HOSEA 11:1 – 14:9 and REVELATION 12:1–17
God is amazing when considering His varied attributes. In the previous chapter we took note of the severe judgements that God was about to bring upon Israel. We also noted the reasons as to why God was justified in doing so. He gave them every opportunity to make right choices through the many years of the different kings that ruled over the northern tribes but they could never get out from under the sins of their first king who was Jeroboam I. In chapter 11 we will now see the face of a loving compassionate God toward His people. God looked at Israel as a firstborn son as cited to Moses in Exodus 4:22-23. The prophesy of being a nation called out of Egypt was an expression that also applied to Christ (Math 2:13:-15). We see the problem once again concerning the ministry of Balaam as they stumbled as they were about to go into their inheritance. His ministry opened the door to immorality and idolatry. The Lord led them, healed them and provided for them but how they quickly forgot and made light of His benefits (Exo 15:26).
Even when Israel stumbled and turned aside the Lord showered them with favor and blessing. The Lord spoke through Isaiah that he had healed and redeemed them. In verse 4 we see that the Lord even gave nations for His beloved Israel. We can take note of a root heart issue in verse 5. Soon after their miraculous deliverance from Egypt many of the Israelites longed to return there. This surfaced again many years later as Israel (and Judah) were about to go into captivity. The dangers of an uncircumcised heart cannot be emphasized enough. We also are warned of the consequences of having been circumcised (spiritually) at Gilgal and desiring to go back to the ways of the Lord. The accountability level here is of great magnitude. This happens when we seek to mimic the world in the things we do. We must also beware of those who suggest that God would never punish sin because of the great love He has for His people. The best way to counter this lie is to make it known that God has already demonstrated His love in the fullest way possible. What more could He or the Father do to show forth their love for us? It comes down to a choice that we would need to make in responding to His expression of love.
God makes known the great love He has for Ephraim. How could He even think of giving them up? Though Israel is guilty of great iniquity the Lord still has a place in His heart for the people. This is a people who mocked God and set about the process of making provision for every kind of abomination yet the Lord still has a heart for the people. This chapter is one of Restoration. The two extremes seen in this chapter are amazing. On one hand you have the gross sins that were committed by the people contrasted with the compassionate tender care of the Lord being expressed towards them. This is a picture of what we will need to prepare for in the last days.
The Lord makes the distinction between some of the good kings that have ruled in Judah during this period of judgements as opposed to the wicked kings of Israel. Later on we see the sad declension of many of the kings in Judah resulting in their being brought into captivity.
This chapter will give a historical account of Israel. The historical periods of Biblical history need to be studied and applied. There are many examples where men were able to open doors by the unveiling of God’s Word. Ephraim is likened to a backslider who has departed from God primarily due to immorality, drunkenness and rebellion. The ways of a backslider are most difficult and it is very difficult in getting back onto the right path. The only hope is for God to grant repentance and extend mercy to such a person and or nation. One of the keys to the last day revival is the church having the heart and capacity to receive those who are in a similar backslidden state. This will be a significant challenge to the church; to reach out and minister to the unlovable. In verse 1 we see Ephraim and Israel feeding on the wind. Essentially this means they were putting trust and stock in things that would not last. The nations that Israel turned to were nations that God allowed to be raised up as an instrument of judgement against them. It is so much easier to hear and respond to what God is speaking. One of the kings of Israel (Hoshea) sought to make an alliance with Egypt so as to be delivered from the assault of the Assyrians. There is the warning given to Judah that they would not escape God’s hand of judgement due to their sin. They did have some righteous kings nonetheless they later entered into many of the same problems that were confronting Israel. It is actually worse for Judah seeing that they should have learned from Israel’s example.
In verses 3-4 the Word of the Lord speaks of the time when Jacob and Esau were born. Why is this account being brought up? Personally I feel we can make an application to Jacob and how he had an inherent nature that had to be addressed. His 20 years at Uncle Laban’s place was like his Babylon. It was there where that nature of deceit was able to be addressed once and for all. Jacob had a change of name and authority when he encountered God at Peniel. The restorative power of God can produce such a transformation. Do we allow God to lead us into our own respective Babylon’s today? It could well be that many forfeit this work of grace due to the doctrine they are exposed to. There are many teachings that would dismiss such an experience in the life of a believer. I feel the Lord is helping to demonstrate the potential power of restoration through this well-known example of Jacob.
