Study of Hosea - Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Chapter 7 of Hosea speaks to the depths of the sins of Israel and is a prophesy of their coming fall. It talks about how the leaders legalized sin and how the nation acquiesced to it. It also speaks to the pride of Israel and their self-reliance and rejection of the Lord. Many of the themes in this chapter are quite familiar to what we are facing today. They serve as a warning of the outcome if we do not heed and return to the Lord.


Whenever I would heal Israel, the sins of Ephraim are exposed and the crimes of Samaria revealed. They practice deceit, thieves break into houses, bandits rob in the streets; but they do not realize that I remember all their evil deeds. Their sins engulf them; they are always before me. “They delight the king with their wickedness, the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, burning like an oven whose fire the baker need not stir from the kneading of the dough till it rises. On the day of the festival of our king the princes become inflamed with wine, and he joins hands with the mockers. Their hearts are like an oven; they approach him with intrigue. Their passion smolders all night; in the morning it blazes like a flaming fire. All of them are hot as an oven; they devour their rulers. All their kings fall, and none of them calls on me. “Ephraim mixes with the nations; Ephraim is a flat loaf not turned over. Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice. 10 Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for him. 11 “Ephraim is like a dove, easily deceived and senseless—now calling to Egypt, now turning to Assyria. 12 When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like the birds in the sky. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. 13 Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely. 14 They do not cry out to me from their hearts but wail on their beds. They slash themselves, appealing to their gods for grain and new wine, but they turn away from me. 15 I trained them and strengthened their arms, but they plot evil against me. 16 They do not turn to the Most High; they are like a faulty bow. Their leaders will fall by the sword because of their insolent words. For this they will be ridiculed in the land of Egypt. 


Verse 1-2: The Lord expresses that He wants to heal and restore His people but their sins are too great. They are deceitful, liars, thieves, and bandits. They don’t realize the Lord is watching and He both sees and remembers their sinful deeds.

Verse 3-4: The people entertain the king and princes with their sins and lies. They are all adulterous (against the Lord) and are hot with lust for sin. They are like an oven kept hot while the baker prepares the dough.

Verse 5-7: During festivals, princes become drunk and join hands in celebration with mockers whose hearts burn with passion and intrigue against them, seeking to devour them. The kings and leaders of Israel fall but they don’t call on the Lord.

Verse 8-10: Ephraim [Israel] mixes with foreign nations and is like bread that is half baked. Foreigners sap his strength but he doesn’t realize it. His hair is gray but he doesn’t notice. The arrogance of the nation of Israel testifies against them but they do not return to the Lord or search for Him.

Verse 11-12: Ephraim is like a dove that is senseless and easily deceived, calling to Egypt and Assyria. Wherever they go, the Lord will spread a net over them and pull them down and catch them.

Verse 13-16: Woe to them for they have strayed from the Lord. He wants to redeem them but because they have rebelled against Him and spoke lies about Him, they will be destroyed. They don’t cry out to the Lord with pure hearts. Instead, they appeal to their new ‘gods’ for grain and wine. Although the Lord trained and strengthened His people, they turn away from Him and plot evil against Him. They look to everyone else for help except for the Lord.  They are like a poorly crafter bow that misses the mark. The leaders will be killed because of their insolence towards the Lord. Israel will become a mockery and will be ridiculed and laughed at in Egypt.

Interpretation and Explanation

God starts off by reiterating that He wants to heal and help his people. However, when God shines His light on our hearts it can either enlighten us and bring us to Him or it can reveal the depth of our darkness. In the case of Israel, it was the latter. The people continued in their sins, not realizing that God was watching all of it. He wasn’t ignoring their sins, but out of His grace, mercy, and love He waited patiently for the people to repent and return to Him. He sent prophets, teachers, and messengers to help them but the people rejected Him. The leaders caused the nation to follow them into sin, pride, and idolatry. 

The Lord sees and knows all, but He also remembers all, even if we attempt to forget our sins and deeds. For Israel, the sins of the kings and the people went hand-in-hand. Because the king was corrupt, he was pleased by the sins of the people. In response, the people continued their sins to please the king, resulting in a cycle of perpetual sin. Under these corrupt leaders, the righteous were persecuted. The people preferred the leadership of fallible men instead of their righteous God. As such, whatever the kings authorized as acceptable was approved by the people. Sin became legalized and the nation acquiesced to it.

The people of Israel committed spiritual adultery against the Lord and physical adultery against each other. During this time, Israel was lead into the customs of foreigners and worshiping of their gods such as Baal and Asherah. Under these customs, people would make sacrifices to these gods and engage with shrine prostitutes. The only time the people were not sinning was when they were in preparation to commit sin. Hosea 7:4 (NLT) – “They are like an oven that is kept hot while the baker is kneading the dough”.

