!!!
II. Redeeming Love, v. 2.
Not only is God’s love for His people a reclaiming love, it is also a redeeming love! Not many details are given here, but from what is stated we can assume that Gomer has become a slave!
There were three main ways in which one could become a slave in that day: by conquest, birth or debt. You were either enslaved as a defeated enemy, born to parents who were slaves, or you had become so indebted that you were sold as a slave to pay off your debts. This final way is the way in which Gomer had become a slave. This is how low she has fallen. From being the wife of a prophet of God to being sold as a common slave at an auction.
Gomer’s sin had truly taken her further than she wanted to go, cost her more than she wanted to pay, and kept her longer than she wanted to stay! She now found herself up for auction on a slave market. We can surmise this based upon the word that is used for “bought” is a word that is used for haggling over a price or bidding. We can also assume that Gomer was being bought at a slave auction by the price that was paid. In Exodus 21:32, the price of a slave is set at 30 shekels of silver. Here the price is 15 shekels of silver with the rest of the price being made up in grain (a homer and a half of barley). This would probably have equaled the worth of 15 shekels of silver. But the price given indicates that Hosea may have given everything to purchase his wife back. He bids all his shekels of silver, then all his barley. Everything of value that he has is given in order to redeem his wayward wife. Can you hear the bidding? After the bidding reaches 15 shekels of silver, I can imagine Hosea in desperation to obey God’s command to again love his adulterous wife, cries out with a price that ends the bidding: “Fifteen shekels and a homer and a half of barley!” “Going once, going twice, . . . Sold!”
What a beautiful picture we see here of Christ’s redemption of sinners. You and I were as low as we could go. We were on that slave market of sin, but Jesus Christ gave His all to redeem us. He didn’t pay 15 shekels and a homer and a half of barley, but His own precious and costly blood! As Peter says in 1 Peter 1:18-19,
Knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.
This is redeeming love that has been shown to us in Christ (John 3:16 and Romans 5:8)! 1 John 3:16 says, “By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us.”
III. Renewing Love, vv. 3-4.
In these verses we see that Yahweh’s love for Israel is not only a reclaiming and redeeming love, it is also a renewing love.
Verse three records what Hosea told Gomer after redeeming her from the slave market. He essentially says that she will live with him in the same house, but they will not resume their intimate relationship immediately. Instead there will be a period of “many days” of purity. This is a time of celibacy. It is not to last forever, but for “many days”. Afterwards, we can assume, normal relations between Hosea and Gomer as husband and wife would resume. This seems a little too personal for us to be talking about, doesn’t it? Well, more is going on here than the private love life of Hosea and Gomer. Verse four explains the significance of the period of abstinence from the marital bed of Hosea and Gomer.
This period of marital celibacy, like everything else in Hosea’s marriage, is used by God to illustrate His relationship with the children of Israel. The children of Israel will also experience a period characterized by a lack of intimacy. Verse four states that they will be for “many days” without proper rulers “king or prince”, without proper worship “sacrifice” or “ephod”, and without improper worship, i.e. idolatry “sacred pillar” or “teraphim”. This is a proper description of Israel’s history. Without leadership (there has not been a king since before Christ), without priesthood (there has not been a priesthood or sacrificial system since the destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70), and without idolatry (for all Israel’s rejection of Jesus Christ, they have not fallen back into idolatry). This is the period in Israel’s history described by the apostle Paul in Romans 11:25 in these words:
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.
But yet there is hope! In verse four we see that this period is for “many days” not eternity and in Romans 11:25 we see that this blindness has happened “until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in.” In other words, things will change one day. This is because God’s love is not only a reclaiming, redeeming and renewing love, it is also a restoring love!
IV. Restoring Love, v. 5.
“Afterward . . .”! The children of Israel will be restored by the love of God. Not necessarily as a political entity, but as the people of God engrafted together into the one tree of Romans 11 together with Gentiles. There will be a restoration. This is described in Romans 11:25-32,
For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. (26) And so all Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: (27) For this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. (28) As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. (29) For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (30) For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: (31) Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy they also may obtain mercy. (32) For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.
This is also described by the LORD Himself through the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 12:10 as follows:
And I will pour on the house of David and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem the Spirit of grace and supplication; then they will look on Me whom they pierced. Yes, they will mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and grieve for Him as one grieves for a firstborn.
