The method of instruction in this prophecy may be indicated as
Firstly, demonstration in order to assure conviction. Chs.
Secondly, revelation in order to impart knowledge. Ch. 4.
Thirdly, correction in order to obtain obedience. Ch. 5,
also Ch. 11:7‑12.
Fourthly, education in order to beget discernment. Ch. 11.
Fifthly, salvation in order to procure deliverance. Ch.
Sixthly, restoration in order to promote testimony. Ch.
Seventhly, submission in order to secure fruitfulness. Ch.
most grievous form of sin is that of showing infidelity and
disloyalty in the face of infinite love with all its sacred bonds of
intimacy. On this account the severity of the judgment becomes quite
reasonable, even though it appears relentlessly inflexible. The
sublimity of God’s love triumphs over the unfaithfulness, and
secures again a responsive affection from a people who were
prevailed upon to return to the One Who had befriended, bought and
1. The unholiness of the
national state is fully disclosed by the opening of the message. God
had an exclusive right to His people’s love, for He had redeemed and
reconciled them, and through the years had been their Guide and
2. Their unfaithfulness
to this dignified relationship is impressively symbolized in the
sacred relationship of marriage, which they had despised and
3. The unworthiness
Israel displayed of receiving the overtures of the Lord’s love is
plainly depicted. Hosea’s marriage with Gomer and its tragic
aftermath, is a symbolical transaction that becomes a verbal
4. The unheedfulness of
their attitude is summed up in ch. 4:l0, while they pursued a course
which is described by the participles, swearing, lying, killing,
stealing, backsliding and committing adultery.
5. The unwillingness on
the part of the people to repent resulted in God withdrawing from
their company, in His warning them of the consequences of their
iniquity and in waiting, lest, haply, they might consider their
pathetic condition and repent.
6. The unresponsiveness.
The pressing invitation is renewed, combined with the sad refrain: “O,
Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee?” “O, Judah, what shall I
do unto thee?”, for their goodness is described as being like
the passing of a morning cloud and the melting of the early dew.
7. The unconcernedness.
“There is none among them that calleth unto me.” (v. 7) “They
have spoken lies about me.” (v. 14) “They consider not in
their hearts.” (v. 2) “Woe unto them for they have fled from
me.” Notice the sixfold use of “ME,” vs. 13-15.
8. The unmindfulness.
Israel had forgotten its maker, v. 14. Turning away from God did not
satisfy the heart, so the nation tried to fill the aching void by
9. The unrestrainedness.
“They have deeply corrupted themselves,” vs. 9 & 10, and this
led to a joyless temperament, a senseless tendency and a fruitless
10. The unproductiveness.
“Israel is an empty vine.” The nation had sought the
spectacular, the sensational and the speculative, but all of these
were without foundation and they found themselves devoid of defense
11. The unsteadfastness.
“My people are bent to backsliding from me:” Yet in spite of
I, the rainbow of Divine mercy is clearly seen reflecting His
electing, emancipating and enriching grace.
. 12. The ungratefulness.
“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.”' (vs. 9, 14) How wonderfully owned and honored His
Prophets. (vs. 10, 13)
13. The undesertedness.
Because in the Divine immutability, the insistent Saviour pleaded
and entreated with the people in their waywardness. He emphasized
that there was no hope in any other direction by declaring, “There
is no Saviour beside me.” His absolute authority is also expressed
in the ten “I wills” of the chapter.
14. The unresistingness.
The 22 appeals to return were eventually responded to, and
immediately the forgiving love of God was assured. They heard the
gracious words “I will heal,” “I will love,” and “I will be as the
dew unto Israel.”
virtue of their having previously forsaken God and at this stage
having turned away from idolatry, they, as a nation, were in a
fatherless condition. This accounts for their pathetic plea, “In
Thee the fatherless findeth mercy.” (v. 3) God's loving
forgiveness and lavish favor instantly followed.
figures used are wonderfully instructive and include the freshness
of the dew, the fairness of the lily and the fragrance of Lebanon.
These gracious benefits replaced the drought, defilement and dearth
that had so long blighted their civil and social life.
blessings in themselves were not enough to meet the national need.
Unless cleansing is followed by constancy, forgiveness combined with
fidelity, and faith conjoined with fruitfulness there can be no
lasting stability. Therefore their roots were to become strong like
the bastions of the Lebanon forests. Their beauty was to be as the
olive, they were to revive as the corn and flourish as the vine.
wine and oil imply fruit, more fruit and much fruit. He forgave
their guilt, and furnished them with gifts.
is beyond all telling, more perfect it breaks the backs of all words
when we attempt to describe it. More majestic than the heavens, more
extensive than the firmament, more expansive than the ocean, His
love surpasseth knowledge. Hosea dwells more on the love of God than
any other Old Testament prophet.
wise and he shall understand these things, prudent and he shall know
them.” (Hos. 14:9)
proposition commanded, by
which Hosea was directed to marry a woman from unsavory
pollution reported, in
connection with Gomer's manner of life.
partnership contracted, and
the commencement of married life.
perversity indicated in the
matter of Gomer's lapse into unfaithfulness.
punishment prescribed which
reflects God’s judgment against Israel.
proposals resisted that were
made by the Lord to an unfaithful nation.
penalties inflicted which were intended
for corrective discipline.
promises intimated that were calculated
to encourage a change of behavior.
purposes revealed depicting the
ultimate design and aim.
parable interpreted as being a
demonstration of the love of the Lord toward Israel.
In the Old
.Testament. History there is found no other instance in which a
prophet of God is called upon to enter into the deepest degree of
agonizing grief and appalling anguish in the sphere of domestic
life, in order to demonstrate to a people the grievous way in which
they had wounded the love of God.
heart of Hosea was appointed to enter the innermost of painful
suffering, and to encounter the utmost of serious injury to his
sensitive nature. In his compact of love he had entered into
relationship with a reclaimed harlot, who later shattered the bond
in a most lewd and vulgar manner by returning to her former vice of
prostitution for hire.
violated the closest companionship, the comeliest virtues, the
choicest values, and the costliest vows.
chose to take the natural relations associated with courtship,
marriage and home life, in order to illustrate the deeper realities
of His identification with Israel. Gomer was deflected from the
obligations she had agreed to honor, and abandoned herself to the
lowest forms of indecency, immorality and social vice.
used these tragic happenings to impress upon the nation the
regrettable state of apostasy and inconstancy that prevailed through
centuries of history.
Israel had been called to enter into a spiritual union of the most
intimate nature with an immortal Lover. She was, therefore,
responsible to rightly represent the One Who had chosen her to fill
so dignified a relationship, and to reflect, in some degree, the
glories of His name and beauties of His nature.
had lavished upon Israel all the moral gifts and spiritual graces
that were essential to holiness of life, and had frustrated the
forces that sought to prevent the fulfillment of His purpose.
summons many facts from the nation’s previous history in support of
the golden opportunity God had given to Israel. Side by side with
these, he recounts the fickleness and failure that had hindered her
from rising to the occasion to fulfill her obligations.
IMPIETY Ch. 1
object lesson dealt with here commands the attention of the apostles
of the New Testament. For instance, Paul speaks of Lo-ruhamah as
implying “not beloved” in Rom. 9:25, while Peter refers to the same
name as indicating “hath not obtained mercy,” I Pet. 2:10. The word,
as used in Hosea, is in the intensive form, therefore, both “loved”
and “mercy” are contained in its meaning, which expresses the deep,
tender yearning of the innermost soul over the one loved. A
suggestion of this attitude is reflected in the word “pitieth,”
which means to “yearn over” as used in Psa. 103:13.
name Gomer is derived from a root meaning, “to finish” or
“complete,” “to come to an end” is the rendering in Psa 7:9, and
again “ceaseth” Psa. 12:1, etc., etc. Does this mean that Gomer had
filled up her cup of iniquity, or does it suggest that God would
perfect that which concerned both her and Hosea? We would suggest
the latter in the light of Rom. 9:28. The God Who had invited Israel
to become His very own, and Who bestowed rare and remarkable gifts
upon her, was at this time being wholly ignored. She had become
another’s, which clearly describes her adultery.
Pleading Voice appeals, v. 2. Following the fall from
fidelity she next becomes faithless, and as in Tennyson's Idylls,
the guilty Queen Guinevere failed to appreciate the friendly
kindness shown to her.
