An Appeal to His People
Dr. Joe Temple

Review

Open your Bibles to the book of Hosea, that portion of the Word of God we are discussing together in these meetings. Since this is not our first session with the book of Hosea, I think it would be wise for us to fix in our minds firmly what we expect to find in the prophecy of Hosea itself.

We encourage you to be reading in this portion of the Word in your own private reading time. If you get fixed in your mind the analysis of the prophecy, you will be able to relate to the portions of the Word that we discuss together.

We remind you that the prophecy of Hosea follows these divisions: In chapters 1-3, we have the prophet's call to service; in chapters 4-8, we have the prophet's complaint concerning the nation of Israel and her departure from God; in chapters 9-11, we have the condemnation of Israel through the lips of the prophet because she had forgotten God's purpose for her; in chapters 12-14, we have the consolation of the prophet because he does not leave the nation condemned and discouraged. He tells her of a way out.

If you will recall our remarks in our last lesson, you will remember that that is the policy He followed throughout the entire prophecy because at the end of every word of condemnation, at the end of every message of complaint, He held up the hope of redemption. Of course, that is like our God. His justice demands that He condemn sin where He finds it. His love demands that He make provision where there is need.

We began in our last lesson a discussion of the first division of the book of Hosea, which we referred to as the prophet's call . We suggested to you that these three chapters, in which we find recorded the prophet's call, fall naturally into three divisions. In chapter 1 through the first verse of chapter 2, there is an account of the domestic life of the prophet. His call was so different from the calls that many prophets of God have received at other times. His call was to engage in a domestic relationship which would be a continual declaration of God's relationship to Israel and Israel's relationship to God.

In chapter 2 of the book of Hosea, still related to his call, you find an appeal being made to Hosea's people, an appeal being made to God's people. It is this portion of the Word that we will be thinking about shortly.

So that you might have the whole story complete in your minds, we refer to the very brief chapter 3 as an act of love because it is a reference to the domestic life of Hosea again. In chapter 1, he married a woman. In chapter 3, he married a woman. The difference lies in the fact that in chapter 3, he remarried the woman, and therein is the greatest testimony, I think, that we have in practical, everyday application to the love of God in the Word.

Let's review just a little about the domestic life of Hosea so that you will understand this second chapter which we will be considering. Hosea was instructed to marry a woman who would become a harlot. Regardless of how strange that might seem to you, that's exactly what happened. The reason for it was that it was to represent a general picture of Israel's adultery. We reminded you that when we use the word adultery in a figurative sense, we are always speaking of spiritual declension, idolatry, a departure from God, friendliness with the world instead of fellowship with God.

God was so particular in the message that He wanted to preach through the domestic life of Hosea that He even told Hosea what his wife's name would be—Gomer, which literally means “failure.” Bless her heart, that's what she was. No matter how much she loved Hosea, and there is ample evidence in the book that she loved him devotedly, when the temptations related to the lusts of the flesh were presented, she failed and failed miserably. Therein lies the story of Israel's relationship to God because basically, Israel loved God, but Israel was a continual failure in relation to fellowship with Him.

There is not only an illustration in the domestic life of Hosea relative to the general picture of Israel's condition, but there is also a specific picture of God's attitude toward Israel. That specific picture was presented in the children who were born in Hosea's home. If you notice the language very carefully, you cannot be sure that any but the eldest son was the child of Hosea. The others may have been, but you can't be sure.

God said, “When these children are born in your home, I want you to give them specific names which will be a living testimony to all of Israel of how I feel.” So, when the oldest son was born, they named him Jezreel . They named him Jezreel because sometimes the word Jezreel is translated by the word “vengeance.” Sometimes it is translated by the phrase God scatters . Of course, the whole thing that was brought to our attention is that because of Israel's condition, God had to take vengeance upon her. We could sum up the story in relation to the eldest son of Hosea by the one word destroys , not in the sense of annihilation, but in the sense of removal from the place of privilege and the place of usefulness, because God cannot tolerate open disobedience to Him. He must deal with it as He finds it, and that He does.