This will happen at the return of Christ, when Israel sees their Messiah in all of His resurrected glory returning in the clouds. Then every living Jew will believe and be united together with all believers (Jews and Gentiles) throughout history in the body of Christ. A few verses later in Zechariah 13:1 we are told:
In that day a fountain shall be opened for the house of David and for the inhabitants of Jerusalem, for sin and for uncleanness.
This is the fountain described by the hymn writer William Cowper as “a fountain filled with blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins and sinners plunged beneath that flood lose all their guilty stains.” This is what all who have ever believed have experienced and it is what Israel will one day experience when their Messiah appears to them again in all His glory!
No wonder Paul concludes his meditation on this event with the doxology of Romans 11:33-36:
O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! (34) For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? (35) Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? (36) For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
What is our response to the reclaiming, redeeming, renewing and restoring love of Yahweh? There are two main responses that we should have:
The first response should be a recognition that our allegiances doubly belong to the God who has created and redeemed us! We belong to Him twice! He made us and bought us back! As Isaac Watts wrote: “Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all!!!”
The second response should be anticipation for the day when Christ returns. Turmoil in the Middle East will end. It could be today when Christ appears and vanquishes all His enemies, restores His people and establishes His everlasting kingdom! What a thrill to know that God’s love will be triumphant over all!
 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:  Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
I don’t think that what Paul said in Ephesians 4 applies only to those living in our generation with us today. Nor do I believe that it only applies to those in the same location. The church universal is much larger than our local congregation. It extends to all those saints, past and present, from east to west that have placed their hope in Christ and His sacrificial atonement alone! Therefore, the teachers, evangelists, and pastors from whom we have the privilege of learning stretch across the 2,000 years of church history (chronologically) and from pole to pole (geographically)!
Some may out of false piety downplay the importance of God-honoring books in the Christian life, but when in prison Paul urged Timothy to bring “the books” (2 Tim. 4:13). As The 19th Century’s “Prince of Preachers”, Charles Haddon Spurgeon, comments,
He is inspired, and yet he wants books! He has seen the Lord, and yet he wants books! He has had wider experience than most men, and yet he wants books! He had been caught up in the third heaven, and had heard things unlawful for a man to utter, yet he wants books! He has written a major part of the New Testament, and yet he wants books! The apostle says to Timothy and so he says to every Christian, ‘Give thyself to reading.’ The man who never reads will never be read; he who never quotes will never be quoted. He who will not use the thoughts of other men’s brains proves he has no brains of his own (2).
Since we have been commanded by God to “Rightly Divide the Word of Truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), this is a privilege we can’t afford to ignore! Great preachers of the past and present agree! Again I quote from C.H. Spurgeon who said:
In order to be able to expound the Scriptures, and as an aid to your pulpit studies, you will need to be familiar with the commentators: a glorious army, let me tell you, whose acquaintance will be your delight and profit. Of course, you are not such wiseacres as to think or say that you can expound Scripture without assistance from the works of divines and learned men who have labored before you in the field of exposition. . . . It seems odd, that certain men who talk so much of what the Holy Spirit reveals to themselves, should think so little of what he has revealed to others (3).
Warren Wiersbe, a modern day expositor, has written similarly:
My books are my tools, and I use them. I cannot afford to be a book collector; neither the budget nor the diminishing shelf space . . . permits such a luxury…. I enjoy my library. Each book is a friend that converses with and teaches me. Better to have fewer of the best books than to clutter your shelves with volumes that cannot serve you well. Above all, love your books, use them, and dedicate all you learn to the service of Jesus Christ (4).
So, allow me to exhort you (not as one who has seen farther, but as one who is still trying to climb higher to view and worship the majesty of our Glorious God), study the Scriptures for they are the final revelation of God! However, don’t neglect to read the works of the God-gifted men from the past and present, for by climbing on their shoulders you may be able to see farther than you ever have before!
1. Newton to Hooke, 5 Feb. 1676; Corres 1, 416.
2. Charles H. Spurgeon, from sermon #542, “Paul – His Cloak and His Books”
3. Charles H. Spurgeon, Commenting and Commentaries (reprint, Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1969), 1.
4. Warren W. Wiersbe, A Basic Library for Bible Students (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1980), 7-8.
