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A Faithful God and a Redeemed People / Hosea 1-14

The book of Hosea as preached by Zach Thompson.

1. God is faithful, even when we are faithless.

2. God justly punishes sin, regardless of whether humans agree with him.

(They didn’t know, love, or trust God).

3. God pursues his people and redeems them from their sin.

4. So turn to him.

Good morning Christ Fellowship!

If you haven’t already, go ahead and turn to the book of Hosea. In our provided black Bibles, that is on page 703.

Today, we are starting a series through the minor prophets.

The minor prophets are the final 12 books in the Old Testament. They are called the minor prophets because they are relatively smaller than the books in the Old Testament that we call the major prophets. But it’s only because they are smaller. The name minor is about size, not importance.

And these minor prophets have a lot of similar themes. You might remember in our kid’s time, we called them, “The twelve” and we had a single summary sentence for all of them.

“God is faithful to judge and show mercy.”

The first of the twelve minor prophets is Hosea. And this is where we are going to dig in our feet today.

If we can do a quick history lesson here. At the time of Hosea, the nation of Israel was split into two kingdoms. David reigned and Solomon followed him, and then Rehoboam, who was Solomon’s son, tried to increase the already burdensome taxes on the people of Israel, and the northern 10 tribes decided to split. And they became the northern kingdom of Israel also known as Samaria or Ephraim.The remaining two tribes were known as the Southern Kingdom of Judah.

The prophet Hosea spent most of his ministry preaching to the Northern kingdom of Israel and his ministry lasted about 50 years.

This book can be broken into two sections for our purposes today. The first section is chapters 1-3, where Hosea is telling his personal story of God commanding him to marry Gomer, her faithfulness, and God’s command to go and buy her back in 3:1-5. The second section is massive. It’s chapters 4-14. It’s when Hosea gives details to all of Israel’s faithlessness, and how God is going to punish them, and calls to repent.

We are going to start in Chapter 1.

Let’s turn to the text now. We’ll read 1:1-2:1

“1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.

2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” 3 So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

4 And the Lord said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”

6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”

8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

10  Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.

2:1  Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.””

Let’s Pray

As we look at the book of Hosea today, there are 3 realities and 1 over-arching application that I hope to demonstrate from our time together.

The first reality is this

  1. God is faithful, even when we are faithless.

Back in the time of Moses, God and the people of Israel entered into a covenant. God redeemed them out of slavery in Egypt, and he made it clear to them. I have bought you for myself. And he revealed himself to them and gave them commandments. All of this is back in the first 5 books of the Bible. The people of Israel entered into a covenant with God where if they were obedient, they would be given blessings beyond imagining. And if they broke the covenant, they would be punished. It’s all outlined in Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 27-30 if you want to go read those. Blessings and Curses. Life and Death.

But let’s summarize pretty much the entire Old Testament. God is always faithful to his promise, but there was never really a time when Israel was enduringly faithful to the covenant. They were constantly wrenching their necks to covet other gods. They itched to fit in with the cultures around them by loving the things that other peoples loved and worshipping the things that other peoples worshipped. But God showed mercy. He was patient. He disciplined them, and they turned back to him. In all of this, they were still his people.

But at the time of Hosea, the people of Israel have entirely stopped turning to God. God gave them blessings, and they took it as a reason to continue worshipping false Gods and live in their lusts. God disciplined them, and they took it as a reason to worship other gods more sacrificially and continue living just as they always had.

And this is why God told Hosea to marry Gomer. Don’t let familiarity soften how strange this is.

This is a prophet of God commanded by God to go and make a marriage covenant with a woman whose entire livelihood is dependent on trashing marriage covenants.

Why on earth would God tell Hosea to enter into a relationship with a faithless woman?

God told Hosea to marry a prostitute because the people of Israel were spiritual prostitutes. “the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” They were faithless.

And in this sad and faithless marriage, Gomer gives birth to 3 children. The first one was Hosea’s child. The other two probably weren’t. At the Lord’s direction, Hosea named them Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People. If you are looking for baby names, those second two probably shouldn’t make the list. In the names of these children, God is using Hosea’s story to illustrate Israel’s faithlessness to their covenant. And he is promising judgment against them. In 1:4, God explains that he is promising retribution for a massacre that began in the valley of Jezreel. In 1:6, God is promising that his patience is long but it isn’t eternal. He will show no more mercy to Israel. In 1:9, God totally disowns them. Where there once was a hope that you will be my people, and I will be your God. There is now only the promise of disinheritance. “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”

The covenant was broken. They had faithlessly run after other lovers in hopes that those lovers would have warmer beds and better wine.

The people of Israel didn’t know God. They didn’t love God. And they didn’t trust God.