A second child was born into the family, a daughter. God said, “When she comes into the world, I want you to name her Loruhamah , which means ‘not to be pitied,' because I am not going to pity Israel any longer. She has gone so far that I must do something. I cannot ignore what she has done.”

If we wanted to sum it all up in one word concerning the action of God in regard to His people, we would use the word discipline . God not only destroys in the sense of removing from the place of responsibility, but God disciplines as well because He cannot countenance open sin in the lives of His people, whether it be the nation of Israel or the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ.

There was one other child born into that family, the record of which is found in this portion of the book of Hosea. The third child was another boy. When he was born God said, “I want you to call his name Loammi , which means ‘not my people,' because things have come to such an unhappy past that I can no longer own Israel as mine. I must disown them. I cannot have them associated with Me and My name.”

We said that if we could sum up the story in one word, it would be the word disowns —God destroys, God disciplines, and God disowns. When we use the word disown , do not associate it with the idea that God will have nothing more to do with the people whom He disowns, for you would be getting the wrong picture today were you speaking about Israel or were you speaking about the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ. After God said, “Call your last child by the name disown ,” if you will look at verse 10 of chapter 1, “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered.” God disowned them temporarily to bring them to their senses.

An Appeal to God's People

That brings us to chapter 2. Notice, please, the first verse of Hosea, chapter 2. As I pointed out to you, the first verse of chapter 2 is really the last verse of chapter 1. We read:

Hosea 2

2Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;
3Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
4And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms.
5For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

We caution you to read your Bibles carefully. If you don't, you may jump to the conclusion that when Hosea, chapter 2, says, “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife,” Hosea might be addressing his children. He might be saying to his sons and his daughters, “Go talk to your mother. She is living in adultery. Tell her to come back to me.” But when you examine the passage very carefully, you will see that the background for this story is in the first chapter in the life of Hosea rather than on the basis of what Hosea was living in everyday experience.

Hosea was encouraged to encourage the children of Israel to appeal to the whole nation, for you have in the passage before you an appeal to God's people. There is much we might say about it, but one word should fix firmly in your minds the earnestness of the appeal and the sad condition of Israel when it was made, the word plead . Did you notice it there? “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband.”

God says to the children of Israel, to those who have any interest in Him at all, “Plead with your nation. She is not married to Me any more. I am not her Husband any more.” That's the way it began because the Word of God teaches that Jehovah was the Husband of Israel as the Lord Jesus Christ is the Husband of the Church. “Something has happened, plead,” He said.

This word plead comes from the Hebrew word riyb , which means “to grapple” or “to strive.” It doesn't mean “to stand up and preach.” I think the best picture that I could give you of this word would be if you could visualize an individual standing on a very narrow ledge many stories up in the air, a very narrow ledge of a skyscraper, shall we say. He is ready to jump off, to commit suicide. An individual stands near by trying to talk him out of it, trying to reason with him that he might not do this thing that will result in death. He pleads with him. He talks; he grapples with him. He strives with him to save his life.

Israel was in such a sad state that God said, “If there is any righteous person in the whole nation, if there is anyone who cares, if there is anyone who is interested, appeal to My people. You children appeal to My people as children might appeal to their mothers who are about to leave their husbands and the fathers of their children.”

The Depths of Israel's Sin

If a man is about to commit suicide, he must have real problems. If God looked upon Israel as a nation who was about to destroy herself, surely she must have been in a sad condition. I read this second chapter of the book of Hosea and I am surprised, I am amazed, at the depths of sin to which Israel, the nation, sank. As I examine with you in this portion of the Word the depth of sin into which she sank, I would like for you to remember that any child of God is capable of sinking to these depths. Don't think for a moment that because your salvation is secure, you are immune from the attacks of Satan. Don't think for a moment that because your eternal destiny has been settled through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, the enemy will not be making a bid for your soul and doing everything he can to bring about your downfall.

The depth of sin into which Israel sank, as described in the book of Hosea, can best be described against the background of the worship of Baal, for Canaan was known for the worship of Baal. That is the reason God wanted all the Canaanites destroyed when the Israelites went into the land. He said, “I know you. I know how weak you are. I know that you will fall prey to their religion.” And they did.

