Biblical Exegesis of Hosea 10:12

INTRODUCTION

Overview

Exegesis is the critical analysis of the scriptural passages taking into consideration the historical-cultural, geographic, and literary contexts. In exegesis, the preacher tends to take the message from the ancient ears of antiquity and brings the message to the present audience of today’s churches from analogous perceptions of two groups of people (the original recipients and the present audience). This document discuses Hosea 10:12 outlining it from the complemented views of the passage and consequently discusses the historical-cultural context of Hosea and each complement as dictated from the passage followed by the discussion of the theological principles and its application in today’s church settings.

Methodology

To fully discuss and to highlight Hosea 10:12, cross references from the Bible, Greek tools, textual analysis of scriptural passages used in the document, explanation of words, phrases, comparisons, the use of glossary, websites or internet sources, dictionaries, and commentaries have been adopted.

HISTORICAL-CULTURAL CONTEXT

Setting

The message of the Prophet Hosea occurred in the eight century B.C accounting for the eight century kings of Judah giving the scope of Hosea’s prophetic ministry. The mention of the Northern Kingdom with reference to Jeroboam II indicates the focus of Hosea’s prophecy. The names from the Northern Kingdom such as Ephraim, Israel, and Jacob occur seven dozen times while that of Judah occurs fifteen times in connection with one or more of the names for the Northern Kingdom. The mention of the Southern Kingdom kings from Uzziah to Hezekiah shows that Hosea’s ministry lasted for a long period. Uzziah reigned 52 years beginning form c. 792–740 B.C while the reigns of the three successors lasted throughout the rest of the eight century B.C. Jeroboam II of the Northern Kingdom reigned from c. 792–752 B.C; however, six unmentioned kings who succeeded him had growing political frictions resulting in the weakness of the nation leading to the fall of the Northern Kingdom to Assyria in 722 B.C. Hosea does not mention this event and therefore places his focus on Jeroboam’s reign; therefore, he prophesied from C. 760–725 B.C after the independent reign of Hezekiah in Judah in 729 B.C. This marks the era of dramatic change for the kingdoms of Israel and Judah as well as for the surrounding nations of the ancient Near East. After the death of the powerful Assyrian king, Adad-nirai III (783 B.C.), who claimed to have extended Assyrian influence as far as the Mediterranean Sea. After his death Assyria was ruled by a series of weak kings who were unable to do much more than preserve the Assyrian homeland (783–745); therefore, Assyrian domination in the west weakened. During this time, it marks parallel prosperity for Israel and Judah economically and politically. This makes Israel and Judah to extend territorial dimensions. As for Jeroboam II, Kaiser asserts that in less than twenty-five years, Jeroboam II was able to take a nation that was just about ready to die and turn it into one of the great power of his day.[1] Hosea’s prophecy indicates the dangers of the hypocritical observance of religious ceremony without genuine devotion and dedication to the Lord. When the Lord is served hypocritically in this manner where people call on the name of the Lord with lip services without fear of God, religious devotion to God becomes ceremonially observed leading to compromise, selfish ambition, and lack of integrity in one’s religious-personal activities and dealings. If this becomes attributive or characteristic of society on the broad spectrum, dishonesty and corruptible practices become prevalent. When this realization becomes true of a nation, that nation is in imminent dangers of God’s judgment. Israel stands condemned because of the above characteristics as people who paid lip services to God; on the contrary, their behaviors did not represent the holiness of the holy God of Israel. Hosea’s message was more than solemn warnings. It contains a note of hope with sincere repentance and he demanded that the children of Israel ask for God’s forgiveness and promise him for renewed commitment; therefore, they would find forgiveness and restoration to God’s favor and blessing.

Author

The author of the book identifies himself as “Hosea, son of Beeri (1:1). Unfortunately, nothing is known positively as to the identity of either man. Jewish tradition suggests that Beeri is to be equated witih a Reubenite leader who was taken captive by the Assyrian king Tiglath-pileser III. The genealogical record contained in 1 Chronicles 5:6 tells of a certain Beerah, whom king Tiglath-pileser carried into exile. Beerah was the tribal leader of Reuben. Another Jewish tradition held that Beeri was a prophet. By assumption, it is his prophecy preserved in Isaiah 8:19–22.

