Study of Hosea - Chapter 8

Chapter 8

This chapter is often titled "Israel Reaps the Whirlwind". The Lord shows us what happens when we reject Him and take His mercy, love, and patience for granted. We can have the Lord or we can have sin, but we can't have both.

Scripture (ESV)

“Sound the alarm! The enemy descends like an eagle on the people of the Lord, for they have broken my covenant and revolted against my law. 2 Now Israel pleads with me, ‘Help us, for you are our God!’ 3 But it is too late. The people of Israel have rejected what is good, and now their enemies will chase after them. 4 The people have appointed kings without my consent, and princes without my approval. By making idols for themselves from their silver and gold, they have brought about their own destruction. 5 “O Samaria, I reject this calf—this idol you have made. My fury burns against you. How long will you be incapable of innocence? 6 This calf you worship, O Israel, was crafted by your own hands! It is not God! Therefore, it must be smashed to bits. 7 “They have planted the wind and will harvest the whirlwind. The stalks of grain wither and produce nothing to eat. And even if there is any grain, foreigners will eat it. 8 The people of Israel have been swallowed up; they lie among the nations like an old discarded pot. 9 Like a wild donkey looking for a mate, they have gone up to Assyria. The people of Israel have sold themselves — sold themselves to many lovers. 10 But though they have sold themselves to many allies, I will now gather them together for judgment. Then they will writhe under the burden of the great king. 11 “Israel has built many altars to take away sin, but these very altars became places for sinning! 12 Even though I gave them all my laws, they act as if those laws don’t apply to them. 13 The people love to offer sacrifices to me, feasting on the meat, but I do not accept their sacrifices. I will hold my people accountable for their sins, and I will punish them. They will return to Egypt. 14 Israel has forgotten its Maker and built great palaces, and Judah has fortified its cities. Therefore, I will send down fire on their cities and will burn up their fortresses.”


Verse 1-3: The Lord is sounding the alarm that Israel is about to be attacked by an enemy because they have turned away from Him. The people plead for mercy and claim they know Him but they do not. They continue to sin and reject the Lord so their enemies will chase after them. 

Verse 4-6: The people have appointed kings and princes (leaders) without consulting the Lord. As such these corrupt leaders made idols of false gods in gold and silver which lead to God’s fury and their destruction.

Verse 7-8: Israel has planted (sown) sin so they will harvest (reap) the whirlwind of God’s wrath and judgement. Their crops will fail and what remains will be eaten by foreigners. They will be consumed and discarded by other nations.

Verse 9-10: Israel went up to Assyria and other nations for help. They sold themselves and what they had to foreign nations. However, none of their allies will save them from the coming judgement.

Verse 11-14: They built altars to make sacrifices for their sins but their sacrifices were for idols and other gods so they committed sins against the Lord while attempting to atone for their sins. The Lord gave them His law and commandments but they disregarded it. Those that did offer sacrifices to the Lord did not do it according to His instruction so He rejected their sacrifices. He would punish them for their sins and return them to captivity. In their prosperity they forgot the Lord so He would destroy all that He gave them. 

Interpretation and Explanation

This chapter starts with an alarm being sounded. Historically, the Israelites would blow a trumpet (shophar) when the Lord was on the move – from Mount Sinai when He descended and gave them the Law, to Jericho when He collapsed the walls, and then when an enemy was approaching. The trumpet was also compared to the voice of a prophet - in this case it was the prophet Hosea. An alarm is used to indicate imminent danger. A smoke alarm indicates a present fire. A tornado siren warns of a tornado in the area. An ambulance or police siren indicates an emergency. In all situations, an alarm is used to prompt an immediate response from those that hear it. The Lord uses the alarm (trumpet/shophar) in this passage to let the Israelites know that their destruction is imminent. He had already extended His mercy and given them time to correct their actions but they rejected Him and did not heed his warnings. Now it was too late to take any proper precautions or make amends. The Lord was on the move and He was sending an enemy to conquer them as their punishment. In these verses the Lord shows his patience and mercy has ended. In our own lives, how have we taken the Lord and His mercy for granted? How long do we think we can continue in sin before the Lord passes judgement? We should correct our actions before the Lord sounds the alarm of imminent and unavoidable danger.