Warning Voice arrests, vs. 3-4. When a nation deserts God,
dullness, dryness, and deadness are the result. In the description
of the outcome in this case Israel is stripped of apparel and
adornment, scorched like an arid desert, and slain as an abandoned
Correcting Voice accuses, v. 5. The more stringent the
restrictions that are placed in the path of the wayward, the greater
the evidence of God's loving intent for the wanderer. When the
gardener makes the fence secure, it is in order to prevent the
plundering destroyer from doing his work of spoilation. Those who
accept the false friend and abandon the true, forge for themselves a
lifelong trouble. The fickle lover may appear to be glamorous and
generous, but the Faithful One is graciously and gloriously genuine.
The choice of the false is always costly and will, in future days,
exact tribute. The call of the true requires chastity in behavior,
but yields bountiful treasure in return. “The pure in heart ...
shall see God,” everywhere, in the great events or small.
period of the prophetic ministry of Hosea ranged from King Uzziah to
Jeroboam II, therefore, his active service at the very minimum
lasted for over sixty years. The Northern Kingdom had become
notorious for nullifying foreign alliances with adjacent nations,
and many forms of corrupt worship had been introduced into the land
from the surrounding countries. The darkest days to the history of
the Ten Tribes were running their course. Decadence was never more
pronounced, nor the downward trend more gloomy. The administration
was swayed by selfishness, and party passion was steeped in sordid
political intrigue, causing the country to sink lower and lower in
realized the one available source of strength, and was therefore
able to say with David, “My help cometh from the Lord.” He
certainly knew the secret of real comfort and good hope through
truth of this realization is both suggested and supported by the
meaning of his father's name. “Beeri” means “Well of Jehovah,” and
is derived from a root implying, “to dig,” “to write,” or “to
declare.” The only occurrences of the verb form are found in Deut.
1:5; 27:8; and Neh. 2:2. The noun is derived from “a well,” or “a
pit,” or as rendered in Jer 2:13, “cistern.” Surely then “Beeri”
speaks of the well spring of life, the fountain from which the
prophet drew his strength, Isa. 12:3. This picturesque future
reminds us of the Source of our satisfaction.
INCONSTANCY, Ch. 2
nation of Israel had been specially selected and separated to
function as a vessel sanctified and meet for Jehovah's use. Her
unwarrantable unchastity and shameful selfishness brought upon the
tribes the swift and severe chastisement of God. The character of
this chastisement is described in Hos. 2:6-13. The Lord placed a
hindering difficulty in the way to retard the nation’s downward
course. He prevented the realization of the projects planned by
causing the harassing disappointment of v. 7. He also promoted the
embarrassing circumstances that helped to deprive Israel of her
requisites, vs. 8-9. He purposely withheld supplies because they
were being used to facilitate indecencies, and eventually brought
about her humiliating disgrace, v. 19. The Lord also prevented
further participation in the normal, reasonable and seasonable
festivals and functions, and precipitated the whole community into a
hapless plight of distress, v. 11. He likewise pronounced the
destruction of the fruits of the earth to bring upon this comely
heritage, harmful desolation, v. 12. In addition to all these
things, He pledged a suitable recompense for their misbehavior in
the idolatrous courts of Baal in order to bring the wayward to the
place of hopeless despair, v. 13.
eight “I wills” in this section, vs. 6-13, should be particularly
noted, for when God determines discipline of this nature, no one can
escape, “none shall deliver out of My hand,” v. 10. All the
while this wickedness was going on, Israel kept up an outward
semblance of piety. The new moons, Sabbaths and solemn feasts were
all regularly celebrated, v. 11. God refuses to tolerate fickle
piety, false joy, and feigned loyalty, and so he framed a decree to
frustrate, once and for all, the possibility of such festivals being
continued. For the sake of brevity we have confined each of these
seven deplorable features to the compass of a sentence, but when
combined, they reflect a decadence that staggers the imagination.
worst form of infidelity is that which outwardly professes
faithfulness, while, inwardly, disloyalty reigns. The sham and show
of a formal pretence had long since faded from Gomer's manner of
life. She had become openly reprobate, and had not only forsaken her
true lover, but was publicly fraternizing with the fallen who had
stained their honor and soiled their purity. Habits of sin lead to
hardness of heart which makes it impossible for the soul to hate
evil, “Neither doth he abhor that which is evil.” Even the
dearest recollections of the deepest degree of fellowship that has
existed in the past, deters no longer.
time came in Israel's history when she not only secretly, but
flagrantly and openly as a nation, violated the law of love and
Lordship she had formerly revered. Worse than that, she held in
veneration the hideous gods of idolatrous shrines.
all sin this is ugliest and most hateful — that a people brought
into right relationship with God should not only ignore the high and
holy bond of union, but go out to commit spiritual adultery. Better
far never to have known the sanctity of God's stately and sensitive
love, than, having experienced its fair and fragrant sincerity, to
willfully wound it by acts of basest lewdness.
baneful vulgarity of heathenish corruption is by no means as
infamous as sin against infinite love. Most clearly, then, does
Hosea depict the principle that God’s faithful love never inflicts
judgment unless the grievousness of sin demands it. We cannot
minimize the enormity of unfaithfulness in the face of such perfect
love. Surely there is no defilement so desperate, and no debasement
so despicable, as that of women abandoning themselves to
prostitution for hire at the shrines of sensual worship, Hos. 4:14.
A real need exists of making application of some of these truths to
the church of our own day. All too frequently, divinely-bestowed
gifts are being used for unchrist-like ambitions, and in God's name
activities are carried on which cause a good deal of blatant
criticism to arise among labor unions and workers' organizations. No
form of treachery is as despicable as that of Ahithophel and Judas
in their betrayal of beneficent friendship and bountiful generosity.
The Valley of Achor with its awful memories of ignominious defeat
is to be turned into a stronghold of radiant hope. The mercies of
the moment are not to be minimized by the haunting memories of the
past, but mingled with the merit of a mighty Lover. Achor has become
proverbial as the place of trouble and tragedy; it is now to be
transformed into a distinguished triumph with a desirable trophy.
The heartbreaking treachery of Achan takes us back to the dawn of
national deliverance. He was a man whose wickedness was
characterized by weakness and willfulness. Having already shared the
society, security and surety of the redeemed of the Lord, he played
traitor to his people and brought upon them shameful dishonor and
serious disaster. Such misconduct marred all relationship and
debarred the culprit from sharing the blessings of the kingdom. The
misbehavior of Israel had merited law and justice, not love and
justification. But God was out to reverse past history. The rough
rocks, steep slopes and frowning foes were to move out of the
picture and give place to the queenly qualities of hope. The word
“allure” is used in the Scripture fourteen times and is associated
with the temptations of the world, the flesh, and the Devil. Here
God uses the method adopted by the enemy, but with Holy intent. The
deepest experiences of spiritual discipline are best suited to
solitude. The fact of allurement into the wilderness shuts out all
other listeners. The list of the violations of love confessed will
never be published for there are no reporters there so the sharp
spear of deadly gossip is forever stilled. Nor can the defilements,
discords, dangers and disturbances of the old surroundings of the
valley-of trouble intrude into the sacredness of the interview.
was working with Dr. Walter L. Wilson of Kansas City, a young
married woman with her two little girls called at the surgery. Upon
entering the consulting room, she left the children in the waiting
lounge. Her story was of the usual type. Her husband had found
someone who gave him more time and attention, and when she had
completed her story of woe, the Doctor looked at her, and said,
“Yes, and you are largely to blame.” He asked the young wife if she
did her best when preparing meals, to select the food she knew her
husband liked best. “No,” said she, “I would not put myself out for
him, to prepare anything he liked.” “And was that always your
attitude?" asked the Doctor. “No,” said she. “At one time I prepared
everything that he said he liked, but I would not do it for him
now.” “And do you ever go out to meet him when he is returning from
the office?” asked the Doctor. “No” she said, “I have long since
given over that practice. He prefers other company to mine.” “Very
well,” he said, “I will now tell you what to do. This paramour is
giving him all the time he wants, she is meeting his wishes at every
turn, and the only way to rectify the situation is for you to go one
better. Ask him tomorrow morning when he leaves for work what time
he will be home, and what he would like most for his dinner. Dress
the two children in their newest, prettiest frocks; dress yourself
in your very best; be ready at the corner when he turns into your
street. Say to him as he approaches, ‘Daddy, we are so glad that
you've come home,’ and let him take the hand of each child as he
walks to the house. When you get inside greet him the way you used
to do, and tell him you have something nice for his dinner. Practice
this for a week, and come back and tell me the result.” She replied,
“I don't know whether I could do it, Dr. Wilson.” “Did you once do
it?” he asked. “Oh, yes,” she said, “I was in the habit of doing it
once.” Then he said, “You do it again.” The remedy was crucial,
exasperating, but she faced it, and did it and in three weeks' time
returned, with a new light in her eyes, and the care‑worn appearance
gone. She said to Dr. Wilson, with tears streaming from her eyes, O
Doctor, it worked so wonderfully. I cannot tell you all, but we had
the matter out in solitude, and everything is now put right. Thank
you so much for the advice.”