They were faithless.

But in all of this. God is faithful. He is faithful to judge in accord with the covenant and we’ll talk about that more in our next point. But in these verses, God also remains faithful to his other promises. Look in verse 10. “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered.” This is a reference to the covenant with Abraham. Even though Israel was faithless, God was still going to be faithful to his promise to Abraham. Then in the verses after that, we see it filled out even more. That God will make a people who were not a people into a people. And he will show mercy to a people who had not received mercy.

So stop. Let’s chew on this for a minute. God made a promise to judge the people of Israel if they were disobedient to the covenant and he made a different promise to Abraham that he would have descendants like the stars and that the nations would be blessed because of him. And God is being faithful to both at the same time! Even as God judges Abrahams descendants, he is affirming his promise to Abraham.

It’s a blaring truth for us. Isn’t it? God is faithful to his promises. He doesn’t waiver. He doesn’t change. And he won’t compromise his promises because you have screwed something up.

So rest in it this morning. Our God is unwaveringly faithful. Listen, your circumstances aren’t strange to God. Have you found yourself thinking that God will just let you go? That you are sitting in a puddle of darkness and distress, and he is just going to leave you there? Don’t even entertain it for a moment, because it’s a lie.

Think of 1 Peter 5:10, “And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.”

Think of Revelation 3:19, “Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent.”

Think of Romans 3:25 and the promise that it is by faith that we receive righteousness and forgiveness.

Don’t let your faltering and failings cause you to assume that God will fail in the same way you do. Though we be faithless, he is faithful.

  1. God justly punishes sin, regardless of whether humans agree with him.

God justly punishes sin, regardless of whether humans agree with him.

Honestly, this is most of the book of Hosea. It’s God handing them over to the futility and pain that accompany their lusts and desires. From chapter 4 to chapter 13, God is giving detail to why Israel is faithless, and how he is going to punish them.

What characterized the faithlessness of the Israelites?

They didn’t know, love, or trust God.

Look at 4:1, “Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; [Do you see that? No faithfulness or steadfast love or knowledge of God. But keep going. Look at what they do have] 2 there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land mourns and all who dwell in it languish and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away.”

Their sin isn’t just affecting them. It’s even affecting the land and the beasts and the birds. Even the fish.

Do you think that your sin only affects you? That’s an unbiblical and untrue thought.

Look down in 4:6. Why are his people destroyed? “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” They don’t know God. Sure, they may know a few things about him, but they don’t know him.

They thought it was okay to worship God AND Baal AND Molech. Baal was a local god of the storms and of fertility. Worshipping this god often involved sexual immorality. And Molech was a god who demanded child sacrifice. And Israel was on board with all of it.

Because they didn’t know God. God has made it clear that these things are not merely not how God prefers to be worshipped; they are contrary to the character of God. And that’s ignoring the fact that they were worshipping false gods as they did them. “You shall have not other gods before me.”

Skip down to 4:12, “My people inquire of a piece of wood, and their walking staff gives them oracles. For a spirit of whoredom has led them astray, and they have left their God to play the whore.”

Or look over in 13:2, “And now they sin more and more, and make for themselves metal images, idols skillfully made of their silver, all of them the work of craftsmen. It is said of them, “Those who offer human sacrifice kiss calves!” These Ancient Near Eastern gods were often represented as a cow.

Idolatry and gluttony and sexual immorality and murder.

They barely knew anything about who God was and even what they did know, they disregarded.

Being able to pass a test about a few of the things my wife likes is very different from knowing my wife. What if it was my wife’s birthday, and I had been telling her that I knew exactly what she wanted. I knew where she wanted to eat for dinner. I knew what she wanted as a gift. She wanted to go to a nice sushi place and to have a new front door for our house. But when it came time to give her a gift, I gave her a brand new XBOX series X. Then I took her to get some Taco Bell. Do you think it would matter that I knew the right answers?

Of course not! That wouldn’t go well for me.

Think of 2 men. One of them knows 90% of what God commands and only does 10% of it. The other man knows 10% of what God commands but is 100% obedient to that 10% that he knows. Which man is it better to be?

The illustration definitely has it’s limits, but assuming a basic understanding of the gospel in that 10%, it’s better to be the man who knows less and is obedient to what he knows because that man will be growing in the grace and knowledge of our lord!

But Israel is neither of those men!

Israel is both ignorant and disobedient. They neither know God nor care to know him.

Take a moment here to look in the mirror. Do you know God? Do you want to know him more? Really? Would you use the word intimate when you describe your relationship with God? What do your other intimate relationships look like? How often do you talk to them? How eagerly do you try to learn more about them? Does your relationship with God look like that?