There is an exhortation to leaders, particularly those who are in ministry, to major on mercy in their approach to their work. At the same time there must be right judgement. It is judgement that is based on how God sees the matter. There can be quite a difference between how man sees a situation as opposed to God’s perspective. We need to pray that God would help us to judge righteous judgement (John 7:24). A key in being able to be successful in this matter is to learn on how to wait upon God.
Another problem with Ephraim was that they were deceitful. This is characterized by scales that are not weighted properly. This is why we need to wait upon God to get his Word and perspective on situations. God delights in justice, fairness and equity.
Pro 16:11 A just weight and balance are the LORD’S: all the weights of the bag are his work.
Ephraim boasted in its wealth. They were backslidden and living in sin but they did have seasons of great prosperity. They took the credit for achieving their wealth and they even went so far to say that there was no iniquity in them. Herein is a truth we need to learn well. Financial blessing is not a guaranteed sign of God’s favour and approval. In many ways it can be a judgement leaving sinners to boast in their riches and to only deceive themselves that all is well. God goes on to remind them that He had spoken to them through the prophets but they would not listen ( vs 10). The Lord reviews a bit more of Israel’s history even to the time when God led them out of Egypt through Moses, His prophet (vs 13). As the Lord was reflecting upon the history of the nation he had birthed He could not help but be provoked to anger. This chapter was like a building up of God’s dealings with Israel which has brought them to this point. Hosea, the prophet is expressing many facets of God through the message he has been called to bear. His message has a thrust and clarity due to coming to the place of knowing the heart of God. This is an absolute key for the church of the last days. Let the oft quoted verse from Jude give the final Word to this chapter.
Jud 1:22 And of some have compassion, making a difference:
Jud 1:23 And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.
Chapter 13 is pretty much a continuation of chapter 12. The judgements that are about to come upon Samaria are foretold. There is reference once again to the time when Israel exalted itself and sought after the gods of Baal. Israel continued to add to their sin as they turned from God. The initial sin and transgression may have started small but it soon grew into a tidal wave of worship to false gods that they could not break away from. This is the power of sin when it lays hold of man. If sin is not confessed and repented of it grows in power; its grasp is most difficult to be set free from. In verse 3 we see that there is no substance in Israel. When the calamities hit there is no substance or foundations that will hold them. Israel has no anchor and as a result will be blown away by the swift judgment of the Assyrians. This is the problem with a building that has the outward look of substance. Its veneer may look appealing and as long as there is no adversity there is no problem. The Bible makes clear however that every work will be tested. What about the brewing storms that are stirring around us today? Do we have the foundations that are rooted in God that will enable us to stand? God rebuked Israel in verse 3 because of their turning to other gods for help. They refused to hear His voice and turn from their wicked ways.
As mentioned in chapter 12 Israel was enjoying a period of prosperity but they interpreted this as being validated and approved for the way they were living. There was no Fear of the Lord only the desire to carry on with the status quo. The last day church of Laodicea will have a similar problem. They will be so caught up in their prosperity that they will blind to their nakedness. Their affluence will affirm their relationship with God. What about the Smyrna church? How would the world assess this church that was highly touted by God? Sadly, the church world today is being assessed by a worldly yardstick; perhaps a similar one that was seen in Hoseas’s day.