— “And the Lord took Israel aside,” and, in the solitude,
loftier heights than the cliffs of Achor loomed on the landscape, a
society of Holy fellowship, set in the surroundings of spiritual
sacredness, with a distant outlook of greater and more radiant
glory, greeted her. Achor was to become a fresh spring for the
renewal of courage to stiffen character and sustain in conflict.
Well may we repair again to the valley, reflect on the adversary who
was inflicted with ignominious defeat, and then recall the secret of
victorious recovery. The place of rebuke and retreat will then
become the place of revelation, rapture, and rejoicing.
southernmost Cape in Africa had for centuries been called the Cape
of Death because the ships that tried to negotiate the treacherous
currents seldom returned. At length in 1487 the great Portuguese
sailor, Admiral Diaz, turned the prow of his vessel into the teeth
of the gale and succeeded in navigating the turbulent waters. To his
amazement on the eastern side he discovered a vast placid ocean,
whereupon it was considered appropriate to rename the African
promontory, and change it from the Cape of Death, to the Cape of
Good Hope. Vasco da Gama followed the course ten years later, and
landed at Goa on the west coast of India. So likewise the Valley of
Achor with its humiliation was transformed into a vision of hope
with prospective triumph.
— “Thou shalt call him Ishi, my husband.” This is
consistent with the great prophet Isaiah, and corresponds to his
declaration in Isa. 62:4-5. God requires from His people
whole-hearted and utter, unreserved committal. How close He draws:
Into what a degree of intimacy He initiates us, and invites our
participation, yet He will not share a title or a treasure with
another. He refuses the double heart and cannot accept such. Love is
one for one. To love is to live. To love earnestly is to live
effectively; to love endearingly is to live enduringly; to love
evermore is to live eternally.
not tolerate any longer the more common name for husband, “Balli,”
meaning “Master,” for this title had been prostituted to evil
associations, it savored too much of Baal-peor, Baal-zephon,
Baal-gad, Baal-zebub, and a score of others. “I will take away the
names of Baalim out of her mouth,” v. 17. What a cleansing! To have
the very remembrances of the former lewd, licentious lapses
obliterated so that the slightest degree of recollection is lost to
Ratifying — The confirming of the
covenant ratifies the relationship forever, v. 18. The world of
nature is so harmonious that the harassing things become harmless.
The hostile factors are now a help; forces that frustrated hopes are
now listed among the friendly aids. The noxious things become
innoxious; in place of the perturbation of war, there is prevailing
peace. All hostility is transmuted into harmony. The Septuagint
Version of the last line of v. 10, reads, “I will make thee to
lie down in hope.” It is rendered “in safety,” Psa. 4:8, Deut.
33:12,28. The figure is that of reclining restfully and safely in
the delectable field of hope where perfect peace prevails, all this
because the glorious Bridegroom is now both Guardian and Guide. The
Shepherd-lover has secured His objective. Creation itself
contributes to the charm of the contentment shared in His
Reinstating, vs. 19-20 — As the
beauties of earth and bounties of heaven combine in blessing the
betrothed, so, nearer and nearer, dearer and dearer, becomes the
relationship. The immutables of the triune God are indicated and
intimated in the three-fold testament of intention —“I will
betroth,” “I will betroth,” “I will betroth.” Let us consider
carefully the character of this changeless covenant, for no neutral
tints appear here. The colors are flaming, gorgeously brilliant and
— It is contracted “for ever,”
indicating the unending durability of this most intimate of all
bonds of sacred fellowship.
Secondly. — It is “in righteousness”
— signifying the untainted dignity of both the Bridegroom and the
Thirdly. — It is “in judgment”
— verifying the unassailable decorum and rectitude of the
contracting parties, so that no lawful accusation can be raised by
anyone. “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God's elect?”
Fourthly. — It is “in loving kindness”
— certifying to the unblemished disposition, devoid of even a shadow
or sensation of inconstancy.
Fifthly. — It is “in mercy” —
indicating the undeniable desirability of the companionship in which
every kindly considerateness is expressed and enjoyed.
Sixthly. — It is “in faithfulness”
— guaranteeing through an abiding, unchangeable decree, all
necessary maintenance, in demonstration of the Spirit of mutuality,
amity and unity.
Seventhly. — It is a full recognition, “Thou
shalt know the Lord,” in a sublimely complete
realization. This unqualified discernment of the inherent virtue and
inestimable value of the character of the Beloved will forever
exclude all misapprehension and misunderstanding.
forecast of the union here given describes the full comprehension
and the highest realization of the sublime environment, supreme
endowment, and serene endearment of love between God and the soul.
The inestimable and incomparable features that are embraced in the
pledge and privilege of this immutable decree certify to the love
which makes us one. Inestimable beauty, impregnable integrity,
instinctive mutuality, imperishable sympathy, infinite fidelity, and
intelligent sensibility — against such there is no law. In this
astounding mystery of grace, God bends and stoops in mercy, to seek,
select and sanctify a bride from fallen humanity. With our finite
minds we cannot plumb the heights, fathom the depths, scan the
expanse, or gauge the degree of love so affable, ineffable and
adorable. He Who sways unparalleled dominion demonstrates His
unselfish devotion by issuing a decree to deliver from the disgrace
of sin, and exalt to the society of Heaven, a redeemed and
vs. 21-22 — The figure of reconciliation visualized in the heavens
answering the earth pictures harmony restored, and the will of God
swaying the earth with the same sceptre that rules the heavens.
Heaven is regulated and earth ruled by the will of God, which gives
us a foreview of what is to be enjoyed when the prayer Christ taught
His disciples is fulfilled, “Thy will be done on earth as it is
in Heaven.” The description given shows heaven, as it were,
appealing to earth to receive the showers of blessing, and earth
answering by appropriating the refreshing, and renewing rain. Then
again, earth is seen approaching heaven with adoring praise, and
heaven accepting the tribute of earth’s ascription. Material figures
are used to illustrate the features of profounder spiritual
realities. The earth must first be right with God, and then the
whole order of the universe will be right with man. The beauty of
the panorama baffles comprehension. The Apostle Paul declared that
God had “made known to us the mystery of His will,” which, as
we noted, is the main subject of this section, wherein it is used
fourteen times. Paul goes on to say that “In the new order of the
fullness of times He will gather together in one all things in
Christ both which are in heaven and which are in earth even in Him.”
What an amazing unity this represents! What astounding uniformity!
What absolute harmony is purposed by the will of God in Christ
Jesus! No wonder in that same epistle the innermost meaning of
wedlock is adopted as a miniature metaphor to prefigure the eternal
union of Christ and His Church. Eph. 5:26, 27, 32.
means Hosea adopts is that of using temporal sustenance as a type
and from it he denotes the measureless spiritual substance assured
by the covenant. The corn, wine and oil signify the bread of life,
the wine of love, and the oil of joy, or we may speak of these as
being the sustaining corn, the gladdening wine, and the anointing
oil. The main point emphasized is that all things are adjusted so as
to amplify and animate the life and love of the newly‑entered
society established in holiness. When the soul is fully assured of
heaven's provision and protection, there is no need to fret or fear
about hell's power.
v. 23 — The rementioning at this stage of the names of Hosea's three
children is profoundly important. Jezreel is used as a figure of
scattering the nation in ch. 1, but by variation of the vowel
points, the meaning is changed in this case to “sowing.” They are to
be planted or set in the kingdom for development and dominion in
contrast to being scattered in the world for disharmony and
— “not having obtained mercy,” is changed to Ruhamah, “having
obtained mercy,” and Lo-ammi — “not my people” — is changed to Ammi
“my people.” This culmination is the outcome of a great reversal,
and notice that the last verse in ch. 2 is a repetition of the first
verse of the same chapter, as if used as a refrain to communicate an
achieved aim. Therefore, the truth of Isaiah is demonstrated, viz.,
declaring the end from the beginning, Isa. 46:10.
