Hosea 12-14

Thursday Evening Bible Study

March 16, 2006


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.

11:12 – 12:14 God’s Charge against Ephraim

11:12 "Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, And the house of Israel with deceit; But Judah still walks with God, Even with the Holy One who is faithful.

Lies and deceit are going to be a theme of the charges brought by God against the nation.

Hosea 12

:1 "Ephraim feeds on the wind, And pursues the east wind; He daily increases lies and desolation. Also they make a covenant with the Assyrians, And oil is carried to Egypt.

feeds on the wind – is eating nothing but air.

east wind – probably a reference to the Assyrians.

oil is carried – while making treaties with the Assyrians, they are still carrying on a trade relationship with Assyrian’s enemies, the Egyptians.

You can’t have it both ways. They’re trying to please everyone, but in the end they will end up being crushed.


Check your diet.

What are you eating? What is your diet made up of?
Mr. Smith was terribly overweight, so his doctor put him on a diet. “I want you to eat regularly for 2 days, then skip a day, and repeat this procedure for 2 weeks. The next time I see you, you’ll have lost 5 pounds.” When Mr. Smith returned, he had lost nearly 20 pounds. “Why, that’s amazing!” the doctor said, “Did you follow my instructions?” Mr. Smith nodded. “I’ll tell you ‘though, I thought I was going to drop dead by the end of that 3rd day.” “From hunger, you mean?” “No, from skipping!”
Some diets are better than others … I like this one …

1/2 Grapefruit

1 slice Whole Wheat Toast

8 oz. Skim Milk


4 oz. lean Broiled Chicken Breast

1 cup Steamed Zucchini

1 Oreo Cookie

Herb Tea


Rest of the package of Oreo Cookies

1 quart Rocky Road Ice Cream

1 jar Hot Fudge


1 large Mushroom and Pepperoni Pizza

2 loaves Garlic Bread

1 liter of Root Beer

3 Milky Ways


Entire Cheesecake eaten directly from the freezer

In Jesus’ day, the Jewish leadership was all caught up in wanting people to like them. They were more concerned about what people thought of them rather than what God thought about them. That’s what they were feeding themselves on.
(John 12:42-43 NKJV) Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; {43} for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

This made them jealous of Jesus.

(Mark 15:9-10 NKJV) But Pilate answered them, saying, "Do you want me to release to you the King of the Jews?" {10} For he knew that the chief priests had handed Him over because of envy.

Jesus had the crowds following Him. They wanted crowds following them.

Jesus rebuked these Jewish leaders:
(John 5:44 NKJV) "How can you believe, who receive honor from one another, and do not seek the honor that comes from the only God?

They were “feeding” on honor from people rather than feeding on honor from God.

As a result, they had a hard time understanding that the Messiah was standing right in front of them. In their quest for personal significance, they missed out on Jesus. They missed out on the biggest thing that could ever happen to them.

Your diet can affect your eyesight.  What you feed on can affect whether or not you’ll see what God is doing, whether or not you’ll see Jesus.

:2 "The LORD also brings a charge against Judah, And will punish Jacob according to his ways; According to his deeds He will recompense him.

God is going to talk about the nation and it’s parallel to its father, Jacob, also known as Israel.

:3 He took his brother by the heel in the womb, And in his strength he struggled with God.

(Gen 25:26 NKJV) Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau's heel; so his name was called Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when she bore them.

The name “Jacob” means “heel-catcher”. It means that he was a deceiver, a person who works at tripping other people up.

(Gen 32:24-28 NKJV) Then Jacob was left alone; and a Man wrestled with him until the breaking of day. {25} Now when He saw that He did not prevail against him, He touched the socket of his hip; and the socket of Jacob's hip was out of joint as He wrestled with him. {26} And He said, "Let Me go, for the day breaks." But he said, "I will not let You go unless You bless me!" {27} So He said to him, "What is your name?" He said, "Jacob." {28} And He said, "Your name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel; for you have struggled with God and with men, and have prevailed."

Jacob was a tricky, deceiving guy. Yet he was able to be changed. He was changed when he wrestled with God.

Israel” means “governed by God”. Jacob went from being a tricky deceiver to being a man governed by God.

:4 Yes, he struggled with the Angel and prevailed; He wept, and sought favor from Him.

Hosea gives us insight into Jacob’s struggle. He wept as he asked for a blessing.

Jacob’s wrestling wasn’t just for the sake of sport.

It seems that there was a sense of repentance in Jacob’s struggle with the Angel (who I believe was Jesus in His pre-Bethlehem form, not an “angel” as in a created being, but an “angel” as being a messenger of God).

