“We Become Like the God We Love and Serve”

Hosea 9:1-17

Hosea was a prophet for the people of Israel for over twenty-five years. During that span of time Israel was experiencing prosperity and enjoying the good life. Which must have made Hosea’s job of claiming the end of their prosperity seem like a “Debbie Downer” and not someone you wanted to be around. Christians seem to get that label throughout the generations. I remember being a youth pastor and talking with the teens I was serving. They didn’t want to be seen as boring, no fun, or a “Debbie Downer” with their peers. Where in the Bible does it say not to have fun? Who said the devil has to have all the good music? Do the Puritans’ beliefs continue to infiltrate our Christian community? I hear it quite often when people find out I am a Baptist minister. 

First, they need to get over the fact that I am a woman, then they immediately assume I don’t dance, go to the movies, play cards, drink alcohol, etc. As if God has a problem with any of those things. I suspect Hosea, like the prophets before and after him, wasn’t running around telling people to stop prospering, stop having fun, stop enjoying life. 

That wasn’t the problem. 

Israel had turned their focus off God and put their focus on the events and things that society was doing around them. They stopped loving and serving God and started loving and serving prosperity, fun, and enjoyment. 

Easy enough to do when most of the people around you are doing it. Most of the people around the Israelites were doing it too. 

When does compromise begin? 

Chapter 9 begins with Hosea reminding the Israelites that because of their compromise, judgement was on the way. 

The Israelites had bought into the idol worship around them.  They began practicing idolatry on the threshing floor, the place where grain was processed. Their neighbors did this and their harvest was helped, so it couldn’t hurt to give it a try, right? Like a slap in the face as far as God was concerned. The results would be a curse from God for their harvest and winepress. Neither would prosper. 

God had had enough. The Israelites weren’t listening to the prophet, they weren’t following what was written on the scrolls for guidance. They had made a covenant with God and forgotten all about it. 

So not only would God curse their grain and grape harvest, He would send them into exile where they wouldn’t have enough bread or food to sacrifice to the Lord because they would barely have enough to keep them from starving. 

Hosea’s prophecy continued in verses 5-9, to tell the Israelites not only were they going to be exiled but while in exile, since they did not honor the Lord during their feasts of plenty, they would not be able to honor the feasts while in exile. 

And what did Hosea hear back to his proclamation? Everyone called him a fool, as if he was crazy. Remember, Hosea was proclaiming these things during Israel’s time of prosperity and happiness. Repentance was the last thing on their minds and having it come up was scoffed. I feel for the prophet. 

He was definitely in the minority and his message did not immediately sound like joy and merriment. Notice how prosperity and God’s blessing had been twisted. The Israelites thought since they were in the midst of prosperity, that was proof of God’s blessing. 


Daily they did not follow God’s direction. 

They substituted pagan practices for God’s practices and rather than focusing on how they got there, 

they focused on the final product, 

so God had to have been the one who helped them prosper. 

Notice, Hosea was seen as the fool. 

However, in verse 9, Hosea claimed that in his day, things in Israel were as bad as they were in the days of Gibeah, which were described in Judges 19 as horrific crimes of perversion and violence. 

Hosea reminisces in verse 10 when God fondly remembers the days Israel was faithful and fruitful to Him. Hosea uses a poetic metaphor, Israel was once something special to God as if someone traveled through the desert and found luscious grapes along the way. 

That day was gone. 

Hosea compares the Israelites behavior to the sin they had while at Baal Peor, in Numbers 25, which was associated with sexual immorality and idolatry. 

Even more importantly Israel loved their disgraceful idols, so much so, they became like them. 

This transformation of allegiance didn’t happen overnight. 

Time has a way of sneaking up on us. 

We tell ourselves that the reason we don’t have time to spend with God is important. We will make up for the lost time, later. But later never arrives. 

More important events keep happening and before we know it days have gone by and we haven’t spent any significant amount of time alone with God. Weeks go by and we realize we haven’t been to church. When someone cares enough to ask, we quickly come to our own defence with legitimate reasons, or excuses. 

When does compromise begin?

For Israel, Hosea warns them in verse 11 -13, their fruitfulness was about to stop. Israel needed to prepare for their barrenness and bereavement. The direct results of rejecting God. Hosea begins an angry prayer against those that had been mocking him in verse 14, 

“Give them, O Lord….”

