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"Because of this the land dries up, and all who live in it waste away; the beasts of the field, the birds in the sky and the fish in the sea are swept away." Hosea 4.3

Having set the scene in the opening 3 chapters, the remaining 11 chapters give expression to the substance of Hosea's message which is 3-fold: Israel's sin is comprehensive, God's judgment is coming, yet there is hope.

Israel's sinfulness not only runs through the whole nation, from priests and kings to warriors and farmers, its ill-effects are felt by the whole order of creation. Therefore God's judgment will be similarly devastating, in order to purge every corner of a land in rebellion and distress. Yet there is no vindictiveness in God's judgment. God's judgement derives from loving concern and, from time to time during Hosea's prophetic utterances, it is as if God cannot contain that love.

Hosea concludes with an appeal, as much to the head as to the heart (chapter 14, verse 9):

"Who is wise? Let them realise these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them."



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