HOSEA 4:1 – 6:11 and REVELATION 11:1–14
The Word of the Lord is now going to come against the priests, prophets and people in Israel due to their sin. There is a verse we have referenced from Jeremiah on many occasions and it is appropriate here.
Jer 5:31 The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bear rule by their means; and my people love to have it so: and what will ye do in the end thereof?
Hosea’s message is focused on Israel to the north but we have seen many of the other prophets essentially speaking similar things to Judah in the south. Israel was guilty of much greater sin seeing how steeped it was in idolatry. Judah had several righteous kings that helped to bring stability through many of their seasons. Later on we will see Judah coming under greater judgement seeing that they did not learn the lessons of Israel’s coming judgement. The prophet Ezekiel characterized this in the allegory of two sisters (Ezek 23).
The indictments upon Israel were heavy and to the point as seen in verse 1. There are three areas of lack and they are as follows: First there was no truth. This was a problem that Isaiah prophesied concerning Judah (Isa 59:15). What do we do with the Truth? Do we love and embrace it? Do we acknowledge the Truth about ourselves? Do we hide and prove to be evasive to the Truth? We are living in a day when the Truth of God’s Word is invading churches and individual lives. The question is how do we respond to Truth? It is a day when the Lord is knocking on the door of hearts (Rev 3:20). Do we open and acknowledge Truth or do we seal the door, make excuses and cover up or hide from it? What Hosea was speaking to Israel is what the Lord is challenging His church with today.
Secondly, there was no mercy. One of the problems with the subject of mercy is that it is often misunderstood. God extends mercy but it is not often seen that way because it does not fit man’s understanding of what God is looking to do. God extends mercy primarily from an eternal perspective. Man equates mercy differently and oftentimes misapplies it in a way that does more damage. We are to be merciful toward others because it is one of the criterial in obtaining mercy ourselves. We must always have a merciful posture toward others while always remembering that it is God’s prerogative to extend mercy.
Rom 9:15 For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion.
Finally, there was no knowledge of God in the land. This is not a natural or humanistic knowledge; it rather speaks of a supernatural “spirit filled” knowledge of God. Knowledge is one of the 7 spirits of God as seen in Isa 11:2-3. It is God’s desire that we grow in His knowledge and that it would fill all the earth (Isa 11:9). Israel (the northern kingdom) was void of these three key components of the kingdom.
In verse 2 we see the fruits of lawlessness that was permeating the land. This is what happens when the Law of God is abandoned. It is becoming so commonplace today even in nations that were once civil that were governed by a law abiding culture. Adultery and murder were commonplace in the latter stages of Israel’s existence. The destruction that would come upon Israel by way of the Assyrians would be total and absolute. The animal kingdom will be greatly affected by the judgements to come. In verses 4-5, we see that both the priest and prophet shall fall since they failed to adequately represent the perspective of God. Their functioning gave license to their lawlessness.
One of the greatest reasons for Israel’s downfall was there lack of knowledge of the Lord. This was referenced in verse 1. One of the primary reasons for failure in this area of knowledge was that they did not keep the law. It is the responsibility of the priests to serve as an example of the statutes and precepts of God. There will be a priest who will come forth later by the name of Ezra who will serve as a true example of priest. All one has to do is read Psa 119 to understand the manner of priest that God is after. If a people are not taught properly in the things of God they will not have the ability to stand when pressures come. A priesthood that caters to the whims of the people are in actuality contributing to their destruction. This is what is happening here. Once again people have no problem in seeking to reign with Christ but where is the emphasis on being a true priest of God? Note the warning from the following Proverb.
Pro 1:22 How long, ye simple ones, will ye love simplicity? and the scorners delight in their scorning, and fools hate knowledge?
