About Jesus    Steve Sweetman

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Hosea 2

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Israel Punished And Restored  (ch. 2:1 - 23)      


In verse 1 God tells Hosea to say to his brothers that they are God's people, and to his sisters, that they are loved by God.  I believe what God is getting at here is that Hosea's fellow Israelis have been His people and loved by Him all along, but at this point a separation has come, which we will see in the following verses.


Verse 2 says "rebuke your mother". The word "mother" here refers to Israel as a whole, not as individuals as in verse 1.  Israel in the eyes of God is seen as a female.  God views Israel as one who He has married, and I would say, the wedding vows took place in the Mosaic Covenant, which unlike the Abrahamic Covenant, was a mutual covenant agreed upon by both God and Israel, by both husband and wife.


God tells Hosea to rebuke his mother.  Obviously God is not talking about Hosea rebuking his biological mother, but his mother Israel.  The word "rebuke" is important.  Some translations use the word "contend".  The KJV uses the word "plead".  The Hebrew word used here has a variety of meanings; "to strive physically or with words, to argue, to mount a law-suit …"  The Hebrew word translated as "rebuke" can easily be understood in legal terms.  That's why many Bible teachers suggest that God is now divorcing Israel.  What this verse is thus saying is that God is getting ready to divorce Israel as His wife. 


God tells Hosea to tell his mother, or Israel, that she is not God's wife and God is not her husband.  This speaks of the separation that has come between God and Israel  due to Israel leaving Him.  In one sense of the word they still may be legally married, but God views this legality in practical terms.  They may be married but practically speaking they aren't, thus the reason for the divorce.  If what I've just said is correct, I find God's thinking on such a marriage very interesting.  God places more importance on the reality of marriage than the legalities of marriage.


Concerning Jesus' thinking on divorce, in Matthew 19 and elsewhere he gives one reason for a legitimate divorce and that is adultery.  What Jesus taught on divorce is a reflection on how Yahweh views divorce as seen here.  God's action here concerning divorce tells us that adultery is a grounds of divorce, but that being said, we will see that a remarriage does take place after the divorce.    


The second part of verse 2 has sexual overtones when God says that Israel should remove the adulterous look on her face.  The adulterous look is the way a prostitute approaches a man to tell him she is available for him. 


The sexual overtones continue when God says that Israel should remove the unfaithfulness between her breast.  That which should only be given to a husband, that is God in this case, has been given to a multitude of other men, and in this case, other gods. 


We should understand that the relationship the God has with His people, whether collectively or individually, resembles the loving and sensual relationship between a husband and a wife.  I suggest that the sexual union between a husband and his wife is symbolic of true worship that God's people should have to God.  Through the Holy Spirit, there is a spiritual union with the Lord that is just as powerful as the sexual union between a husband and his wife, and maybe even more powerful.


In verse 3 God says that if Israel doesn't repent of her unfaithfulness, He will strip her naked as the day she was born.  She will be naked, and public nakedness in the Bible is disgraceful and shameful.  In those days, when a man caught his wife in adultery he would send her into the street naked, which was meant to shame her.  This was actually part of the divorce settlement.  God will do the same with Israel if she does not repent.  He will make her a shame among the nations, and that's exactly what has happened.  


Judgment is seen in the last half of verse 3 when God says that Israel will become like a parched land and she will die of thirst.  That clearly took place throughout history.  The area known historically as Israel has always been parched, dry, and unmanageable, except in the last hundred years or so when Israel, in fulfillment of prophecy,  has been restoring the land.


Verse 4 is interesting and may be hard to take by some.  God says that He will not show love to the children born from this adulterous generation of Israeli's because they were born from an adulterous relationship.  This is suggestive of the Bible passages that say God will bring judgment to the third and fourth generation.  God did judge the children, the grand children, the great grand children, and so on, of Israel.  That being said, if Israel, in whatever generation had of repented, God would have returned to Israel, but as yet, she has not repented.  She will return to their God at the end of this age.


People may struggle over the fact that God condemns a whole generation of people.  What we should understand here is that He condemns the generation, not specific individuals in that generation.  Those who repent and follow the Lord are the exception to God's condemnation.  Therefore God can and will judge a nation or a generation, yet still bless individuals in that nation.


One point to be made here in verse 4 is that God still loves Israel.  He's simply not going to demonstrate, or show, his love to Israel, at least not at the moment.  We will see that He does that later.


