Hosea Chapter Eleven

 

Read Hosea 11:1-4 – God’s Love for Israel

 

v.1When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt.”

 

            God loved Israel.  God loves Israel as a father loves a son, as a young husband loves and cherishes his new bride.  He had placed this band of shepherds in the lush, well-watered and bountiful land of Goshen near the mouth of the Nile.  He had made them a powerful part of the greatest nation on earth at that time.  Yes, they endured the adversity of bondage and servitude; the kind of adversity that was required to temper them and prepare them to become a great nation.

 

Deuteronomy 7:7-8The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: 8But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.”

 

Then when the time was right, through the miracles of the plagues, the parting of the Red Sea he had led them personally out that bondage.   He loved them with the same depth and faithfulness as He does all men in that He “GAVE HIS ONLY BEGOTTEN SON” (John 3:16) as a sacrifice to rescue all mankind from sin.  But Israel had the soul of a harlot.

 

v.2As they called them, so they went from them: they sacrificed unto Baalim, and burned incense to graven images.”

 

            But even as “THEY WENT FROM THEM”, they fashioned and worshiped an idol at the foot of Sinai.  Aaron had the children of Israel gather all of their golden earrings:

 

And he received them at their hand, and fashioned it with a graving tool, after he had made it a molten calf: and they said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 5And when Aaron saw it, he built an altar before it; and Aaron made proclamation, and said, To morrow is a feast to the LORD.” Exodus 32:4-5

 

            But Israel continued in their attitude of rebellion; treating God as a spoiled, spiteful, unfaithful wife might treat her husband.  And when called to repentance they refused:

 

II Kings 17:13-15Yet the LORD testified against Israel, and against Judah, by all the prophets, and by all the seers, saying, Turn ye from your evil ways, and keep my commandments and my statutes, according to all the law which I commanded your fathers, and which I sent to you by my servants the prophets. 14Notwithstanding they would not hear, but hardened their necks, like to the neck of their fathers, that did not believe in the LORD their God. 15And they rejected his statutes, and his covenant that he made with their fathers, and his testimonies which he testified against them; and they followed vanity, and became vain, and went after the heathen that were round about them, concerning whom the LORD had charged them, that they should not do like them.”

 

v.3I taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms; but they knew not that I healed them.”

 

            God had literally carried Israel from the bondage of Egypt to the promised land.

 

Deuteronomy 1:31And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.”

 

            He had taught them the way to go through the laws and covenant that he had established for them.  He had taken them by the hand, led and guided them through forty years of wandering.  He gave them time for the rebellious ones, who had refused to enter Canaan when God was ready for them to enter, to fall by the wayside, die and be buried in the wilderness.  He held them up when they stumbled, fed them when they were hungry, gave them water when there was none for them or their flocks and herds.  He had healed them of their sins and protected them from themselves as the Psalmist writes:

 

Psalms 107:20 “HE SENT HIS WORD, AND HEALED THEM, AND DELIVERED them FROM THEIR DESTRUCTIONS.”

 

He did all of this out of a deep and abiding love; for deeper and stronger than man can comprehend.

 

v.4I drew them with cords of a man, with bands of love: and I was to them as they that take off the yoke on their jaws, and I laid meat unto them.”

 

            God drew Israel from Egypt and through the wilderness wanderings with “BANDS OF LOVE” and the “CORDS OF A MAN”.  He treated them fairly, treated them as men, He was equitable, reasonable and rational guiding them as toddling children learning to walk as a nation.  As the prophet reminds Judah:

 

Jeremiah 31:2-3Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee.”

 

He allowed them freedom, much as the farmer who works his oxen without a muzzle to control them, when they were in need he “LAID MEAT UNTO THEM”.

 

Exodus 16:35And the children of Israel did eat manna forty years, until they came to a land inhabited; they did eat manna, until they came unto the borders of the land of Canaan.”

 

            But again Israel has the soul of a harlot, an unfaithful wife who refuses to honor her marriage covenant, thus the general theme of Hosea’s writing.  She’s like the addict, rescued, dried out, made clean but then returns to her addiction at the first temptation.  God laments Israel’s sin for He knows its consequences.

 

Read Hosea 11:5-12 – God Laments Israel’s Sin

 

v.5He shall not return into the land of Egypt, but the Assyrian shall be his king, because they refused to return.”

 

            So as we have seen so many times in this study; Israel was rebellious, unfaithful, breaking her covenants with God almost, as we would say today, “before the ink was dry”.  Their unfaithfulness and rebellion became so deeply ingrained in their very being that there was no point of return.  Finally they just refuse to return.  They became such as Jesus described as he instructed his disciples:

 

Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine, lest they trample them under their feet, and turn again and rend you.”

Matthew 7:6

 

v.6And the sword shall abide on his cities, and shall consume his branches, and devour them, because of their own counsels.”

 

            Now God’s patience with Israel is at an end.  The prophet promises them that “THE SWORD SHALL ABIDE ON HIS CITIES” and repeats that promise later in his writing:

 

Hosea 13:16Samaria shall become desolate; for she hath rebelled against her God: they shall fall by the sword: their infants shall be dashed in pieces, and their women with child shall be ripped up.”

 

They abandoned the counsel of God and sought their own counsel.  They were like those that God warns through the words of the prophet Jeremiah:

 

Jeremiah 10:23O LORD, I know that the way of man is not in himself: it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps.”

 

They ignored that:

 

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instructionProverbs 1:7

 

That:

 

A wise man will hear, and will increase learning; and a man of understanding shall attain unto wise counsels:” Proverbs 1:5

 

And men are no better today, not only do they deny the existence of God, but live lives, promoting the most abominable sin as freedom of expression; many striving to outlaw even the simplest expression of faith in God.  Just as God was angry with Israel, God is undoubtedly angry with mankind today for many of the same reasons.

