Hosea 4-5

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 23, 2006


The prophet Hosea lived during the time of the divided kingdom. The southern kingdom was made up of the tribes of Judah and Benjamin, and it was usually called by the name of “Judah”. The northern kingdom was made up of the remaining ten tribes and was known either as “Israel” or “Ephraim”. Hosea’s job was to speak for God to the people of the northern kingdom.

Hosea had an unusual home life. God has asked him to marry a prostitute named Gomer. He had children with Gomer. Gomer went back to work. And God asked Hosea to get his wife back. Hosea’s life was to be a picture of God’s relationship with His people. They were like a prostitute because they always fell away from God and worshipped idols. When we fall away from the Lord, it’s the same kind of pain to God that we would experience if our spouse was unfaithful to us.

Hosea’s main ministry was to get the people ready for the coming judgment on the northern kingdom. God was warning the people to turn back to Him or they would eventually face the collapse of their nation followed by being taken captive by the terribly cruel Assyrian empire.

Hosea 4

:1-10 God’s Charge against Israel

:1 Hear the word of the LORD, You children of Israel, For the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: "There is no truth or mercy Or knowledge of God in the land.

truth‘emeth – firmness, faithfulness, truth

Not just the idea of “telling the truth”, but also the idea of being “faithful”, being counted on by God, following through.

mercycheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness

This is one of the Hebrew words used to describe God’s love towards us.

But God wants us to take His love and turn it around and love others.

knowledge of God – they did not tell people about God. They did not raise their families to know God.

:2 By swearing and lying, Killing and stealing and committing adultery, They break all restraint, With bloodshed upon bloodshed.

bloodshed upon bloodshed – one murder after another

Look at all the commandments that were broken.

:3 Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away With the beasts of the field And the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.

Perhaps talking about a drought coming on the land.

:4 "Now let no man contend, or rebuke another; For your people are like those who contend with the priest.

like those who contend with the priest – the priests acted as judges in the land. When a person had a problem with someone else, the court they went to was the priest. But these people didn’t want to accept the decisions of the judges.

People who resist authority in their lives and will only do what they want to do.

:5 Therefore you shall stumble in the day; The prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; And I will destroy your mother.

stumble – sin

destroy your mother – the nation itself will be destroyed

The sin comes because they don’t want to recognize the authorities in their life (“like those that contend with a priest”)



Who are the authorities in your life?
(Eph 6:1-3 NKJV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. {2} "Honor your father and mother," which is the first commandment with promise: {3} "that it may be well with you and you may live long on the earth."
You ought to honor your parents.

John invited his mother over for dinner. During the meal, his mother couldn’t help noticing how beautiful John’s roommate was. She had long been suspicious of a relationship between John and his roommate and this only made her more curious. Over the course of the evening, while watching the two interact, she started to wonder if there was more between John and the roommate than met the eye. Reading his mom’s thoughts, John volunteered, “I know what you must be thinking, but I assure you, Julie and I are just roommates.” About a week later, Julie came to John and said, “Ever since your mother came to dinner, I’ve been unable to find the beautiful silver gravy ladle. You don’t suppose she took it, do you?” John said, “Well, I doubt it, but I’ll write her a letter just to be sure.” So he sat down and wrote: Dear Mother, I’m not saying you did take a gravy ladle from my house, and I’m not saying you didn’t take a gravy ladle. But the fact remains that one has been missing ever since you were here for dinner. Several days later, John received a letter from his mother which read: “Dear Son, I’m not saying that you do sleep with Julie, and I’m not saying that you do not sleep with Julie. But the fact remains that if she was sleeping in her own bed, she would have found the gravy ladle by now. Love, Mom

The government
(Rom 13:1-5 NKJV) Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God. {2} Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves. {3} For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same. {4} For he is God's minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God's minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil. {5} Therefore you must be subject, not only because of wrath but also for conscience' sake.

The Speeder

A pastor was forced to stop by a traffic cop to pull over for speeding. As the cop was about to write the ticket, the pastor said to him, “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy.” The cop handed the pastor the ticket and said, “Go thou and sin no more.”

God’s Word
(2 Tim 3:16-17 NKJV) All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, {17} that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.

This ought to be the most important authority in your life.

1Ki. 13 – a young prophet received a message from God to go to the northern kingdom and rebuke King Jeroboam and the new altar he had set up in Bethel. He was also told by God to not stop and eat, but to go directly home. He delivered the message and when the king asked him to stay, he said he couldn’t because God told him not to stick around. When an older, false prophet heard about this, he went to meet the young man and asked him to come home with him.

