God wants “to heal Israel” (Hosea 7:1). Sadly, there is so much “sin” in the hearts of Israel - “I trained them and made them strong. Yet, they plan evil against Me” (Hosea 7:15). God wants to send His blessing. Sadly, “they don’t return to the Most High” (Hosea 7:16). This is Israel’s story. It’s also our story. God is calling us to return to Him, to be trained by Him, to live in His presence, to enjoy His blessing, to give praise and glory to Him.
In Hosea 8, we read about God’s judgment on the sinful nation of Israel. His standard is perfect holiness. Every one of us falls short. None of us can stand before God’s righteous judgment. There is, one Man who has not fallen short. God’s Son, Jesus, our Saviour, has taken our sin upon Himself so that we might receive His salvation. This is the Gospel. It is Good News for sinners.
“The prophet, along with my God, is the watchman over Ephraim” (Hosea 9:8). Being a watchman will involve speaking strong words of warning. It’s not easy to speak God’s Word. It’s not easy to hear His Word. His Word calls for change. It calls us to come out of our sin and into His holiness. The watchman must speak of “days of punishment” and “days of reckoning.” He must speak about “sins” and “hostility” (Hosea 9:7). Why must he speak of such things? Before people can turn to the Lord, they must be shown that they need the Lord. The watchman does not do this work on His own. It is “the prophet, along with my God” who “is the watchman.” We must never forget the Lord our God. Without Him, we can never be real and true watchman. With Him by our side, we will listen to what men will say, “The prophet is considered a fool, the inspired man a maniac” (Hosea 9:7). We still say, “Being a fool for God is very different from being a fool.” “The fool says in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). A fool for God is only a fool in the eyes of men. He’s not a fool in the eyes of the One who really matters - the Lord.
God speaks to His people with a promise of blessing and a warning against disobedience. The blessing is there, waiting for us. We lose out on the blessing when we continue to walk on the pathway of disobedience. God says to us, “Plough new ground for yourselves, plant righteousness, and reap the blessings that your devotion to Me will produce.” This is the promise of blessing, with its call to return to the Lord. Alongside this promise of blessing, with its call to turn to the Lord - “It is time for you will come and pour out blessings upon you” (Hosea 10:12), there is God’s warning against following a way of life upon which His judgment rests: “But instead you planted evil and reaped its harvest. You have eaten the fruit produced by your lies” (Hosea 10:13).