COMMENTARY ON HOSEA
“ 2:1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. 2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. 4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.” (Hosea 2:1-5)
One of the indispensable values of Hosea’s prophecy is his inspired depiction of falling away. It is not intended to be a pleasant picture, for falling away is an unspeakable transgression against God. It is never to be viewed in an accommodating way, as though some inadvertent or unintentional mistake has taken place. Falling away, or backsliding, is always intentional. It is the result of resisting the Spirit and trampling under foot the great mercies of God. The relevance of this book is seen in the fact that falling away is an even greater sin in this “day of salvation.” We are living in the blazing glory of “the Sun of righteousness,” who has arisen with “healing in His rays” (Mal 4:2). It is ironic that in this day, marked by unparalleled moral and spiritual degeneracy and Scriptural illiteracy, that “praise and worship” has been popularized in a grossly deficient generation. The spiritual conditions extant in the Western church puts this generation in the same category as that of Hosea’s day. This is a sobering, yet a needful, consideration.
THE FAITHFUL REMNANT AMONG THEM
“ 2:1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah.” Hosea has, by Divine direction, married a wife that portrays the spiritual condition of the kingdom of Israel – unfaithfulness. He has been told to name his children through Gomer to reflect the present and future condition of Israel. Jezreel: God will break the power of Israel (1:5). Loruhama: God would have no more mercy on Israel, but would take them away (1:6). Loammi: Israel was not the people of God, and He would not be their God (1:9). Yet, in the midst of all this, God promised He would again call them His people and “the sons of the Living God” (1:10).
A REMNANT. The verse before us declares the presence of a remnant in the kingdom of Israel. This is reflected in the names of “Ammi” and “Ruhamah.” These names do not refer to a brother and sister of Hosea, but to groups: “brethren” and “sisters.” These had not been caught up in the apostasy of Israel, but, like Hosea himself, had remained faithful the Lord.
AMMI. The name “Ammi” means “My people.” Alternate meanings are “the Lord’s people,” or “My nation.” This is contrasted with the name “Loammi,” which meant God was NOT their people. In Hebrew the word “Lo” means “NOT.” The idea is that there was a holy nation within a fallen one, faithful people amidst unfaithful ones, people with whom God identified Himself among those from whom He had withdrawn.
RUHAMAH. The name “Ruhamah” means “having obtained mercy,” or “beloved and tenderly pitied.” This is again contrasted with the name “Loruhamah,” which referred to the withdrawal of God’s mercy. Here the remnant is depicted as a group of people who were receiving mercy in the very midst of a people from whom mercy had been withdrawn. Here were some who were pitied, dwelling among those from whom Divine pity had been withdrawn. Here were godly people, dwelling among ungodly people.
THOSE WITH WHOM HOSEA IS ALIGNED. It is important to see those with whom Hosea is aligned. It is not with those who have departed from the Lord, being guilty of spiritual harlotry. Those who remained God’s people and were still experiencing His mercy and favor, are the brothers and sisters of Hosea. They are the ones with whom he has sustaining fellowship, and God has recognized and declared it.
A REMNANT IN ISRAEL. The prophets often referred to the “remnant of Israel.” These are those referred to as Hosea’s brothers and sisters. They were found in the days of Josiah (2 Chron 34:9). Isaiah spoke of that remnant (Isa 10:20). Jeremiah affirmed the Lord would yet “glean,” or harvest them (Jer 6:9). He also said the people God would “save” would be “the remnant of Israel” (Jer 31:7). Micah declared the Lord would gather them (Mic 2:12). Zephaniah said they would not do iniquity, and a deceitful tongue would not be found in their mouth (Zeph 3:13). God never overlooks the remnant of His people!
THIS IS A DIVINE MANNER. It is God’s manner to recognize those who live by faith, even though they are among those who do not. Thus “Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord” (Gen 6:8). This is why God “delivered just (righteous) Lot” from Sodom (2 Pet 2:7). Job was distinguished from all others living in “the land of Uz” (Job 1:1). In Malachi’s day, when apostasy was rampant among the people there were some who still “feared the Lord and spake often one to another” (Mal 3:16). There were “a few names even in Sardis,” that “dead” church in Asia Minor, who had “not defiled their garments,” and God recognized them (Rev 3:4). Even in Thyatira, where corrupt doctrine and morals had broken out, there were some who were not caught up in the defection (Rev 2:24), and the Lord took due note of them.