In chapter 1, we saw the story of the prophet and the prostitute (the man, the marriage and the message). In chapter 2, the scene shifts from the personal story of Hosea and Gomer to the national story of Yahweh and Israel. Israel is both an unfaithful wife and mother! Here we realize that the story of Hosea and Gomer is given to illustrate the story of God and the nation of Israel.
In this chapter, there is both a record of Yahweh’s rejection of rebellious Israel (vv. 2-13) and the promise of a restoration of a redeemed people (vv. 14-23).
“Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked And expose her, as in the day she was born, And make her like a wilderness, And set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst. 4 “I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry. 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.’ 6 ” Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in, So that she cannot find her paths. 7 She will chase her lovers, But not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, For then it was better for me than now.’ 8 For she did not know That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold — Which they prepared for Baal. 9 ” Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time And My new wine in its season, And will take back My wool and My linen, Given to cover her nakedness. 10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, And no one shall deliver her from My hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths — All her appointed feasts. 12 “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, Of which she has said, ‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’ So I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 I will punish her For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,” says the LORD. 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. 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,’ 17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more. 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 grain, 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!’ ”
I. Yahweh’s Rejection of a Rebellious People, vv. 1-13.
In verse 2, God institutes legal proceedings against adulterous Israel. He calls upon the children to bring the charges against their mother, His wife. The distinction between the mother and the children is a distinction between Israel as an institution and as individuals. The mother is the nation as a whole. The children are the individuals in that nation. Here God is calling upon individuals within Israel to rise up in denouncing the adulterous ways of the nation as a whole. In a similar way, Christ calls for individuals within the church of Laodicea to open the door and have communion with Him in spite of their lukewarm church (see Revelation 3:20)!
The language of the verse echoes the language of official divorce proceedings of the ancient world. In the Old Testament, Yahweh is often portrayed as the husband of Israel. This relationship was established at Mt. Sinai with the giving of the Law of the Old Covenant. In a passage describing the New Covenant in Jeremiah 31:32, the LORD refers to this marriage covenant (which Israel had broken). The New Covenant, He declares, will not be:
according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day that I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, though I was a husband to them, says the LORD.
In Jeremiah 3:8, the actual dreaded word divorce is used:
Then I saw that for all the causes for which backsliding Israel had committed adultery, I had put her away and given her a certificate of divorce; yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear, but went and played the harlot also.
The reason for this divorce is clear. Israel violated the marriage covenant by committing spiritual adultery with false gods. This is the message of God through the prophet Hosea.
These verses convey a view of marriage and divorce which are echoed by Jesus in the New Testament. In Jesus teaching on marriage and divorce, divorce is strictly forbidden except in the case of sexual immorality (see Matthew 5:32 and 19:8). Hosea 2 establishes that Yahweh has sufficient ground for divorcing adulterous Israel.
What has Israel done to require this severe action by God?
- She has committed harlotries and adulteries (vv. 2, 5 and 13).
- She has attributed her affluence to her lovers (vv. 5 and 12).
- She has misused Yahweh’s gifts (v. 8).
Let’s look in more detail at each of these charges and perhaps see areas in which we as New Covenant believers also need to repent.
First, Israel committed harlotries and adulteries (vv. 2, 5 and 13). She did this by pursuing Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility. The religion of Baal was both superstitious and sexual. Worshipers believed that Baal was the one who caused their lands and wives to be fertile. Therefore in an attempt to appease this god and cause him to bless their land, they engaged in immoral acts. The Israelites had somehow bought into this religion and forsaken the true God, Yahweh. Thomas McComiskey comments on how this could have begun among the Israelites:
It began, perhaps, with something innocuous as the placing of an image of Baal in a farmer’s field. This is what their Canaanite neighbors did to increase production. It is what people did in this land, and it appeared to work. Gradually the invisible Yahweh lost ground to the baals whom the people could see and handle, whose religion was concerned with the necessities of life more than rigid moral demands. It was the baals, many Israelites came to believe, who fostered their crops and blessed them with children (The Minor Prophets: Hosea, Joel, Amos, vol. 1, p. 34).
At its core it was pragmatism, pure and simple. The Israelites pursued what they thought would produce results. Therefore they combined elements of pagan ritual together with divine ordained elements of worship of the true God. The result was a perversion which God declared adulterous and the legitimate grounds of divorce!
