Now we see a drastic turn from Hosea 13 verse 6 to verse 7. We find the text moving from the picture here of a shepherd that protects the sheep to a picture of an animal preying on the sheep.

God says, “So I will be to them like a lion; like a leopard by the road I will lurk; 8 I will meet them like a bear deprived of her cubs; I will tear open their rib cage, and there I will devour them like a lion. The wild beast shall tear them.” The shepherd was on guard to fight off lions and bears and thus to protect the flock, but now their shepherd was about to be to them like a lion, a leopard, and a mamma bear who has lost her cubs!

This is God turning the people over to their sin and its consequences – and those consequences are HIM coming in judgment. Deuteronomy 32:24 says of those who break the Covenant that “They shall be wasted with hunger, devoured by pestilence and bitter destruction; I will also send against them the teeth of beasts, with the poison of serpents of the dust.” And Ezekiel 14:21 tells us, “For thus says the Lord God: ‘How much more it shall be when I send My four severe judgments on Jerusalem—the sword and famine and wild beasts and pestilence—to cut off man and beast from it?’”

God was preparing to judge His people. Now instead of protecting them they will need protection from Him. What protection is there against God? None. There is none.

The description here is of God coming as a lion, a leopard, a bear, and a wild beast, that is a beast that defies description. Where else in Scripture do we find these animals? It is in Daniel chapter 7 (which had not been written yet at this point in history and in fact was several hundred years in the future). Daniel records for us his vision of four beasts.

In the first year of Belshazzar king of Babylon, Daniel had a dream and visions of his head while on his bed. Then he wrote down the dream, telling the main facts. 2 Daniel spoke, saying, “I saw in my vision by night, and behold, the four winds of heaven were stirring up the Great Sea. 3 And four great beasts came up from the sea, each different from the other. 4 The first was like a lion, and had eagle’s wings. I watched till its wings were plucked off; and it was lifted up from the earth and made to stand on two feet like a man, and a man’s heart was given to it. 5 “And suddenly another beast, a second, like a bear. It was raised up on one side, and had three ribs in its mouth between its teeth. And they said thus to it: ‘Arise, devour much flesh!’ 6 “After this I looked, and there was another, like a leopard, which had on its back four wings of a bird. The beast also had four heads, and dominion was given to it. 7 “After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, dreadful and terrible, exceedingly strong. It had huge iron teeth; it was devouring, breaking in pieces, and trampling the residue with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns. 8 I was considering the horns, and there was another horn, a little one, coming up among them, before whom three of the first horns were plucked out by the roots. And there, in this horn, were eyes like the eyes of a man, and a mouth speaking pompous words.

Do you believe it is merely coincidence that Daniel had a vision of four animals that represented four nations and these animals match the description of Hosea’s proclamation about the judgment of God? Hosea is telling the people of Israel the same thing that Daniel told the people of Judah later. God was sending these nations to judge them, to trouble them, to punish them for their sin. Yes, they were evil nations. But God uses all the nations of this world as He pleases to accomplish His purposes. They are as nothing to Him and He disposes of them as He wishes.

Daniel’s vision covers the time of the destruction of Jerusalem by Babylon through to the coming of the Messiah. During that time span four nations would rule the world ruthlessly. Each of these nations would be used by God to judge His people and then because of their sinfulness, in turn each nation would also be judged. Each would be conquered by the next until we have a great and terrible creature that will crush everything and then die and be resurrected!

The lion is Babylon, led by Nebuchadnezzar who in his pride raised himself up against the people of God and against God until God humbled Nebuchadnezzar with madness. The bear represents the Medo-Persians, and it came with 3 ribs stuck in its teeth. These ribs are Asia Minor, Egypt, and Syria that it conquered first before coming against Babylon. The leopard represents for us the nation of Greece. The leopard has 4 wings, and there were 4 rulers of Greece beginning with Alexander the Great who led them against the Medo-Persians and defeated them. Here he is prophesied in Scripture.

And the last wild beast, literally indescribable, would come and kill the leopard, and this of course was the Roman Empire. Revelation describes Rome as the beast that “was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition.” (Rev. 17:8).
Revelation 13 tells us about the resurrected empire that will enthrone the Antichrist. “Then I stood on the sand of the sea. And I saw a beast rising up out of the sea, having seven heads and ten horns, and on his horns ten crowns, and on his heads a blasphemous name. 2 Now the beast which I saw was like a leopard, his feet were like the feet of a bear, and his mouth like the mouth of a lion. The dragon gave him his power, his throne, and great authority. 3 And I saw one of his heads as if it had been mortally wounded, and his deadly wound was healed. And all the world marveled and followed the beast. 4 So they worshiped the dragon who gave authority to the beast; and they worshiped the beast, saying, “Who is like the beast? Who is able to make war with him?”

And throughout all of this, who is driving these nations? Who is motivating them? Who is using them? It is God! They are brought upon the world as judgments for sin. History is HIS story. He is sovereign over the affairs of men and of nations. And He was doing these things in history to bring about the incarnation, and then later the return of Christ. These are the focal points of history – the coming of Christ, and the second coming of Christ. And here we see the sinfulness of nations that reiterates to us the need for the Savior.