Baal worship was built around an open shrine on the top of a high hill. There was a symbol made out of wood which represented the female. There was a symbol made out of stone which represented the male. There were periodic worship services related to fertility rites—the fertility of the man, the fertility of the woman, the fertility of the ground upon which the people lived. When these periodic rites were observed, they were marked by a ritual fornication and a bestial sexuality, participated in by the sacred persons related to the temple, both male and female.

Israel had fallen prey to that, and God was horrified that the people who He meant to be a separated people would be so involved in sin. The thing that concerned God, as is indicated here in chapter 2, is that they were involved and they didn't seem to mind at all. As a matter of fact, their involvement was characterized by a brazenness, an open flaunting of the revealed will of God. Notice the latter part of verse 2:

Hosea 2

2…let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts;

This is the figurative language of the text which indicates that she did this out in the open without any kind of shame at all. Glance at verse 5:

Hosea 2

5For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.

I would have you notice there in verse 5 one particular statement: “I will go after my lovers.” If we read this in the depths of the original text, we would discover that this was a heartfelt determination on the part of Israel. It wasn't a case of saying, “I kept the wrong company and before I knew it, I was out of my depth and I was involved in sin. I am so sorry; I wish it had never happened.” This was a matter of saying, “I like this kind of life, and I am going to seek out the lovers that can give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”

Israel's Sin Included Blasphemy

That leads us to suggest to you yet another indication of the depth of sin to which they sank, because in the last part of verse 5, there is a very definite description of blasphemy. Did you notice what Israel said? “I am going to my lovers, these idols, these heathen gods, because they are the ones who take care of my needs. They quench my thirst. They supply my clothing [as indicated by wool and by flax]. They supply my food [as indicated by the oil] and they supply my drink, my luxury [as indicated by the word drink ].” This becomes even more evident if you will notice that this blasphemy was due to a spiritual blindness which was a result of sin, and it always happens. Somehow, I wish I could get this across to people: When God's people are out of fellowship, they are gripped with a spiritual blindness which causes them to do things that they never would think of doing otherwise.

Look at verse 8. This is God speaking.

Hosea 2

8For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal.

Look at verse 12:

Hosea 2

12And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

God said, “She doesn't even know that I am the One who meets her needs. She thinks these heathen idols have done it.” The greatest act of blasphemy is back in verse 8, when God said that Israel took all that He supplied and prepared it for sacrifice on the altars of her idols.

I hope you are not relegating what I am saying to the limbo of the past to say that I am talking about an ancient nation and this has no relationship to us. Beloved, there are tremendous lessons for you and me here.

There is one thing that distresses the heart of God greatly and that is when you and I take that which He has given us and we prostitute it in the service of evil. You say, “Why, I am not an idol worshiper. I have never bowed down to any idol.” No, perhaps not, but are you prostituting the body that God gave you, which is the temple of the Holy Spirit? Are you prostituting it in the service of the idol of the flesh or are you using it for God and His glory? He gave to you the ability that you have to make money, to make a living—describe it however you will. What are you doing with it? Are you prostituting it on the altar of self or using it in the worship of God?

I will not insult your intelligence by making any other applications along these lines. I would simply call to your attention verse 13, which describes to me another indication of the depths of sin to which Israel had sunk. In verse 13, we read:

Hosea 2

13And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, and she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

Israel's Boldness In Her Sin

The last word that I would call to your attention which indicates the depth of her sin is the word boldness . She wasn't even apologetic. She didn't even slip out the back door at night to have a midnight rendezvous with her lovers. Notice verse 13:

Hosea 2

13…she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, and she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the LORD.

Someone asked her, “What about God?” She would say, “Who's He?” She had no interest in Him at all.

Let me remind you, Beloved, before you sit in judgment upon an individual concerning his relationship to God, before you go around saying, “Such and such a person couldn't be saved and never has been saved,” remember, Israel sank to such depths of sin that she didn't even remember God when somebody asked her who He was and what her interest in Him was.

