Jesus Explains Hosea's Prophecies
I am here, Jesus:
In my last writing I have shown how Hosea, through personal sorrow, learned that as man loved with a human love, so did the Father love with a Divine Love, and that this love meant that God sought the return of His erring children, at this period of civilization, His chosen people Israel. It meant that while this return had been made by Israel itself, on free will, yet God would make an effort to teach or educate His children, so that Israel would love the Father. It meant that the lessons in the education might be accompanied by unpleasant experiences. This did not mean that God punishes His children for the evils they committed because punishment is the wages of sin; this cannot be further than the truth, for the Father does not punish, but the people whose nationality and religion were linked inextricably to knowledge of the Living God had to be reminded repeatedly during the centuries that they could not be permitted to become absorbed merely in the material things of life to the neglect of those spiritual things that meant cleanliness of the soul through the ethical and moral life.
The vicissitudes through which the people of Israel thus passed were not punishments of God, although we shall see that the prophets thought they were, but they were the effect produced by causes which were not wholly fortuitous nor developed solely as a result of a blind progression of events or forces.. Historical events, I must tell you, are not only the results of a natural working of history -- for men, and men's thoughts and deeds, for good or for evil, are the dominating forces in the march of history; the wars, exterminations and similar man-made disasters resulting from human sin, error and perversity overshadow by far the calamities produced by the evolving universe. The troubles encountered by the people of Israel are not, then, to be laid at the door of an angry and punishing God, although I wish to repeat that this was the consensus of opinion among the prophets who thundered against the evils they saw in Israel.
These actually stemmed from the doings of Solomon and his advisors; his concept of religion as ritual and temple, rather than ethics, his concern for opulence and material pleasures befitting a pagan monarch, his imposition of burdensome taxes upon the people, his marriages to pagan women and consorting with concubines of pagan worship, and encouraging their abominable ceremonies in the Temple devoted to God, all for the purpose of promoting alliances with neighboring states of barbarian ideas and practices, as well for his pleasures, to the neglect of the Father and His laws.
The chain of events thus lead to the ascension of Rehoboam and his foolish acceptance of the counsel given him by his young courtiers, in that he harshly rejected the request of his Northern Subjects for an easement of their tax burdens, with the result that the Northern Kingdom, Israel, seceded from the rest of the land, and two Kingdoms, Israel and Judah, came into existence. Each of these was much weaker politically as separate entities than they would have been as a unified Israel, and the trend to pagan practices in worship, the use of high places, like Dan, and Beth-el, and the consequent successive loss of moral and ethical fiber, and the dissociation from the high faith in the Living Jehovah, were all instrumental in bringing the Hebrews down to the level of the pagan nations and forfeited for them the strength which they needed to maintain themselves against the nations of their time. It was this moral and physical weakness, then, and not any punishment of the Father, which caused the downfall of the Hebrew nations, first Israel, and finally Judah. The prophets saw the moral evils of the people as the reasons for the buffetting and threats of disaster which faced the Hebrews and with intense love of their people and God, and with wonderful understanding that return to God's laws would through faith clothe them with His protection, they thundered powerfully against sin and evil. They supposed God to be divine avenger of evil which He could not tolerate, while clearly aware that the policies and doings of the Hebrew Nations themselves were the causes of their own difficulties.
Hosea's prophecies are along these lines. Most of his writings deal with the impending exile from Israel into Assyria, caused by the moral deterioration of the kingdom. For as written in II Kings, Chapter 23, verse 24, Hosea prophesied in the days of Jeroboam II (A son of Joash or Johoash the grandfather of Jehu. B.C. 825). King of Israel, "And he did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: He departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, (from Zereda in Manasseh), who made Israel to sin." This Jeroboam II was devoted to worldly affairs and admitting pagan worship under iniquitous priests, but fighting his neighbors to restore to the Israelites towns which had been in other times conquered by the Arameans, or and extending his boundaries to include many Aramean cities. The result was that the Israelites were not only recipient in sin, but that the conquered pagans also exerted upon them an impact of moral decay which the priesthood willingly accepted. Hosea could not look upon this situation without realizing that, if God was the guide and director of His people, He could not, as he thought, permit this to continue indefinitely, and felt that God would chastise Israel for its shameful way of life.
Hosea thus forsees not only the termination of the Israelite ruling house, but of the entire nation. And he declares, as coming from God: "I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel." (Hosea, Chapter 1, verse 4). And in Chapter 4, Hosea brings a general change against the people.
"Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord has a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land." (Hosea, Chapter 4, verse 1). And after naming one by one, the evils of lying and killing, stealing and adulterous behavior, and others, he declares that the land shall mourn. The priests, those who should lead the way, are pointed out with wrath:
"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge, because thou has rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shall be no priest to me. (Chapter 4, verse 6)." "They eat up the sin of my people, and they set their heart on their iniquity." (Chapter 4, verse 8). "And there shall be, like people, like priest: And I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their days." (Chapter 4, verse 9).
Hosea then goes on, in the name of God, to lash out at the idolatries to be found in the Northern Kingdom: "They sacrifice upon the tops of the mountains, and burn incense upon the hills, under oaks and poplars and elms: therefore your daughters shall commit whoredom, and. your spouses shall commit adultery". (Chapter 4, verse 13).
Here Hosea meant that since God and the Hebrew people were as wedded husband and wife, their worship of pagan gods and baailm was as adultery in the marriage relationship, and that therefore the children would be unable to appreciate the trust and loyalty of the marriage vow and destroy their self respect in deplorable relationships.
"Therefore, "saith the Lord," Hear ye this, O priests; and hearken, ye house of Israel; and give ye ear, O house of the king; for judgment is toward you. . ." (Chapter 5, verse 1). And he goes on to state that the iniquity of Israel is such that the souls of the people have become separated from the Allsoul of the Father and in such a condition that they could not think of seeking God; if they did, they would not find Him. Their doings created a crust upon their souls so that they could not see righteousness shining forth from the Father as though a dark cloud hid the radiance of the sun from the eyes of the onlooker. Only by removal of the dark cloud -- the evil and the sins -- by the people themselves could the face of God be revealed anew unto them. I shall continue with the prophecies of Hosea in my next sermon.
Jesus of the Bible
Master of the Celestial Heavens