Hosea Chapter Twelve


Read Hosea 12:1-2 – God’s Reproof of all Israel


v.1Ephraim feedeth on wind, and followeth after the east wind: he daily increaseth lies and desolation; and they do make a covenant with the Assyrians, and oil is carried into Egypt.


            When God brought his judgments against Ephraim, here again representing all Israel, instead of turning to God in their trouble they acted foolishly.  They turned to their pagan neighbors for assistance.  They are like someone chasing the east wind, trying in vain to catch it, doomed to disappointment.  Hosea has already described their condition this way:


For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.” Hosea 8:7


But Israel had not only made fools of themselves by turning away from God, who sustained them, to alliances with men, they were guilty of double dealing.  They were playing Egypt against Assyria:


II Kings 17:4And the king of Assyria found conspiracy in Hoshea: for he had sent messengers to So king of Egypt, and brought no present to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year: therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison. “


King Hoshea, who ruled during the latter part of the time of Hosea’s prophecy, reneged on his agreement with Assyria, stopped paying tribute and made an alliance with Egypt.  They made “A COVENANT WITH THE ASSYRIANS” and then “CARRIED” oil “TO EGYPT”.  Within less than ten years Israel ceased to exist, Assyria took them.


v.2The LORD hath also a controversy with Judah, and will punish Jacob according to his ways; according to his doings will he recompense him.”


            God also has “A CONTROVERSY” with Judah.  In spite of the fact that the kingdom of Judah retained the city of Jerusalem, the temple and the activities of the priests and, for the most part, followed the ways of God; they were beginning to degenerate.  God’s words of condemnation spoken and recorded earlier in this same book of prophecy applied equally to both the northern and southern kingdoms.


Hosea 4:1-2Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. 2By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood.”


            Even though Judah had maintained the house of God, continued to worship, under many of their kings as God had commanded; they are still guilty of evil doings of all sorts.  We can draw a parallel today with our own country.  Many who live in this country claim to be Christian, many hold on to the notion that we are a Christian nation, but sin is rampant.  Many claim to follow God but have little or no knowledge of his covenant, ignore his commandments and live their lives as they choose, not as God chooses.


Read Hosea 12:3-6 – The History of Jacob


v.33He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by his strength he had power with God:”


            The prophet gives us here an opportunity to review again the history of Jacob who God named Israel.  Jacob was a twin born of Isaac and Rebekah and his name means “holds the heel” (Wikipedia).


Genesis 25:26And after that came his brother out, and his hand took hold on Esau’s heel; and his name was called Jacob: and Isaac was threescore years old when she bare them.”


The reference to Jacob’s “POWER WITH GOD” refers to the occasion when he wrestled with the angel at a place he named Peniel:


Genesis 32:28And he said, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel: for as a prince hast thou power with God and with men, and hast prevailed.”


v.4Yea, he had power over the angel, and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him in Bethel, and there he spake with us;”


            Yes, he had power over the angel as Hosea writes but there is more.  Jacob made supplication to God and the prophet says that he found God.  We have this account:


Genesis 28:12-13And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached to heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it. 13And, behold, the LORD stood above it, and said, I am the LORD God of Abraham thy father, and the God of Isaac: the land whereon thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed;” v.19And he called the name of that place Bethel: but the name of that city was called Luz at the first.”


When Jacob came back out of Haran with his family and his flocks and herds, God met him again at the same place.


Genesis 35:9-10And God appeared unto Jacob again, when he came out of Padanaram, and blessed him. 10And God said unto him, Thy name is Jacob: thy name shall not be called any more Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name: and he called his name Israel.”