Verse 5 shows the determination of Israel , the adulterous mother and wife.  She says that she will go after, meaning, she will not change her mind.  She will go after her lovers because they provide her not only with food and water but wool, linen, oil and drink, (or wine).  Her lovers give her the good life. The point here is that God would have given Israel much of these things if she had of only stayed with Him.  He actually did give Israel these things in the past but now they are attributing these blessings to Baal.


Because of Israel's sin, in verse 6, God says that He will blockIsrael's way and wall her in.  There will be no escape from judgment.  They will be trapped with no way out.


In verse 7 we see that Israel will chase after her lovers but not catch up to hem.  She will look for them but not find them.  Israel will do this because of the hard times they will experience because of God's judgment.  The problem is that their lovers, the false gods, can't help them, and that's why they can't find them.  It's amazing to me that many times when people get into trouble, they still don't go to the right place for help, at least at first. 


Verse 7 shows some prophetic hope for Israel.  After being let down by her lovers, their other gods, Israel eventually returns to their God because they finally realize that He is the only one that can sustain them.  Again, we see the restoration of national Israel prophesied in verse 7.


Still, at this point in the prophetic scenario, Israel is not returning to their God from a true heart of repentance.  It's simply a matter of regaining what they have lost.  Repentance comes later, after they have been both devastated by judgment and enticed by the Lord.


Verse 8 points to Israel 's downfall.  Yes, they were wealthy.  They had all the grain, wine, and oil they needed and wanted, but they forgot where it all came from.  They forgot that it was Yahweh who really blessed them with these things.  How sad. I'd like to suggest that the western world today, and especially America, are in the same situation that we see the northern kingdom of Israel in.  The west has forsaken the One who has given them their riches and will reap the same judgment as God sent Israel 's way.


Note the words "wine and oil" in verse 8.  When you see "wine and oil" mentioned together as it is here, that suggests luxury.  The combination of wine and oil was that of the rich, not the poor.


Because Israel was using that which God had blessed them with to worship of other gods, specifically Baal, God was now going to take back what He gave them.  The wine, the oil, the grain, and the wool, would all disappear.  This would be a major economic disaster.  This clearly took place. I suggest the same will happen to the western world, and is probably beginning to happen as I write these words in 2012.  As Israel took what God blessed them with and used these things for Baal worship, so the west is taking God's blessings and using them in the worship of self, of other religions, of materialism, or of any other "ism" out there at the moment.    


In verse 9 we see God's judgment on Israel for the above sin.


Verse 9 speaks of Israel's nakedness.  Nakedness in the Bible is something that is seen as shameful, which is obviously not the case in today's world.  So in verse 10, God said that He would display her "lewdness to her lovers".  Public nakedness and the adultery that follows is lewd in the eyes of God.  He would show her lovers, that's the surrounding pagan nations and their gods, just how lewd and how low Israel actually got. Israel would be laid bare in the eyes of the world.  Again, this has taken place in the history of Israel.  I suggest that the nations of the world today will fall into the same situation as the northern kingdom of Israel.


Verse 10 also says, "no one will take her out of my hands".  This means that no one will stop God's judgment on Israel.  He is the Sovereign Lord, and He will judge the northern kingdom of Israel and bring her down, and He did.


In verse 11 God turns to Israel's religious life.  He says that He will put an end to all of the so-called religious services.  We need to understand that it was God Himself  who commanded Israel to perform these services.  The problem from God's standpoint was that when Israel paganized these services by fusing Judaism with paganism, she destroyed the original intention of these services in the eyes of God.  They were no longer what God meant them to be and therefore had no more purpose.  God did destroy these things when He scattered the Jews among the Assyrians.


This should tell us how God views our Christian practices and services today.  If we paganized, which we are now doing, and if we secularize, which we are now doing, the church, God will view us and what we do in the same way as He did with Israel . We can "go to church all we want", but if church is not what it is meant to be, then God could care less about us and our church. This is thus the reason why many church groups have disappeared from the Christian landscape. 


Verse 12 speaks of God ruining the wine and the figs of the northern kingdom.  In the last verse God said He would destroy the religious part of the northern kingdom.  Here it's the economic aspect to the kingdom that He will destroy. 


Note that Israel viewed the wine and figs as being paid for by her lovers, these other gods, but that wasn't really the case.  They came from God, and, attributing something that comes from God to someone else, is blasphemy. 


