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Hosea Chapters 6-8 “God’s Desire”

The Book of Hosea: God’s Scandalous Grace

“Israel and Judah have not been forsaken by their God, the Lord of hosts, though their land is full of guilt before the Holy One of Israel.” _ Jer. 51:5

Chapters 6-8 – “God’s Desire”

 

This chapter begins with a hopeful statement. Israel is talking about returning to the Lord.  They review the pattern of God’s deliverance on the third day. This of course foretells the Resurrection. However, God is not satisfied with Israel going through the motions. He desires “steadfast love and not sacrifice” (6:6).  Yet Israel continues to turn away from God.  They trust in political alliances.  These will not save them.  It is all too easy to fall away from God (7:14)

  1. Israel’s Love Like a Morning Cloud (6:4) – chapter 6

Israel is confident that the Lord will restore them.  God will heal them in spite of their faithlessness.  There is a continuing pattern in scripture of God’s deliverance on the third day.  We see multiple examples of this.  This is what gives Israel their hope and confidence.  Examples of the “third day” include

  1. Abraham and Isaac – Gen. 22:4
  2. Moses at Mount Sinai – Ex. 19:14-17
  3. God and Samuel – I Sam. 3:7-8
  4. Solomon and the two prostitutes – I Kings 3:16-18
  5. Isaiah and King Hezekiah – II Kings 20:1-6
  6. Ester and the King – Esther 5:1-2
  7. Rebuilding the Temple – Ezra 6:15; John 3:19
  8. Jesus Christ – Matt. 16:21

Israel holds on to God’s promise of deliverance on the “third day.”  Yet this has become an empty hope.  Their lives don’t match the faith they profess.  In one of the most famous statements in the Bible, God says that he desires “steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings” (v. 6).  Jesus quotes this verse twice in the New Testament (Matt. 9:11; 12:7).  It is important to note the context of those quotes.  In both cases Jesus is speaking against the Pharisees.  They have turned the Law of God into an inflexible rule.  Their focus is in the wrong place.  They no doubt resented this quote from Hosea which they certainly knew.  They would have countered that they were not like the “whoredom” that was taking place in Israel.  They were upright and faithful, not like the people of Hosea’s time.  Jesus’ point however is, that both the Pharisees and the Israel, Ephraim and indeed Judah of Hosea’s time, were going through the motions of worship.  They were faithful to the letter of the Lord but they had lost the Spirit and the freedom it promises (II Cor. 3).

2.Spreading Corruption – Chapters 7-8

Sin is never an isolated problem.  It is an infection.  It spreads.  It is contagious.  Israel and Ephraim have both become corrupted by Samaria (Israel’s capital, I Kings 16:21-24) and this in turn will spread to Judah (8:14).  We need to remember that all this is taking place in the reign of Jeroboam the second (1:1; 14:23-27).   We don’t have many details of his reign.  Most of what we have comes from the Books of Hosea and Amos.  Suffice to say that Jeroboam II did “what was evil in the sight of the Lord.”   He reigned forty-one years.  God was merciful to Jeroboam in spite of the evil he did.    Israel was in a desperate situation.  God provided help and strength in spite of the rampant idolatry.

However, Israel and Ephraim remained ungrateful.  Their attitude was that God would protect and support them no matter what.  God’s indictment is that their wickedness actually made the king glad (7:3).  They were all adulterers, both physically and spiritually.  The prophet Amos gives us some more details of the corruption which included exploiting the poor as well as sexual immorality (Amos 2:6-8).    Even though God protected them he did not recognize their corrupt king (8:4).  At the enthronement of the king the officials were so drunk they became sick (7:5).

Jeroboam the first had reintroduced the worship of the golden calf into Israel.  Only in his case he made two calves (I Kings 12:25-33).  This idolatry persisted into the time of Jeroboam II (8:5-6).  For all their talk of returning to God they in reality were returning to what they had practiced in Egypt (8:13).  The situation has become so desperate that the people are speaking lies against God (7:14).  What were these lies?  They were the false promises that God would deliver them in spite of their continuing prostitution.  They sought alliances with other nations like Assyria.  They didn’t realize that this would lead eventually to their being conquered by that nation (8:9-10).

The northern kingdom was being judged just as Hosea had judged Gomer (2:9-13).  They ignored the warning of God that they were sowing the wind and reaping a whirlwind (8:7).  They would return to Egypt in a double sense.  First, they were returning to the idolatry of worshiping the golden calf which they had known in Egypt.  Second, they would again go into exile and slavery.

They continued to offer sacrifices to the true God.  However, God would not accept them (8:13).  The same fate will befall Judah who literally will have Jerusalem and the temple burnt to the ground (8:14; II Kings 25:8-21).

We may well ask, what of the picture we saw of Hosea and Gomer in the first three chapters?  Hosea judged Gomer but then went to what we would regard as an impossible extreme by literally buying her back.  How can this terrible indictment of rampant injustice, immorality and idolatry ever be purged?

Any way we look at the situation there is no possible hope for Israel and Judah.  None.  But with God, “all things are possible” (Mark 10:27).

Questions for Discussion –

  1. Why do you think the theme of “the third day” is so important in scripture?

 

  1. What are some of the ways that we take God for granted?

 

  1. What hope can we take from god’s statement that he desires steadfast love (mercy) rather than sacrifice?

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Next Study – “Called Out of Egypt” – chapters 9-11