The very name “Israel” means “man of God” or “one who has power with God”.  And at the same time he repeated the promises made to Abraham and Isaac to this man newly named Israel, confirming God’s relationship with Israel:


Genesis 35:11-13And God said unto him, I am God Almighty: be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall be of thee, and kings shall come out of thy loins; 12And the land which I gave Abraham and Isaac, to thee I will give it, and to thy seed after thee will I give the land. 13And God went up from him in the place where he talked with him.”


v.5-6Even the LORD God of hosts; the LORD is his memorial. 6Therefore turn thou to thy God: keep mercy and judgment, and wait on thy God continually.”


            Hosea exhorts Israel to follow the ways of their father Israel.  His relationship with the Lord is his memorial, i.e., the “LORD is HIS MEMORIAL”.  “THEREFORE TURN”, repent and restore the nation of Israel to the relationship with God that their father Israel enjoyed.  Return to what is good:


“He hath showed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the LORD require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?” Micah 6:8

Or as the Psalmist writes:




He that is the God of Jacob is the God of Israel; therefore He is thy God.  You have revolted from him unjustly, therefore return to him by faith and repentance to love him, to obey him and depend on him.  “WAIT ON THY GOD CONTINUALLY”, with a believing expectation to receive from him all the blessings needed to sustain both physical and spiritual life.  As the prophet exhorts in his final chapter:


O Israel, return unto the LORD thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity.” Hosea 14:1


Read Hosea 12:7-14 – God’s Charges Against Israel


v.7He is a merchant, the balances of deceit are in his hand: he loveth to oppress.”


            Ephraim, or Israel, is charged with being a merchant that uses deceitful balances; he is a cheat, a thief.  He has copied the ways of the Canaanite around him who were honest only when someone was watching them and, if they could, cheated all that they dealt with.  They had forgotten the admonition of Solomon:




            He “LOVETH TO OPPRESS”.  It is not only princes, and lords, and masters that oppress their subjects, their servants and their tenants but merchants and traders also oppress; taking advantage of the people’s necessity or using their ignorance for their gain.  They have become as the prophet Amos described:


Amos 8:5Hear this, O ye that swallow up the needy, even to make the poor of the land to fail


v.8And Ephraim said, Yet I am become rich, I have found me out substance: in all my labours they shall find none iniquity in me that were sin.”


            But Ephraim refuses to acknowledge his sin.  He has become rich in goods and substances; he has accumulated much of God’s blessings for his own comfort and wellbeing.  Let the prophet say what he might about how he acquired his riches, how it was gained through sin, or that it carries the curse of God.  He’s rich, he has thrived, therefore; there must not be any harm or danger in it.  He might say today, “I didn’t really sin I was just being an astute business man.”  He is like the Laodicean church chastised by Jesus:


Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:” Revelation 3:17


v.9And I that am the LORD thy God from the land of Egypt will yet make thee to dwell in tabernacles, as in the days of the solemn feast.”


            Ephraim is reminded that the God that is speaking through Hosea is the same God that led them out of the bondage of Egypt.  Though these men were far removed in time from that part of their history, they knew about it through their traditions.  God had established a solemn feast to remind his people of the time they spent wandering in the wilderness and lived in tents.


Leviticus 23:42-43Ye shall dwell in booths seven days; all that are Israelites born shall dwell in booths: 43That your generations may know that I made the children of Israel to dwell in booths, when I brought them out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.”


But like the other commandments and laws of God; this feast had been abandoned as well.  We find during the time of the restoration of Judah after their captivity when this feast was reestablished.


And all the congregation of them that were come again out of the captivity made booths, and sat under the booths: for since the days of Jeshua the son of Nun unto that day had not the children of Israel done so. And there was very great gladness.” Nehemiah 8:17


Israel had not observed this feast since the time of Joshua, the son of Num who led them into God’s promised land.  Throughout Israel’s entire existence as a nation, even during the time of kings David and Solomon this commandment had been ignored.


v.10I have also spoken by the prophets, and I have multiplied visions, and used similitudes, by the ministry of the prophets.”