In verse 13 God punishes the northern kingdom for burning incense to the Baals.  Note here the word "Baals".  People often think of Baal as being one god, but that's not exactly so.  Each community had their own Baal.


Burning of incense in Baal worshipper reminds me of the modern day Emergent church that does the same.  Some of these churches will burn incense and practice other such things with other religions.  God would clearly not be happy with this.  Some Evangelical leaders promote the burning of incense as a means of stimulating our sense of smell during worship. 


The jewelry mentioned in verse 13 was specific pieces of jewelry used in Baal worship.  This is why the apostle Paul speaks to women wearing such jewelry in the New Testament.  Prostitutes in Paul's day wore such jewelry, which actually originated from the temple prostitutes of Baal.     


Verse 14 and onward speaks of the restoration of Israel.  It's not specifically the restoration of the northern kingdom, because the north never did get restored and never will.  Restoration of Israel comes through the southern kingdom.  Remember, some people from all of the northern ten tribes moved to Judah , the southern kingdom, because at the time, they followed the Lord more closely, at least for a while. They eventually followed in the north's footsteps.  So we do have people from all ten tribes in the south, and through the southern kingdom of Judah , Israel will be restored at the end of this age.


Verses 14 and 15 speak of the restoration of Israel back to their God.  If you read Ezekiel 33 through 39 you will note that God first brings Israelis back to their land as it states here in verse 14 when God says that He will "allure" them back.  After they get in the land, through another round of judgments, God will then restore Israel unto Himself once again, as seen here in these verses.


I believe the word "allure" is important here.  The Hebrew word translated as "allure" means "to open or persuade".  Therefore in context, I believe "allure" here denotes some kind of "romance".  It's usage here is one of "affection". God "opens"  His arms of love for the one He has divorced.  Thus the meaning of the Hebrew word "pathah".   Remember, we are seeing God's relationship with Israel as a husband and wife relationship.  A separation, even a divorce, has taken place, but there will come a day when God will allure His x-wife back to Him and they will be remarried.   


There are all sorts of reasons why people are returning to Israel today, yet beyond all of the stated reasons, whether people know it or not, God is alluring them back to the land.  Once back in the land, then He will allure Israelis back to Himself.   During the alluring process, God will "speak tenderly" to His x-wife, as stated in verse 14.  I'm not sure how He does this, but I'm sure the Holy Spirit has something to do with these tender words. I believe God is doing this in our generation.


Verse 15 says give her back her vineyards.  This prophetic message is seen throughout the Old Testament prophets.  This is happening right now as I write, and has been happening since 1948, an even for decades before. 


Verse 15 speaks of "the Valley of Achor".  The name "Achor" means trouble, and it was in this valley where in a time past that Achon and his family were killed by God for Achon's disobedience.


Another prophetic promise is seen in verse 15.  Israel will sing as in the days of her youth.  In the days of our youth, when we are innocent and find love, our hearts are glad and we sing.  This is yet another reference to the romance that people have in their youth and the joy that follows.  Israel , at some point in her future, will be a very happy and joyful place to reside.     


Verse 16 tells of one very glorious day.  In "that day", meaning, the days when Israel finally returns to their God.  This will be after the Tribulation that ends this age.  Israel will return to their God.  They will marry Him once again.  He will no longer be their master, but their husband.  What a day that will be for Israel.  This reminds me of what Jesus told His disciples.  Even though Jesus was their Lord and Master, He was also their friend. (John 15:15) 


You can vividly see the heart of God in this chapter.  He is so hurt by Israel leaving Him.  Even though a divorce has taken place, He has never, or never will, not love her.  He will eventually bring her back to Himself because He loves her so.  God has always loved Israel.  Yes, He has judged her and punished her, but that does not mean He doesn’t love her.    


Verse 17 speaks again of Israel 's restoration to their God.  God Himself, in a miracle, will remove Baal from Israel 's lips.  Israel will no longer serve other gods. God chose Abraham and his descendents way back in Genesis 15 to be a special nation of people.  He will have this special nation of people for His own.  God will not go down in defeat concerning this matter. 


One thing to realize about the Abrahamic Covenant is that we must not reinterpret it to mean the promises have been given to the church.  The promises within the Abrahamic Covenant must be understood in the same way that Abraham himself understood them, and Abraham had no idea that these promises were meant for anyone but Israel .  I think this is only good hermeneutics.