In verses 7-10 the Lord was using the analogy of a wild animal meeting its prey in the way. Israel was about to be devoured by the Assyrians and it was because of their sin that this all came to be. It is not with pleasure that the Lord is allowing such judgement. He desired to be their king and to lead them in their journeys but they refused to make Him king and Lord over their lives. The Lord again goes back into history to speak about their first king. We see the root of the problem in this example. The Lord gave them a king in His anger when Saul became king. He was not God’s choice; He was the people’s choice. Israel crafted a king after their expectation and desire. They sought to mimic the ways of other nations that were governed by kings. It is hard to imagine after seeing all that God had done for His beloved people throughout their history. They were rejecting the one who birthed, loved and nurtured them. What was in their heart at the time Saul became their king was very much in their heart during the reign of their last king. This is what distinguished David and a few of the other kings from those of Israel. David had a heart after God. He allowed God to be king and Lord over His life and this was reflected in his prayer life to God. (Psa 139:22-23, Psa 26:2)
The final verses of this chapter depict the absolute cruelty of the Assyrians and what they would soon do to Samaria. It is recorded in 2 Kings 17:5-6 at the fall of Israel in 722 BC. We can read these atrocities and be shocked by them only to realize that they are being carried out today in many parts of the world. It is no longer relegated to remote and isolated places but being seen in more first world societies. Make no mistake; the primary target of the last day atrocities is going to be against the Christians. It is time to get our house in order and commit wholeheartedly to the Lord. It is a coming day of great challenges but also a season of great opportunity.
This prophetic book closes with the promise of the ultimate reconciliation of Israel. At the same time It is the heart of God to restore. True Restoration is costly as seen in the price that had to be paid to reconcile man to God after the fall. There is no greater price that could be paid than the giving of the life of the Son of God. Yes, true restoration is costly but that is what is in God’s heart. This chapter begins with a plea by the Lord to return unto Him. It sounds like a simple request however it is based on everything that is in God. He loves to take that which is broken and make it whole again. True Restoration does not just happen, it is a process. God does His part by affording the opportunity; it is up to man to respond by acknowledging his transgression. It is not enough to be sorry for sin. It must be repented of and sought for with the hope that God will grant it. There then has to be the acknowledging of Truth. This is why confession with the mouth is so important, (Rom 10:8-10) Isaiah did this when He had the revelation of God’s glory and holiness in light of his condition of unclean lips. It was in his confession where he found cleansing. (Isa 6:4-8)
The Lord then responds to Ephraim in the following verses. In verse 4 the Lord says that He will heal their backsliding. It is the acknowledging of Truth that enables the root of sin to be exposed and removed. This is why it takes more than just being sorry for sin. There must be fruits meet for repentance so that the root can be exposed. This was one of the primary ministries of John the Baptist. He did not mince words but spoke a message that brought people to repentance. It was a message that allowed for the axe to get to the root. (Math 3:10) His ministry was not a sugar coated one along the lines of what is seen today. Once sin is acknowledged God can begin the work of healing and restoring.
The Lord goes on to speak beautiful truths of restoration. He likens Israel to plants that blossom and bloom afresh in such beauty. Israel is likened to an olive tree which has the connotation of peace. It is interesting to contrast this thought with what we see around Israel today. There is also the description of the cedars of Lebanon which is a description of the bride of Christ. (SOS 4:11, vs 6) The Lord goes on to comment on how Ephraim will be later used to bring others into the kingdom. What an amazing transformation. Ephraim was anything but a faithful witness but in the days to come will be used by God to be an instrument of healing and blessing to others. The final exhortation that is given to Israel through the prophet is a message for each of us today. It is to seek wisdom! God is an unchanging God. Today, more than ever we need to be endued with the wisdom and knowledge as enunciated by the prophet Isaiah. (Isa 33:6) The key in growing in these attributes is to be like Daniel and his 3 friends as seen in Daniel 1. We must be awake and seek God to have the heart that does not allow defilement. Secondly, we must seek the Lord in prayer and fasting. (Dan 1:8, 12-14) The fruits of seeking God in such a way will help for us to see the bigger picture, to have a window into that which God is doing. It will help to prepare us to have a heart which has the capacity to be an extension of God’s heart for people. The revival of the last days will be one that reaches out to the backslider. It will be a revival where there will be restoration of relationships that have been broken and destroyed. Will we be instruments that God can use? The message of Hosea is a promising one filled with hope. The warnings are clear as to the consequences of sin. At the same time the promises are real to those who hear what God is saying and respond accordingly. God has a heart for the backslider and he has a heart that loves to restore.
