The Prophet Hosea, Part 4
In the days of the prophet Hosea, Israel had sinned severely against God. Their spiritual adultery led to their judgment, as God punished them for walking away from Him to bring them to repentance. After digging into their five cycles of judgment last week, we now see the hope of restoration that awaited Israel in five cycles of salvation, as we wrap up our 4-part series on the book of Hosea.
God used the names of Hosea’s children to indicate His judgment but also to reveal His deliverance. He promised to meet their physical needs by bringing the rain back to end the famine that plagued their land. He promised to regather the children of Israel. And even greater, He promised future salvation for the children of Israel through their repentance. The book of Hosea teaches us that God is a patient God who judges but also brings salvation and restoration in accordance with His faithfulness to His promises. Remember these truths as you study Scripture!
If you missed the previous episodes in this series, you can listen now on our Archives page.
Steve Conover: Welcome to The Friends of Israel Today. I'm Steve Conover. With me is our host and teacher, Chris Katulka. Have you visited our website yet? foiradio.org? After this episode ends, I invite you to visit foiradio.org, and there you'll see nearly eight years' worth of programming on our site. Again, that's foiradio.org.
Chris Katulka: Steve, we are wrapping up Hosea today. It's been four weeks of looking at the prophet. We looked at the background of what Hosea was speaking into. We've looked at the sin that Israel was committing, and the judgment that would come as a result of that sin. But today we're going to see the hope. We're going to see the restoration. We're going to see the salvation that God desires to pour out on his people.
We are wrapping up our series on Hosea the prophet today, and after doing my devotions through Hosea, I thought, you know what? We've never done the prophet Hosea on the radio program. Hosea is such an important prophet to study, to read, to engage with, especially here for us at the Friends of Israel, because God's faithfulness is seen in every chapter. Even in the face of our sin, God remains faithful. Actually, Hosea the prophet really shows the depth of God's faithfulness to Israel, and as a result, God's faithfulness to us. And that's why today we're wrapping up our four week series on the prophet Hosea.
Just a reminder that Hosea ministered for several decades speaking God's truth to the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. And during this time, just to set the background, the massive empire of Assyria was regaining influence in the Middle East, which threatened not only Israel in the North, but also Judah in the South. If you were to open up the Jerusalem Post of Hosea's Day, as he was doing ministry, actually his ministry would've started at the end of a period of absolute great military success for Israel and Judah, and wealth and prosperity for both of the two kingdoms. So essentially, life was good in Israel and Judah. But spiritually, Hosea was speaking into the horrible choices of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. And his message can be boiled down to three words: sin, judgment, and salvation.
And last week we talked about God's judgment toward Israel, and the fact that because of their sin, God would spare no expense in judging them, because Hosea says that Israel committed spiritual adultery by following false gods, that the rich committed injustice toward the poor in Israel. There was murder and violent crime in the land as they were hurting one another and abusing one another. Religious hypocrisy could be found among the priests. There was selfish arrogance and even spiritual ingratitude, which is the worst, the fact that they would have pride against the God who loved them so much and made a covenant with them.
Now let's rewind for a moment, because God told Israel what would happen if they continued to sin, and it actually goes back to the book of Deuteronomy, and even the book of Leviticus in chapter 26. And what Deuteronomy and Leviticus show us is that Israel's sin would produce a domino effect of disobedience. And Hosea and all the prophets of Israel and Judah, they knew, they were confident in God's law, that if Israel or Judah sinned, it would lead to judgment. If Israel abandoned God, or in the context of Hosea, committed the spiritual adultery with God, which is sin, then God would bring judgment. But ultimately in the end, God would save and restore his people because of his faithfulness.
And last week we talked about this judgment that God brought on the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel through Assyria, that massive empire. And 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. And there in our archives page, you can listen to my message on the background of Hosea, you can listen about the sins that Israel committed, and even the judgment that would come on the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel, and so much more by going to foiradio.org.
I mentioned in our previous program that there are five judgment and salvation cycles in Hosea's prophecy against Israel. And like I said last week, we looked at the judgment side of those cycles, and today we're going to look at the salvation and restoration side of those cycles for Israel.
The first cycle of Israel's salvation and restoration can actually be found in Hosea chapter 1 starting in verse 10, all the way to chapter 2. This is right after God uses Hosea's three children that came from his relationship with Gomer, a prostitute, and each of his children's names were used to cast judgment on Israel. Do you remember Jezreel, the name of his first born child, where the battle would take place that would bring an end to the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel? Or Lo-ruhamah, which means no pity or not loved, that God would show no pity on Israel. Or Lo-ammi, which means not my people, that Israel would no longer be considered God's people because of their sin toward him.
