8 February 2013

Hosea 13:1-14

"Who can help you?" (v. 9)


This chapter concentrates on Ephraim's falls from grace, and subsequent sin and punishment. It opens with how things used to be: when Ephraim spoke, people listened, but due to his worship of the idol, Baal, he paid the ultimate price and died because of his immoral behaviour (verse 1). Unfortunately though, the people did not learn from this dreadful incident and have appeared to have continued regardless further embroiling themselves in their sin. The people now indulge in idol worship and human sacrifice making them abhorrent in the sight of God (verse 2).

However, all is not lost and from verse 4 onwards, God seeks to remind them what God has done for them in the past. He rescued them from bondage in Egypt (verse 4), looked after them in the desert (verse 5) and when they were hungry, God fed them (verse 6) until they were satisfied.  Therefore God's anger is aroused against them in the hope that this will encourage them to turn back to a right way of living once again. Verse 10 almost sounds like God is taunting the people, saying things like "where now is your king?" and "where in all your cities are your rulers" implying that when there is a problem to be resolved they are nowhere to be found.

So God is going to punish the people bringing drought which will have a knock-on effect and cause a famine on the area; wells will dry up and the storehouse will be empty (verse 15). Then comes the threat of violence and yet again, children and women are singled out as the ones who will suffer. It sounds like all people will suffer; but these two groups of people are especially mentioned. Here is a graphic picture of judgement to end a sad and depressing chapter: the people hearing this from the words of Hosea can be in no doubt that this prophecy means trouble, chaos and suffering.

To Ponder

  • Why is it, do you think, when way or violence breaks out it is always the most vulnerable in society that seem to suffer the most?
  • To what extent does sin always lead to severe consequences? Why?
  • In what ways can Christians do more to stand against war and bloodshed?

Bible notes author

The Revd Andrew Pottage

Andrew Pottage is a Methodist presbyter currently working in the North East Somerset and Bath Circuit. He is interested in mission, leadership and the future development of the ministry generally.