The bottom line was that the people were seeking counsel from ungodly sources. The spirit of adultery which was so permeating the land was corrupting their minds and making allowances for idolatry to enter in. The more idolatrous a people the more alienated they become from the living God. Israel was now in a fully backslidden state. It is interesting to note that God was already beginning to warn Judah (the Southern kingdom) to not make the same mistake as Israel (vs 15). Israel came to this sorry position because of mixture. Judah at this time was prospering but God was already sending forth a warning. Sadly the time will come when Judah will come under even greater judgements. How about us today? We have both of their examples to learn from plus an additional 2500 years of history? This should be putting the Fear of the Lord in all of us.
The indictment upon the priesthood continues in chapter 5. The way they ministered served as a snare to the people seeing that it led them into idolatry. The Lord is also speaking to the royal house which would refer to the kings. It is clear that God is after kings and priests that have been made, proven and tested for Himself (Rev 1:6, 5:10). This certainly was not the case with Israel. They were primarily guilty of adultery (as illustrated through Gomer the wife of Hosea) and murder. In verse 4 they were unable to set their hearts to turn back to the living God. Their lifestyle had become like a strong current that prohibited them from turning back. This is why it is so important to hear what the Spirit of the Lord is saying today and not allow our hearts to be hardened (Psa 95:7). If we continue to turn a deaf ear to the overtures of God our heart becomes desensitized to the Lord’s voice. It becomes easier to continue down the wrong path and this is exactly what had happened to Israel.
In verse 5 we see the fallout of an adulterous and idolatrous generation. There will be the abundance of pride that will fill the nation. In essence, the people and the nation are saying that they did not need God. The spirit that has filled the land of Israel is one that reflects the heart of Satan. How did it ever come to this? The Word of the Lord is making clear that the prophets, priests and kings have gone a long way in helping to create this environment. The Lord goes on to say in verse 6 that when the people look to call upon Him he will not respond. What a contrast this is to what was spoken through Jeremiah.
Jer 29:12 Then shall ye call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you.
Jer 29:13 And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.
The fruit of their ways has resulted in the birthing of strange children. This is one of the tragedies of teaching polluted doctrine. The offspring are corrupted and it perpetuates as they grow and become more connected to their world. We saw this in some of the kings of Judah. There was not much immediate fallout after Hezekiah opened the treasuries to the Babylonians but the long term consequences for his seed and beyond was huge (2 Kings 20:12-19).
The judgements that were to come upon Israel are further stated in verses 8-14. Their wound would be incurable and there would be no one who would be able to come to their rescue. Finally in verse 15 the Lord speaks about waiting to the time when Israel will acknowledge their sin before Him. This is one of the prerequisites for receiving mercy and restoration; to acknowledge wrongdoing and to seek forgiveness and healing. The Mercy Seat is over the Law so in order to receive mercy one must acknowledge the transgressing of the Law. Remember, the revival that came at the time of Josiah was when the law of God was read before the king. There was no such representation of the true law of God with the priests that were functioning in Israel. Hopefully these lessons will help to spur within us a greater love and desire for God’s Law in our lives.
This chapter has as its theme a call to return to God. The Lord is ever gracious in reaching out to those who have gone astray or have turned from Him. He goes above and beyond in giving man every opportunity to make that pivot and return unto Him but in the end it is still man’s choice. It is here where we can also appreciate the subject of the mercy of God. He oftentimes does things that we may not understand at the time but it works for our long term and eternal good. The Lord promises that if we return unto Him with a whole heart that he would heal and restore.
In verse 2 we have a statement that has deep meaning. The two days mentioned refer to the period of the church age (2000 years). This can also be corroborated when looking at Luke 13:31-32. The Lord spoke of working for two days and that on the third day he would be perfected. This is analogous to Israel. They would reject the Messiah for over a period of 2000 years. It will be at the time of the millennium (the 3rd day) when they will be perfected. There are 4 days (4000 years) that take the timeline from Adam to Christ. The Lord is speaking beyond Hosea’s day and also that of the first restoration period. Remember, in 2 Pet 3:8 the statement is made where 1 day is as a thousand years. It will be after 2000 years of the church age when Israel will be restored. There are other references that help to make this point as well. There is a gap of 2000 cubits that separated the priests from the Ark when Israel crossed over Jordan in Josh 3:4. It speaks of the large heart that God has for restoration. In spite of all that Israel (and later Judah) has done in turning away He still has that heart to recover, reconcile and restore His people. This is an area of enlargement we all need to seek after in our own lives.
