Hosea 4-10
(Oracles of Hosea)
September 15th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

Please refer to one or more Bible versions of your choice to read this section. We recommend that you read at least two versions for added understanding. For your convenience, we have provided six links below, each of which takes you directly to today's chapters in a specific version:

Key Verse

- “Come, let us return to the Lord;
    for it is he who has torn, and he will heal us;
    he has struck down, and he will bind us up.

After two days he will revive us;
    on the third day he will raise us up,
    that we may live before him."

- Hosea 6:1-2 (NRSV)

Summary of Chapters

These chapters consist of a long explanation of sins committed by Israel and Judah followed by a description of forthcoming punishment for these two half-kingdoms. In chapter 4, Hosea introduces the case that the LORD presents against his people. He begins by pointing out the general categories of sins – which represent at least four or five of the Ten Commandments:

The LORD also points out the disreputable actions of the priests who should have educated the people regarding their Creator but in place of that led them in worship of false idols.

In chapter 5 the LORD reminds the people that he sees all they do – and is not happy! Therefore, when they seek him they will not find him: "They shall go with their flocks and with their herds to seek the Lord; but they shall not find him; he hath withdrawn himself from them (Hos 5:6 - KJV).”

Hosea is a prophet in the Northern Kingdom, but the LORD makes clear that he is addressing both the North (Ephraim, aka Israel) and the South (Judah). He recalls how Ephraim sought help from Assyria instead of the LORD and says he will attack both kingdoms like a lion and “tear them to pieces (Hos 5:14 - NIV).”

Chapter 6 depicts the people as unrepentant – waiting for the LORD to rescue them but not demonstrating sincere faith. The priests should have been serving the people, but instead had been hijacking them on their way to sacrifice (presumably demanding additional sacrifices beyond what is reasonable).

In chapter 7, the LORD points out the error of Ephraim’s alliance with Assyria and Egypt. These nations mocked and deceived the leaders of Ephraim and would be of no help when needed. Meanwhile, the people of Ephraim lied about their LORD, denying that he is the source of their strength and power.

Chapter 8 recounts how Israel chose their own rulers without consulting with the LORD and made idols from precious metals. Israel and Judah built palaces and forts to defend themselves, but the LORD will destroy all of these.

In chapter 9, Hosea warns the people of Israel not to rejoice because their day of reckoning will soon arrive and they will be dispersed to foreign lands. The LORD is disappointed because the people had so much potential. Finding their forefathers was like “finding grapes in the desert (Hos 9:10 - NIV),” but they became wicked and no longer bore fruit. Therefore, Hosea explains that God rejects them and sentences them to “wandering among the nations (Hos 9:17 - NIV).”

Chapter 10 begins with a description of Israel as a healthy vine, bearing fruit. But when it prospered it gave credit to foreign gods instead of the true God. Yet their idols were so powerless that they were carried away by the invading Assyrians. The people of Israel and Judah had planted wickedness instead of righteousness – therefore the LORD allowed them to be defeated in battle.

Reflection and Application

This set of chapters is like a court case where God plays the role of detective, prosecutor, judge, jury, and executioner. Hosea is working for God as a spokesman on the case, and there appears to be no reasonable defense. Those who should have led the people took advantage of them and everyone else cheated their neighbor. God may try his case against us in the same way – he certainly has plenty of evidence. But we have Jesus as our advocate who is willing to accept the punishment for us and desires a relationship with us. We only have to accept his offer.

In some sections God seems to hint at his willingness to forgive, if the people had acknowledged him and repented: “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgement of God rather than burnt offerings (Hos 6:6 - NIV).” We can avoid our judgment by acknowledging our God and seeking to understand his unique call for us.

God is omniscient. The people of Hosea’s time had been behaving as if he could not observe them (or hoping he would not care). How does it make us feel to know God sees every action and knows every thought? It can be scary and comforting at the same time. We are never free from his eyes, but he does give us a long leash of free will. We should find comfort that he is always there – not like a prison warden, but like an invisible friend, a bodyguard that can warn us of danger and hears us when we call. When we sense him saying “Watch Out!” we better listen or we will find out the hard way what he was anticipating.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. Who has been a big help to you this week?
    2. From whom do we seek help ? It’s okay to seek help from other people, but ultimately our help comes from God. Israel and Judah sought spiritual help from the wrong parties. Are we guilty of the same mistake?
    3. What subtle words of warning has God given you this week?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven we know that you formed us, you know us, and are always with us. Help us to call you instead of some imposter and help us to hear you above the noise of our world.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns
    Church Leaders


    (1) Saint Matthew Music and Ministry blog "He Knows My Name," 9/14/12

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Hosea 11-14 (Bridge to Redemption)

    Comments and Questions
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