July 20, Hosea 1-7

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The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and of Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel.

Hosea’s Marriage and Children

When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him:

Go and marry a woman of promiscuity,
and have children of promiscuity,
for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity
by abandoning the Lord.

So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to him:

Name him Jezreel,[a] for in a little while
I will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel
on the house of Jehu
and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
On that day I will break the bow of Israel
in Jezreel Valley.

She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter, and the Lord said to him:

Name her Lo-ruhamah,[b]
for I will no longer have compassion
on the house of Israel.
I will certainly take them away.
But I will have compassion on the house of Judah,
and I will deliver them by the Lord their God.
I will not deliver them by bow, sword, or war,
or by horses and cavalry.

After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. Then the Lord said:

Name him Lo-ammi,[c]
for you are not my people,
and I will not be your God.[d]
10 Yet the number of the Israelites
will be like the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured or counted.
And in the place where they were told:
You are not my people,
they will be called: Sons of the living God.
11 And the Judeans and the Israelites
will be gathered together.
They will appoint for themselves a single ruler
and go up from[e] the land.
For the day of Jezreel will be great.
Call[f] your brothers: My People
and your sisters: Compassion.

Israel’s Adultery Rebuked

Rebuke your mother; rebuke her.
For she is not my wife and I am not her husband.
Let her remove the promiscuous look from her face
and her adultery from between her breasts.
Otherwise, I will strip her naked
and expose her as she was on the day of her birth.
I will make her like a desert
and like a parched land,
and I will let her die of thirst.
I will have no compassion on her children
because they are the children of promiscuity.
Yes, their mother is promiscuous;
she conceived them and acted shamefully.
For she thought, “I will follow my lovers,
the men who give me my food and water,
my wool and flax, my oil and drink.”
Therefore, this is what I will do:
I will block her[g] way with thorns;
I will enclose her with a wall,
so that she cannot find her paths.
She will pursue her lovers but not catch them;
she will look for them but not find them.
Then she will think,
“I will go back to my former husband,
for then it was better for me than now.”
She does not recognize
that it is I who gave her the grain,
the new wine, and the fresh oil.
I lavished silver and gold on her,
which they used for Baal.
Therefore, I will take back my grain in its time
and my new wine in its season;
I will take away my wool and linen,
which were to cover her nakedness.
10 Now I will expose her shame
in the sight of her lovers,
and no one will rescue her from my power.
11 I will put an end to all her celebrations:
her feasts, New Moons, and Sabbaths—
all her festivals.
12 I will devastate her vines and fig trees.
She thinks that these are her wages
that her lovers have given her.
I will turn them into a thicket,
and the wild animals will eat them.
13 And I will punish her for the days of the Baals,
to which she burned incense.
She put on her rings and her jewelry
and followed her lovers,
but she forgot me.

This is the Lord’s declaration.

Israel’s Adultery Forgiven

14 Therefore, I am going to persuade her,
lead her to the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.[h]
15 There I will give her vineyards back to her
and make the Valley of Achor[i]
into a gateway of hope.
There she will respond as she did
in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 In that day—
this is the Lord’s declaration—
you will call me “my husband”
and no longer call me “my Baal.”[j]
17 For I will remove the names of the Baals
from her mouth;
they will no longer be remembered by their names.
18 On that day I will make a covenant for them
with the wild animals, the birds of the sky,
and the creatures that crawl on the ground.
I will shatter bow, sword,
and weapons of war in the land[k]
and will enable the people to rest securely.
19 I will take you to be my wife forever.
I will take you to be my wife in righteousness,
justice, love, and compassion.
20 I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness,
and you will know the Lord.
21 On that day I will respond—
this is the Lord’s declaration.
I will respond to the sky,
and it will respond to the earth.
22 The earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine, and the fresh oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
23 I will sow her[l] in the land for myself,
and I will have compassion
on Lo-ruhamah;
I will say to Lo-ammi:
You are my people,
and he will say, “You are my God.”

