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Hosea 5-6

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?

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.

You will hear words like “harlot” throughout the book, but referring to how the people have left God and followed after other gods.

And through it all, God hasn’t stopped loving them and He wants them to come back.

Even though there are lots of warnings of coming judgment, don’t forget that the underlying theme is always about God’s love for His people.

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.

5:1-15 Coming Judgment

: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.

:1 priests … king

This next warning is aimed at the leaders.  The priests should have been the spiritual leaders while the king was the secular leader.

:1 snare to Mizpah … Tabor

Hosea is using hunting language, as if the leaders have been “hunting” God’s people, hunting them to make them follow the pagan gods.

Play Mizpah and Tabor map clip

There were several places known as Mizpah, but one that seems most likely is located in the tribe of Benjamin, just north of Jerusalem.
A number of figurines of the goddess Astarte dating back to Hosea’s day have been found there.
Tabor is a hill located up north near the Sea of Galilee. It most likely was one of the “high places” where idolatry was practiced.

: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.

:5 The pride of Israel

The trouble with pride

:5 Judah also stumbles with them


My sin affects others

Even though Hosea’s primary focus is on the northern kingdom, the southern kingdom will be affected as well.
Ezekiel will write about how the southern kingdom will copy the bad example of the northern kingdom and end up being even worse. (Eze. 16:51)
(Eze 16:51 NKJV) “Samaria did not commit half of your sins; but you have multiplied your abominations more than they, and have justified your sisters by all the abominations which you have done.
Some people want to be just like you. They are watching.
A physician told a story about his then-four-year-old son. On the way to preschool, the doctor had left his stethoscope on the car seat, and his little boy picked it up and began playing with it. “Be still, my heart,” thought the doctor. “My son wants to follow in my footsteps!” Then the child spoke into the instrument: “Welcome to McDonald’s. May I take your order?”
The Corinthians were proud over the fact that they had a man in their church who was openly sleeping with his step mother. The issue Paul had with them was that they had been unwilling to deal with the sin and confront the man. Perhaps they thought they were just being “tolerant”. Paul wrote to them:
(1 Co 5:6 NKJV) Your glorying is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump?

If you stick a pinch of yeast into a lump of unleavened dough, the yeast will multiply until the whole lump contains the yeast culture.

The open sin of this Corinthian man, known about by others but not confronted by them, would eventually infect the entire church.

Sometimes we try to tell ourselves that our sin doesn’t affect others around us.
It most certainly does. People may not even be completely aware of what our “sin” is, but my sin affects others.
We all do better when we are all working on our 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.

:6 With their flocks … to seek the Lord

They would take their animals to sacrifice to God, but God didn’t want their sacrifices.

God isn’t interested in our pleas for mercy when we have no intention of changing.

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

:7 begotten pagan children

Hosea’s adulteress wife had given birth to several children.  There was a question in most people’s mind as to who the actual father was.

The spiritual parallel with Israel had to do with their worship of other “gods”.

Kids see their parents doing ungodly things, going after other gods, and begin to think that it’s okay.

What kind of spiritual heritage are you leaving for your kids?

Even if you set the right example, there’s no guarantee that your kids are going to follow the Lord, they will have to ultimately make up their own mind.
Yet if you set a bad example, there is a greater chance that your kids are going to stay away from God.
They’ll see you for what you are, a hypocrite.

:7 a New Moon shall devour them

We’re not talking about a movie with vampires and werewolves. (“New Moon”)

The New Moon was a monthly feast with sacrifices for the Jews.

But instead of God blessing them during their New Moon festivals, they will find destruction instead.
God is not pleased with our religious actions when our hearts are not right with Him.
(Is 1:13 NKJV) Bring no more futile sacrifices; Incense is an abomination to Me. The New Moons, the Sabbaths, and the calling of assemblies— I cannot endure iniquity and the sacred meeting.

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

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

:8 Blow the ram’s horn

Ephraim refers to the northern kingdom.

We think this next section (5:8 – 6:6) is describing the coming war between Judah, a coalition between Israel and Syria (2Kings 16:1-7; Isaiah 7), and Assyria.

Israel and Syria had formed an alliance to start resisting the Assyrians.  When Judah refused to join the alliance, they decided to attack Judah.
In the end, both Syria and Israel were wiped out by the Assyrians and Judah would lose much territory.

