1 – “ When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” (Hosea 1:2-3, ESV)
RAF: While it may be the case, it is not necessary to imagine God told Hosea to act so that he intentionally married someone who was already a prostitute. There is Scripture forbidding this, and he would have been violating the Law. It is more likely he was directed providentially to marry a woman who would become a prostitute, or perhaps one born to a prostitute. Either way, the deepest of betrayals is what is in store.
2 – “And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.” (Hosea 2:8, ESV)
RAF: This is the essence of what God calls idolatry/adultery – taking the blessings He has poured out upon us, and expending them in sin and self. Rather than rejoicing in His goodness and it making our hearts grow closer to His own, squandering gifts both natural and material on the filth of this world and its values. What captures our affections most? What or who do we turn to for joy, peace of mind, well being? Who or what can we not be happy without? That is our god. Even though we claim to be His.
3 – ““And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’” (Hosea 2:16, ESV)
RAF: If only we would grasp this – that God is more interested in intimacy with us than ritual or religion. Anyone can serve a god. Anyone can go through the motions, fulfill the obligations, and perform the ceremonies and rites. Anyone can be an idolater. And many serve God as though He were one too. When He desires closeness, intimacy, the deepest and most precious of relationships – as a husband with a wife. Father, forgive us for treating you like that. Renew our hearts. Let us draw near once again.
4 – “ Hear the word of the Lord, O children of Israel, for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land. There is no faithfulness or steadfast love, and no knowledge of God in the land; there is swearing, lying, murder, stealing, and committing adultery; they break all bounds, and bloodshed follows bloodshed. Therefore the land mourns, and all who dwell in it languish, and also the beasts of the field and the birds of the heavens, and even the fish of the sea are taken away. Yet let no one contend, and let none accuse, for with you is my contention, O priest.” (Hosea 4:1-4, ESV)
RAF: Be sure of it, when the people forsake God to run after other things, it is because the spiritual leadership has become corrupt first. The pew never advances spiritually past the pulpit. As the leaders grow more and more worldly in forsaking their passion for Christ and their own personal relationship with God, and water down or mutilate His Word – and introduce syncretistic elements – joining the World to Christ to all sorts of other things, so will those under their care. Woe to us. If we are not immersing ourselves in the Word, neither will they. If we are not men of prayer, neither will they be. If we do not mortify the deeds of the flesh, neither will they. If we do not evangelize, neither will they. If we do not seek to be filled by the Spirit, neither will they. If we are not devoted to seeking the face of God, neither will they. Parents, this is true for you as well. Do not expect a spirituality or maturity from your children you do not live out before God yourselves. It will not be. And God will contend with us over it.
5 – “Though you play the whore, O Israel, let not Judah become guilty. Enter not into Gilgal, nor go up to Beth-aven, and swear not, “As the Lord lives.”” (Hosea 4:15, ESV)
RAF: It is one thing to sin ourselves, and quite another to export it to others.
6 – “For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6, ESV)
RAF: This is the heart of our God. How we need to hear it. To feel it. To let it sink down deep inside of us. He longs for us to be with Him in this way. And we treat Him more like a passing acquaintance. Forgive us Father! Draw us back. Melt our hearts with your love again. Restore our first love for you. Though it is we who have gone from you, win us back – for our own hearts are too desperately wicked to turn ourselves around.
7 – “ Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.”” (Hosea 14:1-3, ESV)
RAF: What a sweet model of repentance this is. a. We can come with nothing but words. There are no gifts to bring. No goods to bestow. No sacrifices. We come only with our humble pleas. b. We come asking to have our iniquity taken away – the perverseness of our own hearts removed. We come in recognition that we ARE sinners, not simply those who sin. Surely, when we are in right relationship with Him that is not our primary designation – but when in rebellion, it is once again as though before we were His. c. We ask Him to receive our gifts and offerings once again – to make our worship acceptable. d. We promise to make good on our previous vows – to fulfill the covenant we already had with Him. To be a faithful spouse. e. We denounce finding our joy or safety in anything place else but Him. That we will look to Him alone and trust Him in these matters. f. We utterly forsake every instrument of reducing God to tangible form, and every thing other than Him that claimed our affections and pursuit. g. We walk in the glory of a God who is mercy and grace itself.
8 – “I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.” (Hosea 14:4, ESV)
RAF: Now hear the word of the Lord to such as will come to Him as seen above. Is this not tenderness itself? Oh what a God we serve. Thank you Father. Thank you. How good you are.
9 – “The word of the Lord that came to Joel, the son of Pethuel: Hear this, you elders; give ear, all inhabitants of the land! Has such a thing happened in your days, or in the days of your fathers? Tell your children of it, and let your children tell their children, and their children to another generation. What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.” (Joel 1:1-4, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Joel is: Locusts. Israel had endured a succession of locust plagues. These, Joel uses as a springboard to focus his hearers attention on the impending day of God’s wrath. We can take a cue here that natural disasters are to be utilized as opportunities for reminding the world that judgment is coming, and that God is giving such foretastes in mercy to call men to Himself while there is still time.
10 – “ “And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit.” (Joel 2:28-29, ESV)
RAF: Though God may chasten His people ever so severely as their sins require, yet He never does so without also issuing the sweetest, grandest, most glorious promises as well. Truly, He is a God of grace and mercy beyond anything we can imagine.
11 – “The words of Amos, who was among the shepherds of Tekoa, which he saw concerning Israel in the days of Uzziah king of Judah and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel, two years before the earthquake.” (Amos 1:1, ESV)
RAF: The one-word theme of Amos is FAMINE. Prophesying in days of great stability and prosperity, he warns God’s people of the seduction of their prosperity, and how that will be followed by days of great famine – a famine of hearing the Word of God. See: 8:11.
12 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Damascus, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have threshed Gilead with threshing sledges of iron.” (Amos 1:3, ESV)
RAF: God’s first pronouncement against Syria, is due to its excessive brutality in times of war. God sees and notes such things even for nations which are not His own.
13 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Gaza, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they carried into exile a whole people to deliver them up to Edom.” (Amos 1:6, ESV)
RAF: Gaza is judged for conquering entire peoples only to make trade of them.
14 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Tyre, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they delivered up a whole people to Edom, and did not remember the covenant of brotherhood.” (Amos 1:9, ESV)
RAF: Tyre is judged for having no loyalty. No consideration for those they have a common bond with.
15 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Edom, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he pursued his brother with the sword and cast off all pity, and his anger tore perpetually, and he kept his wrath forever.” (Amos 1:11, ESV)
RAF: Edom is judged for implacable rage. Perpetual, unsatisfied anger.
16 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of the Ammonites, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have ripped open pregnant women in Gilead, that they might enlarge their border.” (Amos 1:13, ESV)
RAF: Ammon is judged for waging war for the purpose of making themselves larger. Military expansionism.
17 – “Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Moab, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because he burned to lime the bones of the king of Edom.” (Amos 2:1, ESV)
RAF: Moab is judged for carrying its hatred so far as to desecrate even the dead.
18 – “ Thus says the Lord: “For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not revoke the punishment, because they have rejected the law of the Lord, and have not kept his statutes, but their lies have led them astray, those after which their fathers walked.” (Amos 2:4, ESV)
RAF: Given the examples above, now see how God judges Judah for forsaking God’s Word. This, is more heinous than those already listed.