The Law in Hosea II

-by Robert L. Rael

Hosea chapter II is a much misunderstood scripture by many Bible believers today.  Many seem to think that God, through the prophet Hosea has somehow annulled the Lord’s Day for His chosen people (v. 11).

Let’s take a closed contextual look at what God, through His Holy Spirit has revealed to me regarding the words of the prophet Hosea.

“The first part of the book (chs. 1-3) narrates the family life of Hosea as a symbol to convey the message the prophet had from the Lord for His people.  God ordered Hosea to marry an adulterous wife, Gomer, and their three children were each given a symbolic name representing part of the ominous message.  Ch. 2 alternates between Hosea’s relationship to Gomer and its symbolic representation of God’s relation to Israel.  The children are told to drive the unfaithful mother out of the house; but it was her reform, not her riddance, that was sought.  The prophet was ordered to continue loving her, and he took her back and kept her in isolation for a while (ch. 3).  The affair graphically represents the Lord’s relationship to the Israelites (cf. 2:4, 9, 18), who had been disloyal to Him by worshiping Canaanite deities as the source of their abundance. Israel was to go through a period of exile.

"Just as Hosea took back his wife Gomer, so the Lord loves His covenant people and longs to take them back.  This return is described with imagery recalling the exodus from Egypt and settlement in Canaan.  Hosea saw Israel’s past experiences with the Lord as the fundamental pattern, or type of God’s future dealings with His people.”   REFERENCE:  “The NIV Study Bible,” pg. 1335

“The primary purpose of Hosea’s prophecy…  must be understood against the background of the message and theology of Deuteronomy.  The latter records the covenantal agreement between the Lord and Israel.  Israel was to maintain loyalty to the Lord by worshipping Him alone and by obeying His commandments.  Obedience to the covenant would result in blessing (cf. Deut. 28:1-4).  Disobedience would bring judgment and eventually exile (Deut. 28:15-68)…

“The major themes of Hosea’s message can be summarized in three words: sin, judgment, and salvation.  In exposing Israel’s sin, Hosea emphasized it’s idolatry.  He compared Israel’s covenant relationship to the Lord with marriage and accused Israel (The Lord’s “wife”) of spiritual adultery.  She had turned to Baal,, the Canaanite storm and fertility god, in an effort to promote agricultural and human fertility…  Many other sins are mentioned in the book including…  Spiritual ingratitude.”  REFERENCE:  “The Bible Knowledge Commentary,” John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck; pp. 1377-1378

"The central thought of Hosea concerns God’s covenant with Israel that the people had broken.  The covenant had been made at Mount Sinai…  Through the passing of years however, they had wondered away from God; and the more He had called them, the further they went from Him.  They fell into deep sin, breaking the covenant so graciously made with them.  …Because Israel’s sin constituted the breaking of the covenant, Hosea gave more attention to this matter than any other.

"Hosea not only described Israel’s sin but also warned of the people’s coming punishment…  For breaking God’s covenant… punishment would be necessary.”   REFERENCE:  “ The Expositors Bible Commentary,” vol. 7, pp. 166-167, Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor

“The coming judgment would also bring the cessation of Israel’s joyous religious celebrations, including the great yearly festivals (Ex 23:14-17), the monthly New Moons (i.e., New Moon sacrifices’ Num 10:10, 28-11-15), and the weekly Sabbath observances.  These feasts had been corrupted by Baal worship (Hosea 2:13) and were no longer desired by the Lord.”    REFERENCE:  “The Bible Knowledge Commentary,” John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck; pp. 1384

“…what made the very name Baal anathema to the Israelites was the program of Jezebel, in the 9th century BC, to introduce into Israel her Phoenician cult of Baal in opposition to the official worship of Yahweh (I Kings 18).  By the time of the prophet Hosea, the antagonism to Baal was often replaced by the contemptuous ‘boshet’ (“shame”).”  REFERENCE:  “The New Encyclopedia Britannica,” Vol. I, pg. 762

“Ever since the exodus from Egypt, Israel had intermingled the worship of the Lord with the worship of false gods (cf. Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43).”  REFERENCE:  “The MacArthur Study Bible,” pg. 1254 (the commentary corresponding to the above referenced text)

Hosea 2:13: "…but me she forgot.”  (Also see Isaiah 24:5, 42:20-25 and Ezekiel 20)

Israel’s punishment would come in the form of desolation for the land (Hosea 4:3, 5:1-15) and exile for the people.

Hosea 4:16: “There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgement of God in the land (NIV)… so I will destroy your mother – my people are destroyed for lack of knowledge… because you have ignored the law of God, I will ignore your children.”  (Also read Hosea chapter 5.)

