Monday after the Twentieth Sunday after Trinity Sunday
Scripture: Hosea 1-4 (NKJV)
1:1 The word of the LORD that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
2 When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the LORD.” 3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the LORD said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 It shall come to pass in that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away. 7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.”
8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.
10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ 11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!
2:1 Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’
2 “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked and expose her, as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 I will not have mercy on her children, for they are the children of harlotry. 5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’ 6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, and wall her in, so that she cannot find her paths. 7 She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now.’ 8 For she did not know that I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold—which they prepared for Baal.
9 “Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time and My new wine in its season, and will take back My wool and My linen, given to cover her nakedness. 10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall deliver her from My hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her New Moons, her Sabbaths—all her appointed feasts. 12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, of which she has said, ‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’ So I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 I will punish her for the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, and went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,” says the LORD.
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, will bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfort to her. 15 I will give her her vineyards from there, and the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, as in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.
16 “And it shall be, in that day,” says the LORD, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ 17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, and they shall be remembered by their name no more. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field, with the birds of the air, and with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, to make them lie down safely. 19 I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; 20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD.
21 “It shall come to pass in that day that I will answer,” says the LORD; “I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth. 22 The earth shall answer with grain, with new wine, and with oil; They shall answer Jezreel. 23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, and I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!'”
3:1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.
4:1 Hear the word of the LORD, you children of Israel, for the LORD brings a charge against the inhabitants of the land: “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land. 2 By swearing and lying, killing and stealing and committing adultery, they break all restraint, with bloodshed upon bloodshed. 3 Therefore the land will mourn; And everyone who dwells there will waste away with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air; Even the fish of the sea will be taken away.
4 “Now let no man contend, or rebuke another; For your people are like those who contend with the priest. 5 Therefore you shall stumble in the day; The prophet also shall stumble with you in the night; And I will destroy your mother. 6 My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also will reject you from being priest for Me; Because you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children. 7 The more they increased, the more they sinned against Me; I will change their glory into shame. 8 They eat up the sin of My people; They set their heart on their iniquity. 9 And it shall be: like people, like priest. So I will punish them for their ways, and reward them for their deeds.
10 For they shall eat, but not have enough; They shall commit harlotry, but not increase; Because they have ceased obeying the LORD. 11 “Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart. 12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, and their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, and they have played the harlot against their God. 13 They offer sacrifices on the mountaintops, and burn incense on the hills, under oaks, poplars, and terebinths, because their shade is good. Therefore your daughters commit harlotry, and your brides commit adultery.
14 “I will not punish your daughters when they commit harlotry, nor your brides when they commit adultery; For the men themselves go apart with harlots, and offer sacrifices with a ritual harlot. Therefore people who do not understand will be trampled.
15 “Though you, Israel, play the harlot, let not Judah offend. Do not come up to Gilgal, nor go up to Beth Aven, nor swear an oath, saying, ‘As the LORD lives’—16 For Israel is stubborn like a stubborn calf; Now the LORD will let them forage like a lamb in open country. 17 Ephraim is joined to idols, let him alone. 18 Their drink is rebellion, they commit harlotry continually. Her rulers dearly love dishonor. 19 The wind has wrapped her up in its wings, and they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices.”
As we work our way through the Book of Hosea, it is easy to become distracted by the life of Hosea. It is best we focus on the message of Hosea to the people of Israel and Judah.
When you stop and think about the situation facing Hosea, it is, in its essence, really no different from the situation facing any preacher of the Word. The people of Hosea’s time were deeply into idolatry, specifically Baal worship. The people whom God had delivered from the hands of their Egyptian oppressors, had turned from the One Who showed Himself true and faithful unto other gods. It is a story that repeats itself throughout the Old Testament.
When one sins, one turns away from God to that which one finds more appealing than God Himself. As Luther wrote in the Large Catechism regarding The First Commandment: “confidence and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.”
Hosea’s message was simply the message God sends to people throughout time, that is, repentance, faith, and the Kingdom of Christ. Hosea, like the prophets before and after him, called the people to repent of their sins and turn to God for forgiveness.
Hosea offers comfort to those who trust in God for their forgiveness: “I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.”
Dear Lord, leave me not under the oppression of sin but turn me to Your glorious Son and the forgiveness He earned on Calvary’s Cross. Amen.
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.