Hosea 6:4-7:16

Wednesday, August 31st, 2016



Remember that there are two important Old Testament dates I want you to keep in mind. They are 931 B.C. when the ten tribes of the Northern Kingdom broke away from Judah and 722 B.C. when the Assyrians carried the Northern Kingdom away into captivity.


Hosea’s ministry is to the Northern Kingdom, also known as Israel and as Ephraim. Its capital city is Samaria.


Hosea began his ministry about 30 years before the Northern Kingdom was captured by the Assyrians, and throughout most of his ministry, Israel is living in fear of the Assyrians.


Hosea’s ministry will continue for 8 or more years after the fall of Samaria to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.

We are in the process of studying –

  II.     The Teaching of the Prophet, 4:1 - 14:9


(In chapters 4-14) Hosea’s prophecy expands the message of the first three chapters. Though emphasis is placed on Israel’s guilt and impending doom, each of the three major sections (in chapters 4-14) . . . concludes on a positive note by referring to Israel’s restoration. . . (Bible Knowledge Commentary).


We have already studied –

            A.  National pollution and its cause, 4:1 - 6:3


Five different judgment-salvation cycles are seen in Hosea. We have already studied the first one in Hosea 1:2-2:1 , the second one in 2:2 - 3:5, and the third one in 4:1 - 6:3. In each cycle there is a prediction of judgment on Israel followed by a prediction of salvation.


The fourth judgment-salvation cycle is seen in Hosea 6:4-11:11 . Although judgment on Israel is predicted in 6:4 - 11:7, salvation is predicted for Israel in 11:8-11.


We move on to a section where we see –

            B.  National pollution and its punishment, 6:4 - 10:15


First, there is a –

                        1.   Statement of God’s case against Israel, 6:4 - 7:16


We see –

                                    a.   Fickleness, bloodguiltiness: which leads to the bloody harvest, 6:4-11


God’s people had rejected all His attempts to bring them to their senses (BKC).


Hosea 6:4 O Ephraim, what shall I do unto thee? O Judah, what shall I do unto thee? for your goodness [i.e. your faithfulness] is as a morning cloud [i.e. is like the early morning fog], and as [i.e. like] the early dew it goeth away [i.e. it evaporates].


The Lord’s attempts to restore His people contrast with their rebellion (BKC).


Hosea 6:5 Therefore have I hewed them [i.e. cut (them)] by the prophets; I have slain them [i.e. killed them] by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as [i.e. are like] the light that goeth forth [i.e. Although difficult, it seems to mean that Israel’s judgments are certain to come.].


God’s words of judgment, spoken through the prophets, had resulted in death and destruction (BKC).


Hosea 6:6 For I desired mercy [i.e. the same word is translated “goodness” in verse 4], and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.


God wanted their devotion and loving obedience to Him, not just the meaningless ritual of their sacrifices.


Hosea 6:7 But they like men [i.e. like men in a general sense] have transgressed the covenant [i.e. the law]: there have they dealt treacherously against me [i.e. they have been unfaithful to God].


Hosea 6:8 Gilead [i.e. likely Ramoth-Gilead located east of the Jordan River] is a city of them that work iniquity, and is polluted with blood.


Gilead is characterized by great sin and especially by bloodshed or murder. Ramoth Gilead had been one of the cities of refuge where those who had murdered others unintentionally were able to flee for protection; now it is characterized by being a city where many murders were committed.


Hosea 6:9 And as troops [i.e. as bands] of robbers wait for a man, so the company of priests murder in the way by consent [i.e. the priests murder on the way to Shechem]: for they commit lewdness [i.e. surely they commit evil plans, (shameful) crimes].


This verse may be understood as indicating that the priests were literally doing these things, or it may be understood as pointing to the priests’ false teaching and exploitation of the people. The priests’ crimes were shameful. The same word is used elsewhere of the vilest sexual sins, including incest, cult prostitution, rape, and adultery. This sexual connotation is probably applicable here because of the priest’s breach of God’s covenant is likened to prostitution (BKC).


6:9 – (RSB) . . . Shechem . . . was on the road to Beth-el, (which had become) a center of idol worship.


Shechem was also one of the cities of refuge.


Hosea 6:10 I have seen an horrible thing in the house of Israel: there is the whoredom [i.e. the harlotry] of Ephraim, Israel is defiled.


Hosea 6:11 Also, O Judah, he [i.e. the LORD] hath set an harvest [i.e. a harvest of judgment] for thee, when I returned the captivity of my people [i.e. when I want to restore the fortunes of my people].


The thought is that although God wants to restore the fortunes of Judah, His people, their persistence in sin means that God has appointed a harvest in which they are going to be harvested as His judgment for their sins. They are about to reap what they have sown.


Next, we see God’s desire to show –

                                    b.  Mercy is prevented by persistent rebellion, adultery, and winebibbing, 7:1-16


God longed to restore Israel to a place of blessing, but His efforts were met with new outbreaks of sin and crimes (BKC).


Hosea 7:1 When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim [i.e. the iniquity of Israel, the Northern Kingdom] was discovered [i.e. was uncovered], and the wickedness of Samaria [i.e. the capital of Ephraim (the capital of Israel, the capital of the Northern Kingdom)]: for they [i.e. the people of Israel] commit falsehood [i.e. fraud, deception]; and the thief cometh in [i.e. breaks into houses], and the troop of robbers spoileth without [i.e. bandits raid outside, bandits rob in the streets].