:8 Gibeah … Ramah … Beth Aven

Play Bethel map clip

We mentioned last week that Beth Aven is Hosea’s nickname for the city of Bethel. Along with Gibeah and Ramah, these are cities located in the tribe of Benjamin.
Bethel, Ramah, and GIbeahare are cities that lie in the border area between the northern kingdom and the southern kingcom.
The coming Assyrian invasion will ultimately sweep through the northern kingdom right up to the borders of the southern kingdom.

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

:10 Judah … those who remove a landmark

Landmarks were how property lines were established. Your farm might be marked by a big tree in one corner, a big rock in another corner, and a creek running down another side.

It was forbidden to move landmarks. (Deut. 19:14)
(Dt 19:14 NKJV) —14 “You shall not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which the men of old have set, in your inheritance which you will inherit in the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.

People moved landmarks to make their properties bigger and their neighbor’s property smaller. It’s like stealing your neighbor’s property.

Perhaps the princes of Judah were stealing the people’s property.

Perhaps it might also be similar to when we change God’s Word (moving the landmark) so we don’t offend people.

“Oh the Bible doesn’t really mean it’s wrong to sleep with your girlfriend. It’s okay if you love each other…”
Wrong is wrong. Don’t move the landmark.

Judah (the southern kingdom) would also one day face judgment for their backsliding as well.

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

:11 Ephraim … willingly walked by human precept

Ephraim refers to the northern kingdom.

When Jeroboam split off the northern kingdom, he set up his own religion (1Ki. 12:28) with its own rules.

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

Jesus rebuked the Pharisees because they had developed their own set of traditions that contradicted God’s actual commandments.

(Mk 7:8–9 NKJV) —8 For laying aside the commandment of God, you hold the tradition of men—the washing of pitchers and cups, and many other such things you do.” 9 He said to them, “All too well you reject the commandment of God, that you may keep your tradition.

You can choose to live your life according to what men say is right, or according to what God says is right.

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

:12 moth … rottenness

These are things that destroy. This speaks of judgment.

: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.

:13 he cannot cure you

Both Israel and Judah would try asking the Assyrians to help them, but the Assyrians weren’t there to help, they were there to conquer.

King Jareb probably is referring to the Assyrian king, Tiglath-Pileser III.

As things went from bad to worse, the king of Israel decided to start paying tribute money to Assyria (2Ki. 17:3).

(2 Ki 17:3 NKJV) —3 Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money.
But the Assyrians were greedy overseers, not physicians.  Eventually the Assyrians will wipe out the northern kingdom.


The wrong doctor

Play Holiday Inn Express Acupuncture commercial
Now I have to tell you that if I was looking for serious medical help, I would want a real doctor, not just somebody who stayed at a Holiday Inn Express, and not a person who just played a doctor on TV.

I want the real thing.

Both the northern and southern kingdoms would take turns looking to the Assyrians for help, but in the end they weren’t helped at all.  They were hurt.
It does make a difference where you go for help.
Jeremiah recorded God’s thoughts,
(Je 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.

One of the continual problems in ancient Israel was where to find enough water. The picture that God is painting is that people were digging cisterns to collect rain water, but they were flawed and wouldn’t hold anything.

God is more than a “cistern”, He’s a fountain of water that satisfies our souls.

If you are physically sick, you need to go to a real medical doctor.
If you are spiritually sick, you need to go to God.
If you’ve wandered away from God, you need to come back to Him.
Don’t settle for listening to “feel good” pop psychology that tells you that everything is going to be okay and all you need to do is to “think positive”.
Be careful about the advice that your non-believing friends give you.
You may not like what God is going to say, but His medicine will cure your soul.  He’s the right doctor.

The man told his doctor that he wasn’t able to do all the things around the house that he used to do. When the examination was complete, he said, “Now, Doc, I can take it. Tell me in plain English what is wrong with me.” “Well, in plain English,” the doctor replied, “you’re just lazy.” “Okay,” said the man. “Now give me the medical term so I can tell my wife.”

God will tell you the truth.

: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.

:14 like a lion

Ultimately, the problem for both northern and southern kingdoms lay in their broken relationship with God, not their relationship with Assyria.

God is promising that judgment was coming.

The Assyrians would conquer the northern kingdom in 722 BC.
The Babylonians would conquer the southern kingdom in 586 BC.

: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.”

:15 Till they acknowledge their offense

God would be waiting for His people to turn back to Him.

:15 In their affliction they will earnestly seek Me

Sometimes it takes affliction to get us to wake up and turn around.

