How Should Christians React To Violence?

Hosea Warns That Inherited Ways Of Violence Arouse God’s Reprisal!


God used Hosea to warn that the brutality of Israel’s society was about to receive its retribution.


How Should Christians React To Violence

The days of Hosea were days of great ferocity. One murder followed speedily after another. The situation originated in the days of Jehu, who, about eighty years before, had been commissioned to remove the idolatry of the house of Ahab (see 1 Kings 19:17).


But the way in which he fulfilled his call was hateful. Jehu was one of the most violent men of human history. He killed first Jehoram of Israel, then Ahaziah of Judah, then Jezebel (2 Kings 9:30-37), then Ahab’s sons (2 Kings 10:1-11), and the Judean family of Ahaziah (2 Kings 10:12-14).His zeal for bloodthirsty slaughter went beyond his commission from God. This is the background to Hosea 1:3-5.


So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”

Hosea 1:3-5 (NLT)


Jehu’s line, which began in bloodshed, ended likewise. Zechariah, Jehu’s great-great-grandson, was murdered and was the last of Jehu’s line. Then another regime began (2 Kings 15:8-12). The murderer was Shallum, but he was killed within a month (15:13-16).


Menahem, his successor, came from another family. His line lasted for one more reign (15:17-22). Pekahiah his son was the last of his short dynasty (15:23-26). Pekah who assassinated Pekahiah was from a ninth family among the kings of Israel. He too was assassinated (15:27-31). Later Hoshea killed Pekah.


In Hoshea’s reign, the Assyrians brought the northern kingdom of Israel to an end. It was never to be revived. Hosea’s second child with Gomer was given a name, which spoke of the retribution that would soon fall on generations of violence.


“Jezreel”, was the place where Jehu slaughtered the house of Ahab, with frenzied brutality (see 2 Kings 9-10). God had allowed Jehu his four generations as he had promised (2 Kings 10:30), but now the hatred and violence, which had been in Jehu’s heart and had characterized his dynasty would itself be avenged. Presumably this oracle comes from a period before the death of Jeroboam II. Soon Jeroboam’s son would become king but would be slaughtered and the line would come to an end. Thirty years later northern Israel lost its identity altogether.


Violence is easier to bring into a land than to eradicate. In many parts of the world, today’s children are trained in violence via TV programmes, and learn to practise blasting people out of existence in computer games. Meanwhile one picks up the newspaper and reads about ‘the lessons of Hiroshima’, ‘fire-bombing’ in World War II, the situation in an African country where half a million of one of its tribes were butchered, the horrors of the first 41 months of war in a part of Europe, and so on.


The name of Hosea’s son gave warning of coming judgement upon the brutality of Israel’s society. Yet the point of the warning was to give the opportunity for change. The Lord leaves the blunt threat without further comment, but the very fact that the people have been warned leaves open the possibility that they might fall upon their knees and ask for mercy.


Questions For Reflection


  1. Should the church’s message vary from age to age?
  2. Is it good that our personal experience should affect our message?
  3. How should Christians react to violence in modern society?



Focus on the Bible Commentary – Hosea



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