v1 *Ephraim made himself very important in Israel.
*Ephraim spoke and people shook with fear.
But the people *sinned because they *worshipped Baal.
And because of this, they died.
v2 Now the people of Israel *sin more and more.
They make *idols for themselves from their silver.
They are clever in the way that they make these *idols.
And then they say, ‘Offer *sacrifices to them!’
They kiss those *idols - *idols in the shape of young cows!
v3 That is why those people will soon go away.
They will be like the morning cloud.
They will be like the *dew that goes away early in the morning.
The people of Israel will be like seed that a wind blows from the floor.
They will be like smoke that goes out of a window.
v4 The *Lord says, ‘I am the *Lord your God who led you out of Egypt.
You do not know any other God except me.
I alone am your *Saviour.
v5 I cared for you in the desert.
This was when you were in a hot dry land.
v6 I gave food to the people of Israel.
They ate that food. They became full and satisfied.
They became proud and then they forgot me.
v7 That is why I will be like a lion to them.
I will be like an animal waiting by the road.
v8 I will attack them like a bear that has lost her children.
I will break the people of Israel into pieces.
I will eat them like a lion.
I will tear them apart as a wild animal does.
The end is near for Israel (verse 1). *Ephraim became a powerful group in earlier times. There were strong leaders from this group. Joshua was one of them. But *Ephraim became full of *guilt. *Sin and death go together (Romans 6:23). God will use death as a way to punish Israel.
Jeroboam 1st made young cows of gold in Bethel and Dan (verse 2). Then he said, ‘Here are your gods’ (1 Kings 12:28). But it was the *Israelites who made the *idols. The people *worshipped the things that they made. Verse 2b is not clear. The people kiss the animals. Perhaps Hosea is saying that the people are very silly. The verse may also mean that they are offering *sacrifices of people.
Hosea gives pictures of what the people are like (verse 3). These are things that do not stay for long. Israel will go quickly. God will make sure that the world will forget Israel (Deuteronomy 32:26). She will not be a nation any more.
God begins to speak again (verse 4). He says that he does not change. The people cannot know these other gods. It is impossible. He tells them again about the Sinai *covenant. It is God himself whom the people must know. The other gods are not there.
It was in the *desert that God remembered his *covenant (verse 5). He gave the people what they needed (Exodus 16). It was God who fed them. Israel was like a child. She needed a father to stay alive. God gave them everything that they needed in the desert (verse 6). But they forgot him. This was not a surprise. God said that this would happen (Deuteronomy 8:14). There are other places in Deuteronomy like this (6:11-14; 11:15-16). There was always a danger that the people would become proud.
Hosea now uses another picture (verses 7-8). God will be like an animal. God said earlier that he would ‘send animals against you’ (Leviticus 26:22). There are other places where God uses the same picture. He uses animals as pictures of *judgement (Isaiah 5:29-30; 7:18; 56:9). God will surprise Israel when he attacks her. It will be a strong attack. Assyria will be like these animals. Perhaps Assyria will be ready to attack Israel soon. This attack by animals will hurt her. It will kill people too. Israel has broken the *covenant and God will be very angry.
No one can stop God from being angry with Israel.
v9 I will destroy you, people of Israel.
There will be no one to help you.
v10 No one can find your king. He cannot help you.
But they are like a child who does not want to be born.
They are so silly! They are silly not to want this!
v14 I wanted to save these people from the power of the grave.
I wanted to save them from death.
Death, I do not know where your diseases are.
Grave, I do not know where your power to destroy is.
I will not be sorry for these people any more.
v15 Israel grows well among her brothers.
But a strong east wind will come.
It will blow in from the desert.
Then Israel’s wells will become dry.
The water that comes from the ground will stop.
The wind will take everything away that has value.
v16 The people of *Samaria must know about their *guilt.
Because they turned against their God,
their people will fall by the sword.
Their enemies will throw the children of *Samaria onto the ground.
