The Prophet Hosea, Part 2
We are sinful people. When we sin, we deserve punishment. And when Israel sinned in the times of the prophet Hosea, the nation faced divine punishment. God used Hosea to identify major sins, including injustice, hypocrisy, and violence, that had entrapped the Israelites. They took pride in themselves instead of thanking God for His provision.
Worst of all, Israel was unfaithful to God, choosing to worship false gods instead. So God used Hosea to issue a poignant lesson to His people. He instructed Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute. The names Hosea gave his children with Gomer indicated God’s anger and impending judgment on the unfaithful Israelites. What did God intend to tell the nation through Hosea’s family? Tune in to part 2 of our 4-part series on this prophetic book for the answer!
If you missed Part 1 of this series, you can Listen Here.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. We have a great show for you once again this week. But before Chris comes, I'd like to remind you to visit our website, foiradio.org. It's there we have over seven years worth of programming on our site for you to listen to, and I invite you to browse around and enjoy the content we offer there. We also have our main ministry page, that's foi.org, and you'll find trustworthy and accurate news on Israel and the Middle East. And while you're there, you can support our ministry. Click on the donate button to help us continue teaching biblical truth about Israel and the Jewish people. Again, that's foiradio.org or foi.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we're continuing our series in Hosea, the prophet who was prophesying against the northern 10 tribes of Israel. And last week, we looked at the background, the context of Hosea, who he was speaking to, why he was speaking to them. Well, today we're going to pick up on that and we're going to see the exact sins that God was calling out as He was using His mouthpiece, Hosea.
Steve Conover: First in the news, Israel's foreign minister, Eli Cohen, visited Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in Kyiv earlier this month. It was the first visit of an Israeli official to Ukraine since Russia's invasion last year. The two discussed their common enemy, Iran. Additionally, Cohen told Zelenskyy that Israel has no plans to provide defensive weapons to Ukraine, but vowed to support Zelenskyy's peace plan when it comes up for a vote at the United Nations.
Chris Katulka: Well, Steve, here's my take. I'm glad to hear that Israel and Ukraine agreed to stand together against Iran. Israel and Ukraine both have a common enemy, since Tehran has been giving weapons to Russia to fuel their war against Ukraine. Let's pray that this year-long war and the war in the Middle East that Iran continues to push will end very soon.
Chris Katulka: I've been doing my devotions through Hosea recently. And as I mentioned last week, I was going through each chapter and it hit me that we've never done a study on Hosea on the radio program. Hosea is actually such an important prophet to read and study, especially here at The Friends of Israel, because God's faithfulness is seen in every chapter. Actually, Hosea the prophet really shows the depth of God's faithfulness to Israel, and as a result, God's faithfulness to us.
That's why today, we're continuing our four-week series on the prophet Hosea. We started last week by sharing the spiritual and political context that Hosea was speaking into. Just really quick a reminder that Hosea ministered for several decades speaking God's truth to the northern 10 tribes of Israel. And during this time, the massive empire of Assyria regained influence in the Middle East, which threatened not only Israel in the north, but Judah in the south as well.
If you were to open a newspaper in the days of the prophet Hosea, his ministry would have started near the end of a period of great military success and prosperity for both Israel and Judah. Now, if you didn't get a chance to listen to last week's program, I want to encourage you to catch up by going to foiradio.org. They're in our archives page. You can listen to my message on the background of Hosea and so much more. Visit foiradio.org.
Now, last week, I mentioned that Hosea's message can be boiled down to three words, sin, judgment, and salvation. And it's going to be a domino effect that you're going to see here. That just as the law of God had predicted in Deuteronomy chapter 28, God had made a covenant with Israel, if Israel abandoned God, or in the context of Hosea committed spiritual adultery with God, which is sin, God would bring judgment. But ultimately in the end, God would save and restore His people because of His faithfulness to them.
And today, we're going to look at what sins God was using Hosea to call out during his ministry. Remember, Hosea compared Israel's covenant relationship to the Lord with marriage and accused Israel, who he considered the Lord's wife actually, of spiritual adultery. Well, who did the Lord's wife turn to? Israel had turned to Baal, the Canaanite storm and fertility god. Several times throughout Hosea, the prophet calls out Israel's infatuation with Baal. In Hosea 2:8 it says this, "Yet until now she has refused to acknowledge that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, and that it was I who lavished on her the silver and gold that they used in worshiping Baal."
