Bible Study on Hosea 12:1 – Feeding on Wind and the Emptiness of Pursuing the World

In our Bible study group’s recent study through Hosea we came across an interesting verse.

Hosea 12:1 – Ephraim feeds on the wind and pursues the east wind continually.

Ephraim was the most powerful tribe of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. And Hosea says that they “feed on the wind.” What does this mean? How can a person eat wind?

The Emptiness of Wind

Of course if you try to eat wind, you will find out that after your meal you are still very hungry. Wind cannot sustain you. It cannot provide any nourishment. Your stomach will not be filled. It will be just as empty as before.

When you were little and your mother prepared a lunchbox for you to take to school, I am doubtful that she packed wind for you to eat!

Not only is it worthless to eat wind, but those who try look ridiculous. Can you imagine what your neighbors would say if they saw you out in the front yard with your mouth wide open trying to catch and swallow wind? You would be considered a fool, a mad person. You might even be taken to a mental hospital.

Hosea uses the imagery of eating wind to describe the people’s futile attempts to satisfy themselves in the world. The world provides no lasting satisfaction. And those who pursue the world instead of God are fools. He looks down at them chasing after the sinful pleasures of the world like your neighbor would look at you trying to eat wind. That is how absurd it is for us to pursue worldly things rather than the things of God.

The Jews in the time of Hosea had rejected God. Instead of finding fulfillment in Him, they tried to find fulfillment in the world. They chased after idols who never told them “no” or gave them any restrictions. They pursued the pleasures of the world including money, sex, and political power. But what did they find? Nothing. No contentment. No meaning. No spiritual life. No joy.

The emptiness of their life without God is highlighted throughout the book.

The Crazy Farmer Who Sows Wind

Hosea 8:7 – For they sow the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind.

The thought in this verse is similar to eating wind. Hosea uses the imagery of a farmer. The farmer is out in the fields. He gets up early. He stays out all day. He walks up and down the fields. Reaching into his bag, he pulls his hand out and casts what is inside toward the ground. It seems normal. Thousands of farmers get up and do the same thing each day.

But when you take a closer look, you see that his hands are empty. Nothing is in his bag. No seeds are landing on the soil. The only thing being sown is air. The farmer is sweating and toiling away, but there is going to be no harvest. It is a complete waste of time. The only thing that farmer will reap is a “whirlwind.” He sows wind. He reaps wind.

This is the life of a person without a relationship with Jesus. The story of the “crazy farmer sowing wind” repeats itself billions of time across the world every single day. People get up and go to work. They toil and sweat and strive. Chasing after the pleasures of the world, the buy the seed that the world offers. But after a lifetime of sowing, they will see that the seed they were peddled was worthless.

All Is Vanity And Striving After The Wind

Chasing after the world is popular. Almost everybody does it. But it is worthless. And it is like chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:14- I have seen everything that is done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and a striving after wind.

Ecclesiastes 2:11 – Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.

Solomon describes the worldly person who tries to find satisfaction and meaning in this life. But the world cannot offer it. Apart from Christ, there is none to be had.

God created people with a need for Him. He gave us an inward spiritual longing that only He can satisfy. Don’t let anyone fool you who says that they are not spiritual. Every person is spiritual. Every person is seeking for something more, something meaningful. You can see the innate spirituality of people in every culture of the world. Every civilization in history is religious. People seek to create gods to worship and follow.

God made us with this spiritual craving. The problem is that our sinful nature makes us pursue contentment in the wrong places. When Adam and Eve sinned, their iniquities made a separation between them and God (Isaiah 59:2). This separation created a void in their hearts and in the hearts of all of their descendants.

People try to fill this void with all kinds of things, many of which Solomon explored in Ecclesiastes. Sex, relationships, money, drugs, achievement, power, thrill-seeking, reputation, fame, alcohol, and entertainment are a few. Satan and the world make big promises. And people fall for it. Pursuing the world energetically, they seek to fill up the emptiness inside of them with the best that the world has to offer.

But invariably they find out that the big promises were lies. None of these things provide lasting satisfaction. The more they pursue them, the thicker the chains and the heavier the guilt they experience. Having eaten the wind their entire life, they find out that they are hungrier than ever before. Meanwhile the “wind salesman” who promises how nutritious and tasty it is, gets the last laugh.

Teaching Our Kids About the Emptiness the World Offers

After reading these verses in Hosea, my wife and I decided to teach our kids an object lesson. We set the table and prepared breakfast. And we called our kids to come over. But the dishes were empty. So we invited them to enjoy a delicious meal of wind. Our four-year-old daughter was quite sad and said, “where is the real food?”

While sitting around the empty dishes, we explained to them the folly of chasing after the things of the world. We talked about the emptiness that it offered.

Jesus is the Bread of Life

But we did not stop there. All of what I have shared above is bad news. What about the good news? Next we shared with them John 6:35 –

Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.”

Jesus is the bread of life. He makes a big promise. He promises to satisfy the spiritual hunger of all who come to Him. He can fill that void inside of us and give true meaning, joy, and contentment. And Jesus backed up His promise. Right before He said this, He fed more than 5000 people with only five loaves of bread and two fish.

The point made was perfectly clear. Jesus can take care of our physical needs and He can also take care of our spiritual needs.

After talking about this verse, we then brought out the real breakfast and feasted on blueberry pancakes.

The object lesson we wanted to teach them was simple. The world offers nothing. Those who pursue are chasing after the wind. But the one who comes to Jesus will be fed and will be full.


Where are you seeking satisfaction from? Are you chasing after the world or are you energetically following Jesus? Spend some time to evaluate your own life and if necessary confess and reset your focus on Christ alone to satisfy you.

For parents, I would also encourage you in two simple applications. Firstly, try the above object lesson with your kids. Use this and other creative ways to teach them about the truth in God’s Word. Second, make sure that you are feeding your children a steady diet of spiritual food, the nourishment of God’s Word (1 Peter 2:2).

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