            God had done all that could be done to keep Israel faithful, to turn her back when she sinned.  He had given them law through his prophet Moses, he had sent them prophets and judges to guide them and yet they turned from His covenant:


Yet 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.” II Kings 17:13


They had prophets raised up from among them as Amos records:


Amos 2:11And I raised up of your sons for prophets, and of your young men for Nazarites. Is it not even thus, O ye children of Israel? saith the LORD.”


God has had his spokesmen in their midst throughout their entire history from the time of Moses until now but they would not hear.  They turned their backs on them and even, at times, persecuted and killed them.  Today we can still draw the same parallels between the unfaithfulness of Israel and the unfaithfulness of this world.


v.11Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.”


            God charges Ephraim with idolatry; “INIQUITY IN GILEAD”.  He is practicing the vanity of vanities; worshipping images of wood, stone, silver and gold; inanimate objects made by the hands of man as the source of all of his blessings and his deliverance.  Hosea tells us that:


Gilead is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.” Hosea 6:8


We read of Gilgal often in the sacred text as a place of sacrifice.  It was the place that Israel camped under the command of Joshua, the place were Samuel was to meet Saul to offer sacrifices to consecrate him as king of Israel:


1 Samuel 10:8 8And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and show thee what thou shalt do.


It was the place where, in our study of Amos, we found that they continued some of the worship patterns commanded under the Mosaic Covenant but offered this worship to idols instead of God.


Amos 4:4-5Come to Bethel, and transgress; at Gilgal multiply transgression; and bring your sacrifices every morning, and your tithes after three years: 5And offer a sacrifice of thanksgiving with leaven, and proclaim and publish the free offerings: for this liketh you, O ye children of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”


v.12And Jacob fled into the country of Syria, and Israel served for a wife, and for a wife he kept sheep.”


            God reminds Israel that not only was their father Jacob a great prince honored by God (see v.3) that he also was a man of very humble beginnings; that he was nothing without God’s special blessings.  Jacob fled to Syria from the wrath of a malicious brother:


Genesis 28:5And Isaac sent away Jacob: and he went to Padanaram unto Laban, son of Bethuel the Syrian, the brother of Rebekah, Jacob’s and Esau’s mother.”


There he served a covetous uncle for a wife.  For a wife he kept sheep because he did not have the substance to endow a wife in the custom of the time:


Genesis 29:20And Jacob served seven years for Rachel; and they seemed unto him but a few days, for the love he had to her.’


Jacob, Israel, was poor, of low status; like a sharecrop farmer in our own experience, living only to serve at the pleasure of his landlord.  Consequently his children should not think themselves as being above these humble beginnings.  After all without the manifold blessings of God they would still be tending sheep wandering in the hills and mountains of Syria and Palestine.  And, oh by the way, neither should we think or ourselves as above our humble beginnings.


v.13  And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.”


            “BY A PROPHET”, by the preparation and choosing of Moses:


Exodus 3:10Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.”


By this prophet Israel was brought out of bondage:


Exodus 12:50-51Thus did all the children of Israel; as the LORD commanded Moses and Aaron, so did they. 51And it came to pass the selfsame day, that the LORD did bring the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt by their armies.”


It was through his prophets that they were sustained spiritually throughout their existence and through his prophets that he seeks to turn them back to him in this period of their history.


v.14Ephraim provoked him to anger most bitterly: therefore shall he leave his blood upon him, and his reproach shall his Lord return unto him.”


            But Ephraim has rebelled against God.  Ephraim has “PROVOKED him TO ANGER MOST BITTERLY” he has enraged God by this rebellion and sin.  Just as in all cases of grievous sin Ephraim will reap the consequences of their serving “OTHER GODS, WOOD AND STONE.” (Deuteronomy 28:36)


And thou shalt become an astonishment, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations whither the LORD shall lead thee.” Deuteronomy 28:37


They will suffer a reproach and punishment that will bring destruction to the northern kingdom then captivity and eventually in AD 70 the complete destruction of the southern kingdom as well.


William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; November 23, 2008