I believe that this is one of the great sins of the modern church in America today. In an effort to appear successful, we have bought into the management styles of the world. The question is never: “Is it biblical?” but rather, “Does it work?” I believe the resulting perversion of Biblical Christianity is just as appalling in the eyes of God as ancient Israel’s adulteries!
Second, Israel attributed her affluence to her lovers (vv. 5 and 12). As a result of their perverted view of what caused the land to be plentiful, they began to credit any and all prosperity as gifts from Baal and not Yahweh. They failed to recognize that God alone is the giver of “every good gift and every perfect gift” (James 1:17). They forgot that God would not share His glory. As He declares in Isaiah 42:8,
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images.
I believe that this is a sin that we are often guilty of as individuals. Do we attribute our success to something other than God. Do we keep part of the glory for ourselves? If so, we are guilty of the same kind of sin for which ancient Israel was condemned!
Third, Israel misused Yahweh’s gifts (v. 8). She took God’s gifts and used them to worship Baal! How dreadful is this sin!?! To take the gifts that God has given and use them to commit spiritual adultery with a false god! But sadly, we as New Covenant believers can be guilty of the same kind of sin when in prayer “we ask amiss that we may consume it upon our own lusts” (James 4:3, KJV).That’s why in the very next verse, James calls those who do such, “Adulterers and adulteresses!”(James 4:4). “Why?” asks John Piper,
Because in his mind God is like our husband who is jealous to be our highest delight. If we then try to make prayer a means of getting something we want more than we want him, we are like a wife who asks her husband for money to visit another lover (John Piper, A Godward Life: Book Two, 356).
This is why Piper has written elsewhere in his excellent book on prayer and fasting titled A Hunger for God (entire book available in pdf format here) that:
The greatest adversary of love to God is not His enemies but His gifts. And the most deadly appetites are not for the poison of evil, but for the simple pleasures of earth. For when these replace an appetite for God Himself, the idolatry is scarcely recognizable, and almost incurable… These are not vices. These are gifts from God. They are your basic meat and potatoes and coffee and gardening and reading and decorating and traveling and investing and TV-watching and Internet-surfing and shopping and exercising and collecting and talking. And all of them can become deadly substitutes for God (A Hunger for God, 14-15).
Are you guilty of this sin of misusing God’s gifts as an end instead of as a means to an end? All of God’s gifts should have the end result of the glorification of God! If that is not the case, we are guilty of the same kind of misuse of God’s gifts that triggered his judgment upon ancient Israel!
Notice God’s response to Israel’s adulterous actions! He doesn’t take it sitting down! He actively initiates His divine judgment. Note the “I wills” of this section. These are God’s active responses to Israel’s rebellion.
- “Lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.” v. 3 (leaving her defenseless and helpless)
- “I will not have mercy on her children, for they are the children of harlotry” v. 4
- “Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and wall her in, so that she cannot find her paths.” v. 6
- “Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time and My new wine in its season, and will take back My wool and My linen, given to cover her nakedness.” v. 9
- “Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her from My hand.” v. 10 (exposing her wickedness to her lovers)
- “I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths– all her appointed feasts.” v. 11 (when in Captivity these days would cease)
- “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, ‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’ So I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.” v. 12 (removal of national blessings)
- “I will punish her for the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; but Me she forgot,” says the LORD.” v. 13 (the final word)
This is God’s active opposition in judgment upon a nation that has rebelled against Him! This is the God of the Bible. A God who is still holy and still judges sin! He is the One with whom we have to reckon!
II. Yahweh’s Restoration of a Redeemed People, vv. 14-23.
But thankfully, the story of Yahweh and His people does not end in verse 13 else there would be no hope. The same God who initiated the judgment in vv. 2-13 is also the God who initiates restoration in vv. 14-23! Note the “I wills” of verse 14-23:
- “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her.” v. 14
This speaks of God romancing Israel and drawing them to Himself. This returning to the wil derness describes a new beginning, a new exodus as God establishes a New Covenant with a New People!
- “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. ” v. 15
Yahweh Himself will prosper the land. The Valley of Achor symbolized God’s holy wrath against sin because it was there that Achan and his entire family were stoned to death for Achan’s sin at Ai (Joshua 7:26). God’s grace will now be so manifest that this place which symbolizes judgment will now become a place of hope!
