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Come, Follow Me: Hosea 1-6; 10-14; Joel

This is one in a series of reviews of the weekly lessons found in the Come, Follow Me for Individuals and Families published by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To link to all of the 2022 teachings, click here. Bold face type in this article comes from the Church’s curriculum. (Note: Not every sentence written in the curriculum is being reviewed.)

November 7-13

Hosea 1-6; 10-14; Joel

Israel’s covenant with the Lord was meant to be so deep and meaningful that the Lord compared it to a marriage. The covenant, like a marriage, included eternal commitment, shared experiences, building a life together, exclusive loyalty, and most of all, wholehearted love. This kind of devotion came with high expectations—and tragic consequences for infidelity. Through the prophet Hosea, God described some of the consequences the Israelites faced for breaking their covenant. And yet His message was not “I will reject you forever for being unfaithful.” Instead it was “I will invite you back” (see Hosea 2:14–15). “I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness,” the Lord declared (Hosea 2:19). “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely” (Hosea 14:4). This is the same message He gives us today as we seek to live our covenants with love and devotion.

As a sinful human being, I am so much like Gomer who betrayed her husband Hosea and then continued on her adulterous ways. While I deserve punishment, God provides me with grace and mercy that I do not deserve.

Joel shared a similar message: “Turn unto the Lord your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness” (Joel 2:13). “The Lord will be the hope of his people, and the strength of the children of Israel” (Joel 3:16). As you read Hosea and Joel, ponder your own relationship with the Lord. Think about how His faithfulness inspires you to be faithful to Him.

As a Christian, I am fully cognizant of “how [God’s] faithfulness” inspires me to be faithful to Him.

Ideas for Personal Scripture Study

Hosea 1–3; 14

The Lord always invites me to return to Him.

Hosea’s wife, Gomer, was unfaithful to him, and God pointed to this sad event to teach the Israelites how He felt about them and their covenants with Him. As you read Hosea 1–3, ponder how the Lord views His relationship with His covenant people. You might ponder ways that you, like the Israelites, may have been unfaithful to the Lord and how He has reached out to you. For example, what do Hosea 2:14–23 and Hosea 14 teach you about the Lord’s love and mercy? How do you show Him your love and loyalty?

When the authors of this series talk about the Lord’s love and mercy, it should be pointed out that this is only available in Mormonism to those who successfully keep God’s commandments.

Let’s consider God’s mercy as defined by the leaders of Mormonism. This is not a free gift given for the asking but is something that must be earned. As Apostle Bruce R. McConkie stated, “All must repent to be free. All must obey to gain gospel blessings. All must keep the commandments to merit mercy” (The Promised Messiah: The First Coming of Christ, 242).

Twelfth President Spencer W. Kimball explained,

Mercy cannot rob justice. The Lord’s program is unchangeable. His laws are immutable. They will not be modified. Your opinions or mine do not made any difference and do not alter the laws. Many of the world think that eventually the Lord will be merciful and give to them unearned blessings. Mercy cannot rob justice. College professors will not give you a doctorate degree for a few weeks of cursory work in the university, nor can the Lord be merciful at the expense of justice. In this program, which is infinitely greater, we will each receive what we merit. Do not take any chances whatever (The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, 150).

Mercy in Mormonism is based on the member’s success in keeping commandments, as so declared by Kimball’s successor, Ezra Taft Benson:

We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 442).

Apostle Richard G. Scott taught at a general conference,

The demands of justice for broken law can be satisfied through mercy, earned by your continual repentance and obedience to the laws of God. Such repentance and obedience are absolutely essential for the Atonement to work its complete miracle in your life (“The Atonement Can Secure Your Peace and Happiness,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2006, 42).

Dallin H. Oaks, the first counselor in the First Presidency, stated in another general conference:

Some seem to value God’s love because of their hope that His love is so great and so unconditional that it will mercifully excuse them from obeying His laws. In contrast, those who understand God’s plan for His children know that God’s laws are invariable, which is another great evidence of His love for His children. Mercy cannot rob justice, and those who obtain mercy “are those who have kept the covenant and observed the commandment” (D&C 54:6) (“Love and Law,” Ensign (Conference Edition), November 2009, 26-27).

