Jonah’s Response Chapter 4 provides some insights into the personality of Jonah. Based on possibilities three and four, which were mentioned earlier, Jonah was unhappy because Nineveh was not destroyed. It is interesting to note that because of the preaching of Jonah, the people of Nineveh repented and God did not destroy them. Then sixty years later, in 722 B.C., He used the Assyrians to destroy Israel. What an ironic reversal and how ironic that a missionary from Israel was the means of salvation and preservation for the heathen nation which in a reversal of roles, three-score years later, destroyed the nation from which the missionary came. It just might nave been, that the Assyrians were on the borderline of destruction because of their wickedness, as the Canaanites had been earlier, but in God’s plan, He needed to preserve them and delay their destruction, in order to use them as His instrument
of judgment against Israel sixty years later (Isaiah 10:5). Complex
as it sounds, we know that everything must work together in God’s
sovereign program in order for His purposes to come to pass.
No doubt, Jonah knew that he would be an unwelcome individual
when he returned to Israel and they discovered that because of him,
God did not destroy their enemies, the Assyrians.
After delivering his message, Jonah sat down outside the city and
in great anger prayed, “Take, I beseech thee, my life from me; for it is better for me to die than to live.“ He knew, he had said in verse 2, that God would be kind and compassionate.
In verse 4, God asked whether he had good reason to be angry. In
other words, God said, “Jonah, are your personal feelings more important than my over-all program?” As he waited, Jonah made a shelter where he could sit down east of the city and watch to see whether or not God would destroy it.
The Lesson in a Plant While Jonah sat outside in his little shelter, under the blazing sun, God appointed a plant to grow up over him. It grew as large as a shade tree over his head and added greatly to Ws comfort. Jonah was very happy about the plant as it protected him from the sun, but immediately, God appointed a worm to attack the plant at dawn on the next day. The plant died and the sun came up, along with a scorching east wind from the desert, to burn down on Jonah’s head. He became faint and wanted to die, saying, “It is better for me to die than to live.” Once again God asked, “Doest thou well to be angry?” And he retorted, “I do well to be angry, even unto death.”
God’s response was, “Thou hast had pity on the gourd, for the which
thou hast not laboured, neither madest it grow; which came up in a night and perished in a night.”
What Jonah saw, was the injustice of it all. He saw himself as
happy and secure in the shelter of the plant, then suddenly the worm
had attacked and destroyed it. And now he thought, “I just cannot tolerate this kind of injustice. I am ready to die.
Then in effect God said, “Look at Nineveh. It is a large city that
has taken scores of years to build for both human and animal comfort. Now you want it destroyed. You want to see judgment fall on this city that took so long to build.
Yet, when I destroyed the plant, that took only a day to create,-you
were angry, and it was made only for your own physical comfort.
How logical is it that you would be so angry and want Me to destroy a
large city when you are so angry because I destroyed a single plant?
And how unjust are you? Should I not have compassion on Nineveh
‘wherein are more than sixscore thousand persons that cannot discern between their right hand and their left hand, and also much cattle?’
Lessons from Jonah There is a four-part lesson in the book of Jonah. First, God will save anyone. He apparently saved the heathen sailors on board the ship; and He saved the wicked Assyrians in the city of Nineveh.
Second, we saw how very patient God was with His prophet. He did
not strike him down when he first refused to obey but used a series of
circumstances to bring him back into the center of His will.
Third, it is not by power or by might that men are saved, but by
God’s grace. As Jonah said in 4:2: “I knew that thou art a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repentest thee of the evil.”
Fourth, God is telling us to care about all men. Because of Jonah’s disobedience, many people suffered; and because of his selfish attitude, many more would have suffered. God wants us to love all men, most especially those of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10).
LXXI HOSEA LIVES HIS MESSAGE
Hosea follows Jonah chronologically and his book dates to about
760 B.C. As with the other eighth century prophets, he was thoughtful
enough to provide the names of the kings who were in power during
the time of his prophetic and symbolic ministry.
The book is easily divided into two sections. Chapters 1 through 3
consist of a symbolic narrative, with chapters 4 through 14 containing
various addresses given by the prophet. Internal evidence indicates that he wrote the book after the occurrences described. In his older years, he looked back on the events of his lifetime, beginning with his marriage to Gomer, and wrote about his life and recorded his prophetic messages.
Why Hosea’s Experience? God considered Himself as the husband in His relationship to Israel. You recall Ezekiel’s allegory of His having found her lying abandoned in a field and made her His own. Other relevant verses are Exodus 34:15, Isaiah 62:5, Jeremiah 3:14, and an assortment in Hosea.