Verse 15 also describes Israel responding to God’s grace with a song. This recalls Israel’s song praised God for His redemption that was sung on the other side of the Red Sea after seeing Egypt’s army destroyed. On the banks of that sea, Israel sang (see Exodus 15). But this text also looks forward to the day when a new redeemed humanity sings praise to God at another sea (see Revelation 15). As Martin Luther once said, “A new miracle deserves a new song, thanksgiving, and preaching. The new miracle is that God, through His Son, has parted the real Red, dread Sea and has redeemed us from a real Pharaoh—Satan. This is singing a New Song, that is, the Holy Gospel, and thanking God for it. God help us to do so. Amen.”
- “I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more.” v. 17
Verse 16 sets the context for this verse by declaring that Israel will no more refer to Yahweh by the generic term baali that can mean “husband” or “master”, but by the term ishi which can only mean husband and is never used to refer to the false god Baal. In verse 17, God declares that He will remove the words for Baal completely from Israel’s national vocabulary. Not only will Baal not be worshipped, he will not even be mentioned!
- “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.” v. 18
This will be a great day when the effects of the curse of Genesis 3:17-19 will be completely and finally reversed. This is the moment for which all creation is longing (Romans 8:20-21). Adam’s sin not only effected him and his physical descendants, the entire cosmos was effected! But Christ’s victorious work has reversed the curse and all creation will benefit from it on a renewed earth. This is the same truth as is prophesied in Isaiah 11:6-7, Micah 4:3, Isaiah 2:4 and described in Revelation 21. As Isaac Watts wrote: “Joy to the world the Lord is come! . . . No more let sin and sorrow grow, nor thorns infest the ground! He comes to make His blessings flow, far as the curse is found, far as the curse is found, far as, far as the curse is found!!!
- “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD.” vv. 19-20
Three times in these two verses God promises to “betroth” Israel to Himself forever. This is the promise of a new marriage covenant which is described in more detail in Jeremiah 31:31-34. There, as well as here, the end result is intimate knowledge of the Lord. This New Covenant was purchased by the blood of Christ on the cross of Calvary. Jesus declared that His own blood was the purchase price when in Luke 22:20 at the Last Supper He said of the cup: “This cup is the new covenant in my blood.” Christ has purchased the blessings of this covenant for all His chosen people among both the Jews and Gentiles!
- “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. The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil; they shall answer Jezreel.” vv. 21-22
Again here we see that this action by God is not merely a national, but a universal event. The earth will be restored and the curse will be reversed!
- “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!’” v. 23
Here we reach the climax of Yahweh’s description of His own restoration of His people. Once again God describes His restoration in terms of a reversal of the names given to Hosea’s three children. Each of those names speak of judgment. But here, just as in Hosea 1:10-2:1, we see that God will reverse these names in mercy. Jezreel which once stood for God’s judgment will now revert to its proper meaning of “God sows” for God will sow His people on the new restored earth. The name Lo-Ruhamah meaning “no mercy” has been changed to simply “mercy” meaning that God will show mercy! The name Lo-Ammi meaning “not my people” has been changed to “my people”. God, in His grace, has fully reversed the effects of sin upon His people and the story ends with God’s grace triumphant over man’s sin! In order to understand exactly who this refers to, we need to look no further than the inspired authors of the New Testament. There both Peter and Paul interpret these verses to refer to the totality of God’s people made up of both Jews and Gentiles. This is no nationalistic prophecy, but a prophecy of the triumph of the gospel in the creation of a redeemed humanity composed of both Jews and Gentiles (see Romans 9:24-26 and 1 Peter 2:9-10).
The purpose of this paper is to investigate the life and theology of John Calvin (1509-1564). Calvin was perhaps the most influential leader of all the great leaders of the Reformation era. Calvin’s biblical and theological writings are the main reason for his continuing influence to the present day. He wrote commentaries on every book of the Bible except the Song of Solomon and Revelation and his Institutes of the Christian Religion was the dominant systematic theology of the Reformation. The Institutes are still regarded as the authoritative expression of Reformed theology. For these reasons the study of the life and theology of John Calvin is vital if we are to understand the essence of Reformed theology.
