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Bible Study: The Book Of Hosea – Part One

The Book Of Hosea, Part 1

Introduction

“We have in the Book of Hosea one of the most arresting revelations of the real nature of sin, and one of the clearest interpretations of the strength of the Divine love. No one can read the story of Hosea without realizing the agony of his heart. Then, lift the human to the level of the Infinite, and know this, that sin wounds the heart of God.”         G. Campbell Morgan

While the Book of Hosea is not in narrative or story form, it does contain a story, although it is interwoven with the text. Briefly, the story is that Hosea married Gomer and she bore three children—Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, and Lo-ammi. Gomer was unfaithful, and in spite of this, Hosea sought her in great love, and bought her back from slavery and degradation.

The usual translation of Hosea 1:2 says that God apparently commanded the prophet to marry a woman who was already a harlot.  Many Bible readers see a moral problem here. Would a holy God ask one of his prophets to marry a “wife of harlotry”? And would a morally sensitive prophet obey?  The solution seems to be that Hosea married a pure woman who later became an adulteress. This view fits well with the prophet and his wife as being types of Jehovah and His unfaithful wife Israel. It also fits in with the prophet’s (and the Bible’s) high ideals of marriage. People who hold this view (myself included) find it hard to conceive of Hosea suffering so much grief over his wrecked marriage if Gomer had been immoral to start with.

Hosea was the son of Beeri. His name means salvation and is basically the same as the name Joshua and its Greek form, Jesus. Living up to his name, Hosea prophesied concerning the salvation of Jehovah which will come when Christ returns to set up His kingdom. Hosea was a prophet chiefly to Israel, but there are passages that reflect a Judean interest as well.

Hosea prophesied when Jeroboam II, the son of Joash, was king of Israel, and also when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah. This would be a period of several decades in the eighth century b.c. Most commentators believes Hosea’s ministry extended from about 753 b.c. to a time just before the fall of Samaria in 722 b.c.

Hosea foretold the Assyrian invasion of the Northern Kingdom and the fall of Samaria.

When his wife Gomer left him to live shamefully in sin, God instructed His servant to buy her on the public market and bring her back in blessing. The purpose of all this, of course, was to picture God’s relationship with Israel.  The nation had proved unfaithful, living in idolatry and moral wickedness. For many years it would be without a king, a sacrifice, or idols. That is its present status.

In the future, however, when Israel returns to the Lord in repentance, He will have mercy. Ephraim will then be forever cured of her idolatrous backsliding and converted to God. Hosea presents the exhaustless mercy of God which no sin of man can bar or wear out. The master thought of Hosea’s message is that God’s mighty and inextinguishable love for Israel will not rest satisfied until it has brought all Israel into harmony with itself.

THE REJECTION OF ISRAEL PICTURED BY THE NAMES OF HOSEA’S THREE CHILDREN (1:1-9)

The Lord directed the Prophet Hosea the son of Beeri to marry an unfaithful woman. He married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim.

Their first child was named Jezreel (meaning God will scatter), an indication of what the Lord was about to do to the nation of Israel. The Assyrian army would break the power of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.

The second child was named Lo-Ruhamah (unpitied). This signified that Israel would no longer be pitied but would be sent into captivity, while Judah would be spared from the assaults of the Assyrians.

The third child was named Lo-Ammi (not My people). God no longer recognized Israel as His own. Some also feel the prophet was questioning whether or not this child was his own.

THE RESTORATION OF ISRAEL PROMISED (1:10 and 2:1)

But this judgment on Israel was only temporary. God would regather Israel and Judah and acknowledge them as His own. This will take place at the Second Coming of Christ.  In context the latter part of verse 10 clearly applies to Israel. But Paul quotes these words in Romans 9:26 and applies them to the call of the Gentiles.

In chapter 2 Hosea is told to speak to a faithful remnant of the nation. These brethren are spoken of as Ammi (My people) and Ruhamah (she who has obtained mercy).

GOD’S WARNING AGAINST ISRAEL’S UNFAITHFULNESS AND HIS THREATENED JUDGMENT (2:2-13)

The faithful remnant should plead with the mass of the nation of Israel to put away her idolatry and harlotries or God will strip her naked and bring drought upon her.

The children of the sinful nation will also be unpitied because they are children of a harlot who went after false gods and gave these idols credit for supplying her with food, clothing, and luxuries.

God will put all kinds of roadblocks and obstructions in her way, and cut her off from her idols until she decides to return to Him (her first husband).

She did not give God credit for supplying her with necessities and luxuries, including the gold and silver which she used to make an idol of Baal.  So God will cut off from her the food and clothing, and will thoroughly uncover her lewdness.  Her mirth and her appointed religious holidays will be canceled and her vines and … fig trees will be destroyed (she thought these were her pay from her idol lovers), and she will be punished for all the days … she served Baal.

A FUTURE OF BLESSING FORETOLD FOR ISRAEL (2:14-23)

After that, He will restore and comfort Israel. God will give her her vineyards and she will sing as in the time when she came up from the land of Egypt. She will then call Him Ishi (My Husband), not Baali (My Master). The people will be cleansed from Baal-worship, even to the degree of forgetting the names of the Baals.

The nation will dwell in safety and peace because of the covenant God will make with the beasts of the field and other animals, rendering all wild animals harmless. Warfare will also be ended. Israel will be married to the Lord forever, under terms of righteousness and justice, in loving-kindness and mercy, bound by God’s faithfulness.

In that day, Jezreel (Israel) will no longer mean scattered, but sown. The people will be sown in their own land; heaven and earth will join in blessing them and making them fruitful. Williams helpfully explains this paragraph as follows:

Jezreel (Israel), as sown by God in the land (verse 23), will cry to the corn, the wine, and the oil to supply her needs; they will cry to the earth to fructify them; the earth will cry to the heavens for the needed rain in order to produce the fruit; and the heavens will cry to Jehovah to fill them with the required water.  In response to the appeal He will fill the heavens with moisture, the heavens will discharge it upon the earth, the earth will produce, as a result, the corn, the wine and the oil, Israel will have ample provision, and the heaven and earth will be bound together with a chain of love. Then God will have pity on Israel, will acknowledge her as His people, and Israel will acknowledge Him as her God.

THE REDEMPTION OF HOSEA’S WIFE A TYPE OF ISRAEL’S ULTIMATE RETURN TO JEHOVAH (Chapter 3)

Then the Lord told Hosea to go to the public market and buy back his faithless wife from her sin. The purchase price, fifteen shekels of silver and one and one-half homers of barley, was that of a female slave. For many days after that, there were to be no marital relations; later she would be restored to her full marital status. This pictures the past, present, and future of the nation of Israel. Unfaithful to Jehovah, she ran after other lovers (idols). But God brought her back.

Her present condition is given in verse 4 without a king, without a prince (or royal family), without a sacrifice (that is, the Levitical sacrifices have been suspended), without a sacred pillar (idol), without an ephod (symbol of the Levitical priesthood), and without teraphim (household gods). Israel’s future is given in verse 5; she will return to the Lord and will love and fear Him in faithfulness.