The idolatry which Israel was so prone to follow is called whoredom and adultery. In the infidelity of Israel, there seems to have been no way that God could adequately express His heartbreak to this stiff-necked people. In the same way, it was impossible for God to transmit His message to the prophet, unless the prophet had a similar experience, in a finite sense, to what God had experienced in an infinite way. Hosea’s role had to be one of total involvement in the kind of rejection God had experienced. This was possible only by his experiencing the heartbreak of having an unfaithful wife.
Although some disagree, I personally believe that Gomer was a
pure woman at the time of her marriage. Hosea had no reason to believe she would not be a faithful wife. This position allows us to accept the book as literal and historical. It eliminates the moral difficulty of a prophet of God marrying a harlot. It gives proper recognition to Hosea’s evident love for his wife as a genuine affection, not something artificial or symbolic as would be the case if the marriage were contracted only for the purpose of the pedagogy in biography, symbolizing a spiritual lesson to Israel.
It also better explains the close relationship between Hosea’s experience and the lesson it is intended to teach about Israel’s unfaithfulness; because we will discover that God saw Israel as pure in the beginning and then becoming unfaithful to Him later. So, for this to be a true symbolism, Hosea’s relationship to Gomer, in the beginning, had to be a pure one.
Chapter 3 gives additional support to this view. The narrative reveals
that Hosea took back the wife he had rejected in chapter 2 because
of her adultery. The rejection does not seem justifiable if Hosea had
married Gomer knowing her to be a harlot. It would not be logical to
reject her later if he knew from the beginning that she was prone to
harlotry and adultery.
Application to Christians All human relationships can be described by one of three levels of intimacy. The first is that of mere acquaintance. One is not concerned about the number of acquaintances one has, and it is very difficult to be hurt deeply by a casual acquaintance. The second level is friendship.
Some have only a very few close friends throughout their lives with
whom to share their hearts and feelings, while other more gregarious
persons may have many friends.
At the third level of intimacy, there is room for only two people;
this is the husband-wife relationship. At this level, if one additional
person comes into the arrangement, the relationship is damaged or destroyed.
When that relationship is broken, Scripture describes it by the
ugliest word possible - adultery. Hosea selected this word in describing his wife Gomer, and the nation of Israel.
In a spiritual sense, Christians are married to Christ (Rom. 7), and
if we allow anything else to interfere with that relationship; if we love
the world more than we love Him; we commit spiritual adultery. As the
bride of Christ, we must walk carefully and circumspectly to make sure that we do not fall into sins which make us spiritual adulteresses as was the nation of Israel whose adultery was typified by the physical adultery of Gomer in the actual marriage relationship.
Setting of the Book Hosea’s prophecies were given to him during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. These kings ruled in Judah between 790 B.C. and 686 B.C. The king in Israel was Jeroboam II, who reigned from 793 to 753 B.C. We read earlier that Jeroboam II’s era was one of spiritual depravity. There was no justice in the gate; the religious worship combined that of Baalism and the sin of Jeroboam I. It was against this background of religious harlotry that Hosea began to preach.
Hosea’s Marriage Summarized After Hosea first took Gomer as his wife, she conceived (vs.3) and bore him a son. This may have been the only child he fathered. The Lord said to him (vs. 4): “Call his name Jezreel, for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.“ In verse 5, He said that he would “break the bow of Israel;“ that is, He would destroy them. Any military power they thought they could exert would be destined to fail. Then (vs. 6) Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Since Hosea is not mentioned as the father, this may already have been a child of harlotry. God said, “Call her Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel.“ We know from what happened thirty-eight years later, that He did not forgive them. Then He added (vs. 7): “I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God. “ Because of the Davidic Covenant, Judah was allowed to return from captivity in Babylon, not by bow, sword, battle, or horsemen, but by the grace of God through the edict of Cyrus, king of Persia.
Verse 8 says that when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived
and gave birth to a son; evidently this was another child of harlotry. God said, “Call his name Loammi. for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.“ And at this time, it appears that her adultery was discovered. Verse 10 is a reminder of God’s promise to Abram, which was given so many centuries earlier, for God says,
The number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to
pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my
People, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living
This is eschatological in its implications and is followed by the tremendous prophecy of verse 11: Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
After realizing that his wife had given birth to two children, who
were probably not his, Hosea’s heart began to break. Now, God began to work through Hosea, so that when he preached to the people, about the heartbreak of God over the adultery of the nation, it would not only be God’s message, it would be his message. His heart was broken as God’s heart was broken and now God’s feelings would be transmitted and presented through the shattered life of Hosea to the people. The message of God would be real and framed by Hosea’s own experience.
