Join us as we study through Hosea verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Hosea 13 Inductive Bible Study Guide – Online Lesson With Discussion Questions
I. Israel’s devotion to idols (1-3)
II. The Lord will fall upon them (4-8)
III. Samaria shall bear her guilt (9-16)
I. Israel’s devotion to idols (1-3)
- What was Ephraim’s position in Israel?
- What he do with his influence?
- In what areas can you use your position to influence others in a positive way? How specifically can you be a positive influence?
- What do we learn about people in verse 2?
- What can you see in verse 2 about the futility of idols?
- Why would anybody want to worship an idol that he makes himself?
- What does it mean that those “who offer human sacrifice kiss calves?”
- What will happen to Ephraim because of his sins?
- What does this teach us about the brevity of life?
Psalm 135:15-17 – The idols of the nations are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; they have eyes, but do not see; they have ears, but do not hear, nor is there any breath in their mouths.
Isaiah 44:9-12 – All who fashion idols are nothing, and the things they delight in do not profit. Their witnesses neither see nor know, that they may be put to shame. Who fashions a god or casts an idol that is profitable for nothing? Behold, all his companions shall be put to shame, and the craftsmen are only human. Let them all assemble, let them stand forth. They shall be terrified; they shall be put to shame together. The ironsmith takes a cutting tool and works it over the coals. He fashions it with hammers and works it with his strong arm. He becomes hungry, and his strength fails; he drinks no water and is faint.
Matthew 5:16 – In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Psalm 90:12 – So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.
Psalm 39:4 – O Lord, make me know my end and what is the measure of my days; let me know how fleeting I am!
1. He was exalted in Israel – Ephraim was the most powerful tribe in the Northern Kingdom. Joseph was given a double portion of Jacob’s blessing. And Ephraim was chosen by Jacob to receive the rights of Joseph’s first born although Manasseh was older. When Ephraim spoke up, people listened. He had a high position of influence.
But. This is a very important word in the Bible. But Ephraim did not use his influence to encourage his brethren to follow God. Instead verse one says “he incurred guilt through Baal” and sinned “more and more.”
There is an expectation in this verse that Ephraim should use his influence for good, but he didn’t. Instead he was a snare to God’s people and a corrupting influence.
Galatians 5:9 – A little leaven leavens the whole lump of dough.
This saying is similar to, “one bad apple spoils the whole crate.” Peer pressure is strong. Ephraim and its leaders had a choice. They could use their influence for good or for evil. And they chose to do evil, affecting the entire nation.
There are two applications for us.
Application 1: God has put you into certain places and positions so that you can use your influence there for good. We are called to shine the light of Christ into the darkness (Matthew 5:16). You can be a voice for truth in your family. You can stand up for justice at your workplace. You can be an advocate for the weak in society. God uses the church as a whole and individual believers, who are temples of the Holy Spirit, to act as a restraining influence upon evil in the world (2 Thessalonians 2:7). But when believers are silent in the face of evil, that restraint is not effective and sinners are emboldened.
Think of one area (family, work, church, etc.) where you can use your influence for good this week. Then write down one way you can be an influence for good in that place this week.
Application 2: Peer pressure is strong. Ephraim had a negative influence on the whole nation.
Proverbs 13:20 – He who walks with wise men will be wise, But the companion of fools will suffer harm.
You should be careful who you spend time with. This verse is clear. The companion of fools will suffer harm. Who is a fool? A fool is a person who does not recognize or follow God (Psalm 14:1). We cannot leave this world. And we must be in it to influence it. However, being a companion denotes comradery. In other words, do not get too close or spend too much time with people who are a bad influence. Certainly this applies to marriage and dating relationships as well as close friendships.
Choose wise companions for yourselves. And parents, you should help your children to choose wise companions as well.
2. Craftsmen skillfully make idols – The Israelites committed the cardinal sin by breaking the first and second commandments in making idols and worshiping them. You can see the scorn in these verses for idol worshipers.
These idols are mere things. They are skillfully crafted by experts, but they are things. They are things made by man. Invented and formed out of materials created by the real God, these idols are a visible symbol of the foolishness of man. It is folly to worship something you yourself can create.
Idols may be elaborate. But they are an elaborate hoax. There are many reasons why idols gained popularity. One of them is that the industry of idol crafting was a very profitable one(Acts 19:24). I have seen shops filled with all manner of graven images. Whole streets are lined with these shops. Do the shop owners and factories that churn these out believe in them? Many do not. It is just another product to sell. Craftsmen have a reason to peddle idols. They make them money. And that is why these idol makers were so angry when the people in their towns were taught to believe in God (Acts 19).