(1 Ki 13:16-22 NKJV) And he said, "I cannot return with you nor go in with you; neither can I eat bread nor drink water with you in this place. {17} "For I have been told by the word of the LORD, 'You shall not eat bread nor drink water there, nor return by going the way you came.'" {18} He said to him, "I too am a prophet as you are, and an angel spoke to me by the word of the LORD, saying, 'Bring him back with you to your house, that he may eat bread and drink water.' " (He was lying to him.) {19} So he went back with him, and ate bread in his house, and drank water. {20} Now it happened, as they sat at the table, that the word of the LORD came to the prophet who had brought him back; {21} and he cried out to the man of God who came from Judah, saying, "Thus says the LORD: 'Because you have disobeyed the word of the LORD, and have not kept the commandment which the LORD your God commanded you, {22} 'but you came back, ate bread, and drank water in the place of which the Lord said to you, "Eat no bread and drink no water," your corpse shall not come to the tomb of your fathers.'"

And when the man left, he was killed by a lion. The point? Pay attention to God’s Word. Do what it says.

Be careful about rebelling against the authorities in your life.

:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.

It is through the study of the Scriptures that we gain the right kind of knowledge, the knowledge of God.

It’s important that this is what the church is all about.  The true strength of a church can be measured by the emphasis it places on teaching the Bible.

:6 Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children.

In a sense, the entire nation of Israel was to be a nation of priests.

(Exo 19:6 NKJV) 'And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel."

What is a priest? A bridge between God and man.

Because they rejected God’s authority in their lives, He would pull the plug on their being a priest, on representing Him.

:7 "The more they increased, The more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame.

:8 They eat up the sin of My people; They set their heart on their iniquity.

eat up the sin of My people – perhaps referring to the “sin offering”. When a priest helps a person give a sin offering to atone for a particular sin, the priest was given a portion of the offering as a sort of payment. The priests were getting rich on the people’s sin.

(1 Cor 13:6 NKJV) (love) does not rejoice in iniquity…

We ought to be loving people, not profiting from their fall.

:9 And it shall be: like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, And reward them for their deeds.

The priests would be punished as well as the people.

:10 For they shall eat, but not have enough; They shall commit harlotry, but not increase; Because they have ceased obeying the LORD.

:11-19 Israel’s Idolatry

:11 "Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart.

:12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God.

their staff informs them – they claim to get an answer from a piece of wood.

Hosea and Gomer were a picture of how the people had played the harlot against God.

:13 They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, And burn incense on the hills, Under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, Because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, And your brides commit adultery.

The places of sacrifices to the various idols were often on the top of hills or mountains, perhaps to be “closer” to their gods. Often the worship of other gods involved immoral practices (harlotry).

:14 "I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, Nor your brides when they commit adultery; For the men themselves go apart with harlots, And offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled.

The women aren’t the only ones to blame. It takes a man to make a woman a harlot.

:15 "Though you, Israel, play the harlot, Let not Judah offend. Do not come up to Gilgal, Nor go up to Beth Aven, Nor swear an oath, saying, 'As the LORD lives';

Gilgal – formerly known as a “holy city”, a place where the people in the northern kingdom worshipped.

Beth AvenBeyth ‘Aven = “house of vanity” or “house of wickedness”. This is Hosea’s name for “Beth-el”, which meant “house of God”. Bethel was one of the two main worship places in the northern kingdom where Jeroboam had set up his golden calves to be worshipped. The other main place was in the tribe of Dan.

:16 "For Israel is stubborn Like a stubborn calf; Now the LORD will let them forage Like a lamb in open country.

Like a stubborn calf – doesn’t want to go where it should. Digs in it’s heals.

Like a lamb in open country – usually a shepherd checks out the pasture before letting the sheep graze. He will remove the dangerous plants that the sheep might eat and get poisoned by. A lamb will just wander off.

:17 "Ephraim is joined to idols, Let him alone.

Ephraim – another name for the northern kingdom, Israel.

Judah is warned to leave the northern kingdom alone.

There is a time to reach out and rescue those who are caught in sin.

(James 5:19-20 NKJV) Brethren, if anyone among you wanders from the truth, and someone turns him back, {20} let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save a soul from death and cover a multitude of sins.
(Gal 6:1 NKJV) Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.

But there is also a time to leave them alone.

(Mat 15:12-14 NKJV) Then His disciples came and said to Him, "Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?" {13} But He answered and said, "Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted. {14} "Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."

:18 Their drink is rebellion, They commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly love dishonor.

Is “drink” the thing that leads to harlotry? Their “rebellion” led to spiritual harlotry.

:19 The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, And they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.