In other words, forgiveness of sins is not available for the asking in Mormonism. As Kimball put it,

Your Heavenly Father has promised forgiveness upon total repentance and meeting all the requirements, but that forgiveness is not granted merely for the asking. There must be works—many works—and an all-out, total surrender, with a great humility and “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” It depends upon you whether or not you are forgiven, and when. It could he weeks, it could he years, it could be centuries before that happy day when you have the positive assurance that the Lord has forgiven you. That depends on your humility your sincerity, your works, your attitudes (The Miracle of Forgiveness, 324-325).

For those who are active Latter-day Saints, how are you doing with this “all-out, total surrender”?

Hosea 6:4–7; Joel 2:12–13

Devotion to God must be felt inwardly, not just expressed outwardly.

The Lord had commanded His people to offer animal sacrifices. But even though the people in Hosea’s day were obeying that law, they were breaking commandments of greater importance (see Hosea 6:4–7). What do you think it means that the Lord “desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings”? (Hosea 6:6). What do you think it means for righteousness to be like a cloud or like dew? What should our righteousness be like? (see Isaiah 48:18; 1 Nephi 2:9–10).

The Bible teaches that God much more prefers mercy rather than the outward performance of sacrifice. How many Latter-day Saints are much more concerned with the things they accomplish for God (burnt sacrifices) then a true understanding of Him and worshiping in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:24)?

You could also read Matthew 9:10–13; 12:1–8 to see how the Savior used Hosea 6:6 during His ministry. How do these passages help you understand Hosea’s words?

Jesus was speaking to the Pharisees, religious rulers who knew every jot and tittle of the law but had no clue about what it meant to show mercy. What comes out of one’s mouth is a real indication of who that person is (James 3:9-12). But for believers who have been radically transformed by the Holy Spirit, the fruit of the Spirit as discussed in Galatians 5 is obvious.

When reading Joel 2:12–13, it might help to know that rending or tearing one’s clothing was traditionally an outward sign of mourning or remorse (for example, see 2 Chronicles 34:14–21, 27). How is rending our hearts different from rending our garments?

A person’s spiritual heart needs to be broken. For Latter-day Saints who consider themselves “good people,” it means understanding that a person has nothing good to offer God. An internal cry out to God is needed to acknowledge that, as Romans 3:10 cites from the Old Testament, “there is no one righteous, not even one.”

Joel 2

“I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh.”

What do you think it means that the Lord would “pour out [His] spirit upon all flesh”? (Joel 2:28). How are the prophecies in Joel 2:28–29 being fulfilled? (See Acts 2:1–21; Joseph Smith—History 1:41.)

We have to understand that Joel 2:28-29 is not being fulfilled but rather has been fulfilled. Read the apostle Peter’s sermon in Acts 2 to see how this is the case. However, Joseph Smith did a good job of “eisegeting” (or reading his own interpretation) into this passage in the Pearl of Great Price. According to Smith, Moroni told him the following in Joseph Smith-History 1:

41 He also quoted the second chapter of Joel, from the twenty-eighth verse to the last. He also said that this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be. And he further stated that the fulness of the Gentiles was soon to come in. He quoted many other passages of scripture, and offered many explanations which cannot be mentioned here.

Joel 2 was fulfilled in Acts 2 (for the Jewish Christians) and Acts 10 (for the Gentile Christians). It is not true that “this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be.” Can a Latter-day Saint explain when that event took place in Mormon history? Was there a Pentecost-like event that took place with Smith and the early Mormons? There was no experience like this of the early Mormons. The fulness of the Gentiles took place 18 centuries before, despite Smith’s finagling of the biblical passage.

You might ponder these words from President Russell M. Nelson: “In coming days, it will not be possible to survive spiritually without the guiding, directing, comforting, and constant influence of the Holy Ghost” (“Revelation for the Church, Revelation for Our Lives,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2018, 96). Why is revelation essential to our spiritual survival? How can you increase your capacity to receive personal revelation?

Talk about making a whole circle with a passage. When the word “revelation”–even “personal revelation”–is used in Mormonism, it is an indication that a human being (i.e., the LDS prophet) is believed to have the ability to dictate God’s mind for humanity today. And every Latter-day Saint is supposed to also have the power to discern truth based on his or her personal revelation. As one leader put it,

Let us look to our Father in Heaven and His Living prophets and personal revelation for guidance. When the prophets speak, let us listen and obey (Richard C. Edgley, Second Counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, Ensign (Conference Edition), May 1993, 12. See also “Beware of false prophets, which come in sheep’s clothing,” Church News, August 7, 1999, 14).