Then he stopped, he had to check his own heart, and realized he really didn’t know what to pray, so he ends with,’

“What will You give them?”

Out of mercy, Hosea prays that God would give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. Knowing the coming judgement, Hosea was asking God to give them as few children as possible so at least their children would not have to endure the coming judgment.

Check point.

What an excellent example of humility and mercy demonstrated by Hosea. You can almost sense Hosea’s frustration with this unruly group of people. 

He was called to remind them of what God had told them which they had forgotten. 

He was trying to help. 

What did he get in return? 


You can hear Hosea’s human side come out at the beginning of his prayer, “Give them O Lord….” any of us can fill in the blank.  Our human side can come up with what we think would be fair punishment. 

But then Hosea pauses.

This is where those of us who think we know what is right and want to prove it, also need to pause….. 

Showing people the right way to go, 

caring for them and wanting them to do the best thing is all fine and good, until….. 

It makes us proud, angry or bitter towards others. 

It’s at that point, Satan has won a great victory. 

In verse 15, Hosea mentions the city of Gilgal which was a center of idolatry in Israel. At one time, this city was the very place where prophets were trained under Elijah and Elisha, you can read about it in 2 Kings chapter 2 and 4. Not so in Hosea’s day, as mentioned before in Hosea chapter 4, verse 15 and will be mentioned again in 12:11.

The disgrace presented in God’s house and in His land was going to be punished with eviction from His house and His land. 

Makes sense. 

God would also counteract the very wickedness they had committed. One of the major reasons the Israelites went after the idols like Baal and Ashtoreth was because they were following the actions of those around them who believed those gods would bring fertility and fruitfulness. God reminds them who was really Lord over the womb and turns any fruitfulness into barrenness.

This might seem like a harsh response from a loving God, but remember, this was the exact thing God promised under the terms of the Old Covenant, Deuteronomy 29:24-28, The Message, 

“All the nations will ask, “Why did God do this to this country? What on earth could have made Him this angry?”

Your children will answer, “Because they abandoned the Covenant of the god of their ancestors that He made with them after He got them out of Egypt; they went off and worshiped other gods, submitted to gods they’d never heard of before, gods they had no business dealing with. So God’s anger erupted against that land and all the curses written in this book came down on it. God, furiously angry, pulled them, roots and all, out of their land and dumped them in another country, as you can see.” 

Good grief! This wasn’t the first time God’s anger caused His people to go into exile. You would think they would learn. 

What about today? Evangelical Christians often don’t think of God getting angry and responding that way. I’m not sure why, the first place God described himself, in Exodus 24:6-7, He said He was, “Slow to anger,” not “Void of anger.” Although thankfully, we have a new covenant from God, through Jesus Christ, to remember our sins no more, Hebrews 8:12, The Message,

But Jesus’ priestly work far surpasses what these other priests do, since he’s working from a far better plan. If the first plan—the old covenant—had worked out, a second wouldn’t have been needed. But we know the first was found wanting, because God said,


Heads up! The days are coming

    when I’ll set up a new plan

    for dealing with Israel and Judah.

I’ll throw out the old plan

    I set up with their ancestors

    when I led them by the hand out of Egypt.

They didn’t keep their part of the bargain,

    so I looked away and let it go.

This new plan I’m making with Israel

    isn’t going to be written on paper,

    isn’t going to be chiseled in stone;

This time I’m writing out the plan in them,

    carving it on the lining of their hearts.

I’ll be their God,

    they’ll be my people.

They won’t go to school to learn about me,

    or buy a book called God in Five Easy Lessons.

They’ll all get to know me firsthand,

    the little and the big, the small and the great.

They’ll get to know me by being kindly forgiven,

    with the slate of their sins forever wiped clean.

By coming up with a new plan, a new covenant between God and his people, God put the old plan on the shelf. And there it stays, gathering dust.

This plan has been carved on the lining of our hearts. May we take time to get to know God firsthand. We need to remember, we are getting to know a God who will kindly forgive us. Our slate of sins will be forever wiped clean. God doesn’ look to His people to follow Him correctly. He looks at each of us individually. God loved the world, by giving His one and only Son, so that each one of us, individually can have His love carved into our hearts. It’s not about the masses, it is about which God we love and serve. 

The new covenant with God promises us a place to go when we have messed up. A place where our sins are forgiven and forgotten and we get to start anew. 

That’s the God I want to love and serve. 

What about you? 

Let’s pray.