By Tyson Thorne

December 18, 2018

Intro Hosea Large

Hosea began his ministry in a near golden age for Israel. His calling came at a time when Israel had experienced a period of military success leading to prosperity both the Northern and Southern kingdoms (2 Kings 14:25-28; 2 Chronicles 26:2, 6-15). During the first half of the eighth century Assyrian influence in the West had declined, allowing the kingdoms of Jeroboam II and Uzziah to flourish. But all that began well would not end as such. Hosea foresaw dire times ahead. The Assyrians under Tiglath-Pileser III (745-727 b.c.) were about to revive their expansionist policy westward.

In 733-732 BC the Northern Kingdom became a puppet state (2 Kings 15:29). After plotting revolt, Israel was defeated in 722 BC by and Israel’s people were deported (2 Kings 17:1-6; 18:10-12). Later but still during Hosea's lifetime, Judah too became s a vassal state of the Assyrian Empire (2 Kings 16:5-10). 

Author & Date of Composition

A contemporary of Isaiah and Micah, Hosea was written over a 75 year period (much of the prophets life) from 790-715 b.c. This was God’s last message to the Northern Kingdom before its destruction. Not much is known about the author, except what he discloses about himself in the opening verses. No details regarding his life are written in any of the historical narratives.

Big Idea

God lovingly forewarns the people of imminent destruction unless they repent of their spiritual infidelity.

The Book

The Adulterous Wife, 1-3. As per usual, the nation of Israel had not heeded the words of God’s prophets. Before judging His people as they deserved, God made one final appeal through His prophet Hosea. Knowing how actions always speak louder than words, God commanded Hosea to take for himself a wife whom Hosea knew would not remain faithful to him. What a drastic measure! To another prophet God would communicate how much he loved a righteous man joining in marriage to a righteous woman, for from them come righteous offspring. Yet here God commands Hosea to marry a faithless woman, to illustrate a point to his wayward nation.

Hosea did as God requested and married a temple prostitute. (This in itself reveals the disparity of Israel, that her own temples and priests employed prostitutes!) In the first chapter we see the span of three years, and the births of three children. (Talk about a point being long in the making!) These three children were given very meaningful, albeit strange, names. The first was named Jezreel, a name which warned of coming judgment; the second was like it, Lo-ruhamah, which means “no pity.” The third and last child was named Lo-ammi, “not my people.”

Perhaps Hosea’s wife Gomer tired of the marriage, or perhaps she was just upset over the Lord dictating the names of her children. Whatever the case, she left Hosea to live “the good life” of prostitution once more. In chapter two God tells the recent story of Israel, but it is also the story of Gomer. Some might think calling a nation a “harlot,” or, as P. J. O’Rourke called America, a “Parliament of Whores,” is too strong of language. But examine what God saw happening in His country:

Blood was shed like water until one stream met another and overspread the land with one defiling deluge. Adultery was consecrated as an act of religion. Those who were first in rank were first in excess. People and king lived in debauchery, and the king joined and encouraged the free-thinkers and blasphemers of his court. The idolatrous priests loved and shared in the sins of the people… Corruption had spread throughout the whole land; even those places once sacred through God’s revelations or other mercies to their forefathers, Bethel, Gilgal, Gilead, Mizpah, Shechem, were especially scenes of corruption and sin.

An interesting footnote to history, how the righteous people of YHWH became just like the very people they had driven out of the the land before. God had warned them to put everyone to the sword, including cattle, and to utterly destroy every possession of the evil nations they had conquered. He warned them not to intermarry. A few Israelites couldn’t stand to see the waste, and so disobeyed God in these two crucial areas. As surely as the Lord lives, it was their undoing. By marrying the foreigners they kept idol worship alive. By not destroying everything else they started down a path of deciding for themselves what was good and what was evil. Because they came to accept a little evil and a little disobedience, Satan had a foothold in the fledgling nation. That foothold would provide him the opportunity to defile every place God had made holy. Truly, it is important to obey God in every detail of our lives.

So Gomer lived her life of prostitution, the life she thought was so wonderful in comparison to being with Hosea, and ended up a slave on the auction block (chapter three). Despite the adultery, despite the abuse she had heaped on Hosea, God instructed him to buy her back, even as God would buy back Israel. Not much of a fairy tale, the story of Hosea; there is no happy ending. But then, real life rarely attains the goodness of fairy tales. But a powerful story of love it is nonetheless. What great love was required to purchase and reinstate Gomer; what great love God had to purchase back and reinstate Israel (even if at this point in Hosea’s life God hadn’t yet reinstated Israel, God’s promise was good). What great love God has to purchase mankind with the blood of His son Jesus. What great love God demonstrated every time we come to Him, crying and hurting from the sting of sin in our lives.

The Adulterous People, 4-14. The remainder of the book of Hosea is God’s case against Israel, His stern warning to return to Him, and His prophetic message of hope and tough love for the nation.

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