KEY WORDS, PHRASES, AND COMPARISONS:

THE RESULTS OF OBEDIENCE

Obedience Unlocks And Sustains Righteousness (Hos 10:12 a)

The prophetic ministry of Hosea emerged as the result of the children of Israel continuous rebellion against God’s commandment during the reign of Jeroboam II. Hosea preached and prophesied to the Northern kingdom before the destruction of Israel in 722 B.C. Jeroboam II did not depart from the sin of his father; as the result, God allowed the Assyrians to take Israel into captivity. Hosea is the pre-exilic prophet; because he prophesied before the Northern kingdom of Israel was taken into captivity by Sargon II, the Assyrian king. Hosea admonishes, “Sow righteousness for yourselves (Hos 10:12 a).” The prophet commands Israel to sow righteousness for themselves as the result of their failure to keep God’s commandments. The children of Israel had departed from God by indulging into the sin of idolatry (worship of false gods). They have replaced the Creator with the creatures of all kinds. He uses the imperative mood, “sow righteousness for yourselves.” Sow righteousness is the direct command to the children of Israel and to the present church of our generation. The church of today is reconciled to God through the righteousness she has gained through Jesus Christ (2 Cor 5:17–21); however, this righteousness can be maintained in Christ provided the church continues to live in obedience to God. The word “sow” is an agricultural terminology used in term of planting crops. What we sow or do daily in our lives determines the kind of fruit we bear (John 15:1–10; Gal 6:7). We are to sow to the Spirit instead of sowing to the flesh. We do not merit righteousness because it is the gift from God we receive when we accept Christ as lord and Savior. Continuous disobedience is the direct rejection of God’s righteousness of eternal life. In Acts 2:38, Peter preached on the day of Pentecost and he asked the people to repent in order to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The word gift in this scripture in Greek is dórea. It is called a free gift or gift without repayment. It is called the gift of the Holy Spirit, the gift of Christ, the gift of God, the heavenly gift, and the gift of righteousness (Acts 2:38; 8: 20; 10:45; John 4:10; Eph 4:7; Rom 5:17; Heb 6:4). Other gifts the bible talks about include doron, the gift of sacrifice (Matt 2:11; 5:23; Mark 7:11), doma, the gift of ministry (Eph 4:8–13), and charisma, the gift of the Spirit (Rom 1:11; 5:15, 16; 11:29). These gifts are discussed in detail in chapter four (pages 73–89) of the Master Thesis). The prophet Hosea called the children of Israel to sow in dorea (gift of righteousness). Sowing is the metaphor of total obedience. God is calling the church today in total obedience. God is holy; therefore, disobedience or sinful lifestyle isolates God’s presence in the lives of believers. Our obedience before God unlocks and sustains his righteousness on us. In the absence of God’s righteousness, we are unable to defeat Satan and his devices against us (Eph 6:10–13, 2 Cor 10:5). Hosea reminds the children of Israel to repent from their sins as God is asking the church today to also repent from the sinful lifestyles. Righteousness is the source of Christian’s empowerment. In Romans 5:19, it reads, “For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. Adam’s disobedience made many sinners; on the contrary, Christ’s obedience made many righteous today. In this passage, the phrase, “will be made righteous” in Greek is “kathistémi dikaios.” In Greek, it means that the righteousness God has given us is the righteousness that has given us the ability to rule, to dominate, and to defeat Satan and his demons. It is the standing position to rule because God has appointed us as believers to control the affairs of things on planet earth and life to come eternal life. We cannot be defeated by Satan as long as we remain sowing in righteousness as a church of Christ. Obedience unlocks blessings, empowerment, and productivity in the Christian life and ministry. King Saul was rejected as the result of disobedience and David was elected in King Saul’s position and empowered through the anointing of God to defeat Goliath based on this opportunity. Blessing or opportunity is never lost, but it is transferred to another person. Your failure in life is another person’s opportunity to rule. When the believer fails God through disobedience, Satan rules. The church’s source of victory is tied to obedience. The church will take more territories for God through evangelism and church planting based on her obedience before God. The church is called to obedience because obedience unlocks and sustains righteousness that gives rise to spiritual empowerment for the Christian life and ministry’s advancements.