The problem is that this “revelation” contradicts the Bible and its teachings. Mormons who believe they have received this personal revelation can know that it must correspond to the teachings of their leaders. Those who believe they can get revelation outside of this are refuted by church teaching; this has created a monster with some Mormons who feel they have the authority to dictate their own doctrine. This is admitted to by former BYU professor Robert L. Millet:

Our blessing is that we believe in personal revelation. Our curse is that we believe in personal revelation. That’s the honest fact for me. There is a risk associated with the position we take toward God’s ability to speak to you and me” (“From faith to fanatic delusion,” Deseret News, March 16, 2003).

Ideas for Family Scripture Study and Home Evening

Hosea 2:19–20.

The Lord used the metaphor of marriage to describe His covenant relationship with Israel (see also Guide to the Scriptures, “Bridegroom,” Your family could discuss why marriage can be a good metaphor for our covenants with God. How does Hosea 2:19–20 help us understand how God feels about us? How can we be faithful to our covenants with Him?

What a horrible analogy to use with children! According to the way it’s stated here, a covenant with God is what keeps the member married to the bridegroom. If you don’t keep your covenant, then you are apparently not worthy of God’s presence. President Benson stated it clearly:

We go to our chapels each week to worship the Lord and renew our covenants by partaking of the sacrament. We thereby promise to take His name upon us, to always remember Him, and keep all His commandments. Our agreement to keep all the commandments is our covenant with God. Only as we do this may we deserve His blessings and merit His mercy (The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, 442).

Henry B. Eyring told a general conference audience:

The greatest of all the blessings of God, eternal life, will come to us only as we make covenants offered in the true Church of Jesus Christ by His authorized servants. Because of the Fall, we all need the cleansing effects of baptism and the laying on of hands to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. These ordinances must be performed by those who possess the proper priesthood authority. Then, with the help of the Light of Christ and the Holy Ghost, we can keep all the covenants we make with God, especially those offered in His temples. Only in that way, and with that help, can anyone claim his or her rightful inheritance as a child of God in a family forever. To some listening to me, that may seem a nearly hopeless dream (“A Priceless Heritage of Hope,” Ensign (Conference Edition), May 2014, 24).

Why do so many Mormons consider this to be “a nearly hopeless dream” as stated by the general authority? Because they know they are not capable of doing everything they promised to do at baptism, in the temple, and every Sunday at the sacrament service–that is, keep all the commandments all the time. This truly is an “impossible gospel.”

Finally, a popular church manual states,

We promise to keep His commandments. We take these obligations upon ourselves when we are baptized (see D&C 20:37; Mosiah 18:6–10). Thus, when we partake of the sacrament, we renew the covenants we made when we were baptized. Jesus gave us the pattern for partaking of the sacrament (see 3 Nephi 18:1–12) and said that when we follow this pattern, repenting of our sins and believing on His name, we will gain a remission of our sins (see Joseph Smith Translation, Matthew 26:24). The Lord promises that if we keep our covenants, we will always have His Spirit to be with us (Gospel Principles, 2009, 136).

And for those who don’t keep their covenants, Mormonism teaches that God’s Spirit will abandon ship. Such an idea is polar opposite to what God showed Hosea. While Gomer prostituted herself in her relationship with Hosea, Hosea did not abandon her. He loved her in spite of her indiscretion. When the God of Mormonism sends His children to a kingdom lower than the celestial kingdom, He never wants to see them again since He will have nothing to do with the terrestrial or telestial kingdoms.


Once again, the authors of this series badly mishandle the Old Testament text by making crucial errors and having the Bible say things opposite of what it really teaches. For instance, the interpretation of Joel 2 (as well as Acts 2) to say that this “day of the Lord” is coming after the time of Joseph Smith is nonsense. Joel 2 was fulfilled in the New Testament church when the Holy Spirit fell upon both Jews and Gentiles.

Meanwhile, to even insinuate that God depends on His people keeping their “covenants” with Him is heretical. Salvation comes through faith, not through obedience. Biblical Christianity is not about what we do but it’s about who we are. And who we are has a profound impact on what we do!

Indeed, this is yet another bad biblical study. It’s too bad Latter-day Saints think they are studying the Old Testament because they are not.

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