It was from this perspective that the Holy Spirit witnessed, “Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed” (Rom 9:6-8).
A KEY TO UNDERSTANDING. The manner in which the Lord addresses the remnant is a key to understanding the language of the Epistles. Churches were addressed as being in Christ, yet some within them were often declared to be sinners of the worst rank (1 Cor 5:1-2; Gal 3:1; 2 Thess 3:11; Rev 2:14,20; 3:16). Some have concluded from this that there are “carnal Christians,” a sort of spiritual half-breed. But this is not so! God has never endorsed a people as a whole, without regard to sinners among them. He has always punished the wicked among them, and granted mercy to the faithful. Promises of goodness are always addressed to the faithful – never to the godless. The possibility of Divine rejection is consistently held before the faithless – never before those who are living by faith. It will require some familiarity with the Word of God to confirm this, but that familiarity will verify the truth of this.
PLEAD, BRETHREN, PLEAD
“ 2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not My wife, neither am I her Husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.”
PLEAD! PLEAD! We are being exposed to Divine manners – to the way in which our Lord responds when iniquity is found among His people. God cannot abide iniquity. Yet, He is not hasty to cut off those who insist on living therein. Therefore He commands Hosea to speak to his brothers and sisters – the remnant. They are to engage in pleading with the people – in confronting them with their sin and urging their return to God.
In the place of “Plead,” other versions read “Bring charges against . . . bring charges,” NKJV “Contend . . . contend,” NASB “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her,” NIV “Take up the cause . . . take it up,” BBE “Judge . . . judge,” DOUAY and “Now call Israel to account.” NLT The word “plead” means “strive, contend against, make complaint, quarrel.” STRONG’S It is a strong word that means the pleading individual refuses to allow sin to go unchallenged.
WHY PLEAD? Why should the remnant contend with those who insist on leaving the Lord? It is because of the condition their sin has produced. Although the house of Israel wore God’s name, and officially were identified with Him, the truth of the matter was they were not God’s “wife,” and He was not their “Husband.” Their sin had thrown up a wall between them and God, separating them from Him. The unfaithful were experiencing what Isaiah declared: “But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isa 59:2).
Of course, the faithless were not aware of this, and thus did not believe it. Their sin had put them to sleep, dulling their senses and making them oblivious of their dreadful condition. That is what sin does, especially when it dominates in a religious surrounding. The worst sin is one committed by a professing Christian. Often, people who are actually alienated from God conduct themselves just as though they were accepted by Him. Too often, the “doctrines of men” compound the problem by presenting a God that is tolerant of such a condition.
THE EXHORTATION. The exhortation portrays the condition precisely as it is. There is no misrepresentation. The faithless people were engaged in “whoredoms,” or “harlotry,” adultery, and prostitution. They had given their affection and devotion to others, and withheld it from God. Their preferences and their trust had been given to those who were “no gods,” who could not save them or keep them.
And what should the remnant say to those caught up in spiritual whoredom? Should they tell them God will forgive them? Indeed not! They must be told to “put away” from themselves the sins they had chosen to embrace. They must cut the umbilical chord between themselves and iniquity! They must cease from intimacy with alienating influences. They were allowing, as it was, things that God hated to lie between their breasts – to be too close to them, too intimate with them. The language is most vivid, and hard to be said. Yet, sin is so repulsive to God that He must speak of it in this manner.
With this text in mind, it will be profitable to recall some of the admonitions given to the church. “Put away from yourselves that wicked person” (1 Cor 5:13). “Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice” (Eph 4:31). “Therefore, cast off the works of darkness” (Rom 13:12). “Lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset you” (Heb 12:1).
THE DIVINE THREAT. The threat jars upon the soul of sensitive people. If the people do not thrust from themselves defiling influences, God will strip them naked, exposing their reprehensible conduct to all about them. He will tear from them their religious covering so that they will openly appear as they really are. He would reduce her to the state from which she was once recovered – “as in the day that she was born.” He would make her barren like a wilderness, and bake her in the sun of His anger like a desert – a “wilderness” and “like a dry land.” He would cause her to die of thirst, unable to find a single thing that satisfies or nourishes – “slay her with thirst.” Truly, “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God”(Heb 10:31).