It was a habit for the leaders to party and revel in excess and become drunk – forsaking their dignity. They joined hands with evil men – who sought to do them harm. However, despite their optimism and celebration, a time was coming when the sins of Israel would be poured back on them when they would be conquered by the very “allies” that they had joined hands with. All of the kings would be killed and Israel would again go into captivity. They disobeyed God and intermingled with pagans and foreign nations which led to them being corrupted. Leviticus 18:3 – “You must not do as they do in Egypt, where you used to live, and you must not do as they do in the land of Canaan, where I am bringing you. Do not follow their practices”. They were half-baked bread – useless and not fit for consumption. One side was burned and the other side was lukewarm. Revelations 3:16 – “So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth”.  The foreign nations had weakened Israel spiritually, morally, and physically – taking from them their wealth and blessings. Gray hairs are a sign of age and/or stress. As you age, you get closer to death and continued stress leads to severe health issues. The people of Israel were drawing closer to their end but didn’t realize it or take notice. Hosea 7:9 – “Foreigners sap his strength, but he does not realize it. His hair is sprinkled with gray, but he does not notice.”

The pride of Israel is what convicted them. Due to their pride, they would not acknowledge and repent of their sins. They sought their own counsel and that of other men. In their pride they refused to turn to God and instead relied on their own strength, though this was doomed to fail. Despite all they were experiencing they would not return to God while he was waiting patiently and mercifully for them. Like a dove, they were senseless and easily deceived. They went to Egypt (their former captors) and Assyria (their future captors) for help but were instead conquered. Regardless of where Israel would go or what they would do, they would not escape God’s judgement. Hosea 7:12-13 – “When they go, I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like the birds in the sky. When I hear them flocking together, I will catch them. 13 Woe to them, because they have strayed from me! Destruction to them, because they have rebelled against me! I long to redeem them but they speak about me falsely.” God says “Woe to them” of pity for their coming punishment because they willfully fled from Him. In doing so, they forsook His mercy.

God had redeemed and delivered His people time and time again. Yet they spoke lies about Him by not recognizing Him for who He is and by not acknowledging Him for all that He has done. The kings spoke lies when they gave the people golden idols and told them these idols were the gods that brought them out of Egypt. Israel spoke lies when they said their provisions came from their own efforts and their foreign allies. In despair, the people sought relief and provision from their idols instead of turning to the Lord with sincere hearts. Even though it was God who made them a nation, they rejected Him. They plotted evil against Him by forsaking Him for lives of sin and the persecution of those that sought to remain righteous and faithful to Him. Therefore, they are like a “poorly crafted bow” – they miss the mark and serve no usable purpose. Because of this, the leaders were to be removed and the nation would be ridiculed by those to whom they sought aid. This prophecy ultimately came to fulfillment beginning in the 7th century B.C. Israel sought an alliance with Egypt (although Egypt was once their captors) against Assyria. Judah then sought the help of Assyria against Israel. Israel was then conquered and Judah became a vassal state of Assyria and was forced to pay tribute. Finally, Assyria fell and the Babylonians conquered what was left of Israel and Judah.


Key Points and Application

  • The Lord has a hear of love and mercy for us. He is patient with us, but if we continue to disregard Him then He will deal with us and our sins as He deems necessary. We cannot expect God’s blessing if we reject Him. When we refuse to honor Him for His sovereignty and for who He is then we are also refusing His love and all the good that comes from Him.
  • He sees all, knows all, and remembers all. If we reject Him then we will reap the portion we have sown, but if we turn to Him in sincere love and repentance then He will be merciful towards us remember our sins no more. Hebrews 8:12 – “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more”. Isaiah 43:25 – ““I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions, for my own sake, and remembers your sins no more”. Jeremiah 31:34 - “No longer will they teach their neighbor, or say to one another, ‘Know the Lord, because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest,” declares the Lord. “For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more.”
  • Pride comes before the fall. The pride in oneself and disregard for the Lord always leads to destruction. We must remain humble in heart and take pride in the Lord, not ourselves.
  • We must live by the laws of the Lord and not give in to legalized sin. We should elect righteous leaders. However, if we find ourselves lead by the unrighteous, we must still remain in Christ.
  • Because the leaders were corrupt, they joined with pagans and sinner and the people followed. Therefore, we must not be joined in lasting ties with non-believers, lest we be lead astray. This does not mean we cannot interact with them and it does not mean that we have hate or contempt for them in our hearts. We must hate the sin but love the sinner to Christ. Jesus regularly met with tax collectors and sinners of all sorts in order to speak life into them and bring them to God. However, He did not join with them in their sin or get corrupted by them. In the same way, we are to be light to those in darkness, not be drawn into the darkness ourselves.
  • We must acknowledge the Lord for who He is and all that He does. When we rely on ourselves or seek fulfillment of any kind from anyone or anything other than God, then we forsake Him and commit spiritual adultery and prostitution. Proverbs 3:5-6 – “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. In all of your ways, acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”