Obedience Unlocks Unfailing Love (Hos 10: 12 b)

Despite the children of Israel’s rebellion against God, God speaks through the prophet Hosea about his unfailing love he has for them. God’s love is unconditional; therefore, they can reap the fruit of unfailing love from God provided they repent from their sinful behaviors. If God spoke to them some years ago based on the Fallen Condition Focus; similarly, God is speaking to the church today. The situation of continuous rebellion against God as the result their deprivation is paralleled and applicable to the way the church is going today. The prophet admonishes them to reap the fruit of unfailing love (Hos 10:12 b). What we sow is what we reap in this Christian life and the life to come eternal life. The prophet uses agricultural terminology in this passage again. Sowing and reaping are agricultural terms that practically happen in real life situation when it comes to farming. The prophet is accustomed to using these terminologies to metaphorically explain to his audiences what actually happens when they relate to their Creator God. John writes, “And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love (2 John 1:6 NIV). As God’s love is unfailing, believers are asked to walk in love. The Greek word to walk is peripateó. It means I walk or I conduct my life. It has to do with ethically walking with God in holiness or moral conduct that reflects the God you serve. God’s commandment according to this scripture is that believers live in total obedience recognizing ethically who God is with respect to his holiness. In the Greek text, it is translated that believers should walk in love indicating that it is believers’ responsibility to obey God in all things. It is the subjective imperative mood used in this passage to express the believers’ obligation to God’s commandments. John writes, “If you love me keep my commands (John 14:15 NIV). Keeping God’s commandment has a direct link to loving God. You cannot obey someone in the real life if you do not love the person. Loving God is keeping his commandments. The Greek verb for I love is agapaó. It has to do with taking pleasure in obeying God’s commands. True believers should take pleasure in obeying God because it should be a lifestyle for the God fearing person. The same way the unbelievers take pleasure in committing sins against themselves and God; therefore, believers should take pleasure in obeying God. If obeying or keeping God’s commandments becomes a burdensome for anyone who calls himself or herself a Christian; then, the individual should examine himself or herself if he or she knows Jesus. The prophet admonishes the children of Israel that they will reap their fruits of unfailing love from God provided they sow in righteousness. Verse 12 a, is tied to verse 12 b in Hosea. The church is called to obedience because obedience unlocks unfailing love that moves the Christian life and ministry forward.

Obedience Unlocks Unplowed Ground (Hos 10:12 c)

In verse 12 c, the prophet states,” … and break up your unplowed ground.” The prophet uses an agricultural term here again,  “unplowed.” An unplowed ground is the land that has not undergone cultivation. It is a virgin land or a wide field left uncultivated. An unplowed ground can grow weeds and other unfavorable vegetations that can be dangerous to the survival of other plants grown for eating. So was the heart’s condition of the children of Israel. They called on the name of the Lord during services; unfortunately, their hearts were far away from him. They did not practice what was in the book of the law. Pastors, lay leaders, and congregants may preach and attend church on the regular basis; unfortunately, their hearts are in proximity when it comes to recognizing the holiness of God and living in conformity with God’s holiness. The church must deal with the heart’s condition now in order to advance the kingdom of God. We have unplowed ground in the spiritual that needs to be dealt with drastically to enable us break fallow grounds for evangelism and church planting. The church is called to obedience because obedience unlocks unplowed ground leading to growth in the Christian life and ministry.

Obedience Unlocks Mercy On Believers (Hos 10:12 d)