In the first cycle of salvation and restoration, I love this, God promises Israel and Hosea, starting in chapter 1, verse 10, he says this: "However, in the future, the number of the people of Israel will be like that of the sand and of the sea, that can be neither measured nor numbered." Again, that's going all the way back to a promise that God made in Genesis 12 and Genesis 15 to Abraham, the Abrahamic promise. And he says this: "Although it was said to them, you are not my people," remember Lo-ammi, one of his children, "it will be said to them, you are children of the living God." In verse 12 it says, "Then the people of Judah and the people of Israel will be gathered together. They will appoint for themselves one leader, and will flourish in the land. Certainly the day of Jezreel will be great. Then you will call your brother, my people, Ammi. You will call your sister pity, or Ruhamah."
Again, God's favor, do you hear this? Will turn toward his people. And notice it wasn't just toward the Southern tribe of Judah, it included regathering, did you hear that? Of Israel and Judah together, giving the picture that the once divided nation of Israel would be reunited in the future.
The second salvation and restoration cycle. Again, Hosea says that God will bring his people back to the land. He will restore them, which can be read in Isaiah 2:14, through Hosea 3:5. "God will no longer hold back the rain, which was a part of their judgment. No, instead he will bring an abundance of food because of the rain that he will provide." Hosea chapter 2, starting in verse 21. It says, "At that time, I will willingly respond, declares the Lord. I will respond to the sky, and the sky will respond to the ground, and the ground will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the olive oil. And they will respond to God's plants, Jezreel. Then I will plant her as my own in the land. I will have pity on no pity, Lo-ruhamah," there's that name again, "and I will say to not my people, Lo-ammi, that you are my people, and he will say, you are my God."
Again, I love how God takes the names of Hosea's children, which were meant for judgment, and says, I will provide for Israel and provide the rain, because it's God who plants and has pity on his people, the Jewish people.
Again a third time, God announces a future salvation, a future hope for Israel when they turn and repent. And when they repent, listen to what Hosea says in Hosea, starting in chapter 5, verse 15 through chapter 6 in verse 3. It says this: "Come on, let's return to the Lord. He Himself has torn us to pieces, but He will heal us. He has injured us, but He will bandage our wounds. He will restore us in a very short time. He will heal us in a little while, so that we may live in His presence. So let us search for him, let us seek to know the Lord. He will come to our rescue as certainly as the appearance of the dawn, as certainly as the winter rain comes, as certainly as the spring rain that waters the land."
God promises to heal and bandage Israel spiritually, and to restore them to the land. They are confident, did you hear that? That he will come to our rescue as certainly as the appearance of the dawn. Because Israel is confident that the Lord will rescue them from their sins and their enemies.
The fourth salvation and restoration cycle can be found starting in Hosea 11:8-11, where again, God's compassion and mercy toward his people can be both seen and heard. Listen to this, Hosea chapter 11, starting in verse 8. "How can I give you up, O Ephraim?" Ephraim is Israel, the Northern Ten Tribes. "How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I treat you like Admah, or how can I make you like Zeboiim? I have had a change of heart. All my tender compassions are aroused. I cannot carry out my fierce anger. I cannot totally destroy Ephraim, because I am God, and not man, the holy one among you. I will not come in wrath." Again, God's grace is seen toward his covenant people, Israel, when he says, "I cannot carry out my fierce anger, I cannot totally destroy Ephraim, because I am God and not man, the holy one among you. I will not come in wrath."
And finally, all of chapter 14, the last chapter of the book, is a call of repentance, salvation, and restoration, where God says this, starting in verse 1: "Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for your sin has been your downfall. Return to the Lord and repent. Say to him completely forgive our iniquity except our penitential prayer, that we may offer the praise of our lips as sacrificial bulls. Assyria cannot save us. We will not ride war horses. We will never say our gods to what our own hands have made, for only you will show compassion to orphan Israel."
Despite Israel's sin. God vows throughout Hosea's prophecy to restore Israel to the land if they repent and return to Him. God's grace is just waiting to be poured out. If they cry out to Him, just as it says, completely forgive our iniquities, and God promises to restore Israel. But how will He do that? Didn't all the tribes get scattered and sent into the various areas of the ancient world? In God's providence, He has a way of preserving a remnant, but you'll have to stick around to find out how.
I've been sharing with you over the past few weeks, as we've been studying Hosea, a new resource that the Friends of Israel has that I'm actually very proud of, because it's Israel Always, a book that I wrote. It's a book that's all about experiencing God's pursuit of you through his chosen people. As Dr. Randall Price says, it's a succinct and compelling survey of everything Israel. And the reason that's important is because, just as in the prophet Hosea, we've been seeing everything about Israel from their sin to their judgment, and now as we're studying their restoration, we see all of Israel pictured in Hosea's prophecy. In my book Israel Always, I want to show you the same thing.