The Bible speaks of a number of covenants.  There's the Abrahamic Covenant, the Mosaic Covenant, the Joshua Covenant, the Davidic Covenant, the New Covenant, and now here in verse 18 we see that God makes yet another covenant with Israel in the day He brings them back to Himself.  This covenant is a covenant of peace; peace with animals and birds, and peace with each other and other nations.  There will be no more need for weapons.


I don't think we should mistake this covenant with the New Covenant of salvation.  The context clearly portrays that this covenant will be with Israel ad the end of this age.  The New Covenant of salvation may eventually end with peace and safety in all of creation, but that's not the present intent of the New Covenant.


Verse 18 ends with the words, "so that all may lie down in safety".  Safety is one thing that Israel has had little of.  It's what is always on the minds of the Israeli leaders.  In the end, Israel will find peace, safety, and security in their Messiah, Jesus.  


I find the word "safety" interesting here.  For those who believe in a literal anti-Christ and a literal seven years of world wide tribulation, Israel enters into a treaty with the anti-Christ which is supposed to provide safety for them, but we know it's a false sense of safety.  The real safety comes when Jesus returns to Israel .  


Verse 19 states that the remarriage of Israel to their God will be forever.  There will be no more divorce between them.  The word "forever" means "forever".  The word "forever" is often used in the covenants that God makes.  This is very important when it comes to the doctrine of Replacement Theology.  God, over and over again, uses the word "forever" in His relationship to Israel.  Therefore, simple logic tells me that you can't substitute the church for Israel, or else God would not have been telling the truth to Israel here and elsewhere in the Old Testament. Israel has an eternal existence, and it is Israel as it was understood in the Old Testament.  It is bad hermeneutics in my opinion to understand something differently than what the original people would have understood it.  


Notice the words "justice" and "love" in verse 19.  This second marriage is a matter of both love and justice as is with all marriages, and is the case with anything God does.  All marriage relationships should be a matter of love, but they also should be a matter of justice.  That means each person treats the other justly.  Most modern marriages have no concept of marital justice, and if asked, they probably think it has something to do with a marriage license, but that's not the case.   


Another aspect of marriage is "faithfulness" as seen in verse 20.  God is always faithful.  He is faithful to His word and He is faithful to whom He commits Himself.  If He says He will love, He will love.  If He says He will destroy, He will destroy.   If He says He will remarry Israel, as He says here, He will certainly remarry Israel.   There is no doubt about that.  I believe Restoration theology is wrong when it does away with the future significance of Israel.


Verse 20 ends with, "you will acknowledge the Lord".  That's Yahweh.  That's the God of Israel, and in one real sense of the word, that is Jesus because He is seen as Lord in New Testament terms.  


Verses 21 and 22 suggest a harmony in what the world calls nature . The sky, the land, and what grows on the land will all exist in an harmonious relationship.  Creation fell along with man in the Garden of Eden.  Creation will be restored along with Israel and the rest of saved humanity in the next life.  


The mention of Jezreel here, which means "God sows", is probably in reference to the Valley of Jezreel where bountiful crops will be sown and harvested.  It is in this valley that the last great battle of this age will take place, and after that battle, there will be much need of restoration in the valley. 


In verse 23 God speaks of sowing, but not in terms of crops, but in terms of sowing Israel back in her land.  Right now as I type these words, Israelis are in the process of being planted back into their land, where they will eventually prosper and serve their God.  Right now God is scattering the seed of Israelis in Israel .  Not all these seeds will take.  Not all will blossom.  Many will die in the Great Tribulation but those who will survive will blossom. 


God will call the people who once weren't "His people".  Don't confuse the words "not my people" with the Gentiles.  I believe these words refer to Israel in their divorced period.  This simply speaks of the remarriage of the people God disowned.  This verse should be compared to Hosea 1:10 where the same words are used – "not my people".  There I noted that the apostle Paul used these words and in context meant them to be Gentiles. Linking these two verses together may be confusing, but the words "not my people" may well mean both Gentiles, and back-slidden Jews, because, both are in the same boat.  Both are separated from God.  Remember, part of what is happening here is that God has divorced Israel, so in this since of the word, Israel is no different that Gentiles.  They are apart from God. I believe in the context of this chapter, as it ends, "not my people" refers to a back-slidden Israel.    

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