Good illustrations are like windows that let light into the subject. Hosea seems intensely aware of this truth because he employs at least 15 word images in chapters 5-7 to portray God, Israel, Israel's leaders, Israel's enemies, God's wrath and judgment, and His love.
Each image He employs gives a window of insight into God's character. For example, in 5:14, God selects the simile of a lion to describe His relationship with Israel. He says, "I will tear them to pieces, I will carry them off with no one to rescue them." On the other hand, God uses the simile of a dove to describe Ephraim, "easily deceived and senseless" (7:11). As He continues on with this picture, He says, "I will throw my net over them; I will pull them down like the birds of the air."
God uses word pictures because they capture vividly and imprint indelibly the truths of God on our hearts. While His words alone are powerful, the pictures He selects add weight and force to His truth. In fact Hosea simply portends the New Testament writers and Jesus Himself; they delight to use metaphors and similes to paint word pictures that drive truth home and make it clear.
Consider phrases used to describe the Lord Jesus Christ. Light of the world, Bread of life, Bight and morning star, Living water, and Resurrection and Life all evoke powerful images that communicate a fullness that a generic description alone would not convey. Word pictures bring spiritual reality into focus.
Questions for today's Chronological Bible reading:
- Make seven columns of the above categories of word pictures and see if you can identify at least 15 of the word images found in these chapters.
- Describe Ahaz's desecration of the altar/temple. What do his actions tell you about King Ahaz?
- Describe Hoshea's reign.
- For what crimes does the Lord indict Israel?
- How does Israel treat God's spokesmen?
Ask the Lord to help you to apply the truths of the word pictures in today's reading to your heart.