Hosea 3-4

Sunday Morning Bible Study

October 26, 2013


Do people see Jesus? Is the gospel preached? Does it speak to the broken hearted? Does it build up the church? Milk – Meat – Manna Preach for a decision Is the church loved? Regular:  2900 words    Communion: 2500 words

The prophet Hosea lived during the time of the divided kingdom. The southern kingdom was usually called “Judah”. The northern kingdom was known either as “Israel” or “Ephraim”. Hosea’s job was to speak for God to the northern kingdom.

Hosea had an unusual home life. God has asked him to marry a prostitute named Gomer. After he had children with Gomer, Gomer went back to work, being a prostitute. Then came the most amazing thing of all.  God asked Hosea to get his wife back.

Hosea’s life was to be a picture of God’s love for His people.

Even though God’s people sometimes fall away and follow after other things, God hasn’t stopped loving us and He wants us to come back.

Hosea’s main ministry was to get the people to repent of their backsliding so they might not face the judgment coming on the northern kingdom.

3:1-5 Redemption and return

:1 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.”

:1 raisin cakes

Raisin cakes were involved in the worship of both god Baal and the goddess Astarte (Jer. 7:18)

(Je 7:18 NKJV) —18 The children gather wood, the fathers kindle the fire, and the women knead dough, to make cakes for the queen of heaven; and they pour out drink offerings to other gods, that they may provoke Me to anger.

:1 Go again, love a woman

Hosea is asked by God to take his wife back, even though they have divorced and even though she has committed adultery.



The Law of Moses allowed for divorce by saying that if a woman “finds no favor” in the eyes of her husband because of some “uncleanness”, he could give her a certificate of divorce, and the marriage was over (Deut. 24:1-4).
(Dt 24:1–4 NKJV) —1 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, 2 when she has departed from his house, and goes and becomes another man’s wife, 3 if the latter husband detests her and writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her as his wife, 4 then her former husband who divorced her must not take her back to be his wife after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
In Jesus’ day, there were some who interpreted Moses’ statements to mean that even burning a husband’s morning toast was “uncleanness”, and a reason for divorce.
(Mt 19:3–9 NKJV) —3 The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

God’s original plan was for there not to be divorce.  God’s original idea was that when a man and woman became “one flesh”, that it was to be inseparable. 

7 They said to Him, “Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” 8 He said to them, “Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. 9 And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery.”

By the time of Moses, God made an allowance for divorce because of the “hardness” of a heart.  And Jesus clarifies that when sexual immorality was involved, that this was a justifiable reason for divorce. 

I think the idea works like this – when a person has been betrayed at the level of sexual unfaithfulness, then their heart can become so hard that it just can’t go on in the marriage.  And God allows for this.  But I think Jesus is hinting that even this wasn’t God’s original intent.  It’s just an allowance.

We believe that Paul may have given another acceptable reason for divorce, abandonment.
(1 Co 7:15 NKJV) But if the unbeliever departs, let him depart; a brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases. But God has called us to peace.

If your spouse has left you, it seems that Paul is saying that you are no longer bound to the marriage.

But keep in mind the picture of Hosea.
Even though we saw in the last chapter that Hosea was writing up divorce papers, here we see God asking him to buy back his wife.
Even if your spouse has committed the most horrible of sins against you, you don’t have to divorce them.
There may be times when God would have you be like Hosea.  Divorce doesn’t have to be automatic.
Too many of us threaten our spouse with the “D” word too often.  It shouldn’t be a part of our vocabulary at all.


Revenge or Restoration

I think one of the keys to Hosea’s approach to marriage is trying to decide whether we are out for revenge or restoration.
Play Mandy Patinkin Princess Bride clip
Is your heart broken for your spouse?  Or do you just want to get even.
Hosea is an intentional picture to us of the heart of God.
God isn’t out to get “even” with you.  He wants to bring you back.
The Bible says,
(Ro 5:8 NKJV) But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Jesus didn’t wait to die for us until we turned from our sin and became “nice” people.