Knowledge by itself will puff up. But really knowing God and loving him will yield intimacy and obedience.

There is a movement within American Christianity that says that learning more about God will stifle your love for him, but this is so incredibly anti-bliblical. If you are doing it in pride, it will increase your arrogant love for yourself. But if you are learning more about him because you love him, it will only increase your sense of awe and wonder and love for Him. It will drive you to live in the holiness that you see in God.

But for the Israelites, holiness before God wasn’t even a consideration for them because they didn’t know the Holy God. And don’t miss this, God places a special burden on the teachers of Israel here. We can’t spend much time on this, but look in verse 4:4, “Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.” He goes on to spend a good portion of chapters 4 and 5 on this. When Israel was ignorant, God looked to their teachers. This is why Hebrews 13:17 says that your pastors are keeping watch over your souls as those who will have to give an account. This is why James says in James 3:1 that “not many of you should become teachers.” Because those who teach will have to give account to God for how they teach about God!

But the Israelites didn’t just not know God. Their lack of knowing God flowed out into the rest of how they operated. Because they didn’t know God, they didn’t love him or trust Him.

They lived in every kind of sensuality. They ignored every call to rest on the Sabbath. They cheated in their business dealings.

And they thought they could just pay the sacrificial price and forget about it.

This is why we have Hosea 6:6, “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.”

Their love was for their sin.

And all of their trust was in earthly means. Look in 5:13, “When Ephraim saw his sickness, and Judah his wound, then Ephraim went to Assyria, and sent to the great king. But he is not able to cure you or heal your wound.”

This is what was happening. Israel was in trouble, and instead of even considering God, they sent gifts and messengers to Assyria in the North and Egypt in the South in an attempt to gain political favor so that they would have protection, but God is promising them that men will fail them, and they did. In 722, Assyria invaded Israel and sent her people into exile.

And God promised judgment in just the next verse. Look at 5:14, “For I will be like a lion to Ephraim, and like a young lion to the house of Judah. I, even I, will tear and go away; I will carry off, and no one shall rescue.”

Doesn’t that sound like intense language? But don’t miss why he is doing it. He is punishing his people so that they would repent. He is driving them to desperation so that they would turn to him. Look what he says in the next verse 5:15, “I will return again to my place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek my face, and in their distress earnestly seek me.”

God is letting them taste the fullness of their sin so that they would be disgusted by it and turn back to him.

God is giving them the fruit of their harvest. 8:7, “For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.” Then 8:10, “Though they hire allies among the nations, I will soon gather them up. And the king and princes shall soon writhe because of the tribute.”

Look in 10:13, “You have plowed iniquity; you have reaped injustice; you have eaten the fruit of lies. Because you have trusted in your own way and in the multitude of your warriors. . .”

God is giving them over to their faithlessness.

Maybe you hear this and you feel kind of numb—even distant. In the quiet of your heart you ask, “Why should I care about Israel? Why does it matter if Israel was faithless? Why does it matter that God made Hosea get into a bad marriage?”

Listen, this matters because the faithlessness in Israel is the same faithlessness that would characterize your own heart apart from the grace of God. Perhaps it’s the same faithlessness that is in your heart today. This matters because the God who told Hosea to marry this prostitute and warned Israel of coming judgment is the same God who will judge the Living and the Dead on the Day of Christ.

This is still VERY real.

And it’s one of the great problems of our age. People don’t take sin seriously, and they assume that God shouldn’t take sin seriously. Israel didn’t see the problem with their sins. What’s the big deal?! Why do you think you can tell me how to live.

The murder of an unborn baby is reduced to a choice. A lifetime of sexual repercussions is left to a child who can still get reduced pricing at a restaurant on Tuesdays. Sexual immorality is just what the kids do, so they may as well have protection. What the government doesn’t know about my taxes won’t hurt them.

Just because something is socially accepted doesn’t meant that it’s pleasing to God. Just because you don’t agree or understand what God says doesn’t mean that you are right. On the Day of judgement, when we stand before the perfect, just, and all-knowing God, do you think your opinion will really matter?

We used to own a Toyota Camry, Courtney had affectionately named it Baby Weezy. The engine had been acting strange. One day I was driving in a back neighborhood in Provo, and I was about 5 minutes from my destination when the check engine light came on. The low oil indicator start to blink. And I thought, I can make it. And about 3 minutes into that 5 minute drive, I heard a pop, and the engine never sounded the same again. In fact, after that day, we never drove that car again.

We took it to a mechanic whose office manager was embezzling money from him and the business shut down, so we never saw the car again.

The point is this. If you are seeing a check engine light come up in your heart. Don’t ignore it.