God’s Condemnation of Israel In Hosea 2:5 God says, “Their mother hath played the harlot.” We are reminded again of Ezekiel’s allegory where the faithless wife said it was her lovers who gave her bread and wool and oil. It was a picture of Israel who believed that Baal, the god of fertility, was providing the produce of the land. Not so, God stated, (vs. 8): “I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal. “
Here is the crux of Israel’s idolatry. God had provided abundantly for
Israel as He had promised throughout the Old Testament, but instead of recognizing His bounty, they attributed it to Baal. Because of this
sin and ingratitude, God says in verse 9 that He will take it all back. The produce of the land is His, He was responsible for fertility and growth, and to prove it, He was going to take it back. Then let them see if Baal will help them!
We are almost on holy ground in the book of Hosea, because when
he writes, we get to almost see into the heart of God as He is stirred by His love for Israel and at the same time His justice and holiness require judgment. So often, He seemed about to drop the hammer of judgment, then, in love and grace, gave them one more chance. It is as if a man, whose wife has been guilty of adultery, is about to divorce her in his anger; but as she is leaving, he remembers how much he loves her and says, “Come back, I forgive you.” Then she sins again, and again his heart is broken. He is angry and threatens divorce and again calls her back. In Hosea, we see that God’s love and grace are extended during the promise of judgment. He begs them to repent so that He may allow them to return.
His Love Song In verse 14, we read what I believe is God’s love song of forgiveness and return. His use of the word “will” here speaks of His tremendous sovereignty: “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably to her.”
The scenario is that of a man speaking to his sweetheart, deter-mined to woo her to love him; or, the appeal of a man to a wife whose
love has grown cold. He wants to take her back to the place of memories, the honeymoon place, which in Israel’s case was the wilderness. There He would give her vineyards, “and the valley of Achor for a door of hope.”
This statement refers to the punishment or “troubling” that came
upon Achan because of his sin (josh. 7:24-26) and how it opened a door of hope for Israel to go up and be victorious at Ai. So now, though God will trouble Israel by taking away the crops, this troubling will be a door of hope if it results in bringing them back to Himself. It is an eschatological promise, for later on “she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. It shall be in that day” (vs. 16), declared the Lord, looking to the future, “that thou shalt call me Ishi, and shalt call me no more Baali. “ In other words “husband” instead of “master, because (vs. 17) “I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth.”
Then, beginning in verse 18, when God restores Israel, He will
undo all of the judgments of the earlier part of chapter 2 by giving
abundant blessings. Verse 23 ends with a statement of His sovereignty: “I will sow her unto me in the earth.” The concept of sowing, as we will see further in Isaiah is yet another way in which God viewed His nation; but this time, they will not bring forth wild or bitter grapes, but good ones. He will say to them, “Thou art my people,” and they will respond, “Thou art my God.
Result of Hosea’s Broken Marriage Chapters 1 and 2 have described Hosea’s heartbreak of an adulterous marriage. He has separated himself from Gomer, and she has gone her way into the world to earn her living as a harlot. If one were to ask Hosea, at that time, what was the worst thing that ever happened to him, he would probably say, “my marriage to Gomer.”
But much later, after completing his prophetic ministry, he might then say, “What a tremendous blessing it was, because it allowed me to preach God’s message with a depth of feeling and emotion I could never have otherwise achieved.
Hosea’s Marriage Restored Until now, Hosea has experienced only the first half of his personal pedagogy in biography. At the beginning of chapter 3, God said to him, “Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress. “ How surprised Hosea must have been, having lived through his tragedy and having put the heartbreak behind him. But God was saying, “Hosea, you are only half finished. “ You have learned so far how to preach against the nation that has played the harlot, but you have not yet experienced the depth of forgiveness and love required to bring the harlot back.”
In His infinite love, God is going to draw the nation back to Himself
and in order to deliver that message, Hosea must physically and
emotionally experience the bringing back of the harlot to his life and
home. So, he was instructed to seek out his former wife and bring her
back. I can hardly fathom the depth of love this required of Hosea. This woman had been gone for years and had been living as a harlot. The depth of love required to restore her is almost beyond comprehension. Hosea is about to experience, in a finite way, the infinite love of God for a sinner, an idolater, a harlot nation, that causes Him to seek out and bring back such an individual, or nation, to Himself.
In obedience to God’s command, Hosea went out and
searched through the marketplace for the woman who had
left so long ago. I am inferring, of course, but perhaps he
began in the better part of town and persistently worked his way down to the slums; the red-light district. Finally, he saw a dirty, cowering, abused woman whom he recognized as the one he had loved and married so many years before. His heart went out to her and he sought out the cruel man under whose control she worked, and evidently, by the context, owned her.