Hosea 5

:1-15 Judgment for Israel and Judah

:1 "Hear this, O priests! Take heed, O house of Israel! Give ear, O house of the king! For yours is the judgment, Because you have been a snare to Mizpah And a net spread on Tabor.

Mizpah, Tabor – two sites of idol worship in Israel.

:2 The revolters are deeply involved in slaughter, Though I rebuke them all.

:3 I know Ephraim, And Israel is not hidden from Me; For now, O Ephraim, you commit harlotry; Israel is defiled.

:4 "They do not direct their deeds Toward turning to their God, For the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, And they do not know the LORD.

:5 The pride of Israel testifies to his face; Therefore Israel and Ephraim stumble in their iniquity; Judah also stumbles with them.

Judah joins in the sin.

:6 "With their flocks and herds They shall go to seek the LORD, But they will not find Him; He has withdrawn Himself from them.

Actions without the heart behind it. They brought their flocks to sacrifice to the Lord, but they weren’t doing it because they were sorry for their sin, they were just doing it.

Sacrifice without a change of heart was a waste of time.

:7 They have dealt treacherously with the LORD, For they have begotten pagan children. Now a New Moon shall devour them and their heritage.

:8 "Blow the ram's horn in Gibeah, The trumpet in Ramah! Cry aloud at Beth Aven, 'Look behind you, O Benjamin!'

Gibeah, Ramah – cities on hills. Perhaps this is talking about sounding alarms about an approaching army.

Benjamin – part of the southern kingdom – the meaning of this phrase is uncertain…

:9 Ephraim shall be desolate in the day of rebuke; Among the tribes of Israel I make known what is sure.

:10 "The princes of Judah are like those who remove a landmark; I will pour out my wrath on them like water.

like those who remove a landmark – this was a crime (Deut. 19:14). Landmarks were the things that were used to describe boundaries. Moving a landmark was the idea of stealing land from your neighbor by moving the boundary in your favor.

:11 Ephraim is oppressed and broken in judgment, Because he willingly walked by human precept.

Jeroboam divided the kingdom and set up his own religion (1Ki. 12:28).

The northern kingdom decided to follow a man’s rules rather than God’s rules.

We don’t want to become “man-pleasers”, doing things just to please people.

(Col 3:22-24 NKJV) Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. {23} And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, {24} knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.

:12 Therefore I will be to Ephraim like a moth, And to the house of Judah like rottenness.

like a moth – a moth put holes in the clothes in your closet.

(Mat 6:19-21 NKJV) "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; {20} "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. {21} "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

:13 "When Ephraim saw his sickness, And Judah saw his wound, Then Ephraim went to Assyria And sent to King Jareb; Yet he cannot cure you, Nor heal you of your wound.

King JarebYareb – “contender”. Probably Tiglath-Pileser III

When Hoshea lead a conspiracy and overthrew King Pekah, he formed an alliance with the Assyrians. But that didn’t stop them from wiping out Israel.

It was at the same time that Ahaz, king of Judah, also made an alliance with the Assyrians, but it didn’t help him either.


The wrong help

Sometimes the things we do to help our situation only make things worse.
Will The Real Doctor Please Stand Up?
A business executive injured his leg skiing one weekend. By the time he got home Saturday, the leg was very swollen and he was having difficulty walking, so he called his physician at his home. The doctor told him to soak it in hot water. He tried soaking it in hot water but the leg became more swollen and painful. His maid saw him limping and said, “I don’t know, I’m only a maid, but I always thought it was better to use cold water, not hot, for swelling.” He tried switching to cold water and the swelling rapidly subsided. On Sunday afternoon he called his Dr. again to complain. “Say Doc, what kind of a doctor are you anyway? You told me to soak my leg in hot water and it got worse. My maid told me to use cold water and it got better.” “Really?!?” answered the doctor, “I don’t understand it; my maid said hot water.”
(Jer 2:13 NKJV) "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.
When Jesus met the Samaritan woman at the well, He compared the well water with the water that He offered.
(John 4:13-14 NKJV)  Jesus answered and said to her, "Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, {14} "but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life."

There are things inside of us that only Jesus can fix.  Sometimes we try and mask the pain and emptiness with things like drugs, self-help books, sex, alcohol, or just being with friends.

Go to the right place for help.  Go to Jesus.

:14 For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, And like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear them and go away; I will take them away, and no one shall rescue.

like a lion – I don’t think this is talking about a very safe lion.

no one shall rescue – the Assyrians conquered the northern kingdom in 722 BC and carried them into exile. The Babylonians conquered Judah in 586 and took them into exile.

: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."

This is what the judgment is all about – getting the people to the point where they will turn from their sins and seek God’s face.