Waiting for Restoration

Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”

So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and nine bushels of barley.[m][n] I said to her, “You are to live with me many days. You must not be promiscuous or belong to any man, and I will act the same way toward you.”

For the Israelites must live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the last days.

God’s Case against Israel

Hear the word of the Lord, people of Israel,
for the Lord has a case
against the inhabitants of the land:
There is no truth, no faithful love,
and no knowledge of God in the land!
Cursing, lying, murder, stealing,
and adultery are rampant;
one act of bloodshed follows another.
For this reason the land mourns,
and everyone who lives in it languishes,
along with the wild animals and the birds of the sky;
even the fish of the sea disappear.
But let no one dispute; let no one argue,
for my case is against you priests.[o][p]
You will stumble by day;
the prophet will also stumble with you by night.
And I will destroy your mother.
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.
Because you have rejected knowledge,
I will reject you from serving as my priest.
Since you have forgotten the law of your God,
I will also forget your sons.

The more they multiplied,
the more they sinned against me.
I[q] will change their[r] honor into disgrace.
They feed on the sin[s] of my people;
they have an appetite for their iniquity.
The same judgment will happen
to both people and priests.
I will punish them for their ways
and repay them for their deeds.
10 They will eat but not be satisfied;
they will be promiscuous but not multiply.
For they have abandoned their devotion to the Lord.
11 Promiscuity, wine, and new wine
take away one’s understanding.

12 My people consult their wooden idols,
and their divining rods inform them.
For a spirit of promiscuity leads them astray;
they act promiscuously
in disobedience to[t] their God.
13 They sacrifice on the mountaintops,
and they burn offerings on the hills,
and under oaks, poplars, and terebinths,
because their shade is pleasant.
And so your daughters act promiscuously
and your daughters-in-law commit adultery.
14 I will not punish your daughters
when they act promiscuously
or your daughters-in-law
when they commit adultery,
for the men themselves go off with prostitutes
and make sacrifices with cult prostitutes.
People without discernment are doomed.

Warnings for Israel and Judah

15 Israel, if you act promiscuously,
don’t let Judah become guilty!
Do not go to Gilgal
or make a pilgrimage to Beth-aven,[u]
and do not swear an oath: As the Lord lives!
16 For Israel is as obstinate as a stubborn cow.
Can the Lord now shepherd them
like a lamb in an open meadow?
17 Ephraim is attached to idols;
leave him alone!
18 When their drinking is over,
they turn to promiscuity.
Israel’s leaders[v] fervently love disgrace.[w]
19 A wind with its wings will carry them off,[x]
and they will be ashamed of their sacrifices.

Hear this, priests!
Pay attention, house of Israel!
Listen, royal house!
For the judgment applies to you
because you have been a snare at Mizpah
and a net spread out on Tabor.
Rebels are deeply involved in slaughter;
I will be a punishment for all of them.[y]
I know Ephraim,
and Israel is not hidden from me.
For now, Ephraim,
you have acted promiscuously;
Israel is defiled.
Their actions do not allow them
to return to their God,
for a spirit of promiscuity is among them,
and they do not know the Lord.
Israel’s arrogance testifies against them.[z]
Both Israel and Ephraim stumble
because of their iniquity;
even Judah will stumble with them.
They go with their flocks and herds
to seek the Lord
but do not find him;
he has withdrawn from them.
They betrayed the Lord;
indeed, they gave birth to illegitimate children.
Now the New Moon will devour them
along with their fields.

Blow the ram’s horn in Gibeah,
the trumpet in Ramah;
raise the war cry in Beth-aven:
Look behind you,[aa] Benjamin!
Ephraim will become a desolation
on the day of punishment;
I announce what is certain
among the tribes of Israel.
10 The princes of Judah are like those
who move boundary markers;
I will pour out my fury on them like water.
11 Ephraim is oppressed, crushed in judgment,
for he is determined to follow what is worthless.[ab]
12 So I am like rot to Ephraim
and like decay to the house of Judah.
13 When Ephraim saw his sickness
and Judah his wound,
Ephraim went to Assyria
and sent a delegation to the great king.[ac]
But he cannot cure you or heal your wound.
14 For I am like a lion to Ephraim
and like a young lion to the house of Judah.
Yes, I will tear them to pieces and depart.
I will carry them off,
and no one can rescue them.
15 I will depart and return to my place
until they recognize their guilt and seek my face;
they will search for me in their distress.