He asked for a blessing because he sensed his great need.

:4 He found Him in Bethel, And there He spoke to us;

:5 That is, the LORD God of hosts. The LORD is His memorable name.

Bethel – even though this was one of the places where the golden calves of the northern kingdom were worshipped, it was also the first place where Jacob had an encounter with God.  It was also a place of repentance.

(Gen 28:10-22 NKJV) Now Jacob went out from Beersheba and went toward Haran. {11} So he came to a certain place and stayed there all night, because the sun had set. And he took one of the stones of that place and put it at his head, and he lay down in that place to sleep. {12} Then he dreamed, and behold, a ladder was set up on the earth, and its top reached to heaven; and there the angels of God were ascending and descending on it. {13} And behold, the LORD stood above it and said: "I am the LORD God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you lie I will give to you and your descendants. {14} "Also your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread abroad to the west and the east, to the north and the south; and in you and in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed. {15} "Behold, I am with you and will keep you wherever you go, and will bring you back to this land; for I will not leave you until I have done what I have spoken to you." {16} Then Jacob awoke from his sleep and said, "Surely the LORD is in this place, and I did not know it." {17} And he was afraid and said, "How awesome is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!" {18} Then Jacob rose early in the morning, and took the stone that he had put at his head, set it up as a pillar, and poured oil on top of it. {19} And he called the name of that place Bethel; but the name of that city had been Luz previously. {20} Then Jacob made a vow, saying, "If God will be with me, and keep me in this way that I am going, and give me bread to eat and clothing to put on, {21} "so that I come back to my father's house in peace, then the LORD shall be my God. {22} "And this stone which I have set as a pillar shall be God's house, and of all that You give me I will surely give a tenth to You."

Do you see the word LORD (in all capital letters)? What is the reason for using the capital letters? It’s because the Hebrew word that is translated is actually the name of God, Yahweh. The Jews feel that God’s name is too holy for them to speak and so when the see the letters that spell God’s name, they don’t say the name, but they say the word “lord”. Our English translators follow this same tradition. Instead of writing out the Hebrew name Yahweh, they use the English word “lord”, but they put it in all capital letters so that the read can understand that this is God’s name in the Hebrew.
Throughout the story of Jacob meeting God at Bethel, the name Yahweh is used.

But this wasn’t the last time God would appear to Jacob at Bethel. Later, after having returned to the land, Jacob and his family got into trouble. His daughter Dinah was raped, and his sons went overboard in avenging their sister by wiping out an entire city.

(Gen 35:1-4 NKJV) Then God said to Jacob, "Arise, go up to Bethel and dwell there; and make an altar there to God, who appeared to you when you fled from the face of Esau your brother." {2} And Jacob said to his household and to all who were with him, "Put away the foreign gods that are among you, purify yourselves, and change your garments. {3} "Then let us arise and go up to Bethel; and I will make an altar there to God, who answered me in the day of my distress and has been with me in the way which I have gone." {4} So they gave Jacob all the foreign gods which were in their hands, and the earrings which were in their ears; and Jacob hid them under the terebinth tree which was by Shechem.

(Gen 35:9-15 NKJV) Then God appeared to Jacob again, when he came from Padan Aram, and blessed him. {10} And God said to him, "Your name is Jacob; your name shall not be called Jacob anymore, but Israel shall be your name." So He called his name Israel. {11} Also God said to him: "I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body. {12} "The land which I gave Abraham and Isaac I give to you; and to your descendants after you I give this land." {13} Then God went up from him in the place where He talked with him. {14} So Jacob set up a pillar in the place where He talked with him, a pillar of stone; and he poured a drink offering on it, and he poured oil on it. {15} And Jacob called the name of the place where God spoke with him, Bethel.

Did you notice how the family was told to put away the “foreign gods”? The family was in the same place that the nation was in with Hosea’s time. The people needed to put away their foreign gods and return to the Lord.

:6 So you, by the help of your God, return; Observe mercy and justice, And wait on your God continually.

Jacob returned to the land with the help of his God (Gen. 28:21). And even after returning to the land, they had to get their hearts right and get rid of their other gods.

The nation in Hosea’s day can also return, but not to the land, they need to return to God.

:7 "A cunning Canaanite! Deceitful scales are in his hand; He loves to oppress.

Canaanite – other translations have “merchant” here. But the Hebrew word is “Canaanite”. The Jews entered into the land of Canaan and ended up being like the Canaanites. They became deceitful merchants.

