Free Bible Study Magazine
Prophet of the Broken Heart: The Cry of Hosea
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Extract from our new book: not yet released!
Chapter 7 Spiritual Healing
God’s Way for Spiritual Healing
7:1 When I would heal Israel, the iniquity of Ephraim is revealed, and the evil deeds of Samaria; for they deal falsely; the thief breaks in, and the bandits raid outside.
In order to heal Israel, God first of all had to make her realise the true nature of her spiritual condition. He did this by sending the prophets who highlighted the ways in which the people were sinning against God. Unfortunately, although the people were very religious, their religion proved to be a sham – it was fake, not heart-felt. The people of Israel were religious but not righteous; pious but not truly God-honouring. Instead of responding to the word of God given by the prophets with repentance and obedience they continued to rebel. Indeed, such was the evil environment which they had created that burglary and highway robbery flourished in the land.
7:2 But they do not consider that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them; they are before my face.
The reason that Israel paid no heed to the word of God and the warnings of the prophets was that they did not believe them. Either they did not accept the fact that at some future time they would give an account of themselves to God, or they simply did not care about it. Nevertheless, such would be the case (Rom. 14:11; Matt. 12:36). God saw that the people were “surrounded” by their sins – held captive in bondage and unable to free themselves from sin.
Such is the situation for all those outside of Jesus Christ – they are slaves of sin (John 8:34; Rom. 6:16). Outside of Christ we are all in this bondage (Eph. 2:1-3), and only Christ can set us free (John 8:36; Rom. 6:17-18). The importance of being delivered from our sins through faith in Christ cannot be stressed to highly, for God has a record of every sin which every person has ever committed and one day he will judge all people for their sins (Rev. 20:12).
How many people today, like the people of Israel in Hosea’s time, fail to heed the warnings of the God’s word concerning future judgment? Why do they refuse to believe in the inescapable truth? Because to accept it would spoil their fun; it would mean that they would have to repent, change their ways and seek God for mercy – things which they are not prepared to do. So, because of their impenitent heart, they “store up wrath for themselves against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Rom. 2:5)
Incidentally, in the great need of our world today, God’s way for spiritual healing has not changed. God must first show men and women their sinful condition before he can present to them the remedy for sin and granting of pardon through faith in his Son the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Rule of Anarchy
7:3 By their evil they make the king glad, and the princes by their treachery.
One of the reasons why crime, especially burglary, flourished was that it was unchecked by Israel’s rulers. Since all the leaders cared about was their own pleasures, they failed to govern the country as they ought. They were glad to see the people’s wickedness since it provided a cloak for their own. When a nation has turned its back on God and has accepted lower moral standards, ungodly leaders are pleased, for they will then be allowed to indulge their own pleasures without opposition from the people.
7:4 They are all adulterers; they are like a heated oven whose baker ceases to stir the fire, from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
Especially was the sin of sexual immorality rife in the land. Hosea describes the whole nation as being as hot as a pre heated oven, so much did they burn in lust. The same vice is common today. Not only is homosexuality among men and women on the increase in our modern age, but men and women consider faithfulness to one’s marriage partner to be unfashionable. Some say that we ought to have several partners before we decide which one to marry. In saying this they try to cast off responsibility for making the right choice in the first place. What is more they think nothing of having one or more sexual relationships with someone other than their own spouse. In the society in which we live wrong is hailed as right and right is rejected as wrong. Let the Christian heed the word of God about sexual relationships rather than the media, and they will blessed. Paul advises men and women that it is better to marry than to burn with lust (1 Cor. 7:9); for within marriage, the sexual relationship between husband and wife is pure and holy (Heb. 13:4). Woe betides the man or woman, says Jesus, who splits up a marriage by adultery (Matt. 19:6). Unfaithfulness to one’s marriage partner is a sin against God. Paul’s very candid advice (it is advice, rather than the command of God) to Christian married couples is that they should ensure that they have sex as frequently as either partner wishes, so as to reduce the temptation placed on either partner to seek this pleasure elsewhere (1 Cor. 7:5).
7:5 On the day of our king, the princes became sick with the heat of wine; he stretched out his hand with mockers.
Drink was another outstanding factor of the nation’s apostasy. Even the king and the princes, on national feast days, rather than honouring God with their sacrifices, praise and thanksgiving, got drunk like any common louts, drinking until they were sick (Prov. 23:29-30). Whilst such behaviour is common in our Western culture today, Christians are warned not to get drunk, for it leads to acts of sin (Eph. 5:18).
