Hosea 10–14. God As Parent and Mentor.

Key Notes: God threatens and cares. Ransomed from the power of the grave. Backsliding. People can recover from rebellion.

In this section of Hosea, God speaks of Israel as a vine, a heifer and a child--a baby boy. But we will learn that the emphasis is not on who we are, but who He is. Also we note that the threats of judgment and destruction continue. A scan of the book brings up at least 57 times that a threat is given. The erratic character--jumpiness--of the writing is amply shown in these last chapters.

10:1 Israel was a luxuriant vine, productive, prosperous--and false. They used their wealth for pagan projects. We do not know exactly what sacred stones were for but they survive in archaeologial ruins. They are unmarked, unpainted, often multiple, short stone monuments standing in a row. God will destroy them; they must have been used for evil.

10:3 Israel was fatalistic. They were periodically without a king, but knew that the king did not do much for them anyway.

10:7 The last king, Hoshea, disappeared into Assyria like a chip on the river.

10:8 The cry for the mountain and hills to cover them was quoted by Christ to the crowd following Him as He made His way to the cross. (Lk.23:30). It  is repeated in Rev.6:16 as an End-Times prayer of panic and desperation.

10:9 The sin of Gibeah (gang-rape; Judg.19) is being  repeated, and will be punished by war, as it was at the first.

10:11 Ephraim was a pet heifer that did the light work of threshing (stomping on the harvested grain). God "eased the yoke from their jaws” (11:4). But now she will be put to hard labor,  plowing and harrowing.

10:12–13 Hosea takes up the simile of plowing and admonishes them to plow their fallow ground (their untended spiritual lives) and seek the Lord. But then he reminds them that they have plowed in sin. They hoped that their armaments would save them but the end will be dreadful, ugly destruction.

11:1–4 This is a tender description of God calling Israel.“…out of Egypt I called my son. “

"When Israel was a child, I loved him.
It was I who taught Ephraim to walk.
I took them up in My arms.
I led them with cords of compassion and the bands of love.
I bent down to them and fed them."

Matt.2:15 reads this verse as a prophecy of Jesus and his parents coming out of Egypt after Herod’s death. 

11:5–9 They will return to Egypt and Assyria. People bent on running from God will be broken to the yoke and made into slaves.

11:10–11 But in the final days, God will roar like a lion and they will come fluttering home like birds.

11:12 Ephraim has compassed Me (God) with lies. How could God be surrounded by lies? Easily.
“He does not exist.”
“He is cruel and unloving.”
“He is a kindly old grandfather who dotes on his children.”
“She is the Mother of us all.”
“The Force is everywhere and everything.”

11:12 Judah is still faithful to the Holy One.

12:1 Carrying oil to Egypt was probably giving olive oil to the Pharaoh in exchange for a treaty of protection.

12:2–9 Jacob is an example of finding God and wandering from Him. He grabbed his brother’s heel. He wrestled with God at Peniel Gen.32:24) and met God at Bethel. Israel should return to God also, holding to love and justice and waiting on God.
But Jacob was also a cheat, like those who use false balances, and was successful in getting wealth for himself by dubious means. The rich will end up in tents as refugees-- permanently--not for a week of celebration at Sukkoth.

12:10–14 God speaks through the prophets, multiplies visions and gives them parables. By a prophet (Moses) the Lord brought Israel from Egypt and the prophetic role sustained Israel for a long time.

13:1–3 Ephraim as a tribe was pugnacious.
Gideon had trouble with Ephraim. Judg.8:1–3
They quarreled with Jephthah. Judg.12:1–6
When the northern tribes broke away, it was Jeroboam of Ephraim who led the revolt. IK.11:26

13:4–14. God has exclusive right to Israel’s loyalty. God took care of them in the wilderness but when they became prosperous in Canaan they turned against Him. Now He will destroy them.

