An Anatomy of Judgment: Clarity, Captivity, and Restoration

As we move into examining Hosea chapter two, we begin to see a pattern emerge in the book.  First we see a devastating prophecy, which is then followed by a promise of hope, that is, if we look closely, much more expansive in degree and beauty when compared against the severity of the devastation.  That was the pattern laid out for us in chapter one, and here we find it again in chapter two.  I am going to cover the whole of chapter two with this set of articles.  Over all, we are going to be looking at the anatomy of God’s judgment as it is presented here in Hosea chapter two.  We are going to take it a part and examine it, in small bite sized pieces, so we can see the consistency of the biblical text, especially as Hosea prophecies relate to the Law of Moses and the coming of Jesus Christ.  Let’s look at Hosea 2:1-5 to start.

Hosea 2:1-5

[1] Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”

[2] “Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts; [3] lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst. 

 

[4] Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom. [5] For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully.  For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’

 

Who is it that Hosea is specifically instructing to bring the message of destruction and future hope to the Northern Kingdom?  It is his children from chapter one, Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhama.  Lo-Ammi means “not my people” and he, by his birth and name is saying, “You are” presently God’s “people”, but that is about to change.  Lo- Ruhama means, “No Mercy”, and she is to say, in the same way as Lo-Ammi did, that, the people of Israel “have received mercy” up until now, but that also is about to change.  Notice the phrasing in verse one in regards to mercy is written in past tense, “You have received mercy”.  So their message spoken together is one that should communicate that there is an imminent judgment that is ready to be meted out upon the Northern Kingdom.

Which leads us to another question?  Who is the audience that Hosea’s children are to speak to as God’s witnesses?  There are two distinct groups that each are to address.  First they are to say these things to their “brothers” and “sisters”.  Who are their brothers and sisters?  To speak to your brother or your sister would be to speak to someone of equal stature as your self.  For Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhama, to speak to their brothers and sisters would be to speak to the average Joe, or in ancient Israel’s case, the average Joseph. (a little biblical humor)

However, there is a second target audience in view here, someone that is of a greater authority than the children, someone that is not a peer.  That someone, is their own mother.  If brothers and sisters are Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhama’s community peers, then their mother must be a special group of people too, one that has authority to be used to nurture the people of Israel.  After all, that is what mothers do, they nurture.  By the description, I take it to mean that Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhama are to give their message to the church in Israel, specifically to the spiritual leaders of the nation of Israel, the Levites, the priests, and the prophets.  In fact, the greater part of the blame is laid at the door step of the spiritual leaders, as verses 2,3, and 5 are addressed to mom.  Even as verse 4 promises to visit judgment upon “her children”, yet the reason comes back to mom, “because they are children of whoredom. [5] For their mother has played the whore;”

 

What is it that mom engaged in that upset Dad so much?  Adultery….. which in the context of Hosea is code for idolatry. “For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’”  In the ancient world of Hosea’s day, the cult of Baal was the preferred cult of the time.  Baal, god of the Sun, was a god you wanted on your side if you were a farmer.  If a farmer gets to much Sun, crops dry up and are destroyed.  If they get to little Sun, that means there has been too much rain, and you get the opposite effect.  Either way, Baal needed to be kept happy.

Ancient men knew, just as we men know now, that no body is happy if momma isn’t happy.  Well, Baal was married to a goddess names Ashterah.  She was the goddess of fertility.  Again, if a farmer is going to make it, he needs his animals to multiply.  And if he doesn’t want to go broke paying laborers, he needs sons and daughters to help around the farm, which also takes a touch from the goddess Ashterah.

Now if you’ve had a good year on the farm, the fields are full of grain so you can make bread.  The orchards are full of olives, so you’ve got more food, and beauty products to boot.  The vineyards are dressed and there are plenty of grapes, so you’ve got wine. Your sheep have likely done well to, so now you’ve got wool for clothing.  Essentially the gods of Israel in Hosea’s time period, are the same god’s you and I fall prey to today, food (bread and water), clothing (wool and flax), beauty (oil), and pleasure (wine).  All their gods revolve around the same mundane things ours do today.

It was idolatry, especially in the church of Hosea’s day that brought the judgment of God upon them in the shape of the Assyrian captivity.  The church’s failure to nurture and shepherd the people according to His Word is a theme that will be opened up for us in a major way later on the Book of Hosea.  For now, we just want to note, that early here in chapter 2, God is laying the lion share of the blame at the feet of Israel’s spiritual leaders, her shepherds, her pastors.  Why?  Because instead of being the ones that called the people to repentance and taught them the ways of truth from the Law, they in fact were the ringleaders in Baal’s idolatrous cult, directing the people to give glory to false gods for their daily provision and prosperity rather than to the One to Whom it truly belonged, their Heavenly Father.

“An Anatomy of Judgment: Removing, Clarifying, and Renewing” Part II will be available soon, so come back soon, or scroll down to the bottom and subscribe if you like what you’re reading.

Soli Deo Gloria


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