Their enemies will tear pregnant women (women who are going to have a baby) apart.
God wants to destroy Israel very much (verse 9). Jeremiah 4:7 describes an animal as ‘something that destroys nations’. This was Babylon. Here it is God himself who destroys. God tells the people again that no one else can help them. The *Israelites hoped that someone would come to help them. They wanted help against Assyria. Perhaps Hosea is writing in about 725 BC (verse 10). Shalmaneser 5th (of Assyria) put Hoshea, the king, in prison at this time (2 Kings 17:4). The Assyrians probably also took the king’s family and the important leaders. After this, Israel had no leaders to help her.
In the time of Samuel, the people asked for a king (1 Samuel 8:5, 20). They chose Jeroboam 1st (verse 11). They preferred him to Rehoboam. But God has never looked at the kings of Israel in a kind way. There were 20 of them. But God thought that they were all very bad. And now it was a time to end this. God remembers *sins if people are not sorry (verse 12). He counts *sins. He remembers *sins for many years. God now needs to pay back to Israel for these *sins.
Hosea now gives us a picture of a child that is not born (verse 13). The child is not clever because it is not ready to come into the world. The child will die. Perhaps, if Israel becomes like a child, God will *bless Israel again.
Verse 14 is not clear. Hosea says that there is no hope for Israel. The verse is about *judgement. God closes his eyes to what will happen to Israel. Hosea says that God will punish Israel. The grave is the place where dead people go. Soon it will have many people from Israel.
Hosea uses another picture of a plant (verse 15). Perhaps the east wind is Assyria. Assyrian armies will take away everything that Israel has. Deuteronomy 28:12 says that the sky will open for Israel. God will send the rain for Israel’s fields. But Assyria will make sure that Israel has no food.
*Samaria was the important city of Israel (verse 16). It was where Hoshea, the king, lived. This is why Assyria wanted to attack it. They will show no *mercy. 2 Kings 15:16 and Amos 1:13 are other verses which show how armies attack people. They took babies that were inside women. They tore them out. The pain of Israel was to begin.
v1 Return to the *Lord your God, people of Israel.
Your *sin has made you fall.
v2 Think about the things that you will say.
And return to the *Lord.
Say to him, ‘Take away our *sin.
Accept the good things that we are doing.
Then we can offer you our *worship with our lips.
v3 Assyria cannot save us.
We will not look for horses to ride.
We will never again say to our *idols that they are our God.
Because you are someone who shows *mercy to children who have no parents’.
The ideas of the last chapter of Hosea are like the ideas we have seen already. Hosea tells the people to *repent (verse 1). Perhaps he is thinking of the people when they will be in *exile. There they will have more time to think about their *sins. Israel has fallen and the time of *exile has begun. Israel needs to find the right words to say (verse 2). In the past, an *Israelite had to bring a *sacrifice to God for *sin. This was part of the system of *sacrifices. But *sacrifices have no value if someone does not *repent. Instead, they must mean what they say. They must say and do the right things. God will forgive their *sin. Then he can forget it.
The *prayer where the people *repent continues in verse 3. The people understand that there is no hope in Assyria, horses or *idols. Instead, they will want to put their hope in God’s *covenant. They used to get their horses from Egypt. They needed horses to fight. They made their *idols themselves. Israel will want to *repent in a true way. They will want to stop these *sins. We remember the story of Hosea’s children in the last line of this verse (see 1:6).
Promise of new life
v4 The *Lord says, ‘I will heal them. I will forget that they left me.
I will give them much love.
I am not angry with them any more.
v5 I will be like the *dew to the people of Israel.
They will become like flowers.
They will be like the tall trees of Lebanon.
These trees will have long roots.
v6 They will become alive with new branches.
They will be beautiful like *olive trees.
They will smell like the tall trees of Lebanon.
v7 The people of Israel will live again in the shade.
They will grow well like grain.
They will grow well like a *vine.
They will be famous like the wine of Lebanon.
v8 ‘*Ephraim, I do not want to see any more *idols.