THESE THINGS ARE COMPOUNDED IN THIS DAY. Sinful manners are greatly compounded in this “day of salvation.” More light has been given. More grace and strength have been given. An Intercessor in heaven has been given. Access to God has been given. The Holy Spirit has been given. For people to return to sin in this day is an infinitely greater transgression than that committed by Israel. It will be justly met with “sorer punishment” (Heb 10:29).
THE RESULT OF SPIRITUAL HARLOTRY
“ 4And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.”
THE WAY GOD SPEAKS. The manner in which God speaks about sinners among His people is noteworthy. It is obviously harsh, and surely abrasive to the flesh. He gives such people no credit for being honest, well meaning, sincere, or merely making mistakes. The professed church, borrowing its language from psychiatry, speaks of sin as though it was not really serious. They seek to trace it to some illness, physiological deficiencies, hereditary traits, or environmental disadvantages. But you will not find the Lord speaking in such a manner.
HER CHILDREN. Hosea dealt with a generation that was produced by a faithless people. The offspring were schooled in idolatry, immorality, and godless living – all the while wearing a cloak of religiosity. God affirms “I will not have mercy on her children.” God has revealed that He visits “the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate Me” (Ex 20:5; Deut 5:9). This does not negate mercy for the remnant, as this very passage affirms. Should these children “put away” their whoredoms, as the remnant admonishes them to do (v 3), they too will find mercy.
A PRINCIPLE TO BE SEEN. Here is a principle of Divine workings that must be seen. God will not bless the product of sinful alliances. If Israel aligns itself with Egypt, the result will not be blessed (Isa 31:1). If they join themselves to the idol “Baalpeor,” the “anger of the Lord will be kindled against them” (Num 25:3). If Israel takes counsel from anyone other than God’s Spirit, they will only “add sin to sin” (Isa 30:1). God will NOT bless those springing from such evil alliances.
The current religious trend of merging the values of the world with religious manners and strategies is not good, to say the very least. Although the results may appear impressive, they will not be blessed by the Lord.
PLAYED THE HARLOT. How does the Lord assess the conduct of wayward Israel? He cuts straight to the heart of the matter. She has “played the harlot.” Another version reads, “went a-whoring.” The prophets often charged Israel with harlotry (Isa 1:21; Jer 2:20,25; Ezek 16:15). The idea is that she was not seduced, but engaged in an effort to find satisfaction elsewhere. She made herself available to those who stood in the place of God, yet were cut off from Him in every way.
MY LOVERS. When Israel walked at a distance from God, her perception was taken from her. She perceived her enemies as “lovers,” and their merchandise as things that are needful and satisfying. These “lovers,” however, were not considerate, but passionate. The accent was on pleasure, not benefit. The flame of their affection quickly dimmed, and could not be sustained. This is an example of “strong delusion,” sent by the Lord (2 Thess 2:11; Isa 6:9-10).
Notice how deluded Israel viewed the heathen nations, thought to be her “lovers.” She thought they provided her with “MY bread,” “MY water,” “MY wool,” “MY flax,” “MY oil and MY drink.” The Lord had fed them with food “convenient” for them (Prov 30:8). The idea here is that the heathens were supplying Israel with what they thought would sustain them – bread and water. Israel thought they were receiving what could cloth and protect them – wool. Provisions for storing and processing were imagined to be supplied by these “lovers” – flax. Even the enjoyable dainties of life were imagined to come from these “lovers” – oil and drink. Israel’s own lusts dictated their closest alliances and associates. The satisfaction of the flesh became the driving force behind their choice of both friends and gods. But in all of this, they were putting supplies in a “bag with holes” (Hag 1:6), and their drink into “broken cisterns that can hold no water” (Jer 2:13).
SIN IS DELIBERATE. Whatever excuse may be offered for departing from the Lord, such activity is playing the harlot – like going to the shady part of town and selling one’s body. Sin cannot be dignified or excused by worldly explanations. It is an affront to God and can in no way be justified. In Christ, sin becomes even “greater.” The Spirit describes retrogression as, (1) treading under foot the Son of God, (2) counting the blood of the covenant an unholy thing, and (3) doing despite to the “Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29). It is turning “from the holy