In verse 3 there is the promise of coming to know the former and latter rain blessings of God provided we press on in knowing Him. This was also spoken of in Joel 2:23. It is a reference to the feasts that Israel has celebrated since the time of Moses. In essence the former rain refers to Pentecost which the early church in Acts came to experience. The latter rain blessing is a reference to the Feast of Tabernacles which will take place in the last days. This feast can be linked with the 7th kingdom parable in Matthew 13 of the great net that was cast which brings in a huge harvest of fish. This is another case where a prophet of God is able to speak to a current situation and yet have a future application.
In verse 4 there is a prophetic declaration made to Judah concerning her future departure from the living God. They are likened to a morning dew that will later evaporate. This means that there was no depth to their goodness as is the case with many churches and Christians today. We come now to verse 6 which is a reflection of what was seen in verse 1. There was no knowledge and mercy in the land and it is reiterated here in verse 6. We also saw earlier that because of a lack of the knowledge of God the people were destroyed. If this was true in Hosea’s day then what about ours? The knowledge of God helps to give perspective and see the bigger picture. The knowledge of God is what feeds the Spirit man through the Word of God. If we do not grow in the knowledge of God we are then left being subject to the soul. If we refuse the knowledge of God we then can end up as reprobates (Rom 1:28). The Lord abides and dwells when mercy and knowledge are present. There is a reference to Gilead in verse 8. This is the portion of land where Reuben, Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh established their base. When the term Gilead is used it usually constitutes the eastern side of the Jordan that was assigned to Israel.
The priesthood that was established under King Jeroboam I was corrupt and not to be equated in any way with the Levites ( 1 Kings 12:31-32). He set up priests that were base and not even part of the Levitical family of priests. They set up priests on their terms which were contrary to God’s order. The priests were murderers and robbers. It is not too difficult to understand the level of judgement(s) that are about to come upon the land. The final two verses make known just how defiled Israel had become as it engaged in literal and spiritual whoredoms. There is a message for Judah as well to take note of Israel’s plight and to be warned by it. Sadly, we will later find that they did not learn which then makes their judgement even more severe. The same warning is now placed before us.
This is one of the most significant chapters in the Book of Revelation. There is so much that takes place during this period. It is also a period of time that is referenced in several other books of the Bible. Let’s begin with the first two verses. This helps us to understand that there will be a literal temple that will be built in the last days. This is different from the heavenly temple seen earlier in Rev 8:3-4. This temple in chapter 11 speaks of an outer court that will be under siege for a period of 3 ½ years. This court will be for the Gentiles and those of the holy city in Jerusalem. There was an event in history where a similar event took place. In fact Daniel was shown a vision of what was going to take place in the future (Dan 11:45). This event did take place and it is recorded in Daniel 11. It was here where Antiochus Epiphanes IV offered up a swine as he desecrated the temple. It serves as a vivid picture of what the antichrist will do in the last days which is recorded in Revelation 11. (It is important to link Dan 11:45 with this chapter.)
There is another portion in Daniel which refers to this period. Daniel 9:27 speaks of the antichrist and it will be in the midst of the last week when he will perform this act. This event is known as the Abomination of Desolation. Jesus Himself referred to this event in Math 24:15. There is also a reference in the Book of 2 Thessalonians where Paul speaks of one who will seek worship in a latter day temple posing himself as being God. Here is a mini summary of what scripture indicates will take place. The antichrist will make a covenant with Israel for a period of 7 years. It will be in the midst of the 7 years (3 ½ years) when the antichrist will break the covenant by offering a sacrifice (perhaps a swine) that will become known as the abomination of desolation. This then will commence the great tribulation.