7:6-7 For with hearts like an oven they approach their intrigue; all night their anger smoulders; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven, and they devour their rulers. All their kings have fallen, and none of them calls upon me.
However, there was method behind the actions of the princes. They were not trying to get the king or his advisors drunk for fun. Evil plots burned in their hearts to kill him and seize his power. Indeed, history records that in this period, after the death of Jeroboam II, that one after another the kings of Israel were murdered through intrigue until the anarchy which heralded the end of the nation set in prior to the invasion of Assyria. Yet despite this situation, there was not a single person in government office who called on God for mercy on behalf of the nation.
Unfaithfulness to God was the Cause of Israel’s Weakness
7:8 Ephraim mixes himself with the peoples; Ephraim is a cake not turned.
It was because Israel had mingled herself with the nations and adopted their sinful and idolatrous practices that she had become so unpalatable to God and useless, rather like a cake burned on one side and raw on the other. A similar illustration is used by the Lord Jesus Christ when speaking to the lukewarm, worldly church of Laodicea. They had allowed material things to take their eyes from the Lord. Rather than being on fire for God, they craved a comfortable life of comparative wealth and ease. Jesus said to them, “Because you are lukewarm I will spit you out of my mouth.”
In just the same way Christians today can become unpalatable to the Lord and useless to him because of their worldliness.
7:9-10 Strangers devour his strength, and he knows it not; grey hairs are sprinkled upon him, and he knows it not. The pride of Israel testifies to his face; yet they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him, for all this.
It was Israel’s mixing with the nations that led to her weakness. Rather than rely on God in times of national trouble, they had paid tribute and sought to make peace treaties with foreign kings. All of this backfired on them, for God alone was to be their strength and their relationship with him was to be their security. Politically and morally, the signs of decay were evident in the nation – anyone could have realised that the end was near. But Israel did not realise. The grey hairs of a man’s head show him that old age and ultimately death are on the way. But because of his pride, Israel failed to recognise the warning signs which God had given them so they and did not turn to God in repentance.
7:11-12 Ephraim is like a dove, silly and without sense, calling to Egypt, going to Assyria. As they go, I will spread over them my net; I will bring them down like birds of the heavens; I will discipline them according to the report made to their congregation.
God illustrates the folly of the nation, who will seek help from their neighbouring superpowers, but will not ask for help from almighty God. Because of this, God would make sure that the help of the nations was of no use to Israel at all, and he would punish them just as the prophets had warned. God would teach Israel that their help came only from God.
7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled from me: destruction unto them! because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. (AV)
The woe pronounced is because Israel has fled from God, abandoning him as a bird flies the nest. Their sin against God had brought about their own destruction as a nation. They had been unfaithful to the one who had redeemed them and brought them out of Egypt; who gave them the land in which they lived. Instead of worshipping him, they had attributed all these blessings to their idols, so now God would take back their land and send them once again into slavery.
7:14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me. (AV)
In the trouble which the nation faced, they had not called upon God, although they had cried aloud and spent sleepless nights in anxiety about what was happening to them, and about where their food was going to come from. Instead, they sought the favour and blessing of their idols in order to obtain grain and oil. In doing this they wilfully rebelled against the chastening hand of God, who had brought this trouble upon them to bring them back to him. This was not ignorance but stubbornness.
The scripture warns us as believers not to rebel against the chastening hand of God (Heb. 12:5-6). The history of the nation of Israel illustrates that there is a difference between true repentance and sorrow for sin, and mere regret at the loss or pain which sin has caused (Rev. 16:10-11).
7:15 Although I trained and strengthened their arms, yet they devise evil against me.
Grotius explains, “Whether I chastised them (Margin) or strengthened their arms, they imagined mischief against Me.” Whatever God did in an effort to bring the nation back to him, nothing had worked. This is the way in which they had become useless, good for nothing, and nothing more could be done with them. The apostasy of the nation was complete. An apostate could be simply described as someone for whom nothing more can be done.
7:16 They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue: this shall be their derision in the land of Egypt.
In their distress, the people did not turn to God for help, but to their idols and their foreign allies. Yet these could not and did not help them, any more than a bow which misfires is of any help to its archer. God would ensure that the rulers of Israel would pay for their blasphemy and arrogant speeches against him and he would bring such disaster on them that would cause their neighbours the Egyptians to ridicule them as a nation.