A Call to Repentance

Come, let’s return to the Lord.
For he has torn us,
and he will heal us;
he has wounded us,
and he will bind up our wounds.
He will revive us after two days,
and on the third day he will raise us up
so we can live in his presence.
Let’s strive to know the Lord.
His appearance is as sure as the dawn.
He will come to us like the rain,
like the spring showers that water the land.

The Lord’s First Lament

What am I going to do with you, Ephraim?
What am I going to do with you, Judah?
Your love is like the morning mist
and like the early dew that vanishes.
This is why I have used the prophets
to cut them down;[ad]
I have killed them with the words from my mouth.
My judgment strikes like lightning.[ae]
For I desire faithful love and not sacrifice,
the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.

But they, like Adam,[af] have violated the covenant;
there they have betrayed me.

Gilead is a city of evildoers,
tracked with bloody footprints.
Like raiders who wait in ambush for someone,
a band of priests murders on the road to Shechem.
They commit atrocities.
10 I have seen something horrible in the house of Israel:
Ephraim’s promiscuity is there; Israel is defiled.

11 A harvest is also appointed for you, Judah.
When I restore the fortunes of my people,

when I heal Israel,
the iniquity of Ephraim and the crimes of Samaria
will be exposed.
For they practice fraud;
a thief breaks in;
a raiding party pillages outside.
But they never consider that I remember all their evil.
Now their actions are all around them;
they are right in front of my face.

Israel’s Corruption

They please the king with their evil,
the princes with their lies.

All of them commit adultery;
they are like an oven heated by a baker
who stops stirring the fire
from the kneading of the dough until it is leavened.
On the day of our king,
the princes are sick with the heat of wine—
there is a conspiracy with traitors.[ag]
For they—their hearts like an oven—
draw him into their oven.
Their anger smolders all night;
in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire.

All of them are as hot as an oven,
and they consume their rulers.
All their kings fall;
not one of them calls on me.[ah]
Ephraim has allowed himself to get mixed up with the nations.
Ephraim is unturned bread baked on a griddle.
Foreigners consume his strength,
but he does not notice.
Even his hair is streaked with gray,
but he does not notice.
10 Israel’s arrogance testifies against them,[ai]
yet they do not return to the Lord their God,
and for all this, they do not seek him.

11 So Ephraim has become like a silly, senseless dove;
they call to Egypt, and they go to Assyria.
12 As they are going, I will spread my net over them;
I will bring them down like birds of the sky.
I will discipline them in accordance
with the news that reaches[aj] their assembly.

The Lord’s Second Lament

13 Woe to them, for they fled from me;
destruction to them, for they rebelled against me!
Though I want to redeem them,
they speak lies against me.
14 They do not cry to me from their hearts;
rather, they wail on their beds.
They slash themselves[ak] for grain and new wine;
they turn away from me.
15 I trained and strengthened their arms,
but they plot evil against me.
16 They turn, but not to what is above;[al]
they are like a faulty bow.
Their leaders will fall by the sword
because of their insolent tongue.
They will be ridiculed for this in the land of Egypt.

What a beginning to a story. Can you imagine? God tells Hosea to go and marry a promiscuous woman. Essentially, go marry a woman who will cheat on you. And when she cheats on you, you just continue loving her. The first part of this book is one that is very hard to comprehend. Why would God ask Hosea to do this? And then you quickly see why. God was using the marriage of Hosea and Gomer to show His relationship with His people. They had wandered away from Him and were worshipping other gods.

Look what this verse says: Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” God loves us with an unconditional love. He wants us to love Him in return, but He knows we are prone to wander. Today, make sure He is your first love. Make sure your love for Him is a proper response to the love He has shown you.

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