In verses 3-12 we have the account of the two witnesses who feature prominently during this time frame. It appears by the designated timeframe that their ministry will begin around the beginning of the last 7 year period (The last week of Daniel’s vision-Dan 9:24-27). The Bible goes on to make these two men rather easy to identify. In verse 4 there is a reference to two olive trees and two candlesticks that stand before the God of all the earth. This is a quote from Zech 4:14 which speaks of the two anointed ones that stand before the Lord of all the earth. These two men stood alongside the Lord when he was transfigured before them at the Mt. of Transfiguration (Math 17:1-3). These two prophets are also referred to in Malachi 4:4-6. It will be the lawgiver Moses who will have a ministry of magnifying the Law during this period working in conjunction with Elijah who will have a primary ministry of restoration. There will be two very powerful ministries. It was Moses who was persistent in presenting the Law before God’s people. He strongly exhorted Israel to keep the law and do it as they were about to enter into their inheritance. It was Moses who was challenged on the subject of holiness by Korah and his friends. They rejected the standard that Moses was lifting up. I say these things because I feel it will be a very similar climate as he seeks to put forth the Law of God. Their message may be accepted at the first however it will become increasingly unpopular as the people get acquainted with the content of his message (Rev 11:6).
In like manner Elijah’s ministry will offend many just as he offended Jezebel and the prophets of Baal. The early stages of his ministry may see him in a better light but as time goes on people will become resistant to his message. It will be in the middle of the 7 year period when the antichrist will come and kill them both (vs 7). It will not only be the world that will be rejoicing at their death but it will be many in the church as well. Remember it will be Elijah who will serve as a latter day John the Baptist type that will be preparing the way for the 2nd coming. Moses and Elijah will be a thorn in the side of many in the church due to the standards that they will be lifting up. What we see in Moses and Elijah is a mini re-enactment along similar lines to what the Lord went through. Moses and Elijah had unique incidents of interest at the time they went to be with the Lord. When Moses died it was said that God Himself buried Him. His grave could never be found. Elijah was caught up in a whirlwind to God. Both appeared with the Lord at Transfiguration Mountain (Math 17). Interestingly both will be killed in Jerusalem by the beast. Their dead bodies will be laid in the streets of Jerusalem for a period of 3 ½ days. The people will not want to make the same mistake that was made with Jesus when they allowed Him to be buried in a tomb. It is obvious that Moses and Elijah were significant figures during this time. This is borne out by the fact that they left them in the streets of the city so that no fabricated stories could be made about any potential resurrection along the lines of what Jesus experienced.
We also know of their significance when looking at the level of rejoicing that is taking place at their death. Their ministry brought a stinging rebuke to the people and the church and now everyone is free of these tormentors. It is reminiscent of when the Ark of God was taken from Israel and brought to Ashdod in the province of the Philistines. It was quickly realized that God was not one to be trifled with. It will become clear soon enough to those who just witnessed the slaying of Moses and Elijah. Their dead bodies will again come to life after 3 ½ days as seen in verse 11. As one might imagine there will be great fear that will come upon the people (vs 11). Unlike the Lord it appears that they (Moses and Elijah) will be taken up to heaven immediately as a voice calls out for them to ascend. What a sight this will be to those who are gathered there. It will be even more horrifying when the people feel and see the effects of a great earthquake that will take place soon afterwards. It will then begin to dawn on people that this was no ordinary event and that which was done was similar to what Christ experienced. Moses and Elijah will experience much of what Jesus went through at Calvary. Of course when Jesus died He did so as the sinless Lamb of God who became sin. There are other events surrounding this moment that seem to happen simultaneously or within a short period of time afterwards. This will be looked into in subsequent summaries. Let’s not forget that this is taking place between the last of the trumpet judgements and before the commencing of the bowl judgements. The Bible seems to indicate that all of this will take place within a very short period of time.