In Hosea 2:13 it says, "'I will punish her for the festival days when she burned incense to Baal, she adorned herself with earrings and jewelry and went after her lovers, but she forgot me,' says the Lord." Again in Hosea 11:2, "But the more I summoned them, the farther they departed from me. They sacrificed to Baal idols and burn incense to images." And finally in Hosea 13:1 it says, "When Ephraim spoke, there was terror, he was exalted in Israel, but he became guilty by worshiping by Baal and died."
I mentioned earlier that Deuteronomy chapter 28 is God's covenant with Israel concerning their residents in the land. And what's so fascinating is that God says, "If you follow and obey Me and keep My commandments, I will bring the rain that helps produce grain, and new wine, and olive oil." He says in Deuteronomy chapter 28 to Israel, that obedience would lead to storehouses that would overflow because He is the God who created the rain. But if they abandon God, if they fall away or commit that spiritual adultery that we're talking about on the Lord, then the skies would be like bronze, it says. There would be no crops. In fact, it would lead to a famine.
And God promised that if Israel obeyed and followed Him, they would lend to the nations. They would be the head of the nations, not the tail, and that God would lavish on Israel silver and gold. But their disobedience, it says in Deuteronomy chapter 28, would lead them to become the tail of the nations, not the head, and they would borrow from many nations. It's interesting to me that Baal is the Canaanite god of the thunderstorm and fertility. When famine would come, instead of turning to the God who created all things, think about this, they turned to a false god that would create the famine.
It was the reason it continued to get worse for Israel. They thought they were solving the problem by turning to Baal, but they continued to make it worse for themselves. That's the basis, the background. Even for the account of Elijah killing the prophets of Baal, there was a famine in the land. I wonder why. It's because they were worshiping Baal. Hosea told the Israelites, "You took the good gifts God gave you and you gave them to Baal in worship, the ultimate offense to God."
I mean, you don't have to be a Bible scholar to know that the 10 commandments say this. In Exodus chapter 20 it says, "And God spoke all these words, 'I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before Me. You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on earth, beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them. For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate Me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love Me and keep My commandments.'"
There are many other sins that Israel committed against God which are mentioned in the prophet Hosea, ones we often don't talk about, but it needs to be mentioned. One is the injustice that was committed by the rich toward the poor in Israel, which can be found in Hosea 12:7 where it says this, "The businessmen love to cheat. They use dishonest scales." It says this in verse 8. "Ephraim boasts, 'I am very rich.'" That's Israel, Ephraim is Israel. He's saying, "I am very rich. I have become wealthy in all that I have done to gain my wealth. No one can accuse me of any offense that is actually sinful."
Look, look, that's not the way God's law worked. God's law did not promise equal outcomes for the Israelites, but it certainly didn't allow the rich to abuse the poor. The rich were actually, by the law, supposed to have sympathy for the poor and to help the poor in need. In fact, every 50 years during the year of Jubilee, the land would rest, debts would be forgiven, and Israelites were given their land back, to return to the land of their inheritance.
Hosea not only calls out the fact that the rich abused the poor. Hosea calls out Israel's violent crimes. Listen, Hosea 4:2, Hosea the prophet says, "There is only cursing, lying, murder, stealing, and adultery. They resort to violence in bloodshed." In Hosea 6:9, it says, "The company of priests is like a gang of robbers, lying in ambush to pounce on a victim. They commit murder on the road to Shechem. They have done heinous crimes." Hosea 12:1 says, "Ephraim continually feeds on the wind. He chases the east wind all day long, he multiplies lies and violence. They make treaties with Assyria and send olive oil as a tribute to Egypt."
The prophet calls out the priesthood of Israel with religious hypocrisy, which can be read in Hosea 6:6 when he says, "For I delight in faithfulness, not simply in sacrifice. I delight in acknowledging God, not simply in whole burnt offerings." There's also this sin of making foreign alliances with pagan nations like the nation of Assyria, which you can read about in Hosea 7:11 and Hosea 8:9. And finally, the spiritual in gratitude, the arrogance which can be seen in Hosea 7:15, when the prophet writes, "When they, Israel were fed, they became satisfied. And when they were satisfied, they became proud. And as a result, they forgot me."