Do you remember the promise we mentioned earlier. That God disciplines the one he loves? So what does it mean if you are living in open rebellion against God and he doesn’t discipline you?

Proverbs 29:1, “He who is often reproved, yet stiffens his neck, will suddenly be broken beyond healing.”

Don’t take God’s silence as God’s blessing. Don’t let your friends think that because no one has loved them enough to tell them the truth that their sin is okay. God’s justice against sin isn’t based on whether you think your neighbor is a good guy.

  1. God pursues his people and redeems them from their sin.

In 2:14, there is an unexpected turn. He has been talking about how he is going to judge his faithless people, and then he says this, “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.” He has turned from discipline, and he is beckoning his people. He is pursuing them. Look in verse 16.

16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ [they are going to worship him in truth] 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.”

What a promise! We will live in peace and we will know the Lord. And how has he secured it for us?

In 3:1-5, God commanded Hosea to go and buy back the woman who had been faithless to him. And it cost him dearly. You may notice he pays with both silver and barley. That’s probably because he ran out of silver. It cost him dearly. And in the same way, God freely gives us our salvation, but it came at a great cost.

This the new covenant of my blood. Do you remember when Jesus said that? He was securing a new covenant. The Old Covenant was broken because of the faithless of the people.

Scan over those verses we just read. If you weren’t looking at the text, look at it now. Chapter 2:17-20. Who is doing the acting? Who is the active part? It’s the Lord! The new covenant isn’t based in our faithfulness. It’s based in his. HE will remove the names of the Baals. HE will make the covenant. HE will abolish the things of war. HE will make us lie down in safety. HE will betroth you to himself. And what will we do? Look at verse 20, “you shall know the Lord.”

Because Jesus was faithful unto death.

Your sins deserve judgement. But Jesus was the faithful Son. In Hosea 11:1, it says, “Out of Egypt I called my son.” And Matthew quotes this when Jesus flees to Egypt to escape the killing of the children in Bethlehem by Herod. When Matthew quotes Hosea here, he is drawing our eyes to a fulfillment.

In Hosea 11:1, he is talking about how Israel was a failure. But when Matthew quotes it, he is drawing our eyes to the fact that Jesus was the faithful son. He was the righteous one who lived the life we couldn’t live so that he could die the death that should have been ours.

Jesus died on the Cross and finished his work, and he was raise in victory over our sins and faithlessness and ignorance. He was raised in victory over death.

And what is required of us?

And so we can turn to our final application.

  1. So turn to him

This is the call to action for the entire book of Hosea. Repent. Look at 14:1. “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord . . .”

When the rubber meets the road, Hosea is a call for repentance. It’s what the entire book is about. Turn away from your apathetic ignorance. Turn away from lesser things. Everything in the entire book is pointing to this promise. Turn to God, because when you do, he will hear you and heal you.

If the Lord has pricked your heart in some way today, don’t cover that up. Don’t numb something that is supposed to hurt. But lean in. Pour on the antiseptic of the gospel. Turn to the Lord and receive the healing that he promises to all who trust in him.

If the Holy Spirit would convict you of something and you were to ignore it, it’s like putting duct tape over a check engine light, because it stresses you out.

Just say it now. I’m weak and full of sin. God help me to love you more. Take the words from 14:2-3 as a model.

“Take away all iniquity;

accept what is good,

and we will pay with bulls

the vows of our lips.

3  Assyria shall not save us;

we will not ride on horses;

and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’

to the work of our hands.

In you the orphan finds mercy.”

Don’t go another day without dealing with it. Because this is the promise for us in Christ.

“14:4  I will heal their apostasy;

I will love them freely,

for my anger has turned from them.

5  I will be like the dew to Israel;

he shall blossom like the lily;

he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;

6  his shoots shall spread out;

his beauty shall be like the olive,

and his fragrance like Lebanon.

7  They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;

they shall flourish like the grain;

they shall blossom like the vine;

their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.

8  O Ephraim, what have I to do with idols?

It is I who answer and look after you.

I am like an evergreen cypress;

from me comes your fruit.

God is the only real source of healing and life. Don’t cut yourself off from him because of some sense of personal dignity or pride or ambition. What do you ultimately have to gain by trying to be sufficient in yourself?

In my back yard, there has been a sharp line since we moved into our house a few months ago. Under the trees in my back yard, there is a line where the shadow extends throughout the day, and in that spot, there is lush, green grass. Because it’s protected from the withering sun by the shade of the trees.

God has promised shade for you. He has promised exultant and full life that energized and cultivated by himself. So turn to him because his favor has already been secured by Christ.

Let’s Pray.


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