To read the paper in its entirety click here for a pdf version.
Hosea is the first of 12 books that close the Old Testament commonly called the “Minor Prophets”. To the ancient Hebrew they were known collectively as “The Book of the Twelve.” The reason that they are called “Minor Prophets” is not because their content is inferior to the “Major Prophets” like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, but merely because their books are not as long as the longer “Major Prophets”. The “Minor Prophets” were inspired by the same Holy Spirit as the “Major Prophets” and are equally Scripture. The message of Hosea is no minor one, but a major message with historical (the demise of Israel), theological (status of God’s Covenant with Israel) and practical significance (the dangers of spiritual adultery). So let us examine this text together with the prayer that the same Spirit who inspired this text would now illumine it for our edification.
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. 2 When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the LORD said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.” 6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away. 7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen.” 8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God. 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! 2:1 Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’ Hosea 1:1-2:1
In this text we see something of the man, the marriage and the message of Hosea.
I. The Man, v. 1.
We know much more about the marriage and message of Hosea than we do about the man himself. We do know that he was the son of Beeri (but we don’t know who he was, so that isn’t very helpful). We do, however, know the most important thing about Hosea which is that he was a prophet of Yahweh (signified by the opening words of the book).
We also know quite a bit about the time period in which Hosea prophesied. It is set historically during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in the southern kingdom of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam II (the son of Joash) in the northern kingdom of Israel (sometimes called Ephraim for the largest of the ten tribes which make up this kingdom). Because we know the dates of the reigns of the kings of Israel and Judah, we know that Hosea prophesied in the mid to late 8th century B.C. (approximately 750-725 B.C.).
During Hosea’s life and ministry the kingdom of Israel had already been divided (under Solomon’s son Rehoboam) for nearly 200 years. During these two hundred years, two separate nations with two separate governments existed (thus the two lists of kings in verse 1).
Hosea was one of only two writing prophets who ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel (Amos was the other). During the same time period Isaiah and Micah prophesied to the southern kingdom of Judah.
At the beginning of Hosea’s ministry, the northern kingdom was seemingly prosperous under the stable reign of Jeroboam II. But though things appeared to be calm on the surface, underneath the torrents of the kingdom’s destruction were swirling. The nation had forsaken Yahweh. Though they retained allegiance to Yahweh with their lips, their hearts were far from Him. They had began to mingle elements of the Canaanites’ fertility religion with Yahweh worship by engaging in sexual rites and drunken orgies which were thought to secure the giving of rain and the fertility of the land for their crops.
The nation continued to decline spiritually under Israel’s next six kings (which would be her final six). These final six kings reigned a total of 25 years with 4 of the 6 being assassinated by their usurpers. The final king, Hoshea, tried to secure an alliance with Egypt to gain protection against Assyria. When Assyria learned of Hoshea’s plot, an army was sent to destroy Israel’s capital city of Samaria in 722 B.C. The inhabitants were scattered, never to be returned.
During these days of political and religious upheaval there prophesied a man whose very name means “salvation”. His name was a glimmer of hope in the midst of a message of destruction.
II. The Marriage, vv. 2-3.
Hosea’s prophetic ministry begins with his marriage. In fact, the first thing that he is commanded to do as a prophet of God is to marry. Somehow Hosea’s marriage is to be an important part of his prophetic ministry. This would not be so striking, were it not for the character of the woman whom the LORD commands him to marry. She is to be a harlot! The prophet is to marry a prostitute! What others might continue a disqualification is in Hosea’s case actually his qualification for prophetic ministry. This is so because Hosea’s marriage is to symbolize Yahweh’s relationship with adulterous Israel. Hosea’s painful marriage will be a visible symbol to the nation of Israel of their adultery against their rightful husband, Yahweh.
Amazingly, verse three shows Hosea obeying the Word of the LORD. He marries Gomer. There is some debate about whether or not Gomer was already a prostitute when Hosea married her or if she only became one later. I personally believe she was already a prostitute when Hosea married her. This is the only sense that I can make of a plain reading of the text. All other explanations are only attempts to vindicate God’s command to marry a harlot. Even if God commanded Hosea to marry someone who He knew would later become adulterous, that does not solve the moral problem. I think it is best to take the text as we have it. It is also unclear whether Gomer was a prostitute in the way that we would normally think of one, or a cultic prostitute in the fertility religion of Baal. Though we don’t know for sure, the latter scenario would seemingly illustrate Yahweh’s quarrel with the nation of Israel who had turned to Baal worship for fertility purposes.