Israel took all the blessings from God and trampled them underfoot to benefit themselves. Hosea just said it. When they were fed, they became satisfied, then they became proud, which makes them think that they were the ones who provided the food for themselves. They became proud of themselves and their pride would be the thing that would lead to their demise. Why must God judge the northern 10 tribes of Israel? They committed spiritual adultery by turning to false gods and by abandoning God. They abandon His commands and His laws of how they should love the Lord and how they should love and treat those around them.
Now, when we return, I want to go back to Hosea's marriage with Gomer and share how it relates to Israel's spiritual adultery with God. But before that, I want to share with you a new resource that we have. In fact, it's a resource that I wrote. It's called Israel Always. The reason I want to connect this book with the prophet Hosea is because what Hosea shows us is that God loves Israel, always had a plan and a program for Israel, and remains faithful to Israel even in their darkest moments. Why? Because of a promise that God made to Abraham.
Chris Katulka: And that's what this book, Israel Always, is all about. It's about God's plan, not only from the past biblically, but what's going on in the present and also a look forward into the future, to see the continuity of God's faithfulness from beginning to end. Israel Always will not only show you that continuity, but it will also prepare you for a trip to go to Israel. That's one of the best benefits of Israel Always. If you're ever interested in going to the Holy Land, Israel Always will prepare you, to show you what to expect, the layers of history that you can find in Israel. Steve, do you want to share with our listeners how they can get a copy of Israel Always?
Steve Conover: Yeah. Israel Always is a beautiful and insightful book published by Harvest House. You can learn more or purchase your copy of Chris's new book, Israel Always, at foiradio.org. That's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: So, we're continuing our study on Hosea, and today we've been looking at the sins that Hosea is prophesying against to the northern 10 tribes of Israel. Why is God sending Hosea to Israel to let them know judgment is coming? Well, I mentioned them a little bit earlier. It was a spiritual adultery, injustice toward the poor in Israel, violent crimes that were going on, religious hypocrisy with the priest, selfish arrogance and spiritual in gratitude.
It's interesting because God commands Hosea, right upfront in Hosea chapter 1, to marry Gomer and to have kids as an example of God's relationship with Israel. First, Gomer gave birth to a son Hosea named Jezreel. Jezreel means God scattered or God sows. It is the name given to a fruitful valley that separates the Galilee from Samaria called the Jezreel Valley. Jezreel's birth was a sign of judgment to the house of Jehu who was ruling in Israel at that time that Hosea is prophesying. It was also a sign of judgment upon all of Israel. God announced that He would break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
This prophecy was fulfilled during the Assyrian conquest of Israel that takes place between 734 and 722 BC. Hosea's other child, Lo-Ruhamah, which means not loved or no pity. God used the child's name, Lo-Ruhamah, to announce that He would no more have mercy on the house of Israel. He had suffered long with Israel in her sinfulness and had shown the nation His mercy over and over again and His protective grace. But now, that mercy would be taken away. Gomer's third child was a son whom Hosea named Lo-Ammi, which means not my people. The meaning of Lo-Ammi strikes at the very heart of God's covenant with Israel and revealed a total change in His relationship with the nation.
The language that's found in Hosea 1:9 says this, "Then the Lord said, 'Name him not my people or Lo-Ammi because you are not My people and I am not your God.'" Which goes against the commitment that the Lord had made to Israel in Egypt. He revoked His promise of Exodus 6:7 when He promised, "I will take you to Me for a people and I will be to you a God." And just as David Levy wrote concerning Hosea, he says, "God vowed to remove from the northern kingdom His providential care as expressed in the name by which He revealed Himself to Moses, 'I am that I am,'" which is also Yahweh.
In Exodus, God emphasized His personal identification to Moses and announced that He had come to fulfill His covenant and to keep His promise to deliver the afflicted posterity of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. In Hosea, God told the people directly, "I will not be the I am to you." These are such strong words and would've struck terror in the heart of every Israelite. God had cut off the northern kingdom of Israel from any hope of deliverance. So, this begs a question, especially as we consider the names of Hosea's children. It begs the question, is God through with Israel? Is that what Hosea is telling us? Well, you'll have to come back next week to find out.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor, Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: Near me lives a happy couple in their early 60s. I visited them often and the husband always talks about world problems. Recently, I tried to speak about the Bible, but he said, "I do not like to speak about it." I told him, "Today, you are here, but tomorrow you may lose your life. I do not mean only the body, but you may also lose the most important thing." So his wife gladly received a Bible and was interested in knowing about eternal life. I read her Psalm 23 ending with, "I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
The husband asked, "Do you want to die now just to receive this everlasting life?" I replied, "Everything comes in its own time." The Bible says, "The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord, Job 1:21. When I die, I will not be sorry because I know in whom I put my trust." He then said to his wife, "Do you see how crazy he is? He puts his trust in the Bible." I corrected him. "I do not put my trust in the Bible, but in God." The statement made him angry and he cast the Bible I had given to his wife out the window declaring, "Now your faith is out."