13:11 “I have given you kings in my anger, and I have taken them away in my wrath.”
Israel’s first king was Saul, given to them over Samuel and God’s eventual objection. (ISam.8:4–9; 10:19). Saul failed badly and was rejected by God. But in David, we have a man after God’s own heart (ISam.13;14) who is a type of Christ, the Lion of the Tribe of Judah. At the end of the monarchy, as we know, the kings were evil and useless and were discarded. Israel never had a king after 587BC. We await our Great King’s return.

13:14 ” Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?”  An alternate translation is “I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol.” The Greek (LXX) makes this slight change which Paul uses in ICor.15:24 so that  it is quoted clearly as a triumph over the grave. The passage is perhaps intentionally ambiguous.
In the context, it is probably correct to say that death is in the foreground, as judgment for Israel’s sin, but salvation from death is in the background, as Christ’s atoning work.

13:16. As in 10:13 terrible atrocities will be committed. Why would God permit it? The only thing we can say is that when God’s protection is removed anything goes.

14:1–3 In this final chapter, Hosea softly  calls to Israel to repent and return to the Lord, begging Him to take away their iniquity. They must acknowledge that there is no military solution. They must renounce their idols.

14:4–8 God in turn promises to love them freely, and once again prosper Israel to be beautiful, fragrant and flourishing.

14:9 Finally Hosea speaks to everyone who is wise enough to understand that the Lord is right even though transgressors stumble in His ways.

Comments:

The word “backsliding” is found three times in the Authorized Version of Hosea: 4:16, 11:7 and 14:4. In Hos.4:16 the image is of a balky heifer who resists the halter and slides back down the ramp. “Backsliding” is an antiquated term but a very modern spiritual disorder.

The compelling themes of Hosea are about love. Most of us will remember Hosea’s dysfunctional marriage long after the rest is forgotten. However, there is another love theme, God‘s love for Israel as for a baby. (11:1–4)

“…you have seen how the Lord your God carried you, as a man carries his son in all the way that you went until you came to this place.” (Deut.1:31)

God also speaks of caring for Israel as for an abandoned baby girl in Ezek.16:1–14.
“I bathed you with water and washed off your blood… and anointed you with oil.” (16:9)
“I said to you ‘live and grow up like a plant in the field’. And you grew up and became tall….”(16:6–7)
“I clothed you... and decked you with ornaments.” (16:10–11)
You grew very beautiful, like a queen. (16:13), perfect in splendor. (16:14)

Isa. 66:13 describes God mothering “As one whom his mother comforts, so I will comfort you”

God was like an eagle with young.
“He found him in a desert land, and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
He encircled him, he cared for him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest, that flutters over its young,
Spreading out its wings, catching them, bearing them on its pinions, the Lord alone did lead him….” (Deut.32:10–14)

God delivered Israel from slavery.
“I am the Lord you God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, that you should not be their slaves; and I have broken the bars of your yoke and made you walk erect.” (Lev.26:13)

Spiritual  growth and development begins when one is born again. After a period of innocent and rapid growth, there is often a period of rebellion. Hopefully, this is followed by a reassessment and then mature, steady growth. Many people can witness to the fact that they became believers at 11–12 years of age, wandered away from God during their teen-age years and returned to the Lord in their 20’s or 30’s after marriage with renewed commitment and new growth. How many are lost during their rebellion is unknown.

"Rebellion is as the sin of witch-craft." (ISam.15:23). Rebellion may be the usual pattern of adolescent behavior, but it is not something to shrug off or to be amused about. We know many emerge with physical, psychological and spiritual wounds that they carry for the rest of their lives.

Israel’s history suggests steady growth under David and Solomon, then rebellion, gradual decay and finally head-long plunge into destruction. Nevertheless, God saved a Remnant.

Where is God in all this? We think we are primary. We think our spiritual life is all our doing and our responsibility. God is somewhere out there, busy with other things, attending to us occasionally.
But God is primary, as Hosea emphasizes, and we are secondary. He is sovereign. He is calling the tune. He initiated our redemption. He birthed us. He wants to be our parent, our mentor, our coach.

Is the Christian life too hard? Do you not know what to do? Look up. Tell Him you do not know what you are doing.    Repent, relax and let Him lead.