Remembering, ch. 3:1 — Israel was not
chosen as a people because of being affable and lovable, Deut.
7:6-9. God’s faithfulness to His promise made to the fathers is
given as the reason why He so resolutely and readily honored His
word. The enormity of Gomer’s guilt and the indecency of her
iniquitous behavior did not quench Hosea's love, nor did the floods
of ingratitude drown it. Notice how this fact is clearly indicated
in the use made of the words, “Beloved of her friend,” Hos. 3:1. The
sensual appetite that longed for flagons of wine and cakes of
raisins was stronger than spiritual apprehension and adoration. Here
in the two parts of a vitally-connected symbolism supply the
illustration of the truth which is presented in the prophecy, while
the prophecy itself is the explanation of the symbolical
transaction. In other words, the single truth is submitted first in
illustration and then by explanation. The explanation of the meaning
of the illustration is stated in the words “according to the love
of the Lord for the children of Israel,” v. 1. The theme is so
lovely and lofty in beauty that it is worthy of more careful
consideration and space than we can devote to it. Hosea previously
went to a certain section of the community to win the fallen, he is
now bidden to go promptly to the same society and win back the
“So I bought her,” ch. 3:2. The root of this word is
rendered “digged” in eleven instances, of which Gen. 26:25; 50:5;
also Job 6:27 are examples. On two occasions the word is rendered
“buy,” and here “bought.” See also Jer. 1:20, 22; Psa. 57:6; 119:85.
A matter of importance for each one of us is to remember the pit
from whence we have been digged. To use a colloquialism, Hosea was
sent to dig Gomer out.
conclusion of this illustrative story is indicated in a sentence. “According
to the love of the Lord toward the Children of Israel.” The true
quality of friendship is interpreted as being the attachment of
love, while the quintessence of that friendship is the adherence of
loyalty. True love is not an attitude which stands hard by when the
sea is smooth, the sky blue, the supplies plentiful, and the
strength vigorous, but forsakes when the way is rough, the task
rugged, the provision restricted, and the weather rigorous. The best
friend is better far than a thousand butterflies that flit from
flower to flower in the sunshine, but fly away when the storm begins
to gather on the horizon.
Lord fondly loved Israel in all the fervor of His sympathetic
strength and steadfastness. Such knowledge is wonderful in the
extreme. Yea, He faithfully loved without variableness or shadow of
turning. He freely loved and furnished all requisites for
redemption, rest, and rejoicing. He feelingly loved and was most
considerate in His care, courteous in His gentleness, and generous
in His gifts. He familiarly loved and refused to be treated as an
absentee or as one distant. The constant demonstration of His
nearness and intimacy was exhibited by His dwelling in the midst of
the nation. The Lord faithfully loved and remained unchanged in the
presence of ungratefulness and unbelief, although His name was
profaned and His patience provoked.
history is so problematical as the persistent persecution of the
Jews and yet, withal, their perpetual preservation. Although they
are citizens in every country in the world, they are denied
citizenship in a national home. Although banished, buffeted and
bereaved, and forbidden the rights of a country with their own
governing policy, they, nevertheless, flourish and are maintained in
undiminished hope and in an unbroken spirit of expectancy. They
still await the call of the outcasts of Israel and the dispersed of
Judah. No other people possess a line of descendants that witnessed
the golden age of Egypt, the greatness of Nineveh, the grandeur of
Babylon, the growth of Medo-Persia, the Grecian conquests, and the
glory of Rome. These, and many other features, form a definite proof
that they are being preserved through the centuries to participate
in the ultimate consummation revealed in ch. 2. They are yet to
return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their King. We
sometimes overlook that the meaning of David is “beloved,” and the
voice from the excellent glory actually said, “This is my son David
in whom I am well pleased.”
Ch. 4: 1-10
first cause is declared three times to be lack of knowledge, vs.
1-6. The divine light was shining so brightly, and the love was
evidenced so clearly they should certainly have known their
Preserver and Protector. The word rendered “rejected” in v. 6, is
also translated “despised,” Lev. 26:43, Num. 11:22. Righteousness
had departed from the administration, and in its stead, swearing,
lying, killing, and stealing, were the order of the day, v. 2. When
the affections are alienated from God every activity is likewise
affected. Reproof was now resented, and prince, priest, and prophet
were embroiled in the charges laid. See Hos. 3:4; 4:4, 5. The
result was they were smitten with sorrow, stricken with silence, and
subjected to stumbling, vs. 3-5. All interference with the
inflicting of the sentence was forbidden, v. 4.
is said to have a controversy with the nation, which implies a legal
cause with a lawful charge attached. The purpose of this is to
demonstrate that Jehovah had righteous claims which were being
wholly ignored, and in order to prevent misunderstanding among the
surrounding nations and all future posterity, God exposed the crime
and expressed the sentence. In ch. 4 charges are laid, the conduct
is described, and the condemnation passed upon the offenders.
rank is rebuked, every class censured and every association accused.
The common practice was to forget the law, so God pledged to forget
those whom they loved. The state of the soul is extremely sad. The
array of accusation is alarming. They were unmindful of the lLaw,
unfaithful in their love, unfruitful in their lust and unheedful
toward their Lord, v. 6-10.
word for “sin” and “sin-offering” in Hebrew is one and the same, and
the implication of v. 8 is that the priests encouraged the people to
sin for the sake of having sin-offerings brought to them to indulge
their own selfishness. On their iniquity they set their soul.
Sensual indulgence causes grave injury to spiritual insight.
spite of the costliest benefits conferred, the people were
unconscious of their responsibility to reciprocate, were unconcerned
about obligations of obedience, and were unconstrained by gratitude
to acknowledge their indebtedness to their Lord and Master. To make
the case even more critical they dishonored divine decrees, and made
defiant demands to gratify indulgence. The handiwork of God was
ignored, the holiness of the Most High disregarded, and the honor of
the lofty One impinged.
excellent sublimities of Jehovah should cause everyone to magnify
His goodness. The summits of His sanctuary are all fairness in
beauty and purity, and His personal perfections transcend His
noblest works. But Israel rejected knowledge, and in return was
rejected, v. 6, because she had left off taking heed to Jehovah, v.
10. Where had she been as a nation, but for His majestic instancy
and faithful constancy?
IDOLATRY Ch. 4:11- Ch. 5
undeniable offence is not merely obvious to the omnipotent One, but
so openly flagrant that the casual observer can not help but see it.
The hills, mountains, oaks, poplars, and elms were witnesses to the
whoredoms perpetrated. The wanton wickedness and disgusting demeanor
are summed up under the woeful figures of wine and women wrecking
the heart, vs. 11 & 14.
unwise for an enlightened people to approach and consult idols of
wood, to adopt divining rods, and to credit to such the ability to
advise and counsel. As if to worsen matters, they invoked the holy
name of the Most High while engaged in their worship, v. 15.
Pietistic pretence is worse than public prostitution. The hideous
hypocrisy they practiced was more heinous than their vice. Where is
there a slave that can mollify such mockery? Idolatry innoculates
the soul with the virus of immorality and intemperance, so that
sensuality becomes linked with superstition and is followed in turn
by every thing of crudity and cruelty. No state can be more
undesirable, no social life more unclean, and no sentiment more
unholy than these abysmal depths into which Israel had sunken. The
majority of the ten tribes did not even wish to understand the
enormity of their crimes and were therefore dispersed.
is joined unto idols, let him alone.” What! Ephraim entwined
with evil, wedded to wickedness, linked with lewdness, covenanted to
corruption, married to Molech! What an evil state! Ephraim heard,
but did not heed the warning, and so hazarded his soul. The
beginning was so harmless and inoffensive. They were simply
worshipping God through representation that was merely intended to
grip and hold their attention. From this unsuspecting initiation
they were eventually led into idolatry.
Prophets warned of this very peril, but without avail. How dangerous
it becomes to dabble in such a practice just because some relative
indulges in it! The mightiest messenger, Elijah, failed to frustrate
the practice in Israel. When we reject reproof, hardness of heart
results, and hardness is followed by haughtiness, and haughtiness by
hypocrisy. But we should remember that the careless, heedless,
reckless life that despises instruction is doomed.
