Hosea prophesies throughout the reigns of Israel's final seven kings. He does not fail his commission; he is faithful to the LORD until the end.
Hosea's final prophecy sounds an urgent plea for repentance, "O Israel, return to the LORD your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity; take words with you, and return to the LORD. Say to him, "Take away all iniquity; receive us graciously, for we will offer the sacrifices of our lips. Assyria shall not save us" (Hos. 14:1-3). In response to their repentance the LORD promises healing, "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely" (14:4).
Israel, however, refuses to heed Hosea's warnings. And into captivity they go! Israel as a nation ceases to exist.
Four primary characteristics define Israel as a nation and lead to their demise:
Prosperity precipitates Israel's idolatry, "According to the multitude of his fruit he has increased the altars; according to the bounty of his land they have embellished his sacred pillars" (Hosea 10:1). Read Proverbs 30:7-9 to understand the temptations that accompany both prosperity and poverty.
Lawsuits divide the community, "They have spoken words, swearing falsely and making a covenant. Thus judgment springs up like hemlock in the furrows of the field" (10:4).
Idolatry dominates Israel's landscape, "The inhabitants of Samaria fear because of the calf of Beth Aven" (10:5).
Self-reliance becomes Israel's boast, "Because you trusted in your own way, in the multitude of your mighty men. Therefore tumult shall arise among your people, and all your fortresses shall be plundered (10:13-14).
A nation that does not honor the LORD, rejects the LORD's messengers, and continues in sin soon finds itself vulnerable to greater nations. Hope, however, is just one cry away. Sadly, when rebellious men and nations refuse to acknowledge the LORD, God gives them over to their enemies. They learn the warning of Deuteronomy 28:47-48, "Because you did not serve the LORD your God with joy . . . you shall serve your enemies."
What analogies does the LORD use to describe His jealousy toward His people Israel?
What hope does the end of Hosea's message offer Israel? What does this reveal about God's covenant faithfulness?
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