Hosea concludes, “For it is time to seek the Lord and until he comes and showers his righteousness on you (Hos 10:12 NIV). Despite of the children of Israel’s rebellion, the prophet admonishes and assures them that God would showers his righteousness on them. This indicates that God forgives sin. How many of us believers do forgive people when they wrong us? Many are carrying unforgiving spirits in the church because someone has wrong them. If God forgives us our sins when we sin, we must forgive others when they sin against us. It is difficult naturally to continually forgive someone who continues to do wrong against you; biblically, you are empowered by the Holy Spirit to forgive; therefore, you should yield to the Spirit to enable you do the undoing. James writes, “But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do (James 1:25 NIV). The Greek verb and its modifiers in the passage “looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom is parakuptó. It means I stoop, peer in, look down, or look intently. It has to do with bowing down and looking at something with respect and honesty. Metaphorically, it means to look carefully or inspect curiously. When believers inspect and respect God’s word; then, the word becomes valuable to guide their daily lives. How many of us do respect God’s word. Until the word is respected in the Christian daily living through obedience, it never becomes valuable to the believers. Obedience unlocks mercy on believers because it is the gateway of urging us to forgive others so that God can also shower his righteousness and blessing on us.

THEOLOGICAL PRINCIPLES

Exegesis is the critical analysis of the scriptural passages taking into account the historical-cultural, the geographical, and the literary contexts; therefore, in exegesis, the researcher or the preacher tends to discover the theological principles of the particular scriptural passages on account why was God speaking to the biblical writer or the prophet concerning the original recipients or the audiences situation that is paralleled and applicable to the contemporary audiences (the present congregations) in our time. God spoke to specific people of different time period on purpose that is different with people groups, cultures, and specific reason or purpose; however, the theological principle does not change or the meaning of the passages. In exegesis, the preacher takes the message from the ancient ears (the original recipients) hermeneutically (scriptural interpretation) and homiletically (the preaching meaning) applies it to the present audience taking into account the Fallen Condition Focus (shortcomings or sinful conditions of the congregants) of the congregations. Israel at the time had gone into the sin of idolatry; consequently, God allowed their captors to take them into captivity because of their disobedience. Does the church of today face similar situation? The church may not be worshiping or serving other gods as they did; however, individual members of assemblies are involved in other acts of idolatry. Anything we allow in our lives to take the place of God becomes an idol. The spirits of greed for power, dishonesty, sexual perversion, materialism, selfishness, homosexuality, lesbianism, and among other things are forms of idol worships. The theological principle is that the same way the children of Israel were disobedient to God; similarly, the church in our day is also disobedient to God. God is asking the church to put her house in order as to make impart to this generation. Another theological principle seen in Hosea is, God was a husband to the children to Israel; unfortunately, their acts of idolatry led them to leave their husband thereby committing another sin of adultery (unfaithfulness to husband or wife in a marital relationship). It is not surprising why God asked Hosea to marry or live with an adulterous wife, Gomer (Hos 1:1–3). The Prophet Isaiah said, “For your maker is your husband… (Isaiah 54:5).” God entered into a marital covenant with Israel (Jer 31:14, 31; 6:11). Believers are the bride of Christ or married to God (Jer 3:6; Rev 21:9–10; 1 Cor 12:13; Col 1:18, 24; Eph 1:22–23). Believers are united to the Lord in spirit in the marital covenant of the new birth (salvation). He who unites himself with the Lord is one with him in spirit and he who unites himself with a prostitute is one with her spirit (1 Cor 6:16–17). Spiritual prostitution occurs in the believers’ lives when they become unstable in serving the Lord. You cannot live for God and at the same time live for the devil. This is the problem the children of Israel faced that is contemporary to what believers are facing today in churches. God is holy and jealous of his people.

APPLICATION

Application is necessary to messages preached in revivals, bible studies, camp meetings, crusades, Sunday services, seminars, cell groupings, and among others. How does the church of today apply this message? The application is encapsulated in what we call obedience that is central to this message and theme. How does the church apply this message? The church should recognize that God is holy primarily and should stop indulging into sinful habits which brings conflicts between God and her. I have outlined or bulleted few application suggestions to the church:

  • Know that God is holy and he deserves reverence from you;
  • Spend time reading on God’s moral attributes (holiness, righteousness etc);
  • Pray daily for God’s grace to empower you live above sin;
  • Do not be hypocritical in serving God;
  • Be realistic and stop being relative (the way you feel) in serving the Lord;
  • Respect the word as if God was standing before you because his word represents him and his character;
  • Love the word of God, study it, and apply it to your daily living;
  • Etc.