Hosea 7:2 And they [i.e. the people of Israel] consider not [i.e. they do not realize] in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their own doings have beset them about [i.e. their own deeds have surrounded themtheir own sins had engulfed them like a wall . . ., making repentance improbable (BKC).]; they are before my face [i.e. their sins are before the LORD’s face] .


Hosea 7:3 They [i.e. the people of Israel] make the king glad [i.e. they delight the king] with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies.


The rulers were wicked just like the people.


A godly ruler was (supposed) to oppose all forms of wickedness within his kingdom . . ., but these leaders delighted in it (BKC).


. . . Israel’s passion for disobedience was like a fire burning low in an oven while the baker kneads the dough and waits for the leavening process to be completed. Like an oven fire, Israel’s passion might subside for a short time, but it was ever present, ready to blaze forth when kindled (BKC).


Hosea 7:4 They [i.e. the people of Israel] are all adulterers, as [i.e. like] an oven heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough [i.e. He ceases stirring up the fire after kneading the dough], until it be leavened [i.e. until the dough is leavened (or until the dough rises)].


Between 752 and 732 B.C. four of Israel’s rulers were assassinated. . . . This . . . provides the background for Hosea 7:5-7 . Here a description is given of how the conspirators characteristically carried out their plots (BKC).


Hosea 7:5 In the day of our king the princes [i.e. some of the king’s officials, leaders, captains] have made him sick with bottles of wine [i.e. the princes have made the king sick, inflamed with wine]; he stretched out his hand with scorners [i.e. the king joins hands with the princes, officials, leaders, or captains who are actually with mockers (or with scoffers)].


The day of . . . our king probably refers to a special celebration in which the ruler was the center of attention. The king caroused with his princes, who are called mockers probably because they were completely under the influence of wine. . . . While they partied with the naive king, they plotted his overthrow (BKC).


Hosea 7:6 For they [i.e. the conspirators] have made ready their heart [i.e. they prepare their heart] like an oven, whiles [i.e. while] they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth [i.e. their anger (or their passion) smolders] all the night; in the morning it burneth [i.e. blazes] as a flaming fire.


When they approach the king their hearts, like an oven, contain a fire. Just as the fire burns lowly while the baker is inactive, so their scheme remains a secret. But when their time for action comes, the destructive plot is realized, just as a fire in an oven blazes forth when the time for baking arrives (BKC).


Hosea 7:7 They [i.e. the conspirators] are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me [i.e. none among the kings calls upon me].


7:7 – (RSB) All their kings are fallen. Four of Israel’s last six kings were murdered.


Hosea 7:8 Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people [i.e. with the nations]; Ephraim is a cake not turned [i.e. a cake not turned over, a half-baked cake].


Israel had formed alliances with foreign nations. . . . This is compared to the mixing of flour with oil to form cakes. . . . his policy had proven self-destructive. Israel had become like an unturned cake on hot stones – burned and soon to be discarded (BKC).


These foreign alliances had made Israel weak.


Hosea 7:9 Strangers have devoured his strength [i.e. foreigners sap his strength], and he knoweth it not [i.e. he does not realize it]: yea, gray hairs are here and there upon him, yet he knoweth not [i.e. he does not notice].


Foreign alliances had also made Israel decrepit.


The nation is compared to an elderly man who has failed to notice the gradual effects of the aging process (loss of physical strength, graying hair). Death is much closer than he expects. The point was probably that Israel was experiencing loss of political autonomy. This loss was epitomized by the tribute payments that were an excessive drain on its wealth and economy (BKC).


Hosea 7:10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face [i.e. testifies against him]: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.


Hosea 7:11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart [i.e. without sense]: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.


In her efforts to arrange foreign alliances, Israel could be compared to a dove, which exhibits little sense. Under King Menahem Israel submitted to Assyria. A few years later King Pekah joined a coalition against Assyria. King Hoshea, after acknowledging Assyrian rulership for a time, stopped tribute payments and sought an alliance with Egypt. This led to the destruction of the Northern Kingdom.


Hosea 7:12 When they shall go [i.e. wherever they shall go], I will spread my net upon them; I will bring them down as the fowls of the heaven [i.e. like birds of the air]; I will chastise them, as their congregation hath heard [i.e. in accordance with what their congregation hath heard].


7:11-12 – (RSB) Alliances with Egypt and Assyria would avail nothing, but the Lord would take Israel in judgment.


Hosea 7:13 Woe unto them! for they have fled [i.e. strayed] from me: destruction unto them! [i.e. destruction is theirs] because they have transgressed [i.e. rebelled] against me: though I have redeemed them [i.e. though I would redeem them], yet they have spoken lies against me.


Hosea 7:14 And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled [i.e. wailed] upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine [i.e. they gather together for grain and new wine], and they rebel against me [i.e. but they turn away from Me].


Hosea 7:15 Though I have bound [i.e. Although I have trained] and strengthened their arms, yet do they imagine mischief against me [i.e. they devise (or they plot) evil against Me].


Hosea 7:16 They return, but not to the most High: they are like a deceitful bow [i.e. a faulty (or treacherous) bow]: their princes shall fall by the sword for the rage of their tongue [i.e. because of the insolence (or because of the curses) of their tongue]: this shall be their derision [i.e. for this they will be ridiculed] in the land of Egypt.


This sermon is the 5th part of the series, Study of Hosea. Other sermons in this series are: