Restoring a Broken and sinful People by the Mercies of a Reconciling God
Hosea 1 - 3
Tom J. Nettles
Introduction: According to verse 1, Hosea lived and
prophesied just before
I. A Picture of the corruption of life and divine abandonment that sin merits. 1:2-8
Hosea commanded to take a wife that was already living in harlotry, a
peculiarly egregious flaunting of the divine establishment of marriage as a
seal of the goodness of creation and the loving goodness of the creator to the
creatures made in his image. The grotesqueness of the picture of the creature’s
sinful dismissal of the divine purpose in creation is seen, if only in a muted
fashion, by this command. Hosea obeys God, takes a whore for a wife, and
immediately fathers a child. In order to make a point of the wholly incongruous
B. Three children are born in
fairly rapid succession. The first was named Jezreel, meaning God sows. Jezreel
was the place of Naboth’s vineyard and Jezebel’s murder of Naboth. In Jezreel,
Jehu killed both Joram and Ahaziah, kings of the North and South respectively.
He killed also all of Joram’s seventy sons, all other kin and appointed
officers, all the prophets of Baal. He also killed the Sons and relatives of
Ahaziah as they journeyed in the northern kingdom. Finally he killed Jezebel
herself. Though a prophet of God anointed Jehu as king and prophesied that he
would do all these things, and though he was commended by God for so executing
the prophecy, he did not return
C. 1:6 - A second child was given a
name that meant “no mercy” or “she has not received mercy.” Such a name
indicated that only justice would come to
D. The third child was named Lo-ammi, meaning “not my people.” This name stands as a stark reminder of God’s promise to walk among them and be their God and they would be his people. But if they turned from him his hot wrath would pursue them in ever increasing waves of severity [See Leviticus 26:9-12 and then the following verses for the consequences of falling away]. When seen on the basis purely of the merit and faithfulness of the people, they are “not my people.” A covenant of marvelous privilege, sneered at and violated by the people, becomes exactly what their demerits make it.
II. A picture of the Immutability of God’s covenant love – 1:10, 11; 2:1
A. The rapidity of change in tone is breathtaking. The word “Yet” is a strong word showing a complete reversal of the condition of vengeance to a condition of renewed mercy and favor. Though they are going into exile after slaughter, the number shall be like the sand of the sea “which cannot be measured or numbered.” This is a fulfillment of the promise to Abraham Genesis 15:5, 6. “Number the stars, if you are able to number them.”
B. The transition brings back in the covenantal mercy of God. Those that by their moral worth were to be considered “not my people,” but for the sake of the covenant are now “the children of the living God.”; Also see 2:1, “Say to your brothers, ‘you are my people.’” The theme repeated in 2:23
C. Now instead of justice, they are restored to mercy; 2:1 “and to your sisters, ‘You have received mercy.’” Even while we were dead in trespasses and sins, God being rich in Mercy, made us alive together with Christ . Ephesians 2:1ff. Not according to our works, but according to his mercy, he saved us – Titus 3:4, 5. The theme repeated in 2:23.
Their nations were divided, and they went into exile on separate
occasions 135 years apart; The northern kingdom was reoccupied with a
multiplicity of peoples mongrelizing
Jezreel is transformed from the place of bloody vengeance and multiple
cruelties to a place of greatness. Divine vengeance is turned aside and the
place of vengeance becomes the rallying point for the greatness of God’s
people. See also 2:22, 23. Instead of sowing vengeance, God now sows mercy.
E. “They shall appoint for themselves one head.” Instead of the assassinations and jealousies and rapid turnover of kings, one will arise that is worthy and so acceptable, that they will find their unity in him. This one Head, one king, will be the one that unifies the people of God. None is like Christ—God and man in one person. The only one worthy to open the books that show the fulfillment of the divine purposes of both judgment and mercy - Revelation 5:5-14.
III. An Expansion of the Picture of Israel’s Demerits and God’s Mercy - 2:2-23
There was never a time when
B. The offspring of that first generation has shared the guilt of spiritual whoredom – 4, 5; Also see how Jesus points to the Jews of his day as sharing the guilt of those that condemned the prophets in the past. Matthew 23: 34-36.
C. They attributed to false gods the blessings they received from Yahweh – 5b, 8, 12b , 13. They lived as if their promiscuity prompted by their infatuation with the Canaanite worship had resulted in their having more bread, and oil, and grain, and fabrics, and jewelry, and wine and precious metals. They had combined elements of Yahweh worship with Baal worship -11
D. God would manifest the vanity of their idolatry.
· He would show them that he alone provided for them by removing all the luxuries they had come to expect from the fertile land. – 6, 9, 12
· He would expose the shamefulness of their whoredom of going after other gods when He alone had pledged himself to them in covenant, and she will not find those gods any help in a time of wrath – 3, 5b, 7, 10, 13
E. Again, Hosea presents us with a startling contrast. He uses, “therefore” which normally introduces a conclusion that is the logical outcome of what precedes. But the introduction of blessings on the basis of a thoroughgoing and apparently irremediable idolatry with “therefore” can only mean that the sinfulness is such, that the only logical remedy is unmerited and sovereign grace. It is as if God says, since I can give no blessings on the basis of any degree of goodness in them, therefore, I will give them on the basis of my own purpose and grace [see 2 Timothy 1:9, 10]. This mercy will take shape in several ways.
· God will show his excellence in such a way that to them he will be irresistible – 2:14
· God’s wrath – 2:15 “valley of Achor” Joshua 7:22-26, where Achan and his family were stoned and burned – will become a door of hope. This is a similar image to the greatness of the day of Jezreel [1:11].
· The marriage that had been so perverse and an obvious convolution of covenant faithfulness will become a model of justice, unfaltering love, faithfulness, and experiential intimacy. 16, 19, 20. Note again the combination of words—righteousness and justice on the one hand and steadfast love and mercy on the other—that indicate a reconciliation of the divine intention of mercy with the righteous demand for justice. Also note the language of the new covenant, “You shall know the Lord.” Cf. Jeremiah 31:33, 34.
· All blessings will be seen as flowing from the bountiful goodness of her betrothed husband, the Lord of heaven and earth, the Lord who loves mercy. 17, 18, 21-23.
IV. Hosea Must now do what God has said he will do – Redeem an unfaithful wife – 3
A. 3:1, 2, 3 - Hosea buys back his wife from another man to whom she has gone, and she is to dwell with him and be purified by the loyal love he has for her and that she will learn to give to him (3) He is to love her, for though they are idolatrous, God loves the children of Israel and for the sake of his eternal covenant will pay a purchase price for them. The price of Gomer is half the price of a slave plus nine bushels of barley. Her value was not great to the adulterous intruder. When we are purchased, however, it is not with silver and gold but with precious blood, that of Christ as of a Lamb without spot or blemish. The price is commensurate with the glory of the one against whose law we have offended. It is not our worth that constitutes the price with which we are bought, but the worth of the one whose glory we are to reflect into the ages without end. Because of his investment in us, we should contemplate the “riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints.” Ephesians 1:18.
B. 3:4, 5 Though they might be in a state of solitude and numbness, having a sterile perception of who they are and what their relationship to God is, for the sake of the covenant God made with the Fathers and with David, the Davidic Messiah will come and will turn their hearts to him. David their king, that is, Jesus the Christ, will accomplish this. Paul fully expected this to happen as indicated in Romans 11:26-29.
C. This entire passage should help us see what Peter meant when he spoke about the relationship of prophecy to Christ in 1 Peter 1:10-12. Also how the word of the prophets is given a tested certainty by the coming of Christ 2 Peter 1:19