 

v.7And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him.”

 

            “MY PEOPLE ARE BENT TO BACKSLIDING FROM ME”.  Jeremiah describes them this way:

 

Jeremiah 8:5-6Why then is this people of Jerusalem slidden back by a perpetual backsliding? they hold fast deceit, they refuse to return. 6I hearkened and heard, but they spake not aright: no man repented him of his wickedness, saying, What have I done? every one turned to his course, as the horse rusheth into the battle.”

 

They were just like the old fire horse, trained to run to his place when the fire bell rang. We have probably read stories about one that would not be retired but continued to try to respond as long as he lived.  In the same way Israel runs back to her sin at every opportunity.  Even when they repented, they almost immediately slid right back into their sin.  Just as God laments in:

 

Hosea 6:4O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness is as a morning cloud, and as the early dew it goeth away.”

 

v.8How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel? how shall I make thee as Admah? how shall I set thee as Zeboim? mine heart is turned within me, my repentings are kindled together.”

 

            God love of Israel is like that of a spouse whose love of their life is unfaithful.  They are torn and tormented between anger and sadness.  They want to cry out to them one moment to stop and return to the covenant vows that they once made and in the next moment they want to throw them out and have nothing more to do with them.  He asks, “HOW SHALL I GIVE THEE UP”, how “SHALL I DELIVER THEE” to the punishment that they so richly deserved?  Oh, they had been warned, they had been taught the consequences of their actions.  What were Admah and Zeboim?  They were cities of the plain, neighbors of Sodom and Gomorrah that were destroyed because of their sin.  Here they are given along with his covenant as specific examples of the destruction that would be brought upon Israel if they sinned by serving other gods.

 

Deuteronomy 29:23And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:” v.26 “For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:”

 

So, God is asking; even though the abomination of Israel is as great as that of Sodom how could he bring himself to bring the same kind of punishment upon them as he brought upon Sodom?  Sodom, Gomorrah and the cities of the plain were people that God had created, but they were not God’s chosen people; they were not a people that he had brought out of slavery, nourished and protected for so many years.  Israel has a closer relationship with God than these cities had, just as we do.  Israel is God’s chosen people; people that he has nourished and protected through generations of time.

 

v.9I will not execute the fierceness of mine anger, I will not return to destroy Ephraim: for I am God, and not man; the Holy One in the midst of thee: and I will not enter into the city.”

 

            God has no desire to destroy Israel.  Just as in the day of judgment when all men will stand before His throne to be judged He will not want to reject anyone.

 

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 

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.” II Peter 3:9

 

So God will not destroy Ephraim or northern Israel the same way that he destroyed mankind in the flood or Sodom and the cities of the plain.  He won’t totally remove them from earth as people but will destroy them as a nation and send them into both physical and spiritual slavery.

 

v.10They shall walk after the LORD: he shall roar like a lion: when he shall roar, then the children shall tremble from the west.”

 

            The day will come, however, when “THEY SHALL WALK AFTER THE LORD”.  The time will come when they will indeed be given the opportunity to again “WALK AFTER THE LORD.”  This day will come when:

 

 The LORD also shall roar out of Zion, and utter his voice from Jerusalem; and the heavens and the earth shall shake: but the LORD will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel. 17So shall ye know that I am the LORD your God dwelling in Zion, my holy mountain: then shall Jerusalem be holy, and there shall no strangers pass through her any more.” Joel 3:16-17

 

This speaks of the time when the voice of God will be heard in Zion and is a prophecy of the coming of Christ who spoke in Zion with the voice of God.  As the word of God was taught in Zion, Jerusalem, and spread from Jerusalem the remnants of the ten tribes of Israel were among those who heard the gospel, trembled at the word of God, repented of their sins and became once more the chosen people of God.  This began with the Samaritans who were partially of the stock of Israel and spread to the others throughout the world as the gospel was carried to them.

 

v.11They shall tremble as a bird out of Egypt, and as a dove out of the land of Assyria: and I will place them in their houses, saith the LORD.”

 

            This is a parallel with the prophecy of Isaiah concerning the coming of “A ROOT OF JESSE”, i.e. Jesus Christ:

 

Isaiah 11:11-12And it shall come to pass in that day, that the Lord shall set his hand again the second time to recover the remnant of his people, which shall be left, from Assyria, and from Egypt, and from Pathros, and from Cush, and from Elam, and from Shinar, and from Hamath, and from the islands of the sea. 12And he shall set up an ensign for the nations, and shall assemble the outcasts of Israel, and gather together the dispersed of Judah from the four corners of the earth.”

 

God’s people that are left, those that have survived their dispersion and slavery, those that use the opportunity provided by the gospel and turn to God will indeed be gathered together again into Gods’ kingdom the church of the living God.  It is that same church or called out that we and all man today have opportunity to become a part.

 

v.12Ephraim compasseth me about with lies, and the house of Israel with deceit: but Judah yet ruleth with God, and is faithful with the saints.”

 

            The chapter is closed with this observation.  Ephraim or Israel is living a lie, claiming to be God’s chosen people but rejecting God’s covenant, worshipping idols, and living as the pagan people around them.  But Judah, at this time, though they have had kings who were evil, were still faithful to God.  When we look at the chronology in Hosea 1:1 we see that Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz were the kings of Judah.  Uzziah reigned in Judah for most of the lifetime of Hosea, a reign that covered a period of 52 years:

 

“And he did that which was right in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father Amaziah did. 5And he sought God in the days of Zechariah, who had understanding in the visions of God: and as long as he sought the LORD, God made him to prosper. II Chronicles 26:4-5

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport. LA; November 16, 2008