In the past, the kings and leaders of Israel were not appointed by the people. The Lord would send His prophet to determine who the next king would be. This was seen when the prophet Samuel anointed David to be king after Saul (1 Samuel 16:13). Then his son Solomon – although not his first son – was chosen by the Lord and anointed by the priest, Zadok, and the prophet, Nathan (1 Chronicles 22:6-10 and 1 Kings 1:38-53). Although both King David and King Solomon, like the other kings chosen by the Lord, were flawed and fell short at times, they still had a true heart for the Lord. However, in Hosea 8, the people didn’t consult the Lord when electing their leaders. Their leaders did not follow the Lord and instead lead the people into sin and idolatry and thus bringing about their own destruction. We’ve seen this theme in previous chapters of Hosea. The Lord reminds us here of the consequences of pride and self-reliance as well as choosing and following leaders who are not of the Lord. Sometimes we are the leader and sometimes we are the follower. If you are a leader in any capacity, whether it’s at home, at work, social clubs, or any place else, you have a responsibility to lead according to the Word. Failure to do so not only impacts you but it also impacts those that follow you. If you are a follower or subjected to another person as a leader you must be sure that you choose leaders who have a heart for the Lord. If you are in a situation or place or you are subjected to a leader who is not of the Lord, then you must choose not to blindly follow them. You must consult the Lord and His word so that you are not led astray into sin. 

Although the Lord is merciful and forgives us of our sins He is also just and righteous. He reminds us in Verse 7 that we reap what we sow. If we sow love, obedience, honor, and humility we will reap a blessing and favor. If we sow sin, disobedience, and hatred then we will reap the Lord’s judgement and wrath. Jesus tells us in John 15:4 - “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.” If we stray away from the Lord then we cannot be fruitful and our lives will not be abundant. A tree must be deeply rooted, watered, and nurtured to grow. If we are not rooted in Christ and are not constantly watered through His Spirit and Word then like a tree in a drought, we will wither away. The Israelites were no longer rooted in the Lord and were not being lead and watered by His Spirit so their lands and crops dried out and withered. Since they also rejected the Lord, what little they produced was taken away from them. They were then conquered and discarded. We choose to follow the Lord not for selfish gain or for what He can give us. Yes, He blesses those that bless Him but our hearts should be for Him for who He is not for what receive. Will we choose to remain in Him and be nurtured and pruned by Him or will we choose to go our own way, cut off our Source, and wither away? 

Joel 2:13-15 - “And rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and He relents over disaster. 14 Who knows whether He will not turn and relent, and leave a blessing behind Him, a grain offering and a drink offering for the Lord your God? 15 Blow the trumpet in Zion; consecrate a fast; call a solemn assembly;”

John 4:13-14 – “Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 7:37-39 – “On the last and greatest day of the festival, Jesus stood and said in a loud voice, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. 38 Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.” 39 By this he meant the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were later to receive. Up to that time the Spirit had not been given, since Jesus had not yet been glorified.”

As a last-ditch effort, the Israelites frantically searched for allies instead of returning to the Lord. However, instead of relief they found more pain as they were conquered by those of whom they sought aid. As we’ve seen in previous chapters, anytime we reject the Lord and seek provision from other sources we break is marriage covenant and commit spiritual adultery and prostitution. Everything has a cost and just like the Israelites, when we do this we are seeking to purchase protection and provision which God gives us freely. The Israelites continued in their sins and disregarded the Lord. When they finally decided to try the Lord by offering sacrifices, He rejected them. Their hearts and motives weren’t pure. They wanted His favor but didn’t want to give up their sins. As a result, He took away everything they thought they gained on their own and sent them back into the captivity that He had already brought them out of. We always have a choice in our actions. We can choose the Lord or we can choose sin, but it cannot be both. Which will you choose? Will you choose self-reliance, exhaustion, and disappointment or will you choose God, His love, and the peace and rest that He gives? Will you live in the world or will you worship the Lord?

Joshua 24:15 – “But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

Revelation 3:16 - "So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth.”

Matthew 11:28 - “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  

Key Points and Application

  • When the alarm is sounded, it is too late to prepare. We must abide in the Lord and constantly rend our hearts so that there is no need for the Lord to sound the trumpet of His coming judgement against us. When we sin and fall short, we must repent and seek Him and not take His love, mercy, and patience for granted.
  • If we are leaders, we must live and lead according to the Word so that you do not lead others If we are followers or subjected to leaders, we must do the same so that we are not lead astray.
  • We must be deeply rooted in the Word, watered by the Spirit, and pruned by the Lord to live fruitfully.
  • We must choose either the Lord or the world - Christ or sin. We cannot have both and we cannot be lukewarm. Choose this day who you will serve.