But the book of Hosea is not primarily about Hosea and his marriage, it is ultimately about God and His relationship to His covenant people, Israel. Hosea was commanded to marry a prostitute because that is the kind of wife which Israel had become to Yahweh. By combining elements of Baal worship with the elements of Yahweh worship commanded in the Law, Israel was engaging in spiritual adultery – a religious syncretism which by combining true Yahweh worship with idolatry resulted in a perversion which God Himself viewed as spiritual adultery. Here, as we will see in the weeks ahead, there is tons of application to the contemporary American church!
III. The Message, 1:4-2:1.
A simple outline of the book of Hosea would show chapters 1-3 focused on Hosea the man and his marriage with chapters 4-14 containing Hosea’s message. But a preview of the message of chapters 4-14 is contained in the account in chapter 1 of the births of Hosea’s three children. There was no need to buy a baby name book because the LORD commanded Hosea to name his children symbolic names which communicated his displeasure and judgment on the nation of Israel. In these names and their promised reversal we see the two major themes of the prophetic ministry of Hosea as both judgment and hope.
First, in the naming of the children we see the pronouncement of God’s judgment:
The name of the first child was Jezreel which means “God sows or plants”. It is the name of a valley in northern Palestine and a town at the south end of the valley. King Jehu of Israel had killed numerous people in this valley in his ascent to power. In Hosea’s day, the name Jezreel was associated with the bloodshed that had occurred there in much the same way that Pearl Harbour and the World Trade Center are associated with the tragic loss of life which happened there. In commanding Hosea to name his firstborn Jezreel, God is promising to end Jehu’s line (which He does shortly with King Zechariah’s murder) and to end the northern kingdom of Israel (which He does in 722 B.C. with the defeat of Samaria by Assyria). In other words, this was a prophecy of judgment upon the nation of Israel.
The name of the second child was Lo-Ruhamah which literally means “no mercy”. This name serves as another prediction of judgment on the nation of Israel by Assyria. But, here God promises to spare the nation of Judah from the onslaught by Assyria (which He does miraculously as recorded in 2 Kings 19:32-37).
The final child is named Lo-Ammi which literally means “no people”. This is the most severe pronouncement of judgment on the nation of Israel. Here God revokes His statement in Exodus 6:7, “I will take you as My people, and I will be your God.” Now He essentially says, “You will not be my people and I will not be your God.”
But thankfully this denouncement is not God’s last word! In verses 10-11 and 2:1 we see that God also issues a comforting promise of restoration. Here the words of the curse upon Israel are reversed and words of hope are issued. The hope centers on a Person under whom both Judah and Israel will be united. Who is this person and what does this promise mean? This has been a question of no small speculation in the last 150 years. The Mormons see this prophecy as fulfilled in Joseph Smith. In recent years, many Christians have interpreted this text as being fulfilled in the future for the physical nation of Israel united under the kingship of Christ in a future millennium. The inspired authors of the New Testament, however, saw this text as being ultimately fulfilled in Christ in His Church. Note the following:
1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.
Romans 9:24-26 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? 25 As He says also in Hosea: “I will call them My people, who were not My people, And her beloved, who was not beloved.” 26 “And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
I think I prefer the hermeneutic of the apostle Peter and Paul to any others! Their interpretation is the only interpretation that has the seal of inspiration!
In this New Covenant community which Christ has purchased by His blood are both Jews and Gentiles who each do not deserve to receive God’s mercy or to be called God’s people are united together under the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This is both a present and a future reality. In other words, we are now the people of God and we will one day live on a restored planet earth under the reign of Jesus Christ forever.
Even though Israel’s unfaithfulness has resulted in her rejection, God still has a people. This people are the New Covenant people of God made up of both Jews and Gentiles who have trusted in Jesus Christ.
In a very real sense I am Gomer and so are you! We are unfaithful people who deserve God’s wrath, not His mercy. But Jesus has become our Jezreel (place of judgment) in order that we might have God’s mercy and be called God’s people! Believe this good news and receive this mercy today!