Chapter 5 — The controversy continues and the charge is laid
against all ranks. Priests, kings, and people were involved in
idolatry. The sinister nature of such sin is that it first entices,
then it enslaves, and eventually exposes the victim to the wrath of
unholy union Israel contracted caused God to withdraw His company
from them in utter disgust, v. 6. Notice the nature of the nation’s
deportment. The charge has included in it deceit v. 1, revolt v. 2,
insult v. 3, guilt v. 4, conceit v. 5, cant v. 6, incest v. 7, and
tumult v. 8. Ancient Jewish tradition teaches that at Mizpah and
Tabor, which were centers of idolatry, groups of men hid themselves
beside the highways and suddenly rushed out to ensnare those who
were proceeding to Jerusalem for worship. The word “slaughter” is
nearly always used of slaying the sacrifices in the book of
Leviticus, but here, all too often, pilgrims were the victims.
vagrancy and villainy that idolatry breeds violates every vestige of
spiritual virtue. In themselves, idols lack the qualities that
entitle them to the respect and reverence or all such as are just
and upright. Somehow there is a strong tendency in the human heart
to want something to behold rather than something to believe. Gaudy
glitter is considered preferable to the glorious grace of God.
Tawdry tinsel is esteemed more highly than trust in truth. Sensuous
séances are sought after more eagerly than spiritual secrets. These
people vaunted their vulgarities to such an extent that God withdrew
Himself. The word may be rendered, “He delivered or freed Himself
from them.” The priests, clad in the saintly robes of the
sanctuary, cloaked their corruption, participated in outrage, while
the state policy connived and condoned idol worship. The spirit of
idolatry motivates its votaries equally as does the immortal Spirit
of God move and energize those who venerate God.
rulers of the State were under the awful spell of evil, v. 4.
Impartial justice, imperial righteousness, and immortal goodness of
God were ignored. Because of a warped disposition, the nation
deliberately dispensed with reality and substituted sorcery. The
speed with which they are to be severed from their ill‑gotten gains
by the execution of the sentence upon them is suggested in the word
“month.” Within four weeks everything would be gone, v. 7. God was
no longer their portion; compare Psa. 16:5; 71:26; 119:57; 142:5;
the destruction of Ephraim, the judgment was also to overtake
Benjamin. The former had walked in the commandments, not of God, but
of Jeroboam who initiated the idolatry into Israel, v. 11. God
plainly declares what His attitude will be.
“I will be
unto Ephraim as a moth.”
“I will be
unto Ephraim as a lion.”
The change in the divine attitude must have been startling and acute
enough to shock their susceptibilities had Israel not looked upon
Assyria and Egypt as nations that were outside the boundaries of the
administration of the Almighty, while they themselves constituted
the inner circle of His intimate associates.
How staggering the thought that the Lord would work invisibly and
invidiously as a moth, and as rottenness from within for their
destruction, and as an obvious overbearing oppressor from without,
for their devastation. The lion pounces upon its prey regardless of
pity, so would Assyria devastate the land. “The Lord shall hiss
for the fly that is in the uttermost part of the rivers of Egypt,
and for the bee that is in the land of Assyria.” Isa. 7:18.
The moth may come out of a folded mantle, the fly may emerge from a
festering carcass, the bee may appear from the far-flung forest, yet
these are within the orbit of omnipotence for Him to use when and
how He will. Mysterious powers may be hidden away that God can
harness to fulfill His plan. The Lord's controlling purpose and
comprehensive providence are untrammeled by the limitations of human
thinking. Are we in the habit of confining God's activity to the
smallness of parochial perimeters and circumscribed circles?
Momentous movements that fashion the forces exercised in national
judgments and which in turn determine destinies often have a very
insignificant origin. We may well ask. “What can a moth or a fly or
a bee achieve?”
IMPENITENCY Ch. 6
at least realized the separation sin had wrought, but their
resolution to return lacked sincerity. This fact is indicated in the
consider not in their hearts."
not cried unto Me with their heart."
Ripples of regret are soon ruled out; rumblings of remorse may roll
across the soul without effecting a real deep repentance. Although
at times baffled and burdened, the nation failed to bring the
sacrifice of a broken and contrite heart. The seven-fold use of the
third personal pronoun, “He,” should be noted in vs. 1‑3. In their
recognized distance from God they did not dare use the pronoun
“Thou,” yet they still possessed a clear-cut recollection of the
majesty of divine mercy. Had they not experienced His help and
healing centuries before? Exo. 15:26. They well remembered the
delicate sympathy of God's disposition, but lacked that decidedness
and devotedness that would otherwise have secured to them the
recovery, revival, and refreshment they so desperately needed.
in the faithfulness of God's promises that expects believingly,
relies trustfully and depends confidently was wholly absent. Could
they possibly ignore the many mercies, the mighty deeds, the
miraculous protection, the marching arrangements, the measureless
provision, the memorable deliverances, the magnificent kindness, and
the manifest beauty of the Lord?
Then shall we know, if we follow on to know the LORD: his
going forth is prepared as the morning; and he shall come unto us as
the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth.
v. 4 — The
sorrows of an almighty Lover are expressed in vs. 4-11.
what shall I do unto thee?”
what shall I do unto thee?”
Love mourns when all possible resources for restoration are
exhausted without the designed recovery being effected. God bemoaned
that their goodness was as a morning cloud which looked so promising
at dawn, but dwindled away as the day developed.
seven-fold use of the pronoun “I” in the divine response should be
The Reproving Chastisement, v. 5 — The
words of the Prophet had flashed fire when denouncing the social
sins of the nation. The accusations, however, were blended with
appeals. “My judgment is as the light that goeth forth,”
which signifies God's judgment as being clear and convicting and
impossible of being challenged or obstructed. Today the perverted
codes of national morality in public, politic, and civic life which
cater for loose living, need the same vigorous protest of the
The Regrettable Cause,
v. 6 — “I
desired mercy, and not sacrifice.” The unmerciful methods
practiced, and the unmitigated murder of spiritual aspiration were
intermingled with the many sacrifices of the Mosaic order. Such
behavior was blasphemous and utterly incongruous. Why devote a
sacrifice to God while their own hearts were devoid of sympathy
toward their fellows whom they were slaughtering instead of saving?
The priests themselves instead of accepting sacrifices for the
salvation of the people were making them idolaters and teaching them
to commit lewdness, whereas they should have taught them the
knowledge of God.
The Repressed Covenant,
v. 7 — “They
like men have transgressed the covenant.” Solemn vows were
violated, sacred contracts were cancelled without concern.
Sacrificial pledges were prostituted, stipulated instructions were
ignored, steadfast bonds were broken, statutory resolves were
repudiated, while selfish indulgences and sinful impunities were
greedily and flagrantly perpetrated. Some people are like snails,
they leave a slime track wherever they go.
v. 8 —
Ramah of Gilead was one of the shelter cities of refuge but had
become a harmful peril instead of a hallowed place of security. The
city of refuge was changed to a center for robbers. The worst is
always the prostitution of the best. The priests who should have
been the exemplars of morals were encouraging murders by
overthrowing the people's faith in the true God. Little wonder that
Jeremiah said, “Is there no balm in Gilead: is there no physician
there?” (Jer. 8:22)
v. 10 —
This ugly, unseen ulcer that was sapping away the very strength of
social and spiritual life was uncovered. Irrespective of how clever
the device no man can so conceal craftiness, as to deceive God. “There
is nothing hid that shall not be revealed,” said our Lord.
Congested corruption and clotted crime had been cloaked under
religious garb, and the Lord tore away the covering and exposed the
vicious viper concealed there. Compare also Jer. 5:13-31.
v. 11 — The
harvest is stated as having already been appointed and is sure of
being reaped if sin be persisted in. In view of the tendencies of
Judah, the warning is renewed. Was the harvest to be similar to that
of Isa. 17:11? The prophet had similarly warned Babylon, Jer. 51:23.
