HOSEA 7:1 – 10:15 and REVELATION 11:15–19
Ephraim was the key tribe of the northern kingdom of Israel. Samaria was the capitol city. It was God’s intention to heal Israel and when he attempted to do so her nakedness was revealed. There were high levels of violence, drunkenness and immorality. There was no firm leadership in this environment and it was easy for those who were in leadership to participate in the corruption. There is an interesting truth seen in verse 2. The more corrupt Ephraim became the more convinced they were that they could get away with their wickedness. This is one of the dangers of being caught into the grip of sin. The further along you go the more indifferent and hardened one can become. In addition there can be a sense of invincibility that God either does not see what we are doing or we feel justified in it. Perhaps this is the reason why we see that verse that speaks about “Today, if you hear His voice, harden not your heart.” There are many scriptures that speak to this lie. Paul wrote to the Romans the following as seen in Rom 2:3.
Rom 2:3 And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God?
There is also a warning that David sounds out in Psa 10:11-14. In any case we need to be fully warned that sin will eventually be discovered and judged. This is why it is always wisdom to seek the Lord and allow Him to speak and deal with our hearts today, while He may be found.
In verse 3 we catch a glimpse of the character of the king. He delighted in wickedness and was made glad by reports of lies, deceit and corruption. He more than likely benefitted from the corruption. Sadly, this model of leadership is taking hold today on what once were civilized nations. It is the few who are empowered who wield great control over the masses. All one needs is a strong media and key people in strategic leadership positions. The leaders under the king knew how to control him and keep him happy which in turn secured their positions. They made the king drunk and always told him things they knew would make him happy (vs 4-5).
The prophet goes on to indict the judges as well likening them to bread that is placed in the oven that would eventually burn. They could not even make good bread or manage the simplest things. The more they participated in this folly the more immune they became to their true condition. Israel was a nation that had taken on the idolatrous ways of the kingdoms around them. It may be good to go back and see what the Lord instructed Israel through Moses as they were about to go into the Promised Land. This will help for us to see how badly they had fallen.
Lev 20:24 But I have said unto you, Ye shall inherit their land, and I will give it unto you to possess it, a land that floweth with milk and honey: I am the LORD your God, which have separated you from other people.
Lev 20:26 And ye shall be holy unto me: for I the LORD am holy, and have severed you from other people, that ye should be mine.
Can you see how God must have felt in light of the way Israel had given herself to idolatry? His intention was to bring them into their inheritance and bless them. They would be a peculiar people who wholly gave themselves to the Lord. They (Northern Kingdom) had become worse that many of the other nations they were called to be an example to. The Lord uses the example of a half-baked cake in describing Israel. Think about it! What use is it to have a half-baked cake? It speaks of a life that is not fully consecrated to God. A minister especially should live a life of separation that makes him or her distinct. Yes, we must serve people and live amongst an adulterous generation but that does not mean we become like them. One of the bottom line issues concerning Israel was their pride as cited in verse 10. Their pride and arrogance shielded them from the reality of their condition. The same is true for any of us if we allow pride to have a habitation within us. It is pride that prohibits man to seek after God which is certainly one of the primary problems seen here (Psa 10:4).
Whenever they found themselves in a difficult place they would turn to Egypt or Assyria for help but not to God. It is interesting to note that Assyria will be the nation that will eventually besiege and destroy them. Who do we turn to in our time of need? We later see in verse 14 that even when the judgements begin to come upon them they will howl to God; not because of their sin but because of the judgements. Israel was a nation that was in deep rebellion. Finally, Israel is given the description of being like a deceitful bow. If you place an arrow in such a bow it will surely miss the mark. It is God’s intention to make us polished arrows while providing a platform for a firm and trustworthy bow. Israel was not trustworthy as a nation. What about us as a church in these days? We are living in a similar environment but the question is how are we responding to it? One can clearly see the need for a true priestly ministry to emerge.
This chapter begins with a series of warnings of coming judgements that will come upon Israel. These chapters will also speak of the future captivity in both Assyria and Egypt. In verse one a picture of an eagle swooping down on its prey is given symbolising the pending judgement to come. One of the primary reasons was due to the transgressing of the covenant and forsaking of the law. This will be the issue with Judah a bit later on. The Book of Deuteronomy was rather straight forward in its instruction for future success in the land of their inheritance. They just needed to keep and uphold God’s Law and statutes. This was repeated over and over but in the end to no avail. This is the problem with man from the beginning of creation. God gives a law resulting in man being put into the position of choosing to keep it. This is accentuated by the effort of the enemy in trying to get man to disobey God’s law. If he can get man to violate God’s law it opens the door to sin and gives him (Satan) an ability to wield power and influence. This is exactly what happened at the time of the fall. The prophet is told to blow the trumpet which indicates the judgements are soon to commence.