6:1-3 Call to Repentance

:1 Come, and let us return to the Lord; For He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up.

:1 He has torn, but He will heal


Wounds and healing

When God wounds us, He has a purpose.
The Burning Hut
The only survivor of a shipwreck washed up on a small, uninhabited island. He prayed feverishly for God to rescue him, and every day he scanned the horizon for help, but none seemed forthcoming. Exhausted, he eventually managed to build a little hut out of driftwood to protect him from the elements, and to store his few possessions. But then one day, after scavenging for food, he arrived home to find his little hut in flames, the smoke rolling up to the sky. The worst had happened; everything was lost. He was stung with grief and anger. “God, how could you do this to me!” he cried.
Early the next day, however, he was awakened by the sound of a ship that was approaching the island. It had come to rescue him. “How did you know I was here?” asked the weary man of his rescuers. “We saw your smoke signal, they replied.
God’s wounds are like surgery. If you don’t make the incision, you can’t correct the heart problem.
(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.

Coach Lou Holtz is now retired, but is a legend who has coached six different college football teams, and the New York Jets, and was legendary in his adherence to discipline.

“When it comes to discipline here,” Holtz says, “We ask three questions: Will it make him a better man? A better student? A better athlete? If the answer is yes, we make him do it. The next step is up to him. An individual has a choice when you discipline him: either to become bitter or better.”

Sometimes God has to allow us to go through difficult times to get us to wake up. If we learn the lessons we’re supposed to learn, then we see God produce a good crop of “righteousness” in our lives.
The whole point is to “return” to the Lord.
When we’re off track and we find ourselves facing difficulty, then turn around.

:2 After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight.

:2 On the third day He will raise us up

There are a couple of ways to look at this.

1) Israel’s rebirth

Israel would be dead for about two thousand years, but would be reborn in 1948.
The Bible says that on God’s calendar, one day is equal to a thousand years (2Pet. 3:8)
(2 Pe 3:8 NKJV) But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day.
Though the nation would experience a temporary rebirth after the Babylonian captivity, it would again be destroyed by the Romans forty years after having rejected Jesus as their Messiah.
Israel would be destroyed by the Romans in AD 70, and roughly two thousand years later they were reborn in 1948.

2) Jesus’ resurrection (and ours)

The Bible tells us that Jesus’ resurrection on the third day was “according to the Scriptures” (1Cor. 15:4)
(1 Co 15:4 NKJV) and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures,
Yet the only reference we can find that speaks of a resurrection on the third day is our passage in Hosea.
Jesus rose from the dead after the second third day, and in a sense, we rose with Him.
Paul wrote,

(Col 2:13 NKJV) And you, being dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses,

:3 Let us know, Let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord. His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, Like the latter and former rain to the earth.

:3 as the morning

The morning comes every day. You can depend upon it. You can depend on God’s “going forth” as well. He will come. He will help.

For Israel, their total salvation will come when Jesus returns.
(Ro 11:26 NKJV) And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: “The Deliverer will come out of Zion, And He will turn away ungodliness from Jacob;

:3 the latter and former rain

Rain in Israel usually comes in the winter and the spring.

When rain falls in those two times of the year, the land is prosperous.

If they would pursue the Lord, He would take care of them.

6:4-11 Unrepentant

:4 “O Ephraim, what shall I do to you? O Judah, what shall I do to you? For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, And like the early dew it goes away.

:4 your faithfulness is like a morning cloud

Like a cloud that burns away in a few hours, Israel won’t stay faithful.

It doesn’t last very long.  I went walking yesterday morning and it was foggy, but the fog eventually burned off.

He’s saying that Israel is faithful for a few days, and then they drift away.

:5 Therefore I have hewn them by the prophets, I have slain them by the words of My mouth; And your judgments are like light that goes forth.

:5 slain them by the words of My mouth

Jesus returning with a sword in His mouth

God’s ultimate weapon is His Word

You are accountable to God’s Word

:5 judgments are like light that goes forth

Like lightning.

:6 For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.

:7 “But like men they transgressed the covenant; There they dealt treacherously with Me.

:7 like men

The Hebrew could also be translated, “like Adam they transgressed”

:8 Gilead is a city of evildoers And defiled with blood.

:9 As bands of robbers lie in wait for a man, So the company of priests murder on the way to Shechem; Surely they commit lewdness.

:8-9 Gilead … Shechem

Play Gilead Shechem map clip

Gilead could refer to the northern region east of the Jordan.