Jesus died for sinners.

If you are a “sinner” like Gomer.  I’ve got news for you.  God wants you back.  He’s even paid a great price for you.  He sent His Son to die for you.

If you are someone who has been wronged, don’t forget what Paul taught us:
(Eph 4:31–32 NKJV) —31 Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. 32 And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.

The word “forgiving” means literally “gracing”.  God showed His grace towards us in sending Jesus to die for us.  We ought to learn to do the same towards those who have wronged us.

:2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.

One commentator (Wolff, in BKC) said that 1 ½ homers was equivalent to 15 shekels, adding that to the 15 shekels, and the total price that Hosea paid for her was 30 shekels.

This was the price that a slave was worth. (Ex. 21:32)

(Ex 21:32 NKJV) —32 If the ox gores a male or female servant, he shall give to their master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.

According to the Law of Moses, this was the price to release a woman from a vow (Lev. 27:4)

(Le 27:4 NKJV) —4 If it is a female, then your valuation shall be thirty shekels;

: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.”

Because Hosea has “bought” her, she no longer belongs to any other man.  There will be no other men in her life.

:3 so, too, will I be toward you

New Living Translation:

During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.

:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.

:4 without king or prince

Israel would no longer have other “men” in their lives – princes or priests – but only God.

: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.

:5 in the latter days

Israel (the northern kingdom) had not followed the kings descended from David for centuries. 

But they will one day follow a descendant of David, Jesus the Messiah.

4:1-10 The 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.

truthemeth – 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.

:2 swearing … lying, Killing … stealing … adultery

Sounds just like … America.

: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.

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

The priests should have been spiritual authorities, but the people don’t want to hear about what is right and wrong.

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

The “prophet” here might be the false prophets in the land.  They will stumble.

:6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. 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.

:6 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.

The true strength of a church can be measured by the emphasis it places on teaching the Bible.

:6 I also will reject you from being priest for Me

A priest is supposed to be a go between.  He should be able to connect people with God.

Israel as a nation was supposed to be a light to the world (Ex. 19:6).  They were supposed to connect the world to God, yet now they would not be God’s “priest” any more.

(Ex 19:6 NKJV) —6 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.”

: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.

:8 They eat up the sin of My people

(Ho 4:8 NLT) “When the people bring their sin offerings, the priests get fed. So the priests are glad when the people sin!

When a person brought an offering to pay for their sin, the priest would get to keep a portion of that offering as part of his “income”.
These priests liked it when the people sinned because it meant more income for them.

(1 Co 13:6 NKJV) (love) does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;

Loving others means you want sin to stop.

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

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

:10 they shall eat, but not have enough

When we are rebelling against God, nothing will satisfy.



To a rebellious people, the prophet Haggai wrote,
(Hag 1:6 NKJV) “You have sown much, and bring in little; You eat, but do not have enough; You drink, but you are not filled with drink; You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm; And he who earns wages, Earns wages to put into a bag with holes.”
(Pr 14:12 NKJV) —12 There is a way that seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death.

4:11-19 Israel’s Idolatry

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

:11 Harlotry, wine …

Sex and alcohol (drugs)

There is nothing new. These “enslave” our hearts as well.

: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.

:12 their staff informs them

It may be cute when a kid talks to a wooden puppet, but not an adult. (“Help you I will”)

: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.

: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.

:14 I will not punish your daughters

You can’t blame the daughters when it’s the men driving the business.  More later

: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’—

:15 Gilgal

Joshua had built an altar here. It was a “holy city” where the people still worshipped.

:15 Beth Aven = “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.

:16 Like a stubborn calf

A calf doesn’t want to go where it should, but digs in its heels.

:16 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.

:17 Ephraim is joined to idols

Ephraim (the northern kingdom) is like Gomer, is unfaithful to God.

