James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
Hear the word of the LORD, ye children of Israel: for the LORD hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land.Hosea 4:1-14:9
JEHOVAH’S LOVE FOR ISRAEL
With Hosea begins the “Minor” prophets, extending to the close of the Old Testament, and so-called to distinguish them from the “Major,” the first four already considered. The major are the more important not as to their contents but their size; and yet the minor prophets are, in principle, only repeating what the major prophets have recorded over and over again.
For this reason the minor prophets will be considered briefly. It may be repeated that we are not attempting to treat every chapter and verse in the Bible in detail. So far as the prophets are concerned, however, we have set forth the great subjects with which they alike deal, and in the laws of recurrence and double reference have indicated the path by which the student may with care find his own way through any of them. Of course, there will always be things calling for explanation which only the larger commentaries or Bible dictionaries can supply, but along the broader lines
of study we trust these comments will be found helpful. In their use it is presupposed the reader is going through the Bible in regular order for the purpose of studying or teaching it in its completeness as a revelation of God.
THE GENERAL CONTENTS OF THE CHAPTERS
With the above understanding in view, the following chapters in Hosea simply detail what the first three reveal in outline. They speak of Israel’s unfaithfulness to Jehovah, enlarging on the expressions of that unfaithfulness.
For example, chapter 4 charges the nation with “swearing and lying, and killing and stealing, and committing adultery” (Hosea 4:2). People, priests and prophets are alike (Hosea 4:4-5). Idolatry flourishes with all its licentious accompaniments (Hosea 4:12-14). Judah is warned by Israel’s declension (Hosea 4:15-19) but the next chapter indicates that the warning will profit her little.
Chapter 6 opens with a prophetic expression of repentance on Israel’s part — prophetic in the sense that as a nation she has not yet taken that attitude, although she will be led to do so in the latter days (Hosea 6:1-3). Suddenly, at Hosea 6:4, Jehovah is introduced as pleading with her under the name of Ephraim her chief tribe, and pleading with her sister Judah as well. The plea is accompanied by explanation of their chastisement (Hosea 6:4-11).
This thought is continued in the next chapters where Israel’s folly in turning for help, first to Egypt and then to Assyria, is pointed out (v. 12).
The marginal references direct the reader to Kings where these matters were spoken of in their historic setting.
The style of Hosea is abrupt and broken, but the ejaculations in which it abounds are frequently expressions of God’s wonderful love for His people. Examine especially Hosea 11:1-4; Hosea 11:8-9. Sometimes it is difficult to determine when the prophet is expressing only his own feelings toward his nation rather than Jehovah’s, and yet even in those instances it is the Holy Spirit using the feelings of man to illustrate the tenderness of the heart of God.
THE APPEAL TO THE BACKSLIDER
But the chapter expressing this tenderness the most is the last, and though the reader finds it necessary to hasten over those intervening, he should pause here.
Note God’s appeal coupled with His condemnation (Hosea 14:1). Consider His kindness in setting before His people the way to return (Hosea 14:2-3). They are to take words, not works words of confession, faith, consecration, repentance. Look at the attitude in which he will meet them, and the promises He gives them (Hosea 14:4-7). Here is growth, strength, expansion, loveliness and beneficence all to be theirs in that day.
Verse 8 is a kind of divine soliloquy. Jehovah hears Israel’s repentance, and her testimony to renewing grace, and assures her of Himself as its source.
The chapter closes with an exhortation as applicable to us as to her.
1. To what division of the prophets does Hosea belong?
2. Why are the “Major Prophets” so-called?
3. How would you describe the contents of the chapters of this lesson as distinguished from the preceding one?
4. What are some of the charges against the nation?
5. What characterizes Hosea’s literary style?
6. How would you analyze chapter 14?
7. How would you describe verse 8?
8. Can you quote verse 9 from memory?