God's Love Greater Than Israel's Sin

I am so glad that God, in His dealings with man, balances things out as He did with Israel. We have been talking with you about the depth of Israel's sin, and I am glad that in chapter 2, there is a proper balance, for there is described the depths of God's love. It grieves me to talk about Israel's sin as it grieves me to talk about the sin of any person who is in covenant relationship to God, but I am always glad to talk about the depths of God's love. Israel's sin was deep. Yes, indeed it was, but the depth of God's love was greater. As the Apostle Paul put it, using another word, “where sin abounded grace doth much more abound” (Romans 5:20).

Have you ever heard someone speak of another person saying, “Oh, he really does love her.”, and another person saying, “Well, if he does, he has a strange way of showing it.”? Sometimes children who do not understand their parents' love for them and their concern and interest in their welfare will wonder if their parents love them. Maybe someone will attempt to encourage them and say, “Oh, but they do love you. I know they do.” The child might be prone to say, “Well, they have a strange way of showing it.”

God's Love Demanded Restraint Upon Israel

To many people, God would have a strange way of showing His love because the first thing that I call to your attention about the depth of God's love, I am going to describe by the word restraint , but not restraint in relation to His love. His love is like a mighty river that flows consistently and never gets down to a very little trickle. It is always a raging current. You can't begin to dry up the river of God's love.

Why do I use the word restraint ? Because God's love demanded that He put a restraint upon Israel, and God's love demanded, Beloved, that He put a restraint upon you. Look at verse 6:

Hosea 2

6Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.

What is this? The verse begins with the word therefore , which indicates that it is related to what has gone on before. “Because Israel is determined, because she has openly and blatantly said, ‘I am going after my lovers'.”, God said, “I am going to build a hedge about you. I am going to put some thorns in your path because I am not going to make it easy for you to leave home and live in adultery.”

Sometimes, you know, when we are praying about the safety and the welfare of those we love, we ask God to build a hedge about them. That's scriptural. “Protect them, God,” we say. “Don't let anything happen to them.” I wonder if you have ever thought about asking God to build a hedge about somebody you love who is going the wrong way. I wonder if you have ever thought about asking God to put some thorns in the path to slow them down. That's what Israel had to face, for God placed a restraint. He built a hedge about them. He put forth thorns about them, and if we had time to examine all the verses in this chapter, we would discover that things became so difficult that they lost everything they had because God not only visited them by building a hedge about them and thus restraining them, He visited them with retribution.

God's Love Demanded Retribution

I have used the word retribution simply to describe the fact that God let them reap what they sowed. God has to do that, you know. There is no other way that God can deal with us because He would be inconsistent with Himself if He did. Look down at verse 9:

Hosea 2

9Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness.

“I have given her much because she loved me. I have given her much because I wanted her to serve me. She is not using it for that purpose. I will take it away from her.” Have you not learned that lesson yet? God cannot bless the man who is out of fellowship with Him. God will not permit you to prostitute what He gives you in service of self.

You may say, “Oh, I don't know about that. I know so and so.” Well, the story isn't finished yet. You wait until God finishes it. Notice in verse 11 that God not only dealt with them from a material standpoint, He dealt with them from what we might refer to as a spiritual standpoint, saying:

Hosea 2

11I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
12And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.

What is he talking about? He is talking about causing all of her mirth to cease, stopping her feast days, the new moons and the sabbaths. What He said was simply this: “She is going to go to church, but she is not going to enjoy it. She will observe her feast days, and they won't mean anything to her because I will put an end to all that. I love her too much to let her live in a false security. God loves you too much to let you live in a false security. He is not going to let you go to church, as we put it today, and enjoy the services and have a great blessing when things aren't right.

I recognize that there are many reasons you might not particularly enjoy being in a service. I am aware there are many reasons, but before you blame everything and everybody, look into your own heart. It could very well be that this is one way of God's manifesting His love for you because He is not going to permit you to get away from Him.

How much will God have to bring into your life before you will utter the cry that Israel uttered as it is recorded in verse 7? God had to bring Israel completely to the end of herself and so in verse 7, we see:

Hosea 2

7…then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; for then was it better with me than now.

God said, “I am going to deal with Israel in the midst of her spiritual adultery until she reaches that place where she will cry, ‘I am coming home'.” God's love is such that He holds no grudges. He does not wave a big stick and say, “Oh, so you have decided to come home. You have had enough, have you?” Not our God. The depth of His love is so great that just as certainly as He provides the restraint and the retribution, He provides the restoration, and immediately the process of restoration on the basis of grace begins.