INIQUITY Ch. 7
the opening three verses, God declares that Ephraim forfeited favor
because of their wretched falsehood, and their depravity, danger and
disgrace are exposed. The Lord would have changed their unhappy lot,
cleansed away their stain, and cared for their interests but they
were wholly insensible to His intentions, and ignored His desire and
design. Their flatteries and follies secured to them acceptance with
the king, who delighted in seeing his subjects submit to his wicked
laws, yet, at the same time, they refused to acknowledge the rites
and claims of God, and expressed their antipathy deliberately,
positively, and willfully.
national attitude is made clear by the use of eight negatives in the
chapter: “They consider not,” v. 2; “none calleth unto Me,”
v. 7; “he knoweth it not,” v. 9; “they do not return,”
v. 10; “nor seek Him for all this,” v. 10; “without heart,”
v. 11; “they have not cried unto Me,” v. 14; “they return,
but not to the most High," v. 16. Their falsity and flattery
were aggravated by their friendship with scorners, v. 5. The fires
of lust were well supplied with fuel, v. 6, and the New Testament
description, “They burned in their lust, one toward another,”
is very applicable. Fraternity with strangers had depleted their
strength so that they became flaccid as dough on one side, and hard
as a cinder on the other, vs. 8, 9. Failing vigor and decay of
devotion signified by gray hairs, together with the folly
demonstrated in being as a silly dove, and seeking help from Egypt
and Assyria, illustrated their unhappy plight, vs. 9-11.
was most pronounced in their turning away from God and transgressing
against Him, v. 13. The sixfold use of the pronoun “Me” at the close
of the chapter should be noted — “Fled from Me,” “transgressed
against Me,” “spoken lies against Me,” “they have not
cried unto Me,” “they rebel against Me,” “they imagine
mischief against Me,” “they return, but not unto the most
High,” vs. 13‑16. In the light of such an attitude the
stupendous nature of His love is overwhelming. The most startling
accusation of the whole book is found in v. 4, “They are all
adulterers.” The charge comprised a terrible accusation, severe
in its scathing and scorching condemnation. The spiritual
significance denotes unfaithfulness in relationship. The nation was
implicated in fraternizing false systems and following idolatrous
ways, which led to mendacity and robbery. During our Lord's ministry
He charged the Pharisees with these two indictments, "All that
ever came before Me are thieves and robbers," John 10:8. “An
evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign,” Matt.
12:39. The rulers had requested a sensational and spectacular sign
as a proof of His claims; He immediately directed them for
confirmation to evidence in their own history which they refused to
investigate, ignoring His instruction and insinuating evasion. In
the light of the charge against the nation, the chosen people of
God, as being adulterous, what are we to say of church leaders in
many quarters today who resort to all manner of associations because
of the social prestige they think is gained by so doing?
should take particular notice of the five figures that are used in
the chapter to illustrate the nation's character and indicate its
conduct. These comprise “the flaming fire,” v. 4; “the cake not
turned,” v. 8; “the gray hairs undiscerned,” v. 9; “the silly dove,”
v. 11; and “the deceitful bow,” v. 16.
— “The flaming fire.” The course pursued was one of
unrestrained, unbridled indulgence. This is one of the most awful
figures of sin's passion and lust to be found in the Scripture. The
Devil is depicted as the baker, the sinner's heart the oven, the
leavening substance in the dough is the impelling desire of covetous
ambition, revengeful envy, and jealous malignity that devises its
diabolical plots. The L.X.X. version renders the passage, "They are
committing adultery like an oven burning." The devilish devices
furnish the fuel that works the destructive havoc among innumerable
lives. Israel had become a snare to the surrounding nations instead
of a symbol of salvation, a menace to moral standards instead of a
medium to establish righteousness.
— “The cake not turned.” The unattractive, uninviting,
invidious position of the nation indicates that, as a people, they
were useless to both God and man. This insipid state is descriptive
of a disposition that disregards obligations to a faithful Friend,
and at the same time is repulsive to the false and fickle friends.
The nation was displeasing to God because of duplicity, and
distasteful to man because of their disgusting behavior. They were
as flaccid as dough in their vacillation, and as gritty as a cinder
in violating the susceptibilities of others. On the one hand their
outward appearance was like that of a whitewashed humbug, and like
that of a hateful hypocrite on the other. Neither in motive nor
method had they any attractive charm, and were a veritable
— “Grey hairs and knoweth it not.” The unobservant,
unbecoming condition of having manifest evidences of decline and
decay without any intelligent discernment as to their true state,
expresses a deplorable degeneracy. On account of their lack of love,
mixed motives had caused their loyalty to languish. They had become
too plausible to be effective, and their incompetence grew out of
their indiscretion and indifference. They were unconsciously
drifting because they had ignored self-judgment, and were wholly
unaware that their usefulness as a witness had vanished.
— “As a silly dove.” In their unsatisfactory, undecided
demeanor they were totally undeserving of the Lord's confidence and
equally untrustworthy. Entering into unholy alliances and
undesirable company had belittled the dignity conferred on them, and
the honor that God Himself had bestowed. All this was the outcome of
a divided heart. Their real security consisted in staying themselves
upon God, which they failed to do, whereas their senseless action of
seeking Assyrian help left them exposed and unprotected.
— “A deceitful bow,” is a symbol of an unadaptable and
unsuitable instrument, incapable of fulfilling the function to which
they were called. The confidence reposed in them was misplaced. They
betrayed their Benefactor in the critical hour when He relied on
them as a weapon of war against evil, and were harmful as a
hindering factor instead of being helpful. How alike this is to the
action of a faulty ally who feigns allegiance, but acts
treacherously. Instead of proving a defensive weapon in spiritual
conflict, they were deceitful, and devoid of all reality, utility
we comprehend the grievous injury such behavior caused the perfect
sensitiveness of infinite love? Why this listless apathy toward the
royal and loyal affection of their true Friend? His society is
forever extremely affable, His sympathy is enduringly affectionate,
and His sincerity is eternally amiable.
prophet Ezekiel discloses how this Prince of celestial renown takes
as the object of His love an insignificant people who are likened to
an abandoned infant. Foreknowing the taint and tendency of this
immature child, and how that in maturer years she would
treacherously repel every overture of tender care and true kindness,
He nevertheless chose her with the intent of lifting her to queenly
status. (Read Ezek. 16:6-13.)
Ezekiel described Jerusalem's undignified birth, Eze. 16:1-5, her
unmerited covenant, vs. 6‑14, and her unseemly behavior, vs.
15-34.Yet withal the divine beneficence bestowed upon her the
supreme treasure in the gift of life, v. 6, the sublime trousseau in
the gift of love, vs. 7‑12, and the stately throne in the gift of
liability, longevity and liberty. “Thou didst prosper as a
kingdom,” v. 13.
For a people to forsake the fathomless felicities of divine
faithfulness for the frivolous fancies of idolatry is an inscrutable
Remember that the city is a symbol of the maximum of society,
therefore ultimately the Holy City, New Jerusalem, is destined to
descend from God out of heaven as a bride adorned for her husband,
Rev. 21:10. Isaiah also depicts the perfected society, the new name,
and queenly dignity, all of which are divinely bestowed, Isa.
62:1-9. Surely the appeal of this amazing aim should win and woo the
soul to abide in steadfast constancy, in relation to a Bridegroom of
such dignity, majesty and glory.
The Stirring Invitation
this juncture we arrive at the turning point in the prophecy.
The attention of Israel is at last arrested, and as a last
resource the nation is constrained by a yet more wonderful
demonstration of divine patience to consider her desperate
state. The attention is first called to a further list of
follies that were proving fatal to all that was desirable in
chastity, comradeship and co-operation. Moral corruption had
already crippled every phase of devotion while commercial
prostitution had paralyzed all semblance of dominion. Because
of disbelief, the nation had become more valueless and
dangerous than a drifting derelict in a whirlpool. Sins of
perversity have always been linked with sin's penalty by a
strongly-forged chain which makes their punishment inevitable
and irrevocable, yet there stands out from the somber gray
background of national guilt, in glistening neon letters, the
prophetic notice-board announcing God's sovereign sympathy
together with His readiness to receive all who turn from their
wickedness and seek Him. What could be more winsome than the
resolute patience of God pledging deliverance and pardon to
all who return? What is more wonderful in reassurance than
making repentance possible even to the worst offenders? What
news is more welcome to the rebellious than hearing that
retributive penalty is conditional and will only be
administered in the case of those who obdurately resist mercy?
Where shall we find a more wooing proclamation than that the
redemptive power of God is able to snap the awful chain that
binds the sinner to his judicial sentence of punishment? When
we discover in the Word of God that the righteousness provided
for our acceptance is from above and not from human sources,
is it possible for anyone to disregard the Lord's loving
invitation to return? These are but some of the many beauties
in the beneficent mercy of God associated with the renewed
entreaty made to encourage Israel to come back to the former
attitude of fidelity.