Isn’t it interesting that this is how some people see Jews today?

:8 And Ephraim said, 'Surely I have become rich, I have found wealth for myself; In all my labors They shall find in me no iniquity that is sin.'

(Hosea 12:8 ICB) The people of Israel brag that they are rich. They think that because they are rich no one will learn about their sins.

This reminds me of what Jesus said of the church at Laodicea:

(Rev 3:17 NKJV) "Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing'; and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked;

They were trusting in the wrong thing.

:9 "But I am the LORD your God, Ever since the land of Egypt; I will again make you dwell in tents, As in the days of the appointed feast.

The Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth) is celebrated every year to remember how the Israelites lived in tents while wandering in the wilderness. When the judgment would come, the people would once more be living in tents.

:10 I have also spoken by the prophets, And have multiplied visions; I have given symbols through the witness of the prophets."

God spoke to the people through the prophets.

:11 Though Gilead has idols; Surely they are vanity; Though they sacrifice bulls in Gilgal, Indeed their altars shall be heaps in the furrows of the field.

Sacrificing won’t make things better.

:12 Jacob fled to the country of Syria; Israel served for a spouse, And for a wife he tended sheep.

Jacob fled to Syria when he got his brother Esau mad by stealing the blessing. He had deceived his blind father by pretending to be Esau. Isaac ended up giving the blessing of the firstborn to him.

Jacob served his uncle Laban for seven years to get a bride. But on his wedding night Laban had switched brides and Jacob ended up married to Leah instead of Rachel. So Jacob ended up serving for another seven years to marry Rachel. He served by tending the sheep.

:13 By a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, And by a prophet he was preserved.

When the people had been slaved in Egypt for 400 years, God heard their prayers and sent Moses to deliver them.

:14 Ephraim provoked Him to anger most bitterly; Therefore his Lord will leave the guilt of his bloodshed upon him, And return his reproach upon him.

Even though God had done all these things to bless His people, taking them from the humble beginnings of a man working to get a wife, yet they have turned their back on God and provoked him to anger.

Hosea 13

:1-16 Relentless Judgment on Israel

:1 When Ephraim spoke, trembling, He exalted himself in Israel; But when he offended through Baal worship, he died.

The wages of sin is death. Sin brings separation from God.

:2 Now they sin more and more, And have made for themselves molded images, Idols of their silver, according to their skill; All of it is the work of craftsmen. They say of them, "Let the men who sacrifice kiss the calves!"

literally, “the sacrificers of men kiss the calves”

(NIV) It is said of these people, “They offer human sacrifice and kiss the calf-idols.”

:3 Therefore they shall be like the morning cloud And like the early dew that passes away, Like chaff blown off from a threshing floor And like smoke from a chimney.

They are going to be gone soon.

:4 "Yet I am the LORD your God Ever since the land of Egypt, And you shall know no God but Me; For there is no Savior besides Me.

:5 I knew you in the wilderness, In the land of great drought.

:6 When they had pasture, they were filled; They were filled and their heart was exalted; Therefore they forgot Me.

:7 "So I will be to them like a lion; Like a leopard by the road I will lurk;

:8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, And there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.

God used to be Israel’s protector, but now He would be the one hunting them down. They would not be able to avoid God’s judgment.

:9 "O Israel, you are destroyed, But your help is from Me.

:10 I will be your King; Where is any other, That he may save you in all your cities? And your judges to whom you said, 'Give me a king and princes'?

:11 I gave you a king in My anger, And took him away in My wrath.

gave you a king

Samuel was the last of the judges. The people came to Samuel to ask that he give them a king like all the other nations.

(1 Sam 8:4-7 NKJV) Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, {5} and said to him, "Look, you are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways. Now make us a king to judge us like all the nations." {6} But the thing displeased Samuel when they said, "Give us a king to judge us." So Samuel prayed to the LORD. {7} And the LORD said to Samuel, "Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them.
God gave them a king, but it happened while God knew that they were rejecting God in asking for a king.

took him away – the king of the northern kingdom would be taken away.

:12 "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; His sin is stored up.

God keeps track.

:13 The sorrows of a woman in childbirth shall come upon him. He is an unwise son, For he should not stay long where children are born.

(Hosea 13:13 ICB) Israel has a chance to live again, but the people are too foolish to take it. They are like an unborn baby who won't come out of its mother's womb.

:14 "I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. O Death, I will be your plagues! O Grave, I will be your destruction! Pity is hidden from My eyes.