God endowed people with amazing talents. Some idols are indeed spectacularly crafted. Their makers have used their creative ability to enslave and deceive people. God wants us to use our talents for His glory.
Recently my eleven and eight year old had a business project. They made home made muffins and a coconut drink. After making a sign, they went out in the neighborhood and set up a booth for selling. But first they prayed for God’s blessings. And then after people bought their treats, they said “God bless you.” Finally at the end of the day they prayed and thanked God for answering their prayers. And they set aside some of their profits for offering. The boys created muffins and sold them. But they gave honor to God and were a good testimony to their neighbors. Their skills were used in a good way and God was glorified in the process.
Application: God has given you talents and abilities as well. How can you use your creative abilities for God’s glory? Share some ways you can use your business or skills to glorify God.
3. The brevity of life – Throughout the Bible, the brevity of life is a recurring thing. The righteous and the wicked alike live for a short time in the grand scheme of things.
Psalm 90:10 – The years of our life are seventy, or even by reason of strength eighty; yet their span is but toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.
Our years are soon gone. Our time flies away. When we are young, we think that life will go as always forever. The older we get, the more we realize what a short time we actually have.
But there is a difference between the righteous and the wicked. Both are here for a while and then gone (James 4:14). But the wicked leave behind nothing of significance. The wicked provide nothing of meaning and nothing of value. Often they are described as chaff (Psalm 1:4). Chaff is completely worthless. It has no substance. It provides no benefit.
A short life is not to be feared for believers because we know that we will have eternity with God. But a short and empty life is to be feared.
Many people talk about leaving a legacy behind. They want to make an impact on the world. And so they consider the question, “what is my legacy?” For those without God, they have no legacy. They will be forgotten. And they will not leave a positive mark on this world. And that is a fearful thing.
“Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.” – CT Studd
And that is true. What will you leave behind? What mark will you leave on this world?
Parents can leave behind children who walk with God. These children can carry the torch, shining the light of Christ to a dark world. And one day they will meet again. Training your children to know God and make Him known will make a lasting impact on the world.
Though you may not have children, every person can have spiritual children. When you share the gospel and make disciples you are impacting lives for eternity. When you teach people the Word of God and encourage them to follow it you are impacting lives for eternity. When you model following Christ for others and obey the Scriptures you are impacting lives for eternity. Everything done for Christ will last. And everything done for self will not.
Application: Before you invest time in something, ask yourself, “what difference will this make in one hundred years?” If it will make no impact beyond the present, then maybe it is not worth doing. Time is short so don’t waste it.
II. The Lord will fall upon them (4-8)
- What do we learn about God in verse 4?
- What had God proved about Himself in Egypt?
- What causes people to turn away from their relationship with God?
- In verse 6, what does it mean that “they had grazed?” Grazed on what?
- What kind of things were they filled with? How did these things change them?
- Do we see similar things happen today?
- What kind of things do people today “graze on?”
- How can we guard against pride? How can we make sure that we don’t forget God like they did?
- How did God respond to their forgetting Him?
- What warning should we get from these verses?
Exodus 20:2-3 – I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me.
James 4:4 – You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.
1 John 2:15 – Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
James 4:6 – But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Proverbs 16:5 – Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.
1. I am the Lord your God from Egypt – Israel had a covenant relationship with God who delivered them out of Egypt. He proved Himself to be true when He defeated all of the Egyptian gods. And yet Israel still abandoned their faith in Him and turned to the same type of idols that could not deliver Egypt.
2. I knew you in the land of drought, but when they grazed they became full – The Lord was their shepherd. Without Him, they had nothing. He led them into the Promised Land, a land flowing with milk and honey. He raised them up and made them a nation. So what happened when He blessed them and filled them up?
3. Their heart was lifted up and they forgot me – Instead of thanking God and giving Him glory, the people became prideful. The Israelites forgot that it was God who had blessed them with all of these things.
We saw this in Hosea 12:8, “Ah, but I am rich. I have found wealth for myself. In all my labors they cannot find in me iniquity or sin.”
History was changed in their minds. God was taken out of the equation. And history was re-written with themselves as the heroes.
So it often happens in rags to riches stories. At the beginning, the protagonist is humble and down-to-earth. He is loyal to his friends and his spouse who loved him even when he was poor. But over time fame and riches corrupt. He changes. His friends and even spouse are forgotten as his ego and self-importance grows. He forgets his roots. And in his pride, he is destroyed. And when that happens no one is left to mourn him.
That is what happens to Israel here. With a proud heart, They forget God. And they give glory to themselves.
God is not a fan of such pride.
Daniel 5:20 – But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.
Nebuchadnezzar also gave glory to himself and became arrogant. And God dealt with him.
