God’s message for Israel (Hosea, Amos)

Two minor prophets addressed Israel. Hear what God was saying to Israel, and you’ll hear what God is saying to the world.

Want to know what the prophets mean for us? Read them in their setting. It’s more effort than, “I’ll have this verse,” but it means so much more. What God promised comes alive in Christ.

Hosea and Amos are the two minor prophets who addressed Israel. That’s the northern nation established by Jeroboam when Solomon died. Samaria was the capital. Bethel and Dan were the worship centres.

Hosea and Amos kept calling Israel back to God. Disconnected from the Lord and his anointed, Israel was a basket of summer fruit going rotten (Amos 8). God’s anguish with Jacob’s failing family was something Hosea knew firsthand, living with a partner who gave herself to others and children who weren’t his (Hosea 1).


Hosea moved to rescue his wife from slavery. He said God would move to rescue Israel from their demise as a kingdom without a king or God to save them:

Hosea 3:4-5 (NIV)
4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king.

Did you get that? He’s speaking to Israel, the northern kingdom. They’d chosen golden calves instead of the Lord, and Jeroboam instead of David. Every king was evil because they persisted in the sins of Jeroboam (1 Kings 13:34; 14:16; 15:30, 34 etc.).

What were Jeroboam’s sins? He turned away from the Lord and his anointed. Rejecting the Lord and his anointed was Israel’s downfall:

2 Kings 17:21-24 (NIV)
21 When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit a great sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 23 until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there. 24 The king of Assyria brought people from Babylon, Kuthah, Avva, Hamath and Sepharvaim and settled them in the towns of Samaria to replace the Israelites. They took over Samaria and lived in its towns.

Mixed with people of the nations, they lost their identity as Israel, becoming Samaritans. The region became Galilee of the nations (Isaiah 9:1). When the Chronicler listed their families, some tribes had few to record, and one was gone completely (1 Chronicles 4–8).

So, when did the Israelites return and seek the Lord their God and David their king?


After many confronting oracles, the other prophet to Israel said this:

Amos 9:8, 11 (NIV)
8 “Surely the eyes of the Sovereign Lord are on the sinful kingdom. I will destroy it from the face of the earth. Yet I will not totally destroy the descendants of Jacob,” declares the Lord. … 11 “In that day I will restore David’s fallen shelter — I will repair its broken walls and restore its ruins—and will rebuild it as it used to be …”

Did you get that? Jacob’s northern tribes were decimated, but not obliterated. They would be subsumed into the nations, yet some would be rescued to find shelter in David’s kingship.

But when? David’s shelter over the Israelites had already fallen when Solomon died. David’s shelter fell completely when Babylon conquered Judah. So, when was David’s fallen shelter restored?

Here’s how the apostles understood Amos:

Acts 15:12-19 (NIV)
12 The whole assembly … listened to Barnabas and Paul telling about the signs and wonders God had done among the Gentiles through them. 13 When they finished, James spoke up. “Brothers,” he said, “listen to me. 14 Simon has described to us how God first intervened to choose a people for his name from the Gentiles. 15 The words of the prophets are in agreement with this, as it is written: 16 ‘After this I will return and rebuild David’s fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, 17 that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord …’”

For Jews like Peter and Paul, gentiles were people of other nations, not part of the chosen nation. It took time for Peter to understand that the message God sent to the people of Israel means that Messiah Jesus is Lord of all, even gentiles like Cornelius (Acts 10:36). Paul discovered Jesus’ kingship outside of Israel, in Damascus where he was called to proclaim the Lord’s authority to both the nations and their kings, and to the people of Israel (Acts 9:15).

James concluded that the divine kingship — the kingship David represented — was restored to the earth in his Messiah. That’s why they called him Christ: the anointed king.

On behalf of his people, the king entered the death of the kingdom. He was buried with them. He was raised up on the third day. The kingdom came to life in the king, just like Hosea 6:2 said. This is the gospel … in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:2-5).


David’s fallen tent was raised when the Lord’s anointed received the kingship over his people and the nations.

People had puzzled over how God would solve the problem of the nations crushing his nation. Few had guessed that God would include the nations when he raised David’s fallen shelter.

So, how do the nations return to God’s reign in his anointed? Same way the Israelites do: seek the Lord their God and David their king. Hosea calls for loyalty to God’s anointed. That’s what “faith in Christ” means.

Hosea and Amos were not promising each Israelite a wonderful life. They were promising the restoration of God’s reign over them all in his Anointed.

That’s the foundation for the gospel. Read Romans from that perspective, and you’ll see that God’s gospel is the good news he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures concerning his Son … descendant of David … appointed as the reigning Son by his resurrection from the dead: Messiah Jesus our Lord (Romans 1:2-4).

When God made his good news proclamation — by raising his Christ as our Lord — he created the global community that comes to life in the Christ, the community that does right out of trusting obedience to God and his anointed (as in Romans 1:16-17).

That’s the gospel Hosea announced: God’s reign is reestablished by seeking the Lord their God and David their king.

That’s the gospel Amos announced: God is restoring David’s fallen shelter for his fallen nation and the nations.

That’s the gospel God announced when he raised his Son from tomb to throne, calling his nation and the nations to live in trusting obedience to our Lord.

What others are saying

J. Andrew Dearman, The Book of Hosea, NICOT (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 2010), 142–143:

The reference to David their king in Hos. 3:5 is but one example of expectations in the OT prophets concerning the advent of a future glorious ruler from David’s line. Hosea’s 8th-century peers, namely, Amos (9:11–12), Isaiah (e.g., 9:1–7; 11:1–9), and Micah (5:2–5a), also contain such expectations. It is the same for Jeremiah (e.g., 23:5–6) and Ezekiel (e.g., 37:15–25) in the late 7th/early 6th century. The expectations about a Davidic figure underwent development over time and became one of the building blocks of what became known in Second Temple Judaism as the messianic hope. In various ways the NT proceeds from this matrix and presents Jesus as the fulfillment of the promises to and about David.

Augustine of Hippo, City of God 18.28 (c. AD 400):

Let us hear what Hosea goes on to say: “And after this the children of Israel shall return, and shall seek the Lord their God, and David their king. And they shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the last days.” You will never find a prophecy plainer than this, for the name king David means Christ who, as St. Paul says, “was born according to the flesh of the offspring of David.” Further on still, Hosea foretold the resurrection of Christ on the third day, but in the mysterious way that is proper to prophecy. He says, “He shall heal us after two days, and on the third day we shall rise up again.” …
The prophet Amos too has predictions not unlike those of Hosea. He says, … “‘In that day I will raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen. And I will close up the breaches of the walls thereof and repair what is fallen. And I will rebuild it as in the days of old, so that the remnant of men may seek me out, and all nations, because my name is invoked upon them,’ says the Lord that does these things.”

John R. W. Stott, The Message of Acts, BST (Downers Grove, IL: Inter-Varsity Press, 1994), 247:

This quotation from Amos [in Acts 15] is a powerful statement of two related truths. God promises first to restore David’s fallen tent and rebuild its ruins (which Christian eyes see as a prophecy of the resurrection and exaltation of Christ, the seed of David, and the establishment of his people) so that, secondly, a Gentile remnant will seek the Lord. In other words, through the Davidic Christ Gentiles will be included in his new community.

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