INSOLENCE Ch. 8
only did Israel forget the faithfulness of God, but insolently
flung away His gifts and repudiated His goodness. The nation
sought tranquility by ignoring reality. The causes of their
faithlessness and fickleness are clearly indicated, and
include the transgressing of the covenant, her thrusting aside
of all good, the toleration of idolatry, while trading in
illegal things and utilizing the gold and silver in sacrilege,
also in trafficking with Assyria and coquetting with hired
helpers, temporizing with the sacred law and traducing the
holy things of sacrifice. Most tragic of all was the turning
away from the truth and the forgetfulness of their Maker.
aspect contributes fresh evidence against the sinning nation
as being the offending party. The charges made declared in
plainest terms the stark inconsistency of the national
attitude. When, in earlier history, the nation was faced with
the facts of the covenant, they wholeheartedly resolved to
render allegiance, but were now flagrantly rebelling against
it. The trouble did not involve some trifling detail, but the
whole mediatorial contract was violated.
Israel disregarded the divine authority, dishonored God's
name, defied the law, disgraced the privileges of sacred
relationship, and determined to select kings without referring
the matter to the Lord. Is there any experience more to be
deplored than to be deserted by those who hold nearest
James II, who came to the throne of England in 1685, soon
evinced his vassalage to foreign powers, and because of this
descended to depths of shameful abasement. With a haughty
self-assertive spirit he persisted in religious celebrations
that were under the ban of severe penal statutes. In his
Declaration of Indulgence, in l688, which commenced as follows
— “We have thought fit by virtue of our royal prerogative,” he
falsely assumed the exercise of divine authority, while in his
declaration to Scotland, he said, “We, by our sovereign
authority, prerogative royal, and absolute power, do hereby
give and grant our royal toleration ... God has given me the
dispensing power, and I will maintain it.” This claim is as
preposterous as that which was formerly made by the Emperor of
Japan, whom General McArthur compelled to disavow such
The English king could face the most abject plea for mercy
unmoved. Even at an hour of disaffection throughout the whole
realm, when deserted by his armies and despised by former
supporters, he pursued his course unflinchingly. However, when
it came to members of his household departing from him, hard
as he was, he wept in bitter emotion and cried, “God help me,
my children have forsaken me.”
In broad contrast, the Lord had been infinite in His kindness
toward Israel, tender in His compassion, and constant in His
wondrous care through long centuries. Can we then comprehend
the measure of His agonizing grief when His own children
dishonored and deserted Him? What incongruous ingratitude!
To forsake good and foster evil is the surest way of
frustrating the grace of God. The Northern Kingdom rebelled
against the House of David, resorted to conspiracy, removed
reigning princes, re-established selfish policies, respected
pernicious idolatry, and relapsed from obeying the law. The
issue of all this led to Menahan appealing for foreign
support, which he obtained at a ruinous cost to the country.
Uzziah, in the Southern Kingdom, built fortified cities to
ensure safety from the threatening Assyrian invasion, but all
was without avail for they had deserted their God. No other
prophet penetrated so deeply into the heart of things and saw
the ugly nastiness of appalling sin, nor understood more
clearly the urgent necessity for astounding judgment, nor did
any other so fully comprehend the unique nature of amazing
INTEMPERANCE Ch. 9
word joy in v. 1 means “exultation” and implies “leaping for
very joy.” This is the only occurrence of the word in the
prophecy, although the cognate verb occurs in ch. 10:5. The
noun form is traceable but ten times over the whole range of
Scripture from Job 3:22 to Dan. 1:10. This exultant bridal joy
had been hindered by a history that was blighted with
unfaithfulness and intemperance. On this account, fellowship,
felicity, and fruitful growth had ceased entirely.
The joyless experience of superficiality was marked by
backsliding, bankruptcy, and bondage, vs. 1-3. The prospects
of hopeful desire and healthful delight had become benighted,
and were to be followed by sore bondage, vs. 2-6. The people
were destined to be driven back to their former state where in
bankruptcy they would again eat the bread of mourners, namely,
“the unclean things pertaining to the house of the dead;”
all permission of access to the presence of God was forbidden.
Thus the beauty and bounty of the bridal banquet was entirely
reversed, and the mirthful delight that should have been their
lasting portion was turned to a mournful dirge. The Northern
Kingdom had imbibed the idolatry of Egypt, and adopted the
calf worship; therefore they were consigned to be taken again
to taste Egyptian bondage, vs. 3,6,17.
The senseless escapade of selfishness led to bitterness,
barrenness, and baseness, vs. 7‑10. This course may all be
traced to a disregard for the Word of God, v. 17. However,
there can be no ignoring of the avalanche of approaching
judgment, “The days of visitation are come, the days of
recompense are come, Israel shall know it,” v. 7.
references to the word “prophet” occur in the entire message,
and in v. 7 the office is connected with the “spiritual man”
or “man of the spirit,” which, in this case is the title which
the false prophets had taken to themselves.
Ephraim had once been a watchman with God, an expression
indicating the function to which they were formerly called,
but probably the use made here is blended with a dash of
satire. How awful is this figure, to be accounted “hatred”
itself in the house of worship. Dr. Pusey points out that
there is a similar use made of the word “prayer” as being
personified in Psa. 109:4, “But I prayer.”
The use made of the word in Genesis in relation to Jacob and
Joseph speaks of flesh hatred against the spirit, Gen. 27:41;
40:23; 50:15. Having consecrated themselves to the shameful
thing which is called the whoredom of idolatry, they had
become Nazarites of corruption. In the Old Testament, the
cognate noun of “separate” is used 25 times: 14 of these refer
to the Nazarites; so they became separated to shame, and were
fashioned in similar likeness to the thing they loved. The
fruitless energy of selfishness resulted in bereavement,
banishment and blasting.
The mention of Ephraim's fruitlessness is increased
forcefully when we remember that his name means “double
fruitfulness.” The wickedness that wrought this havoc extended
to Gilgal, which had formerly been the center of solemn
blessing. The place was now a sphere of idolatrous rites.
Every one of us exercises some influence for good or evil on
our posterity. Ephraim's behavior was to be detrimental to
future generations. When we consider Abraham's act of unbelief
that resulted in the birth of Ishmael, from whom came the
Arabs, and from whence arose Mohammed, we comprehend how many
millions have been affected. On the other hand, by Abraham's
act of faith in believing God's promise of an heir, Isaac was
born; through Isaac the Jewish race, and by this line Christ
was manifested, and influenced the world for its very best.
joyless, senseless course brought in its train drudgery,
adversity and insecurity. Some years ago the only daughter of
a renowned evangelist of this Commonwealth was married to a
Christian builder and contractor. He provided her with a
magnificent home and every facility that heart could desire.
After the birth of their first-born, the wife said that she
was no longer strong enough to attend to the cooking, washing,
cleaning and other household matters, and asked for more
servants to attend to these things. She also maintained that
she lacked the necessary strength to have any more children.
Four years later she became fascinated with another man and
deserted the husband who had provided her with every comfort
and luxury. The paramour was a worker in much poorer
circumstances and the unfaithful woman soon found herself in
the university of hard knocks. Within the five years that
followed she had three additional children, a full quota of
housework without help, a meaner dwelling, and yet submitted
to the drudgery. Israel, as a nation was in similar plight.
IRREVERENCE Ch. 10
iniquities and idolatries of the people weighed heavily on the
prophet’s heart. He realized how needful it was for the
disease to be thoroughly diagnosed ere it could be effectively
dealt with. The inspired eloquence with which Hosea emphasized
the essential need for God's judgment to be meted out is
arresting. Obelisks and pillars had been erected to false gods
all over the land, but one decisive blow and all were to be
broken amid a holocaust of confusion and devastation.
— Israel had become very conspicuous and is represented as
a luxurious vine, but the greater the crop the graver her
corruption, and the better the harvest the bigger the
idolatrous pillars erected. Sad indeed that toward God this
vine was valueless.
Virtueless Covenant —
covenant pledges that had been made, accompanied by solemn
vows were considered null and void, because the heart of the
people lacked virtue.
— The calves of Bethaven, a name meaning “house of vanity,”
led to degrading worship, associated with disgusting rites
that were corrupt and vulgar, v. 5.
— The counsel given lacked kingly authority, and therefore
the administration became incompetent and vague, vs. 6-7.
— The cries for cover to shield them from the rumblings of
retributive justice were wholly unavailing, v. 8. The obvious
reason is given. The conditions of corruption had continued to
characterize the nation through the centuries since the days
of Gibeah. On that memorable occasion a few hundred had
escaped the judgment; this time they were to be totally
— The considerateness of God toward Ephraim is now
to be reversed and replaced by a tyrant who will make the
nation his victim, vs. 10-11.
