Published by DonDavidson on

Hosea was a prophet during the reign of King Jeroboam II, who ruled the northern kingdom of Israel from about 803 to 763 B.C. Hosea was one of at least five prophets whom God sent to the northern kingdom to warn them that He was displeased with their evil and idolatry.[1]

The northern kingdom had split from the southern kingdom of Judah when King Solomon died. Because of Solomon’s idolatry late in his life, God took ten of the twelve tribes away from his son, Rehoboam, leaving him only the tribes of Judah and Benjamin. The other ten tribes became the kingdom of Israel. It was ruled initially by Jeroboam (not Jeroboam II) who immediately led the people into idolatry.

The kingdom of Judah had 19 kings and 1 queen, and the Bible says that some were good and some were not. But of the 19 kings of Israel, every single one of them was evil, and every one of them practiced idolatry.

Idolatry was a major problem for both Judah and Israel. We may wonder why. I believe it was a matter of control. Idol worship offered the people control—if you offered the right worship and sacrifices, the gods had to give you what you wanted, like a vending machine. In a way, the people were in control. Like Adam and Eve, they could be “like God.” (See Genesis 3:5.) At least, that was the promise. God never worked that way. He told the people to trust Him and He would take care of them—but He always remained in control.

God had Hosea live out a parable in real life. God told him to marry a prostitute, knowing that she would be unfaithful to him. God was trying to show the people that they were being unfaithful to Him through their idolatry, just as an adulterous wife is unfaithful to her husband.

When Hosea’s wife ran off, God told Hosea to go after her and bring her back, to demonstrate to the people that God still loved them and wanted them to return to Him despite their unfaithfulness. But Israel never did. So God allowed the Assyrians to carry them into permanent exile in 722 B.C. Those ten tribes lost their identity as God’s people and became known as the Lost Tribes of Israel.

The people of Judahthe ancestors of the Jewish peopleeventually learned their lesson. After their 70-year exile in Babylon, idolatry was never again a problem for them.

Jesus told us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength. In other words, we are to love God above all else. He demands to be #1 in our lives. So an idol today is anyone or anything that is more important to you than God.

Do you have an idol?

[1] The other four were Elijah, Elisha, Amos, and Micah. There may have been others.


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