Today we learn more about the kings; then we meet the prophet Hosea.
Judah – Ahaz, king of Judah, travels to Damascus to meet his new overlord, Tiglath-Pileser, king of Assyria. Ahaz relies on the king of Assyria for protection instead of trusting the Lord, but the king of Assyria does not help Judah. However, while in Damascus, Ahaz embraces their pagan worship. Ahaz believes that worshiping their false gods will bring him battle success as the Assyrians have had battle success. “But they were the ruin of him and of all Israel. So Ahaz gathered the articles of the house of God, cut in pieces the articles of the house of God, shut up the doors of the house of the Lord, and made for himself altars in every corner of Jerusalem. And in every single city of Judah he made high places to burn incense to other gods, and provoked to anger the Lord God of his fathers.” King Ahaz is displeasing to the Lord, but one good thing comes from him — his son, Hezekiah, who becomes the next king.
King Hezekiah does what is right in the sight of the Lord. Many commentators credit his mother, Abijah, as the godly influence in Hezekiah’s life. “He trusted in the Lord God of Israel, so that after him was none like him among all the kings of Judah, nor who were before him. For he held fast to the Lord; he did not depart from following Him, but kept His commandments, which the Lord had commanded Moses. The Lord was with him; he prospered wherever he went. And he rebelled against the king of Assyria and did not serve him.”
Northern Israel – Hoshea leads a conspiracy against Pekah, king of Israel. King Pekah is killed, and Hoshea becomes the new king of Israel. “In the twelfth year of Ahaz king of Judah, Hoshea the son of Elah became king of Israel in Samaria, and he reigned nine years. And he did evil in the sight of the Lord, but not as the kings of Israel who were before him. Shalmaneser king of Assyria came up against him; and Hoshea became his vassal, and paid him tribute money. And the king of Assyria uncovered a conspiracy by Hoshea; for he had sent messengers to So, king of Egypt, and brought no tribute to the king of Assyria, as he had done year by year. Therefore the king of Assyria shut him up, and bound him in prison.”
Hosea – Hosea, a prophet to Northern Israel, begins his ministry when Jeroboam II is king of Israel and ends in the final days of Israel before they are destroyed by the Assyrians. The Lord tells Hosea to marry Gomer, whom God knows is going to be unfaithful since she is a prostitute. Hosea’s marriage to her symbolizes Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord through their worship of Baal and other false gods, and through their sexual sin and use of that sexual sin even as a practice of worship.
Hosea and Gomer have three children. The Lord gives symbolic names to each child:
- Jezreel – The name means “scattered”, symbolizing that the people will soon be scattered by the Assyrians. Also, Jezreel is the location where Ahab and Jezebel shed so much blood that the Lord raised up Jehu who destroyed Ahab’s dynasty and Jezebel in Jezreel. Jehu was also a wicked king of Israel, so the Lord says he will bring down his house just as He is going to do the same to the unfaithful Israel – “I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.”
- Lo-Ruhamah – The translation of this name is “no mercy”, meaning that God would no longer have mercy on Israel. “Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah.” Remember, the Lord is working His plan of salvation for the world through the tribe of Judah. Although the Assyrians will attack Judah, they will not destroy them.
- Lo-Ammi – This name means “not my people”, symbolizing that the people have broken their covenant with the Lord. Therefore, the Lord will remove His favor from His people, and there will be a separation between God and Israel.
However, the Lord gives hope for future restoration – “Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel! Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ and to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’” This mercy and restoration will ultimately be accomplished through the life, death and resurrection of the Lord’s Son Jesus Christ and His church.
We end the reading with the Lord laying out charges against the unfaithful, which highlights the shame, humiliation, and consequences that come with adulterous relationships — both for Hosea and Gomer & God and Israel.
Tomorrow Hosea calls the people to repent. Keep reading. (Isaiah 12:1-6, Isaiah 17:1-14, 2 Chronicles 28:16-21, 2 Kings 16:10-18, 2 Chronicles 28:22-25, 2 Kings 18:1-8, 2 Chronicles 29:1-2, 2 Kings 15:30-31, 2 Kings 17:1-4, Hosea 1:1-2:13)