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

Just as Gomer loved committing adultery, Israel’s leaders have loved the dishonor of going after other gods.

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

:14 I will not punish your daughters


Blaming the wrong person

Whether you are a man or a woman, we all tend to prefer to blame someone else for our problems.
Guys will ogle women and blame them for dressing in a sexually provocative way.
The real problem is in the heart of the man.
Lust starts in my heart.  It may be helped along by something that is tempting, but it starts in my heart.
(Jas 1:13–15 NKJV) —13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does He Himself tempt anyone. 14 But each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed. 15 Then, when desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, brings forth death.
Gentlemen, do you have a lust problem?

The problem starts in your own heart.

Every once in a while you will hear about crimes being committed against prostitutes.  Apparently in the mind of these deranged criminals is the idea that the prostitute is the one who is at fault for society’s, or the individual’s problems.

The truth is, if men weren’t so filled with lust, prostitutes would go out of business.

The whole problem works in both men and women.

I’ve learned that ladies can lust just as much as men do.

But ladies, just like the men, don’t miss the point that the lust you feel starts in your own heart.


What do I do about my lust?

I’m not going to be able to give you a magic one-step answer.  I can give you a place to start.
1. Acknowledge the problem
(1 Jn 1:7–9 NKJV) —7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. 9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

If you want to keep your problem hidden and in the dark, it’s not going to get better.

If you learn how to acknowledge your problem, walk in the light, you are taking the first step towards change.

2. Stop feeding the monster
(Ga 6:7–8 NKJV) —7 Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. 8 For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life.
Each of us has a sin nature.  When you are born again, you also will have the Spirit of God inside you as well.  God’s Spirit is always at war with our sin nature.  Whether or not God’s Spirit wins is dependent on you.
Play Cookie Monster clip

I’m talking about more than just “delayed gratification”.  I want to learn about how important it is to stop feeding the “monster” altogether.

There’s an old Eskimo proverb that goes:  There are two dogs fighting inside each of us.  The dog you feed is the dog that wins.

If you feed the Spirit side of you, God’s Spirit wins.  But if you continue to feed that sin nature by exposing yourself to the wrong kinds of things on TV, movies, or the internet, then why should you be surprised when you give in to sin?

Does this mean that if you are a guy who lusts, that you ought to stay away from women? (or men?)

No.  The problem isn’t men or women in general.  The problem is YOU.

You ought to stay away from the media that portrays women in a tempting way, but staying away from women in general isn’t the answer.  You’re still treating women like “things” instead of real people.

3. Ask for help
(Jas 5:16 NKJV) Confess your trespasses to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
You don’t have to handle this on your own.  It’s likely you are going to fail on your own.
On Thursday nights we are going to offer a class called “Courage to Change”.  Change doesn’t always come easy, but it is possible.

That doesn’t mean that it’s okay for men or women to dress immodestly.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians and told them that the women ought to be wearing something to cover their head when they were in church. (1Cor. 11)
(1 Co 11:5–6 NKJV) —5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head, for that is one and the same as if her head were shaved. 6 For if a woman is not covered, let her also be shorn. But if it is shameful for a woman to be shorn or shaved, let her be covered.
That sounds kind of like a strange command for us, until we think about the culture of the Corinthians.  Corinth was famous for the huge temple of Aphrodite, the goddess of love, which sat on the highest hill above the city.  Every night 1,000 temple prostitutes would come down into the city to help the men of the city “worship” Aphrodite by having sex with them.  And guess what the clue was to the men as to who the temple prostitutes were?  They were the women who had uncovered heads.
Paul was telling the gals in the church to not dress like a prostitute.  That goes for all of us.  Even if you’ve “got it”, don’t “flaunt it”.

Where are you today?

Are you someone who has been messing with bad stuff?

It’s time to change.

Are you someone who needs mercy?

God has much.

Are you someone who needs to show mercy?  Get started.