It more likely refers to the city of Ramoth Gilead which had become a center for wicked men.
Both Ramoth Gilead and Shechem had been designated as “Cities of Refuge”.
They were supposed to be places where the priests would live, teach the people God’s ways, and act as judges among the people.
Now they just promoted wickedness.
If someone had accidentally killed another person (manslaughter), they could flee to a city of refuge and find shelter there from any relatives who would want revenge.
But these cities no longer offered refuge.  Instead they promoted wickedness.

:9 lewdnesszimmah – plan, device, wickedness, evil plan, mischievous purpose

This is a word used to describe the most horrible of sexual sins, including incest (Lev. 18:17), cult prostitution (Lev. 19:29), rape (Jud. 20:5-6), and adultery (Job 31:9-11).

:10 I have seen a horrible thing in the house of Israel: There is the harlotry of Ephraim; Israel is defiled.

:11 Also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed for you, When I return the captives of My people.

:11 a harvest is appointed for you

It sounds like a “harvest” could be a good thing, but here it’s speaking about the inevitable judgment that the southern kingdom would be facing.

(Ho 6:11 NLT) “O Judah, a harvest of punishment is also waiting for you, though I wanted to restore the fortunes of my people.

:6 I desire mercy and not sacrifice

mercycheced – goodness, kindness, faithfulness

The word can speak of doing good things for others or showing them kindness.  It can also speak of being a faithful, dependable person.
Both concepts show up in Scripture –
God prefers our kindness towards others to our sacrifices.
God also prefers our faithful obedience rather than our sacrifice.


Obedience and Mercy

“Sacrifice” is something instituted by God as a way for man to take care of his sin. God invented sacrifice.
It is thought that the first sacrifice took place when an animal was slain and its skin was used to clothe Adam and Eve.
Jesus came and died on a cross to be the sacrifice to pay for our sins.
If you are a sinner who needs God’s forgiveness, there is forgiveness at the cross.

But God don’t think that God doesn’t want you to change your sinful behavior.

If you choose to accept God’s mercy, but you never make an effort to change your behavior, there’s a problem.
King Saul had blown it big time. He thought that all he needed to do was just make a sacrifice to God and everything would be fine.
(1 Sa 15:22 NLT) But Samuel replied, “What is more pleasing to the Lord: your burnt offerings and sacrifices or your obedience to his voice? Listen! Obedience is better than sacrifice, and submission is better than offering the fat of rams.

God prefers obedience over “sacrifice”.

If we keep thinking that God doesn’t mind that we keep repeating that certain sin over and over again as long as we ask for forgiveness – we are fooling ourselves.

God wants us to learn to obey Him.

Micah says much the same thing:
(Mic 6:6–8 NKJV) —6 With what shall I come before the Lord, And bow myself before the High God? Shall I come before Him with burnt offerings, With calves a year old? 7 Will the Lord be pleased with thousands of rams, Ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I give my firstborn for my transgression, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? 8 He has shown you, O man, what is good; And what does the Lord require of you But to do justly, To love mercy, And to walk humbly with your God?
“Mercy” speaks of God’s heart of love towards us, but also the love that we are supposed to have towards others.
Jesus quoted our passage in Hosea
He actually quoted it twice.

(Mt 12:1–8 NKJV) —1 At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath. And His disciples were hungry, and began to pluck heads of grain and to eat. 2 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to Him, “Look, Your disciples are doing what is not lawful to do on the Sabbath!” 3 But He said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: 4 how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests? 5 Or have you not read in the law that on the Sabbath the priests in the temple profane the Sabbath, and are blameless? 6 Yet I say to you that in this place there is One greater than the temple. 7 But if you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless. 8 For the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

(Mt 9:10–13 NKJV) —10 Now it happened, as Jesus sat at the table in the house, that behold, many tax collectors and sinners came and sat down with Him and His disciples. 11 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said to His disciples, “Why does your Teacher eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 12 When Jesus heard that, He said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. 13 But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice.’ For I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners, to repentance.”

Jesus told the Pharisees that they needed to go and learn what this verse meant.

Hosea is a beautiful example of God’s mercy towards sinners. Hosea brought his rebellious wife back and loved her.

God loved us sinners so much He sent His Son Jesus to die for us.

As we continue to work our way through Hosea, we’ve seen lots of warnings about judgment. But don’t forget that this is coming from a God who loves us.
And He wants us to be merciful to others. He wants us to “learn it”.