All prophetic preaching begins with God speaking. If God is silent, the prophet is silent. The opening line of Hosea is “The Lord gave these messages to Hosea.” (1:1) Near the end of the book Hosea writes, “I sent my prophets to warn you with many visions and parables.” (12:10) The responsibility of the hearer is stated in the closing words of the book. “Let those who are wise understand these things.” (14:9) There is urgency in these words. A catastrophe is coming upon Israel. When impeding doom is coming, it is time to put down your cell phones, take out your earbuds, stop texting and pay attention. This is not a time to edit God’s words. Just as John wrote at the end of the canon of Scriptures, “And I solemnly declare to everyone who hears these prophetic words of this book: If anyone adds anything to what is written here, God will add to that person the plagues described in this book. And if anyone removes any of the words of this prophetic book, God will remove that person’s share in the tree of life and in the holy city that are described in this book.” (Rev.22:19-19) Our job is to understand. “Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “Listen,” he said, “and try to understand.” (Matt.15:10) Won’t we try to understand what God is saying?
What is the alternative? For the people of Hosea’s day, it was a piece of wood. “They are asking a piece of wood to tell them what to do! They think a stick can tell them the future.” (Hosea 4:12) An idol was merely a lifeless object whether made of wood or stone. God thinks it ridiculous that they would be talking to a piece of wood, wood that cannot talk to them. Can you imagine the opening words of Hosea being “A piece of wood gave these messages to Hosea?” Right. You would have lost me at that point. I wouldn’t be saying, “I can’t wait to hear what a piece of wood has to say.” Insert the words “computer chip” or “Google” or “AI” for piece of wood. Does that improve things? Or suppose we insert “my nightly news program” or “my smart phone app” as the source of understanding the impending doom? Are you feeling more secure? When disaster is coming towards me over the horizon, I want a word from God Himself.
Jesus got so ticked off over those who would not listen to the prophets God sent. “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often have I wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. And now look, your house is left to you, empty and desolate.” (Matt.23:37-38) The moment God downloaded His word into Hosea everything changed. In the course of history God didn’t do that very often. God was also very selective in giving His word to a person. When He does speak from heaven either directly or through a messenger it is time to sit up and take notice. Hang on every word. If you decide to follow this series of articles (there will like be more than 50) listen carefully because, even though I will be giving some possible applications, you will hear the very words of God.