I will answer their *prayers. I will care for them.
I am like a tree that is always green.
Your fruit comes from me’.
v9 A wise person understands these things.
A clever person learns about these things.
The ways of the *Lord are right.
Good people will live by these ways.
But people who *sin will fall.
God himself speaks in verse 4. He makes promises to Israel. They will not need to be afraid of God. They will not need to think about God’s anger. Isaiah 54:6-8 gives another picture that is like this. Israel is like a wife coming back to her husband. Israel cannot buy God’s love. Instead of anger, God will bring Israel many more *blessings. These *blessings will come with water and plants (verse 5). God told Joseph that this *dew would come from the sky (Deuteronomy 33:13). Water is a picture of new life in much of the OT. The new Israel will be pretty, like the flowers (see Matthew 6:28, 29). There was always enough water on Lebanon’s hills. The trees were able to grow well. Israel, too, will be able to be strong in the *Lord. The *olive tree was a good place for shade (verse 6). It was also good for fruit. Lebanon was a good place to smell trees. Ezekiel, too, uses the picture of new growth on a tree to mean a new start for Israel (Ezekiel 17:22). God will *bless Israel through the land. In the future, it will be God who protects Israel (verse 7). God will provide shade for Israel. Then Israel can be safe. Many of the psalms use the same picture of shade (Psalms 17:8; 91:1). Israel herself is like a tree. Other people will find shelter in her shade. Hosea uses the picture of Lebanon again. Its wine was good. In the past, Israel tried very hard to get these *blessings. He will give them even greater *blessings instead.
Again, God asks Israel to throw away her *idols (verse 8). Perhaps if she does not, God will not *bless them. All good things come from God. He is like a tree - a tree of life. The people of Israel can be free through him. He always has enough to give.
Hosea finishes his book by writing about a wise person (verse 9). The ways of God are right. A silly person would not listen. There will be trouble for people who do not obey. But a clever person will keep the laws of the *Lord (Psalm 18:22). He will choose the right way. Israel’s true return will only happen in Christ. We see this return in four different ways:
· When Cyrus let the *Jews return to Israel.
· In the birth of Christ.
· In the growth of the church.
· In the Second Coming of Christ.
This will be the final time that all these things will happen. This is what ‘in Christ’ means.
adultery ~ when someone has sex with a person who is not their husband or wife.
almighty ~ has the power to beat all his enemies.
altar ~ a table for burning animals and other gifts as a *sacrifice to God or false gods.
ancestor ~ any person from your family that has lived in the past.
angel ~ a servant from God who brings messages from heaven.
parable ~ a story that explains what a person is teaching.
Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews that thought that they kept all God’s rules. They did not like the things that Jesus taught. They thought that they did not do any wrong things. So, they thought that they were very important and clever.
prayers ~ the words that people say when they talk to God.
pray ~ talk to God.
priest ~ a man that gave gifts and burned animals as a *sacrifice to God.
prophet ~ person who spoke for God a long time ago.
prostitute ~ a woman that a man pays for sex.
prostitution ~ to buy or to sell sex.
repent ~ to turn from *sin to God’s ways.
resurrection ~ to come alive again.
sabbath ~ a day of rest in which the people must not work.
sacrifice ~ something that people offered to God. To ask God’s (or a false god’s) *forgiveness by killing an animal.
Samaria ~ another name for Israel or the capital of Israel.
saviour ~ someone who will bring us back to God from the bad things that we have done.
sin ~ when people do things against God.
temple ~ the special building in Jerusalem where *Jews went to praise God.
trumpet ~ a musical instrument; you use your mouth to blow into it.
vine ~ a plant that *grapes grow on.
vision ~ something like a dream that God used to speak to people.
worship ~ what we should do when we are with God; giving thanks to God.
yoke ~ a wooden thing that you put over the neck of animals. Its purpose was to let the animal pull something.
This publication is written in EasyEnglish Level B (2800 words).
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