This is another significant chapter in Revelation. It appears that it happens in sequence to the events seen in the previous chapter. It begins by introducing us to a woman in verse 1. This woman speaks of the church as we shall later see. This woman depicts a church that has the glory of God as well as a strong witness as seen by the moon that is under her feet. The 12 stars represent the 12 tribes of Israel as well as the 12 apostles. In verse 2 we see that this woman is pregnant with a man-child. This is representative of a mature believer that will come forth out of the woman. In verse 3 we then see the dragon who is identified as Satan taking great interest in the man-child that is about to be born. He has 7 heads and 10 horns which will be picked up again in chapter 13. It fulfils what Daniel had seen in the king’s dream in chapter 2 and his vision in chapter 7.
When Satan fell in heaven he took 1/3 of the angels with him. Here we see 1/3 of the angels being cast to the earth. The dragon is obviously threatened by this man-child that is about to come forth and does everything he can to position himself to destroy it. In verse 5 the man-child comes forth and is immediately caught up to heaven. Who is this man-child company? It appears to be an exclusive company of believers. Another question to ask is whether this company ascends at the same time as Moses and Elijah when they were resurrected from the dead (Rev 11:13).
Here is what we can take notice of. There are 3 different groups seen in chapter 12 that would represent the church. First you have the woman. We later see that she is threatened by Satan with a flood from his mouth but is protected and preserved by God from judgement (vs 15-16). It is a similar example seen in the days of Noah. There was a flood that came upon the earth which destroyed all life during that time. The exception was Noah and his family and the animals that were preserved in the Ark. It is a picture of what is seen here. The woman is not taken out of the flood but is preserved through it. This suggests that the majority of the church will go through the great tribulation. We also see the man-child that is brought forth and caught up to the throne in verse 5. This company of believers have an authority as they are caught up to the throne of God. It speaks of an authority that is characteristic of those who rule and reign during the millennial reign of Christ. It is during this time when Satan is cast out of his heavenly realm. It seems that the man-child is privileged to fight alongside Michael and his angels as they war in heaven with the dragon and his angels (vs 7-8). Let us not forget that there were stirrings in the heavenly temple in chapter 11 before the sounding forth of the 7th trumpet. It coincided with the man of sin posturing himself as god in the temple on earth. The abomination of desolation that is taking place on earth has repercussions in heaven.
Let us go back to the days prior to Samuel being born. There was no king and the priests that ruled were wicked. There was a woman named Hannah who can be likened to the woman that is seen here in chapter 12. The Lord allowed for a season of barrenness to come upon her life to provoke her to a prayer of consecration (1 Sam 1:5). In this prayer she cries out for a man-child (1 Sam 1:11). This is what God was after and He answered her prayer by bringing forth Samuel. We can liken Samuel to the man-child that is seen in Revelation 12. What did Samuel do? He helped to bring forth a new order of priest (1 Sam 2:35) and a new order of King (1 Sam 13:14). Is this not what God is after for the last days (Rev 1:6, 5:10)? There is much to meditate on when looking at this chapter. We finally see another group mentioned that is known as the remnant (vs 17). This represents a group of believers who endure tribulation and come forth with a testimony of Christ due to their faithfulness. They can be likened to the Outer Court believers as seen in Moses Tabernacle. There are the three divisions in Moses Tabernacle and they can find their parallels here in Revelation 12. The man-child represents the holy of holies where the Ark of the Covenant resided. They were caught up to the throne of God (vs 5). There is the woman group of believers that coincides with the Holy Place. There is a covering over the Holy place and it serves as a protection from the outside elements. There is then the Outer Court area which can be applied to the remnant as seen in verse 17. There is no protection or covering in the Outer Court and it really is not the place to be in the day of the Lord’s wrath that is about to be poured out. It should be noted that the Holy Place and Holy of Holies are priestly positions. This is why there has been such a strong emphasis on the role of the priest throughout all our summaries. Now that Satan has been cast to the earth it sets up for a most horrific period of time that has ever been known to man. We begin to see further insights as to what is about to take place in chapter 13.