Depth of God's Love and Affection Shown By His Grace

Somebody might say, “I didn't really know that grace was in the Old Testament. I thought it was all New Testament.” No, it is all through the Word of God. There is a lovely illustration of the grace of God in this very chapter that I would like to call to your attention, grace that is indicated by the word that is found in verse 19. Notice what God said:

Hosea 2

19And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies.
20I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.

You say, “I looked at that verse very carefully, but I did not see anything about grace in it.” Well, it is there, and it is further emphasized if you will look at verse 14, where you read:

Hosea 2

14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

Why do I say that these two verses suggest the idea of grace? First, let me suggest that you look at the word allure —“I will allure her”—as I remind you that it comes from the Hebrew word pathah , which means “to persuade.” Carry a big stick and it won't be difficult to persuade. That's not how God persuades when an individual says, “I want to come home.” Look at verse 14 again:

Hosea 2

14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

“God, how are You going to do that? What's the wilderness?” Bible scholars differ. Some suggest it's a reference to the wilderness of the peoples. Others suggest it is a reference to the wilderness experience of the Israelites when, scripturally speaking, God and Israel first fell in love.

I am inclined to think that that's it. The best way to bring a person back is to remind them of their first love. If you have ever had any marital difficulties, if you have ever had any problems in your love life, you know it doesn't help to dwell on the bitter. It's good to remember those pleasant days when love was real and fresh. It is good to remember, if you will look at the last part of verse 14, “to speak comfortably to the one you love.” That phrase “to speak comfortably” means “to speak gently.”

Yes, we have been talking about God's firmness in dealing with Israel as a sign of His love, but don't forget that the depth of His love is shown by His grace. The best illustration—the reason that I read it first—is found in the word betrothed , repeated several times there in verse 9. This word betrothed comes from the Hebrew word aras , which means “to woo a virgin.”

You ask, “What is there about grace in that?” Do you remember about whom we are talking? We are talking about Israel who went away from God and committed spiritual adultery. We are talking about a woman who was not a virgin. We are talking about a woman who had long since forgotten her purity and had visited the beds of many men. Yet, when God deals with Israel, how does He deal with her? As a virgin, just as though it had never been. He does not spend His time reminding Israel of her unfaithfulness. He woos her as a virgin who never knew any kind of impurity at all.

As you remember the way He deals with Israel, remember that is the way He deals with you. Remember that when God forgives, God forgets. Maybe you need to practice that. I know of many believers today who are torturing themselves about the past. God has forgiven it; God has forgotten it. Why do you keep bringing it up? I know of many Christians who haven't gone as deep in the sea of love as God has who have a way of bringing it up. Oh, not their own, but they have a way of bringing it up about other people. They like to remind people that so and so may be all right now, but I knew him when. You will never find God doing that. His love is too great.

The depth of His love is not only indicated by the matter of grace, but by the matter of affection. Perhaps you are saying about the matter, “But of course, how could there be any love without affection?” Well, there is love and there is love. The love of which I speak is a love that manifests its affection. Notice verse 16:

Hosea 2

16And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.

What in the world does all of that mean? Ishi means “my husband,” and Baali means “my ruler.” You see, there is a difference. Sometimes the only way that people know God is as a ruler who is ready to strike you down the moment you do anything you shouldn't. You should know Him more intimately than that. Since we are talking about the marriage relationship as a figure of speech, you should be in such close relationship with God that you can say my husband .

Paul expressed the same idea in the book of Romans in a father/child relationship when he said, “We have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear, but we have received the spirit of God whereby we are able to cry Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15). As has been pointed out to you any number of times, there is no real translation for the word Abba . It is a transliterated word that speaks of a very intimate relationship. Some Bible scholars have suggested that it might be Daddy or Pappa , some very close pet name for God. We are not being sacrilegious when we make that statement.

I am glad that I know Him as my Father, and I am glad that I can say Abba, Father, for my affection for Him is deep. That is exactly what God wanted for Israel.


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