CONCLUSION

Hosea’s prophecy indicates the dangers of the hypocritical observance of religious ceremony without genuine devotion and dedication to the Lord. When the Lord is served hypocritically in this manner where people call on the name of the Lord with lip services without fear of God, religious devotion to God becomes ceremonially observed leading to compromise, selfish ambition, and lack of integrity in one’s religious-personal activities and dealings.

            In exegesis, the preacher takes the message from the ancient ears hermeneutically and homiletically applies it to the present audience taking into account the fallen condition focus of the congregations.

    The condition of the children of Israel with respect to disobedience cannot be divorced from the present condition of the church in our generation. The church must repent in order to experience the forgiveness and glory of God in our time.

TEACHING OUTLINE

Scriptural Reading:

Sow righteousness for yourselves, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until he comes and showers his righteousness on you (Hosea 10:12 NIV).

  TEXT   Hosea 10:12
  SUBJECT   The Call to Obedience
  COMPLEMENT: 1. Obedience unlocks and sustains righteousness (12 a).
2. Obedience unlocks unfailing love (12 b).
3. Obedience unlocks unplowed ground (12 c).
4. Obedience unlocks mercy on believers (12 d).
EXEGETICAL IDEA (MAIN IDEA) Obedience is the gateway to walking in God’s grace and blessing.
HOMILETICAL IDEA (PREACHING IDEA) Obedience is the key to successful Christian life and ministry.
  OUTLINE I. The Results of Obedience:
A. Obedience unlocks and sustains righteousness (12 a).
1. Exodus 19:5
2. Romans 5:19
B. Obedience unlocks unfailing love (12 b).
1. 2 John 1:6
2. John 14:15
3. Deut 11:1
C. Obedience unlocks unplowed ground (12 c).
1. Joshua 5:6
2. 2 Cor 10:5
D. Obedience unlocks mercy on believers (12 d).
1.James 1:25
2. Romans 5:19  

GLOSSARY

  1. Exegesis is the explanation of the biblical passages using history, geography, and the kind of literature in the bible (ex. Prophetic books, parables, letters, laws etc).
  2. Historical context is what is being studied or found in history about the passages being studied as what is seen in Hosea.
  3. Geographical context is what that pertains to the land location, features, distance, or kind of people who live in that location.
  4. Literary context relates defines what literature is being studied. For example, is the book law, letter, prophecy, or wisdom book?
  5. Dorea is the gift of righteousness obtained when one accepts Christ as Lord and Savior (Acts 2:38).
  6. Doron is the gift of sacrifice man offers to God for appeasement especially during the Old Testament era (Matt 2:11).
  7. Doma is the gift if ministry used to serve the body of Christ (Eph 4:8–13).
  8. Charisma is the gift of the Spirit (Romans 1:11; 2 Tim 2:6; 4:14).
  9. Exegetical Idea is the idea obtained from the biblical passage when the passage has been studied to find the meaning of the passage (what God was speaking to the original recipients that is applicable to the present audience). It is the true interpretation of the biblical passage that is used to preach to the present congregation of yours. Exegetical idea remains faithful to the meaning of passage and does not deviate. The lack of exegetical skills in sermon preparation and delivery leads to false preaching and teaching our churches today.
  10. Homiletical idea is the preaching idea that is condensed from the exegetical idea or the main idea of the passage and it can be very short for the congregation to remember. Some call it the theme of the message or the subject of the biblical passage.
  11. Complement is the completion of the subject in the biblical passage. For example, when Hosea 10:12 is studied, it is observed that the Prophet Hosea was asking the children of Israel to return to the Lord. The overall theme or the subject of Hosea 10:12 is the call to total obedience; however, there are complements which complete or satisfy the necessity of obedience to the Lord. The children of Israel are called to obedience because obedience unlocks and sustains righteousness and so on as seen in the outline of the teaching. See the chart above for verification.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Patterson, Richard D. “Introduction to Hosea: Historical Context,” Exegetical Commentary, No Pages, [December 20, 2017] Online: www/bible.org/seriespage/introduction-hosea-historical-context.


[1] Richard D. Patterson, “Introduction to Hosea: Historical Context,” Exegetical Commentary, n.p [December 20, 2017] Online: www/bible.org/seriespage/introduction-hosea-historical-context.