Today we finish the book of Hosea. Chapter 11 interrupts the judgment and indictment against Israel, and speaks of the “do over” He is going to allow for His people (see 2:14-15 and the ultimate fulfillment in 2:16-23). This is done through the Egypt imagery we have seen already in this book. Israel has come from Egypt (11:1), He will not return there again (v. 5), and yet, He will return from there again (v. 11). This is figurative for the restoration God will provide for His true people. We see this in the fact that Matthew applies verse 1 to Christ (Matt 2:15). He is the true Israel and the means of restoration for God’s people.
So in 11:1, we have the typological salvation of God’s people in the Exodus from Egypt. That “salvation” was rejected by them (v. 2). Yet God preserved them all these years (vv. 3-4). But physical Israel will not get the “do over” – they will fall to Assyria for their refusal to repent (v. 5-7). They have forsaken God, so He has turned His back on them (v. 7). Yet God loves His true people: spiritual Israel, the remnant (see Rom 9:6-7, 11:1-5). He cannot give them up because He loves them (v. 8 – see Hos 9:15 regarding physical Israel). He has not turned His back on them and will not destroy them (v. 9). They will repent and call on His name (v. 10). And note, His children (His spiritual people) will come trembling from the west. Assyria is in the east. Egypt is in the west, and that is where the remnant will come from (v. 11). Yet they will also return from Assyria. Do you see? Physical Israel is rejected and will go to Assyria to be destroyed. Spiritual Israel will also physically go to Assyria, but spiritually they will get the “do over” and come again from Egypt seeking the Lord. This is fulfilled in Christ, the fulfillment of the Exodus (see above).
Verse 12 starts chapter 12 in the Hebrew text, as it should. Israel (the Northern Kingdom) is deceitful and wicked, but Judah still follows God…for now (as we are about to see). 12:1 refers again to Israel’s seeking help not from God, but through political alliances with Assyria and Egypt. In verse 2, we see that Judah is being indicted along with Israel. In verse 3, we have a reference to the name Jacob (see Gen 25:26) and his changed name Israel (see Gen 32:28). God is using these to describe the nation who is deceitful (see 11:12) and who has striven against God. Yet God calls them to remember Him and to repent (vv. 4-6). Israel is wicked and gains wealth deceitfully (v. 7), yet because God has blessed them, they believe they have not sinned (v. 8). Those who repent (vv. 4-6) will come from Egypt (physically Assyria) and will again wander in the wilderness (v. 9) until the restoration.
In verses 10-11, God says His prophets have warned about Israel’s idolatry. He then resumes using the man Israel as a metaphor for the nation (v. 12). Jacob was in “captivity” in Aram, hiding from his brother and under contract with Laban (see Gen 28-29). But God brought him home. In the same way, God brought Israel home from Egypt “by a prophet” (Joseph) and has tried to guard Israel through His prophets (V. 13 – see v. 10), and yet Israel has brought judgment on herself (v. 14).
Chapter 13 is another pronouncement of judgment for worshiping false gods. God placed them in the land, and they worshiped the gods of Canaan (13:1). They set up idols to worship, including the golden calves (v. 2). Therefore, they will disappear from the land (v. 3). Yet it was YHWH alone Who saved them from Egypt (v. 4) and preserved them through the wilderness wanderings, even providing water (v. 5). But they became proud in the land and forgot God (v. 6) so He will judge them (vv. 7-8 – note the vivid descriptions of judgment).
Israel has made God their enemy (v. 9). In verses 10-11, God reminds them how they sinfully asked for a king (see 1 Sam 8:4-9 – note they were already worshiping false gods!), and tells them that He is now removing the monarchy (see 3:4 , 10:3, 7, 15). In verse 14, God is pronouncing judgment. The first two clauses can be translated as questions: “Shall I ransom…Shall I redeem…?” That compassion is hidden from God’s eyes would give an answer of “no” to these questions. Paul quotes this verse in 1 Corinthians 15:55, then goes on to tell us that salvation from death (our resurrection) is in Christ (see 1 Cor 15:54-57).
In verse 15, the “east wind” is the Assyrian army. Note though that it is the wind of YHWH. He is sovereign over this judgment. Whereas He had saved Israel, providing water when there was none (see v. 5), now He will dry up their springs, undoing what He has done for them. Note in verse 16 the even more graphic description of the coming judgment.
Chapter 14 ends the book with a call to repentance. Only God can take away Israel’s sin (14:2). They need to rely on Him, not foreign nations or their own efforts, to be their help (v. 3). If they will repent, God will heal them and turn His anger away, and plant them firmly in the land (vv. 4-7). But they need to give up their idols and acknowledge God as their provider (v. 8). God then invites those who are wise to know Him lest they stumble (see 4:1, 6:6, and Prov 1:7). Israel does not repent.