The tragedy of calling upon God only to have God turn a deaf ear is seen in verses 2-3. The danger of taking the presence of the Lord for granted is something we need always be warned against. Jeremiah sought to remind his hearers concerning the same thing. On a number of occasions he pleaded that they would take into account what happened at Shiloh. Israel thought that they could just bring the Ark into battle at any time and all would be well. Their thinking was that it worked in the past it will certainly work again. Israel thought they knew God well enough that He would deliver them in time of trouble. What a horrifying realization it would be to come to the place of knowing that God is no longer for them. One of the things they were guilty of was establishing priests and leaders on their own terms and then seeking God’s blessing upon it. When it comes to positions of leadership in the church it is critical in seeking the Lord to fill those appointments. The Lord must be the one to build His church on His terms. God totally rejected their gods as evidenced by His rebuke concerning the calves in verses 5-6. Their judgement is total as seen in verse 7. If they make an attempt at this point to establish and root a church or ministry it would be for naught. They will have no fruit whatsoever. Israel was likened to a bride that went after other lovers like Assyria and Egypt. This is why the Lord had Hosea marry a whore. The prophet needed to know the heart of God in prophesying such a message to the people. As mentioned earlier they will receive no help from other sources due to forsaking the living God (vs 10). Israel chose to construct altar’s to serve their idols as opposed to worshipping God. There will be no removal of the sin of idolatry from their heart as a result (vs 11). This is what happens to a people who choose to live a life of sin and not be willing to change their habits and ways. God gave Israel His law and statutes that they might live and be blessed but they did not give heed. They served themselves of the idols of other nations and chose to wrap themselves in a false sense of security among them. Hopefully, we will not make the same mistake.
There seems to be a measure of prosperity and blessing with regards to a harvest which brings with it a mood of celebration. Israel may have looked at this harvest as validation and that all would be well. It just adds to the false sense of security. It is not difficult to make similar parallels today. There has been a measure of blessing and prosperity in many pockets of the world. It can give the signal that all is well and that God is pleased. The Lord here was making very clear that they were not to rejoice. In verse 3 the Word is given that Israel shall return to Egypt in captivity mode. How sad when considering the great demonstration of the Lord’s deliverance for His people about 900 years earlier. God was allowing them to be brought back into the captivity of which they were delivered. Egypt is figurative of the world so the church needs to be careful in not doing the same thing.
In verses 5-6 we can apply the admonition of Solomon where he spoke concerning the “little foxes” that spoil the vine (SOS 2:15). It’s regrettable that Solomon did not heed his own advice. It is a warning to the church of our day. The world is out to ensnare the church in much the same way Egypt did to Israel. The key is allowing the Word of the Lord to lay hold of the heart and bring forth change. If not, the world will slowly but surely cast its thorns and cares around the people of God (Mark 4:19-20).
The day of their recompense is at hand. What is seen here are prophets and priests who are perverse and totally out of alignment with God. The fruit of their perverse ministry is a growing stench of iniquity and hatred for the things of God. The Lord is faithful and He is long-suffering in His approach in seeking to reconcile man unto himself. We need to be advised however that there is a limit with God; there is a line that can be crossed. “God limits a day”.
In verse 10 we can see the lament of the Lord as He likens Israel to the first ripe fig. This is a most pleasant fruit and it is how God saw His beloved people. Notice however that they went to Baal-Peor. It speaks of the prophetic ministry of Balaam and the extensive damage of his ministry. They went after these abominations because it was what was in their heart (Num 25:1-3). Balaam would not have had the opportunity to impact these men if it was not in their heart. This is why one needs to take a comprehensive study of Balaam. He is mentioned in Jude (vs 11) and his ministry is referenced to one of the seven churches in the Book of Revelation (Pergamos). His ministry came into prominence at a significant juncture of Israel’s history. This helps us to appreciate the warnings concerning Balaam as we approach these last days. The enemy was able to gain hold of a significant prophet who had power and authority and use him to corrupt the purposes of God. He did not stop God’s purpose but he sure did cause problems. The greater problems came about later through the life of Jezebel (See 2 Kings 11:1). It is also at this juncture where a priest by the name of Phineas came along. It was his act of executing God’s judgment that resulted in the promise of an everlasting priesthood being given to him (Num 25:13). This event had application for Hosea’s day but even more relevance for ours.
We are drawn back to the time sequence of the three woes which were given earlier (The 3 woes coincided with the last 3 trumpet judgements). Two of the three woes have already been declared (the 5th and 6th trumpet) with the 3rd woe about to commence (Rev 11:14). The 7th trumpet (3rd woe) is sounded which results in great voices declaring that the kingdoms of the world are now becoming the kingdoms of the Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever. This seems to initiate a sequence of events that will be quick and powerful. I also believe that it links with what will be seen in chapter 12 when Satan is cast down to the earth form his heavenly plain. The process of purging the earth and preparing it for the last great battle is now about to get underway. We need to remember that this is occurring in the midst of the last 7 year period so it precedes the 2nd coming by about 3 ½ years. Here is a brief overview of what may be taking place at this time. These are just my thoughts based on the sequence of scriptural events.
1) The Beast (antichrist) kills the 2 witnesses (Moses and Elijah).
2) After 3 ½ days they resurrect and are quickly caught up to heaven (Rev 11:11-12).
3) The Abomination of Desolation should take place around this time
4) The 3rd woe is mentioned where there is a shifting in the heavenlies (Rev 11:14-15).
5) The 7th trumpet blast is a preparation for the last of the 7 judgements to be poured out.
This list will be added to from events that will be seen in the next chapter. We see much activity taking place in the heavenly realm which suggests events upon earth are about to dramatically change. The way is being paved for the last great battle at Armageddon. There is going to be great persecution and tribulation during this time. The key for all of this activity seems to be centered on the last verse where it mentions the Ark of His Testament which is part of the heavenly temple. It speaks of the Law of God that has been broken which is not about to be recompensed. It is an answer to the man of sin who sits in the earthly temple assuming himself to be as God. This is why the Abomination of Desolation will act as a trigger for the releasing of all this activity. What the antichrist does on earth seems to serve as the catalyst for what God is about to do in heaven and upon earth. This 7th trumpet seems to be blown at this time. It is preparing the 7 angels with the vial or bowl judgements in hand to now be released. This will not be picked up until chapter 15. John’s attention is diverted to be shown concurrent events that are taking place at this time. This will be seen in Rev 12-14.