Hosea appears here as a type of Christ. The woman who was
once his wife was under the power of another. It does seem unfair that he should have to pay for his own wife, but it is a picture of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator of the world, who had to shed His blood to pay the price of ransoming back the world He created.
Verse 2 says, “I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver. “ That was half
the price of a slave. She was old, tired, her beauty was gone, and she
was not worth much to her master. She had passed the prime of life and was not in demand by the men who would come to seek such women. In addition to the silver, Hosea gave an omer and a half of barley. That was the food of animals and impoverished peasants. No doubt it was what the master fed the harlots who worked for him. Hosea wrapped his cloak about her, and led her through the streets back to his home.
Gomer’s Discipline Like Israel’s In order to purify and purge Gomer’s lifestyle from the lustful appetite which had driven her to a life of harlotry, Hosea placed a set of restrictions upon her.
Verse 3 says that he told her: “Thou shalt abide for me many days;
thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. “ To completely restore Gomer, Hosea denies himself his conjugal rights for as long as it takes to purge her from the desire for adultery.
In this, God shows Gomer is a type of Israel. He is going to send
against Israel, the same nations she had sought out to be her lovers.
After they have abused and defeated her, then He will seek her out and bring her back home to Himself. Hosea is a type of the heavenly Father in His long-suffering covenant love. God sums it up in verse 4: “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince.”
I want you to notice the fourfold discipline of verse 4. First, they
shall remain many days without king or prince. When Zedekiah, the last
king of Judah died in Babylon, there was no longer a king on the throne of Judah from that time until now. The only rightful Heir to the throne was crucified, so the first phase of the discipline is still continuing. Israel has no king or prince.
Second, without sacrifice. When Titus invaded Jerusalem in 70 A.D.,
and destroyed the temple, all of the animal sacrifices ended. To quote
the late Hyman Appelman, you can ask any orthodox Jew today, “Where is the blood?” Since 70 A.D. their worship system has been spiritualized. Third, without sacred pillar. I believe this refers to the teraphim. They would no longer be idolaters. From the time they returned from Babylon until now, idolatry has been purged from them.
Fourth, without ephod or household idols. The ephod was probably destroyed when Nebuchadnezzar invaded Jerusalem.
So, the criteria for discipline began then and exists until this very
day. It will continue until the Lord returns, regathers Israel. and re-establishes them in the land.
Verse 5 begins “Afterward. “ After what? After this period of discipline
is completed. Then the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord
their God and David their king. In the last days they will come trembling to the Lord and recognize His goodness.
LXXII GOD’S INDICTMENT OF ISRAEL
More in Hosea
Among the many benefits which the writing prophets provided
in their books is the great insight they supply into the religious, political, and military customs of the times in which they lived. Hosea 4:11-14 is a graphic display of what those days when Baal was worshipped were like.
Harlotry Verse 11 says, “Whoredom and wine and new wine take away the heart” (or the understanding).” The total Baal experience had become completely ingrained in their lives. Did you ever try to reason with an addict? It is impossible. The drug user is not a rational person; his understanding has been taken away. That is how it was with Israel. They were so involved in their licentious system, that they could not be reasoned with. They loved it and would not listen to a message which asked them to have it any other way.
“My people ask counsel at their stocks, and their staff declareth unto
them.” In other words, they are involved in what today would be the
equivalent of ouija boards, palm reading, crystal balls, and spiritism.
God said that it was this spirit of harlotry which led them to go astray
from His truth.
They offered sacrifices on the tops of mountains and burned in-cense
under oak, poplar and terebinth trees because their shade was
pleasant. Hosea was speaking of the groves constructed for the worship of Baal. These were areas where there were trees, as well as artificial tree trunks, planted by the Baalists and carved to look like female deities. When a man wanted to worship with a prostitute, he took her out into the groves because the shade sheltered them. “Therefore “ (vs. 13) “your daughters shall commit whoredom, and your spouses shall commit adultery. “ These people had adopted the Canaanite religious system which decreed, by law, that at sometime in her life, every woman must sit in the Baal temple until she was selected by a “worshiper” and money was paid by him for her sexual services. If the women waited until they were old, they might sit for a long time before they were chosen. So, many of them went while they were young, these were the daughters and brides.
Verse 14 continues, “I will not punish your daughters when they commit
whoredom, nor your spouses when they commit adultery. “ And we ask
why? God said it is because the men also go apart with harlots and offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes so that all of people without understanding are ruined.