Scripture reading – Hosea 11; Hosea 12

 

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Nearing the conclusion of our study of Hosea’s prophecies, I am reminded of the prophet’s experience with his adulterous wife (Hosea 1-3). Indeed, her betrayal and Hosea’s heartache impassioned his plea for Israel to return to the LORD.

Hosea 11

The LORD’s Dependable Love for Israel (Hosea 11:1-4)

The LORD reminded Hosea how He delivered Israel out of bondage and explained, “I loved him [Israel], and called my son [the Twelve Tribes] out of Egypt” (Hosea 11:1). Yet, Israel betrayed the LORD, and offered sacrifices to Baal, and “burned incense to graven images” (Hosea 11:2).

The LORD then described His love for Israel in terms of a father’s affection for his son. God had taken up Ephraim in His arms (Hosea 11:3), and with the cords and “bands of love,” He guided and fed Israel (Hosea 11:4).

 

The LORD Disciplined Israel (Hosea 11:5-7)

Declaring Israel would “not return into the land of Egypt,” the LORD revealed He would send Assyria to discipline the nation (Hosea 11:5). Though the people made a pretense of calling on Him, the LORD asserted they were backslidden, and that none sincerely worshipped Him (Hosea 11:7).

 

The LORD’s Dilemma (Hosea 11:8-9) 

With a broken heart, the LORD made a passionate plea for His people and said, “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel?” (Hosea 11:8a). He loved Israel, but the people did not love Him.

Recalling how He judged Admah and Zeboim (two cities that were destroyed with Sodom and Gomorrah, Genesis 14:2; Deuteronomy 29:22), the LORD confessed, “Mine heart is turned within me, My repentings are kindled together” (Hosea 11:8).

Though He had destroyed other nations for the same sins, He would not forget His covenant with Israel (Hosea 11:9). While He would judge Israel for her sins, He would not annihilate them (Hosea 11:9).

 

The LORD’s Promise to Restore Israel (11:10-12)

The balance of Hosea 11 is a declaration from the LORD that He would restore His people to their land. When that day came, He promised He would roar like a lion and Israel would return to Him “from the west” [perhaps Europe] with fear and trembling (Hosea 11:10). The Jews would come back like “a bird out of Egypt (where a few Jews fled during the siege of Jerusalem), and as a dove out of the land of Assyria” (Hosea 11:11a). Extending His love and forgiveness, the LORD promised He would restore His people and “place them in their houses” (Hosea 11:11b).

 

Closing thoughts for Hosea 11 – 

Once again, we have been reminded that the LORD is just and longsuffering. Though Ephraim lied (Hosea 11:12) and Judah rambled and wandered, still, the LORD waited for them to repent. The apostle Peter observed the same longing of the LORD in his second epistle when he wrote:

“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

Controversy with Israel and Judah

Hosea 12

 

The LORD’s Controversy with Israel and Judah (Hosea 12:1-2)

 

The primary focus of Hosea’s ministry was Israel and that nation’s sins. Nevertheless, he also addressed the LORD’s “controversy” with Judah in chapter 12 (Hosea 12:2-6).

Facing the imminent threat of an Assyrian invasion, the leaders of Israel added to their sin by seeking a treaty with Assyria and establishing an agreement with Egypt. Thus, we read, “Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: He daily increaseth lies and desolation; And they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt” (Hosea 12:1).

Ephraim’s feeding and following the wind was a reference to that tribe’s idolatry (Hosea 12:1). Hosea also condemned Israel for specific sins, among them, merchants that used false weights in commerce and exploited the poor (“loveth to oppress,” Hosea 12:7). The tribe of Ephraim boasted how they became rich and in pride, dared any to find fault in them (Hosea 12:8).

 

The LORD Remembered His Grace Toward His People (Hosea 12:9-11)

Reminding the people how He saved Israel and took them from bondage (Hosea 12:9), the LORD declared He would drive them out of their homes. His people would once again live in tents as they did during the wilderness years (Hosea 12:9b). Yet, the Lord was merciful and sent prophets to warn the nation (Hosea 12:10).  

Hosea condemned Gilead’s idolatry and warned the altars where they sacrificed would be destroyed and made “heaps in the furrows of the fields” (Hosea 12:11).

 

Today’s Bible study concludes with Hosea reminding the people of God’s providences displayed to Israel over the centuries. (Hosea 12:12-14)

The prophet retold how Jacob (the father of the Twelve Tribes of Israel) fled from his brother Esau (Genesis 29) and served as a shepherd for seven years to earn the hand of his wife, Rachel (Genesis 29:18-30; Genesis 30-32). The LORD also preserved Israel in Egypt and called Moses to bring His people “out of Egypt” (Hosea 12:13). Yet, Ephraim had provoked the LORD’s anger, shed innocent blood, and would bear the reproach of their sins (Hosea 12:14).

Copyright © 2024 – Travis D. Smith 

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