Sometimes what we do with Israel is we divide up Israel into segments. Israel of the Bible, the modern state of Israel, and then the Israel that's coming in the future, a future Israel. Well, you know what? I don't see it that way. I see God's faithfulness binding all of those moments together, that the Israel of the Bible, the Israel of today, and the Israel of the future are all connected to how God faithfully pursues Israel and the Jewish people, because of a promise that he made with them, that goes back to Genesis chapter 12.
And because of that, not only do we see Israel and God's faithfulness toward them, but also how God remains faithful to us, followers of the Lord Jesus. Israel always is a great way to see the faithfulness of God in Israel and our lives as well. And if you are planning on going to the Holy Land, maybe you want to come with the Friends of Israel, this is a great resource that you can get your hands on, so that you can prepare for your trip to the land of Israel.
Now, I'll also say this, if you go to our website, foi.org/israelalways, you can download a free chapter right now to sample the book. So you can go to foi.org/israelalways to get your free chapter. But Steve, how can our listeners get their copy of Israel Always if they wish to purchase it?
Steve Conover: Yeah. Chris's new book, Israel Always, published by Harvest House. It's a beautiful book. It's an insightful book. I encourage you to get your copy. You can learn more or purchase your copy of Chris's new book, Israel Always. You can visit our radio website at foiradio.org, or go to foi.org/israelalways. Again, that's foi.org/israelalways.
Chris Katulka: Welcome back, everyone. We are wrapping up our series on the prophet Hosea. Over the past four weeks, we have looked at the historical background of Hosea the prophet, as he was speaking into the lives and the culture of the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. We studied what sins Israel committed to God that would arouse his anger toward them. We examined the judgment that God would bring to the Northern Ten Tribes for their sins. And today we are closing our series on hope. God promises to heal, bandage, rescue, and restore his chosen people.
But how's he going to do that? Didn't all the tribes, the Northern Ten Tribes, get scattered into the various areas of the ancient world because of the Assyrians? Well, in God's providence, he always has a way of preserving a remnant in the midst of his judgment toward Israel. There are two places I want to highlight.
The first happened as the Assyrians were coming into Israel. King Hezekiah of the Kingdom of Judah is in Jerusalem, and he sees the Assyrians coming to the Northern Kingdom. To prepare for their coming, he builds a broad wall for protection, but expands the wall to enclose the Western Hill of Jerusalem. So why would Hezekiah expand the reaches of the wall to protect Jerusalem? According to archeologists, it was to protect the numerous refugees from the Northern Ten Tribes who fled the North for the South for safety.
Brisco from the Holman Bible Atlas puts it this way. Recent archeological excavations have confirmed a Western expansion of Jerusalem dating from the reign of Hezekiah, which is 715 through 687 BC. Archeologists speculate that a population influx in part of Israelite refugees fleeing the Assyrian invasions made the expansion necessary. This massive wall made to withstand Assyrian siege tactics closed the Western hill, its line apparently turned South above the Hinnom Valley and continued eastward joining the City of David's fortifications near the juncture of the Hinnom and Kidron valleys. The broad wall enclosed an additional 90 acres of land, making the total fortified area of Jerusalem approximately 150 acres. Population estimates for the city at this time range between 15 and 25,000. See, God preserved a remnant from the Northern Ten Tribes by sending them to the South as they were seeking safety.
The second happened again several years after the Assyrian deportation of the Northern Ten Tribes. Hezekiah, once again, the king of Judah, was busy reforming his kingdom, and he eagerly desired to honor the Passover, even though it wasn't the right time of the year. That didn't stop Hezekiah.
Listen to 2 Chronicles 30:4-10. It says this: "The proposal to celebrate the Passover seemed appropriate to the king and the entire assembly, so they sent an edict throughout Israel from Beersheba to Dan, summoning the people to come and observe Passover for the Lord God of Israel in Jerusalem, for they had not observed it on a nationwide scale as prescribed in the law. Messengers delivered the letters from the king and his officials throughout Israel and Judah. The royal edict read like this: O Israelites, return to the Lord God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, so He may return to you who have been spared from the kings of Assyria. Don't be like your fathers and brothers who were unfaithful to the Lord God of their ancestors, provoking Him to destroy them, as you can see. Now, don't be stubborn like your fathers. Submit to the Lord and come to His sanctuary which he has permanently consecrated. Serve the Lord your God so that He might relent from his raging anger, for if you return to the Lord, your brothers and sons will be shown mercy by their captors and returned to this land. The Lord your God is merciful and compassionate. He will not reject you if you return to him.