Hosea 2:8-12:  As a result of their spiritual infidelity, God would also withdraw from Israel those gifts that He had so graciously bestowed to His covenant people.  Those gifts would include:

  1. Grain
  2. “New wine”
  3. Oil
  4. Silver and gold
  5. Wool and linen
  6. Vines
  7. Fig trees
  8. Feast days (I Kings 12:32)
  9. New Moons (feasts held on the first day of each month – Numbers 28:11, 14 & Isaiah 1:14)
  10. Sabbath Days

Fallen Israel practicing Baal worship

 Hosea 2:11:  “Some have seized upon this verse as proof that the weekly Sabbath was to be abolished.  However, careful attention to the context of the passage proves the fallacy of such reasoning.  The prophet here declares that all  the various feasts and days of holy joy of the northern kingdom would cease, owing to the coming captivity of the nation.  Not the abolition of the Sabbath, or of any religious service for that matter, is foretold by this text, but rather the abolition of a rebellious nation.  All Christians agree that God did not desire that the Passover, or any other annual feast that He had instituted, be abolished at that particular time, which was several hundred years before the first advent of Christ.  Then consistency calls for us to believe that the Bible writer is not here, even hinting that the weekly Sabbath of the Lord was to be abolished, either then, or at any future date.”  REFERENCE:  “The S.D.A. Bible Commentary,” pg. 893

The Sabbath day is one of God’s most sacred and precious gifts to mankind.  God desires us to “rest” and call His Holy day “a delight.”  (Also see Isaiah 30:15, 58:13-14, Hebrews 4:8-9 & Psalms 118:24.)

Ezekiel 20:12:  “…also I gave them my sabbaths...”

Exodus 16:29:  “See, for the Lord hath given you the sabbath…”

Mark 2:27:  “And he (Jesus) said unto them, the sabbath was made for man…”

Because they had already so egregiously desecrated the Lord’s Day and broken the “everlasting covenant,” (Isaiah 24:5) the Sabbath day “rest” was also one of God’s gifts that was denied His rebellious children during their period of apostasy.

Psalms 95:10-11:  “…it is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways (v. 10):  Unto whom I swear in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest (v. 11).”  (Also read Hebrews 3:10-11, 18.)

Ezekiel 20:20-2:  “And hallow my sabbaths;  and they shall be a sign between me and you, that ye may know that I am the Lord you God (v. 20).  Notwithstanding, the children rebelled against me:   they walked not in my statutes, neither kept my judgments to do them, which if a man do, he shall even live in them; they polluted my sabbaths:  Then I said I would pour out my fury upon them, to accomplish my anger against them in the wilderness (v. 21).”

Isaiah 1:13:  “…the new moons, sabbaths and convocations – I cannot bear your evil assemblies.” (NIV)  (Read the 1st chapter of Isaiah)  These God given feasts had been corrupted by Baal worship.

However, Hosea also prophesied (in Chapter 2:15 & 22) that God, because of His infinite mercy, will forgive and re-bestow His gifts to His contrite children (Hosea 3:4-5), much as the father in the parable of the prodigal son.  In chapter 2, verse 14, Hosea prophesied that God “will allure her… and speak tenderly to her.  There I will give her back her vineyards and return her lands (v. 15)… In that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘my master’ (v. 16).  I will remove the name Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked (v. 17).  I will say to those called not my people, you are my people; and they will say, you are my God (v. 23).” (NIV)

Isn’t it wonderful to rest in the blessed assurance that all God’s gifts – including the Sabbath day gift – will once again be restored to His repentant children whenever they renounce their allegiance to other gods and with a contrite heart and a renewed “right spirit” return humbly before the throne of God’s grace, recognizing Him as their eternal Lord and Savior, “The Lord that made them Holy?” (Read Ezekiel 20:12 & 20.)

After God welcomes back His “prodigal” children He declares in Hosea 2:18:  “In that day I will make a covenant for them.”  Does this new covenant God will make with His children include His Ten Commandment Law?

Jeremiah 31:31-33:  “The time is coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah…  This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel…  I will put my laws in their minds and write them in their hearts, I will be their God, and they will be my people.”  (NIV)  (Also read Hebrews 8:8-10.)

Hosea 2:20:  “I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.” (KJV)

Ezekiel 20:12:  Here the Lord speaks through Moses and says “I am the Lord your God; follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws.  Keep my sabbaths holy, that they may be a sign between us.  Then you will know that I am the Lord your God   (i.e., “you will acknowledge the Lord,” Hosea 2:20).”

Are those promises and gifts, and this “new covenant” from God exclusively for Israel?  Read John 4:22, where Jesus states to the Samaritan woman at the well:  “…for salvation is from the Jews.”

Galatians 3:28-29:  Here the Apostle Paul says “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.  If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to his promise.” (NIV)

Romans 1:16:  Here Paul further tells us “…the gospel… is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes:  first for the Jew, then for the Gentile.”  (NIV)

Romans 2:29:  “…a man is a Jew if he is one inwardly, and circumcision is circumcision of the heart, by the Spirit… such a man’s praise is not from men, but from God.”  (NIV)

Isaiah 8:20:  “To the law and to the testimony:  if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them.” (KJV)

I have many wonderful Catholic friends who are dedicated Christians.  I also have many sincere Christian friends who are Sunday-keeping Protestants.  I do not agree with either group about the Sabbath issue, but neither God, nor any carnal authority appointed me to pass judgment on any of them.

This document was written not with the intent to judge, offend or condemn.  But rather it was written with the sole and sincere purpose of extending the challenge to all who would, with the divine blessing of the Holy Spirit be diligent in seeking God's will for mankind, through the study of His Holy Scriptures.  May God bless you in the reading of His Word.

-Robert L. Rael

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