Hosea 8

DateVersionReading Plan
@October 30, 2023ESV (2016)ESV Prophets Plan 2023


  • Israel Will Reap the Whirlwind


The chapter is a collection of poetic sayings and opens with Hosea telling Israel to set the trumpet to their lips, sounding an alarm to gather the people. There was “One like a vulture over the house of the LORD”, probably symbolizing Assyria. This had come about because they transgressed the covenant and rebelled against the law of God.

Hos. 8:2-4 is how the people had cried to God, claiming that they knew Him and were bewildered at His lack of response (Hos. 8:2). In actuality, they were merely going through motions of legalistic ritual which concealed an inward rebellion. They setup kings and princes in similar way to how they fashioned idols, without divine guidance.

In Hos. 8:5-6, God addresses the calf idol of Samaria (Israel) and the subsequent burning of His anger. The calf refers to the calf idol at Bethel (1 Kings 12:28-29). God is explicit in saying that the calf “is not God” and that “it shall be broken to pieces.” (Hos. 8:6).

Hos. 8:7-10 focuses on Israel’s idolatry and that they “sow the wind” but from which they would “reap the whirlwind.” (Hos. 8:7). The “planting” of idolatry would be like planting wind and the harvest would be nothing but a whirlwind—a storm representing divine judgment (Prov. 1:27; Prov. 10:25; Isaiah 17:13; Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 66:15; Nah. 1:3). Whatever sprouted would be blown away. Israel had allied with Assyria, but God would soon gather them up and the “king and princes shall soon writhe” (Hos. 8:10).

The remaining verses (Hos. 8:11-14) are of how Israel’s altars made for sinning had multiplied. God makes clear that they issue was not an absence of His law and that if He were to write “laws by the ten thousands, they would be regarded as a strange thing” (Hos. 8:12). God would refuse sacrificial offerings made on these idolatrous altars, remembering their iniquity and punishing their sins (Hos. 8:13). Israel had “forgotten his Maker” and Judah “multiplied fortified cities” out of self-reliance, both of which would bring suffering and destruction.


Israel and Judah are enmeshed in idolatrous practices, worshiping idols and seeking well-being on their own terms. They professed knowledge and adherence to God but these were only empty gestures. God poignantly expressed how He could write His laws by the thousands but the people would still consider them as foreign. It was because they had turned from God to rely on themselves and foreign powers that they would reap the whirlwind.

The issue of man’s relationship to God is not a lack of knowledge but the suppression of the truth already present. No amount of additional laws written would change our willful rebellion. Nor is there anything of our own power that can effect our selfish regard. It is only through an act of divine grace that such a transformation is made. All praise and glory to our God who has chosen to act in this way; illuminating our darkened hearts and replacing our futile desires with a hunger for His righteousness.

Scripture Journal Notes

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