The messengers journeyed from city to city through the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, as far as Zebulun, but people mocked and ridiculed them. But some men from Asher, Manasseh, and Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem.
Did you hear that? Hezekiah, even after the Assyrian deportation, sends an edict to the war-torn Northern Ten Tribes inviting them to return to the Lord and celebrate Passover. Not all of them replied positively, but some from Asher, Manasseh and Zebulun, Northern Ten Tribes, some of them did. My friends, a remnant was preserved from the Northern Ten Tribes of Israel. Listen, even in the midst of Israel's darkest days, when it seemed like there was no hope, God promised salvation, God promised restoration, and God promised a remnant to ensure that his promise, his covenant to Israel, wouldn't fail. Why? Because we serve a faithful God.
Steve Conover: Chris, what does that say to someone that feels like there's no hope for them, that God would never forgive them of their sins?
Chris Katulka: I think sometimes we can get caught up in our sins, and we can think my sin is something that God can't overlook. And clearly God sees the sin, but at the same time, I think what Hosea shows us is that, even in the depth of Israel's sins, God still said, I cannot turn my eyes away from my people. I believe God has been pursuing all of us from the very beginning. It's the reason that he sent his son into a world full of sin and shame, and Jesus entered right into it, that we might have eternal life, that no matter what, whoever turns to God and repents can find restoration, hope, and fullness to serve the living God.
Steve Conover: Now, Apples of Gold, a dramatic reading from the life and ministry of Holocaust survivor Zvi Kalisher.
Mike Kellogg: My watch stopped running recently, so I took it to a watchman in the ultra orthodox section of Jerusalem. Two Hasidic men entered the watchmaker's shop with me, and started to speak about their study of the Talmud in the Yeshiva. One of the men told the watchmaker, "Even if you are on vacation, you must study the great rabbi's books." I listened to them for a long time, and then I decided to enter the conversation. "If you are so faithful to God," I commented, "You should know that study alone will not get you into Heaven. You must bow down on your knees and pray to God."
Even after such a brief statement, they all rose against me. "What are we, Christians that we should bow down?" I replied, "Was Daniel a Christian when he bowed down three times a day before God? Many times in the Bible, our great prophets bowed down before the Lord. David wrote in Psalm 95:6, 'O, come let us worship and bow down. Let us kneel before the Lord our maker.' Was David a Christian? And what about you? On Yom Kippur, you bow down many times and cry, "Adonai, Adonai." If, as you say, only Christians bow down to pray, then you are just like them."
"Never!" they shouted. One of the men said, "Our rabbi would be able to answer you." I asked, "How is it that you have studied all your lives, and yet you cannot give correct answers about your faith?" These men displayed all the outward signs of being religious, but they were empty inside.
Then they asked, "Why do you try to act so religious? We can tell you are not, yet you want us to do what you say?" I replied, "I have never said you should do as I say. God has told us to obey the law of the Lord and not to follow other gods, but you are wasting your life studying the writings and traditions of men."
The watchmaker then said, "This reminds me of an occasion a few years ago, when a man came into my shop and spoke just like you. He was a missionary. Are you one of them?" I told him, "I believe in the living God, Messiah ben David. You sing about him every Sabbath, but you do not believe in him in your heart. Did you know the words Messiah and Christ mean the same thing?" At this, they all jumped around us if they had been bitten by a snake, and they said, "This can never be. We will ask our rabbi." I replied, "I'll be waiting for his answer."
You never know how the Lord will use such a situation, and he has said in Isaiah 55:11 that his word will not return to him void. I pray these men will remember our conversation, and turn to the Bible, the true word of God.
Steve Conover: Thank you so much for being with us for this series. I hope you'll check out Chris's new book, Israel Always, at our website, foiradio.org, or at foi.org/israelalways. Chris, where are we headed next week?
Chris Katulka: There has been a big transition that's happened recently with our magazine, Israel My Glory. For several decades, Lorna Simcox has been our editor-in-chief, casting the vision for the success of Israel My Glory. Recently she has retired and handed the baton off to Jesse King, our new managing editor of Israel My Glory. So we're going to have both Lorna and Jesse on to talk about the transition and the future for Israel My Glory.
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. I'm Steve Conover, executive producer. The Friends of Israel Today as 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: Bow Down Before the Lord
Two Hasidic men entered a watchmaker’s shop along with Zvi and started to speak about their study of the Talmud, yet they seemed to completely neglect the importance of praying to the almighty God of Heaven. They did not think that they should bow down before God, as they believed this was only for Christians. Little did they know that the heroes of their faith all bowed before the Lord in the Hebrew Scriptures.
The Friends of Israel Today theme music was composed and performed by Jeremy Strong.
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