It seems that a better translation is:

(Hosea 13:14 NASB) Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol? Shall I redeem them from death? O Death, where are your thorns? O Sheol, where is your sting? Compassion will be hidden from My sight.

We might think at the beginning of the verse that God is promising here to restore them. But if it’s really a question that He’s asking, and if the verse ends with God saying that compassion is hid from His sight, then everything changes. The question, “O Death, where are your thorns?” is a call for death to come and bring punishment and judgment.

Paul quotes this:

(1 Cor 15:51-57 NKJV) Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed; {52} in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. {53} For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. {54} So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: "Death is swallowed up in victory."

Which is a quote from:
(Isa 25:8 NKJV) He will swallow up death forever, And the Lord GOD will wipe away tears from all faces; The rebuke of His people He will take away from all the earth; For the LORD has spoken.

{55} "O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?"

We usually read this passage at Easter time. Keep in mind that in Hosea, these words are a calling by God for Death and Hades (hell) to bring judgment on the people. And then Paul explains…

{56} The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. {57} But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Even though the people in Hosea’s day were facing a horrible judgment which included death, Jesus Christ has now given us the victory. We no longer face that judgment.

:15 Though he is fruitful among his brethren, An east wind shall come; The wind of the LORD shall come up from the wilderness. Then his spring shall become dry, And his fountain shall be dried up. He shall plunder the treasury of every desirable prize.

Remember this is being spoken to “Ephraim” (one of the names of the northern kingdom).

Ephraim – “doubly fruitful”

Ephraim may have been fruitful, but when the east wind comes (Assyria), there will be no more fruitfulness.
Their sin has caused the fruit to be removed.

:16 Samaria is held guilty, For she has rebelled against her God. They shall fall by the sword, Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open.

There would be horrible, tragic times ahead.

Hosea 14

:1-9 Israel Restored at last

: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.

Repentance isn’t just about words. But it certainly contains words.

the sacrifices of our lips – saying the right thing, giving God honor and praise.

: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."

Some people were looking to the Assyrians to rescue them. They won’t help. In fact, they will be bringing the judgment.

fatherless finds mercy – the weakest, most vulnerable part of society.

: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 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.

What a beautiful picture of restoration.

It doesn’t matter how far you’ve gone. It doesn’t matter how bad you’ve been.

God can bring restoration.

: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."

Ephraim – “doubly fruitful”

(Ho 14:8 NLT) “O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who looks after you and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green, giving my fruit to you all through the year.”

Without God, we produce some pretty stinky “fruit”:

(Gal 5:19-21 NLT) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, {20} idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, {21} envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

When we learn to let God work in our lives, the “fruit” changes:

(Gal 5:22-23 NLT) But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, {23} gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

: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.


God’s healing chastisement

Sometimes God will allow His children to go through difficult times because they have gone astray. God is not trying to destroy His children in this, but God is trying to get them to turn around.
I heard Jon Courson share some neat insights about this.
Jon was sharing about the Passover Lamb, and how one of the requirements of the lamb was that it was not to have any broken bones (Ex. 12:46; John 19:36).
What’s the significance of broken bones?
(Psa 51:8 NKJV) Make me hear joy and gladness, That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
It is not uncommon for a shepherd to have a lamb that will go astray. The shepherd will work at trying to keep the lamb with the flock because that’s where the lamb is safest. It’s not safe for a lamb to stray from the flock where he can be eaten by the wolves.
But from time to time certain lambs just don’t get it. They keep going astray. In these cases, the loving shepherd will take the little lamb an actually break its two front legs. Then the shepherd will set the bones. And for the next five or six weeks, while the lamb’s legs are mending, the shepherd will carry the lamb around his shoulders. Every where the shepherd goes, the lamb goes. It has to. When the bones that are broken mend, the shepherd puts the lamb down. And because of the close bond that is now between the shepherd and the lamb, the lamb stays extra close to the shepherd.
There may be times for some of us that we’ve been like that little lamb that just wants to run away. And then something that seems like a tragedy strikes. And we find ourselves going to church, looking for answers. And God carries us. And we have the opportunity to learn to not only return to the Lord, but to stay close to Him as well.
The Passover Lamb, being a picture of Jesus, was not to have any broken bones. Why? Because He never went astray. He was sinless. He was a perfect sacrifice for those of us who have gone astray.
The author of Hebrews writes,
(Heb 12:11 NKJV) Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

We are people who sometimes have to be trained by our broken bones. Use those times to bond with your Shepherd. Learn to stay close to Him.