"No," I replied, "I have my faith with me in my heart. Your wife has received the Lord and she will have eternal life. Even after all you have done, the Lord will forgive you too, the way it's always open." He then began to shout, "Go away, my wife will never receive your Bible or your faith." His wife quietly said to me, "I do believe and know I have everlasting life. I am sorry my husband does not want to believe." Before I left, the husband told me, "I never want to see you here again."
On my way home, I prayed for him and thanked the Lord his wife believed. Several days later, the same man called saying, "Please come quickly. My wife died two days ago. I must see you." I immediately went to his home. And when I arrived he cried, "I love you. Please forgive me. I have nothing against you. I am alone in this world now. Who will be with me?" I told him, "There is only one person who can help you, the Lord, our Savior. If you put your trust in Him as your wife did, you'll no longer be alone. The Lord is a God of love. He will never reject you."
I then read Jeremiah 31:31-35 so that he would know all people have the opportunity to go to heaven if they give their hearts to the Lord. He talked to me as a small child and was hungry to hear God's Word. No one had come to comfort him after his wife's death and he was bitter. I told him, "If you receive the Lord, you will never be alone. You can speak with Him at any time as with a best friend even as with a father. The Lord has said, 'Fear not for I am with you,' Isaiah 43:5." He begged me, "Please come to see me every day. I promise that I will never do what I did before." I assured him, "If you promise this to God, He will forgive you. Now, I beg you, begin a new life full of light for yourself." He gladly received what I said.
Chris Katulka: The impact Zvi's life and ministry in Israel, it didn't end when he went home to be with the Lord. In fact, Zvi's legacy lives on. Our Friends of Israel Ministry representatives continue to share the gospel in Jerusalem, Israel, and really all throughout the world. We also serve Holocaust survivors and their families. We provide free food, medicine, and clothing, and we even promote the safety and security of the state of Israel and the Jewish people everywhere. So, when you give to The Friends of Israel, your donation actually allows us to advance the gospel of our Messiah, Jesus. You can give online by visiting foiradio.org. Again, that's foiradio.org. You can click right there on our donate link. Also, be sure to let us know where you listen when you contact us.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for joining us today. I hope you'll check out Chris's new book, Israel Always, at our website, foiradio.org. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: Well, Hosea not only lays out the sin that Israel committed, but also the judgment that's coming as a result. But I believe and I know, according to what Hosea preaches, there is hope coming.
Steve Conover: Our host and teacher is Chris Katulka. Today's program was produced by Tom Gallione, edited by Jeremy Strong, who also composed and performs our theme music. Mike Kellogg read Apples of Gold, and I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. Our mailing address is FOI Radio PO Box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. Again, that's FOI Radio PO Box 914 Bellmawr, New Jersey 08099. And I'll give you one last quick reminder to visit us at foiradio.org. The Friends of Israel Today is a production of The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry. We are a worldwide evangelical ministry proclaiming biblical truth about Israel and the Messiah, while bringing physical and spiritual comfort to the Jewish people.
Israel Always is a sweeping journey through Israel’s prolific history, its modern-day influence, and its promised future, highlighting the continuous throughline of God’s provision for His people. Insightful and informative, Israel Always will enrich your understanding of the Bible, enhance your appreciation for Israel, and elevate your awareness of God’s steadfast love for all His people—including you—today.
Apples of Gold: The Lord Will Never Reject You
A middle-aged couple living near Zvi liked to spend time with him, and naturally this gave him a chance to share the gospel with them. The Bible caused great controversy between the couple. While the husband responded in anger toward Zvi, the wife’s heart was opened to hear the good news. Listen to find out what happened when tragedy struck the couple and Zvi was present to share hope through God’s Word.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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