The conduct of Israel is next graphically described under the
figures of sowing and reaping. The picture shows that the very
thing produced becomes the penalty, and this is to be
accompanied by the announcement of the ultimate verdict, vs.
Vengeance Cited —
cruelty of Assyria is to be experienced in the place of the
compassion of the Almighty, and the invasion of the land by
Shalmanezer will be the occasion of vengeance.
God is love, and God is one. The unity and immutability of
His character are stated at the commencement of Israel's
national history, Deut. 6:4. Their life in reality is directed
by law, in simplicity, “Thou shalt love,” “Thou shalt love.”
True love observes and obeys. Life is made virtuous by a
single aim and becomes vocal by reason of a supreme affection.
Vigorous activity is the sure result, because the mind,
motives, and the movements are constrained by love. A glad
submission makes a joyous disposition, and leads to a fragrant
expression of God's virtue in witness.
The cause of inconstancy and corruption may be traced to a
double mind, a divided heart, and a deceitful soul, vs. 2, 4.
Such features are symptomatic of a malignant moral disease.
The violation of Divine love constitutes the heinousness of
sin in every age. The only way to compensate God for His
goodness is by rendering to Him the obedience of love. The
grave warning given to this nation at the beginning is clear
and explicit, “Beware lest thou forget the Lord,” Deut.
6:12. In this prophecy Israel is charged with the guilt of
this very sin, Hos. 8:14.
INDIFFERENCE Ch. 11
The whole argument of the book may well be epitomized in the
early verses of this chapter. The poor, unlovely child had
nothing to attract. Israel was born in slavery, forlorn and
oppressed, and was compelled to labor in the brick kilns of
Egypt. Yet, withal, God’s gracious compassion cared for and
called them out, conferred an inheritance upon them, conducted
a campaign of conquest in their interest, consolidated their
kingdom, commissioned prophets and kings to steer the ship of
state, and centered their national life in a magnificent
temple. The calendar given for their guidance and good
contained seven nationwide holidays a year, one of which
lasted 14 days. These were combined with ceremonial feasts and
sabbaths which were designed to furnish society with every
spiritual privilege and benefit.
Yet in the face of all this, God's wounded love was compelled
to witness against them in the sad statement, “My people
are bent on backsliding from Me.” By virtue of the
centuries of guardianship during which time prolific bounty,
patient care, and providing love had been lavished without
stint, the Lord in reviewing it all, exclaimed, “O Ephraim,
how shall I give thee up?” The clear, bright, steady flame
of eternal love bursts through the dark background of Israel's
ingratitude and inconstancy and is all the brighter because of
the dismal surroundings. Notice the seven-fold sovereignty and
sympathy which is expressed in vs. 1-4.
Electing Grace —
Israel was a child I loved him.” The occasion refers to a
condition of immaturity and incompetence at a time when the
nation was untutored and undeveloped. The picture figures the
people as being without strength, without sustenance, and
without security, needing constant attention, considerate
affection, and custody through adoption into the family of
God. In their child-condition they required to be cherished,
nourished and caressed.
Emancipating Grace —
called my son out of Egypt.” This implies that God broke
the yoke of bondage, opened a way out from the jaws of
oppression, directed the departure for Canaan, by freeing them
from all fear of the foe. Yea, more, they were called to share
the divine company, and the Lord became as a faithful Father
to a newly-formed family of sons and daughters. By virtue of
His infinite resource He was able to endow, enrich and ennoble
them as a community.
Edifying Grace —
taught Ephraim also to go, taking them by their arms.” The
Lord not only trained and tended the nation, but nurtured them
even as a nurse, and matured them even as a mother. He made a
way where there was no way, and took them step by step until
they were strong and sturdy, and in times of emergency threw
His protecting arms around them to shield from attack. (Deut.
God's Endearing Grace —
they knew not that I healed them.” God ministered to the
moral maladies of the soul, the mental immaturities of the
spirit, as well as the many forms of physical frailty. In His
patience He perfected that which concerned them, although they
were unmindful of His mercy and ungrateful for His unfailing
Entrancing Grace —
drew them with the cords of a man, and with the bands of love.”
Gently, lovingly, appealingly, He drew them with the charming
attractiveness of silken cords and bridal love. Also the bands
of marriage, which were intended to culminate in an unending
union in bliss, were published.
— “I was to them as they that lift up the yoke on their
jaws.” This may mean that as a merciful master He placed
His yoke upon them, a yoke which is easy, in the place of the
galling yoke of slavery. Strange to say they regarded the
respite He gave them as being an irksome restraint. The
freedom obtained from the fetters of Egypt seemed to beget in
them a longing for license to do as they pleased instead of
seeking to please Him.
Enriching Grace —
laid meat before them.” The manifold manna in its
plenitude, and the systematic supply provided by a faithful
Father's hand were not appreciated. Wells of water in a
wilderness! Abundance of bread in surroundings of barrenness!
Seeing that He furnished their food in such fruitless
territory, could He not feed them on the fittest of wheat in a
How personal the divine pleading becomes at this point:
“How shall I give thee up?”
“How shall I deliver thee?”
“How shall I make thee?”
“How shall I set thee?” v. 8.
God is strangely moved to the deepest degree of His infinite
heart of compassion, and does not wait for a reply, but
promptly answers His own questions in four negatives.
“I will not,” “I will not,” “I’m God, and not man,” “I will
not,” v. 9.
The chapter ends in a four-fold use of the word “with,” which
should be particularly noted. The passage impresses us most
deeply that in the direst age and darkest day, God will not,
and does not, leave Himself without direct witness and devout
worship. He ever draws but does not drive, yea, and He is
still drawing to Himself. He drew Moses, Exo., 2:10; He drew
David, Psa. 18:16; He drew His bride, Song of Sol., 1:4; He
drew Israel, Jer. 31:3. He still adopts the same method in
drawing men, John 6:46; 12:32.
What wonderful cords and hands are these. — The cord of
sympathy in sorrow as in v. 4, or as demonstrated in the case
of Naomi and Ruth.
The cord of gratitude for goodness, which is expressed by the
willing slave, "I love my master.” Exo. 21:5.
The cord of bridal belovedness, as in the case of Isaac and
Rebekah, Gen. 24:58, or Christ and His church, Eph. 5:25.
The cord of faithful friendship, like that which knit the
soul of David and Jonathan, I Sam. 1:1, cf. Prov. 17:17.
The cord of the Babe of Bethlehem, “Unto us a child is
born,” Isa. 9:6; Matt. 2:6.
The cord of a merciful ministry, Mark 9:23; John 13:45.
The cord of a confirmed covenant, “This is the blood of
the new covenant,” Luke 22:20; Heb. 13:20.
The cord of a crucial cross, Matt. 27:42; II Cor. 5:22.
The cord of an all-glorious ascension, Mark 16:19; Acts 1:11.
The cord of an interminable intercession, Acts 7:56; Heb.
the light of all this, can we not enter in to the confident
joy of the apostle Paul when he exclaims, “I am persuaded
that neither life, nor death, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor authorities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor
height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall he able to
separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our
Lord.” Such love is a revelation whether it be in
redemption, reconciliation, regeneration, or re-creation. More
and more we become convinced that the subject of this prophecy
is the infinite, incomprehensible and ineffable love of God.
I am His
and He is mine.”
with everlasting love,
led by grace that love to know
Spirit, breathing from above,
Thou hast taught me it is so!
Oh, this full and perfect peace!
Oh, this transport all Divine!
In a love which cannot cease,
Where, in all literature, is there any instance of an
integrity so steadfast toward the inconsistent? Think once
again of the insistent pleading and impassioned intreaty that
are co-mingled here with the overtures of an infinite love.
Although their vision was so blurred that the beauty of the
Lord's kingliness was unobserved, and the bounty of His
kindliness unrecognized, He continued to befriend them.
He was generous to the remotest bound, and gracious to the
uttermost degree possible. How matchless was His mercy, how
priceless His patience, and how boundless His blessing! As the
Shepherd of Israel He was charmingly constant in faithfulness
and sympathetically sensitive in His considerateness of
spite of the unlovable willfulness and undesirable waywardness
of the people, the Lord remained the same in His attitude,
invariable in His care, and unchangeable in His compassion.