Application: Be humble before God. Give Him the glory that He deserves. Whenever you have a success, stop and thank God for allowing it to happen. Do not forget that all of your successes are a blessing from God. God giveth and He taketh away.
4. I am like a lion. I will fall upon her – God was her protector. He protected Israel from all kinds of enemies and saved her time and again. But now He would like a wild beast and devour her. It is a terrible image. Because sin is terrible. And judgment for sin is terrible.
III. Samaria shall bear her guilt (9-16)
- Why had Israel originally asked for a king?
- Why did God give one to them? Why he did He then take the king away?
- How is it possible to “judge” them both by giving them a king and taking it away?
- What does it mean that Ephraim’s iniquity is “bound up” and “kept in store?”
- What is the meaning of verse 13?
- In verse 14 is God promising judgment or deliverance?
- Since different versions (NASB and NIV/ESV translate verse 14 with opposite meanings) have different renderings how can the context to give us clues about which version is likely correct?
- What is the “wind of the Lord?” What will it do?
- Who would inflict these atrocities on Assyria? How could God let such terrible things happen?
1 Samuel 8:4-6 – So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD.
Deuteronomy 32:34-35 – Have I not kept this in reserve and sealed it in my vaults. It is mine to avenge; I will repay. In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.
Isaiah 66:9 – Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the Lord.
“Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God.
1. Their king (verses 10-11) –
Israel had demanded that God give them a king (1 Samuel 8:4-6). Samuel warned them about the negative effects having a king would have on them. But they insisted. God said that they were rejecting Him as king.
He gave them a king in anger – Giving them a king was a form of judgment. They would have to learn the hard way that God was a better king than any man. Having made their bed, they would have to lie in it.
He took away their king in wrath – God was going to judge the nation. No longer would they be independent. Instead they would be servants of a foreign king. It was an even worse fate. Israel had many evil kings and tyrants. But at least these kings were their own. Now they would serve foreign kings, also evil and tyrants.
2. The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up and kept in store – In Hosea 7:2 and 9:9 we learned that God would remember the Israelite’s sins. It is a frightening thing to have a perfectly just Judge with a perfect memory know all of your sins.
The lesson here in this verse is the same. Ephraim’s sins are stored up. They are not forgiven. They are not removed (Psalm 103:12). Every last one of their sins would have to be paid for. And they would have to bear that punishment on their own shoulders.
3. The pangs of childbirth (verse 13) – What is a baby supposed to do when the pangs of childbirth come? He is supposed to come out. When a child remains in the birth canal too long, death will follow.
Israel should have repented of its sins and come out a new person after receiving God’s many warnings. But Israel is instead shown to be like a foolish son who refuses to be born. He doesn’t present himself to God in humility after the judgement already poured out. So there will be more. And they will result in death.
4. Verse 14 –
Note that different translations render this verse differently.
I shall ransom them from the power of Sheol;
I shall redeem them from Death.
O Death, where are your plagues?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion is hidden from my eyes.
Shall I ransom them from the power of Sheol?
Shall I redeem them from death?
O Death, where are your thorns?
O Sheol, where is your sting?
Compassion will be hidden from My sight.
Do you see the difference? In the ESV, it appears that God is promising to deliver them. But in the NASB it appears that He is asking “Shall I” deliver them and then deciding against it.
Which is right? It is helpful to consider the context. Firstly, the context in this chapter is God’s punishment. Reading it the way ESV translates it is jarring. It is so sudden how He swings from punishment to deliverance and back to punishment again.
The NASB rendering flows much more smoothly and makes better sense. In addition, both versions translate the last phrase with the same meaning, “Compassion is hidden from my eyes [My sight].” God is saying, “I will not show compassion.” It seems out of place to say that here if indeed He is promising deliverance as the ESV renders it. On this point, the NASB translation also makes more sense and flows much smoother.
5. Samaria shall bear her guilt (15-16) – This chapter concludes with the warning of coming judgment. We are reminded that sin must be judged. Either we are judged for it or someone (who can) takes our place. Samaria was going to have to bear her own guilt. And the punishment would be great.
Verse 16 depicts some of the terrible atrocities that would come upon them. These were all things that the ruthless Assyrians were famous for.
Application: Do you want to bear your own guilt? Of course, the only wise answer is, “Of course not!” Thank God that you don’t have to! Jesus died on your behalf, taking away your sins so that they are not stored up against you awaiting judgment. Spend time by yourself or with your group to pray and thank Jesus that your own guilt is not on your shoulders.
Hosea Bible Study Guide E-book – If this study is helpful, you can get the complete downloadable study e-book for any device.
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