Welcome to our Bible Study Series on the Minor Prophets.
This is – Hosea, Loyal Love
Click on the link above for the study session. Find the notes below.
Hosea, Loyal Love:
- The story of Hosea is a true story of a faithful man and his unfaithful wife Gomer, illustrating the loyal love of God and the spiritual adultery of Israel. Therefore, the book of Hosea was written to the Northern Kingdom of Israel on the brink of disaster.
- See, 18 years before the fall of the Northern Kingdom God sent Hosea not only to preach the coming disaster, but also to live the message he had to deliver. So Hosea exposed the sins of Israel in contrast to the holiness of God. He pointed out that the nation must be judged for its sins but she will be restored in the future because of the everlasting love of her True Faithful Covenant God.
- Outwardly, the nation was enjoying a time of prosperity and growth; but inwardly, moral corruption and spiritual adultery flooded the lives of the people. So in order to learn more about Hosea effectively, we need to look at the setting, the purpose, the message, and the application.
1. Hosea’s Setting:
- Hosea is called one of the four great prophets of the 8th century. It has been assumed that he probably worked as baker (7:4). Aside from his disastrous marriage, little is known of the life of the prophet Hosea. His place of birth is not given, but his familiarity with and concern for the Northern Kingdom indicates he lived in Israel, not Judah.
- He was the son of Beeri (1:1), husband of Gomer (1:3), and father of two sons and a daughter (1:4, 6, 9). Hosea had a real compassion for his people, and his personal suffering because of the behaviour of his wife gave him insight into God’s grief over Israel’s sin. So his words of coming judgment are passionate but tempered with a heart of tenderness.
- Now Hosea compiled this book during the early years of Hezekiah, and his ministry stretched from about 755BC to about 710BC. But when Hosea began his ministry, Jeroboam II (782–753 B.C.) was still reigning in Israel. So Hosea’s ministry spanned the reigns of the last six
kings of Israel from Zechariah (753–752 B.C.) to Hoshea (732–722 B.C.).
- When Hosea began his ministry, Israel was enjoying a temporary period of political and economic prosperity under Jeroboam II. However, the nation began to crumble after Tiglath Pileser II (745–727 B.C.) strengthened Assyria. The reigns of Israel’s last six kings were
relatively brief since four were murdered and a fifth was carried captive to Assyria. Confusion and decline characterized the last years of the Northern Kingdom, and her people refused to heed Hosea’s warnings of imminent judgment. This draws our attention to…
2. Hosea’s Purpose:
- Hosea’s name is derived from the same Hebrew root word for Joshua & Jesus. But in addition, Hosea’s name includes an additional idea: “JHWH is Salvation.” His not fit his ministry as Hosea was sent to this Northern Kingdom that was ripe for destruction. His great purpose was to reveal the love of God for this rebellious and sinful nation.
- He pleaded with that nation to turn from their sinful ways and to follow the Lord. Here’s the situation, God’s Covenant with His people is unconditional and because of His faithfulness and unfailing love, God will one day restore their covenant relationship broken by Israel’s sin and unfaithfulness.
- As Hosea’s marriage relationship is an analogy of God’s relationship with Israel, the first 3 chapters really zoom in on Hosea. But after their relationship is restored, the rest of the book focuses on God & Israel’s relationship. We have a prodigal wife, prodigal nation story.
- So we see the following unfold in this book; God is faithful to His Covenant promises. • Sin may disappoint God but it never diminishes His love for people • God will not let sin go unpunished. • The ways of the Lord are right. • Idolatry usually leads to immorality. • Idolatry is spiritual adultery. • God’s love for His people is likened to a marriage covenant – between God and Israel; between Christ and the Church. • It is out of mercy and unfailing covenant love that God restores His people after disciplining them for sin. • God is always looking to redeem and restore his wayward, sinning people upon their repentance.
3. Hosea’s Message:
- His message is rooted in Israel’s past. The Lord had expressed His everlasting love for His people by calling them from Egypt – the Exodus. 11: 1. He speaks with tenderness as to how He taught Israel to walk and grow up and how He took him up in His arms – 11: 3.
- He led them with bonds of love – 11: 4. The way Hosea portrays God as Father we get the picture of a loving, kind and tender Father whose love knew no bounds. According to Hosea’s description it was the Lord’s love that drove Him to call Israel out of Egypt – 11: 1, 12: 13. He spoke tenderly to Israel and cared for him during his days in the wilderness, just as He would do again – 12: 13, 14: 5.
- He would secure him in the land of Canaan. However, Israel’s idolatry did germinate on Canaanite soil. It started way back when the people went after Baal-Peor at Shittim – 9:10. That was not enough. One has to mention that even Jacob did not always behave properly – 12: 2-3. He fled to Aram where his life became dominated by the pursuit of a wife – 12: 12. In contrast to the patriarch’s woman-dominated life, the Lord had sought to guide Israel by a prophet – 12: 13.
- Hosea had to set an example of the Lord’s unfailing love and faithfulness in his own marriage with Gomer. Hosea’s own marriage plays a tremendous important role in the message God wanted to
give to His people. It symbolised the marriage between JHWH and Israel.
- He was the Husband and Israel the wife – 2: 16. Hosea pointed out Israel’s idolatrous lifestyle. Prostitution was the symbol of that idolatry. The aim the Lord wanted to achieve was the fidelity of Israel to Him alone. His emotional tie was one of love: Hosea 3: 1. Hosea points out that Israel, from its inception was the special object of God’s tender love and mercy – 11: 1.
- He saw Israel as “grapes in the wilderness,” “the earliest fruit on the fig tree” – 9: 10 – “a luxuriant vine” – 10: 11, and “a trained heifer that loves to thresh” – 10: 11. Israel acted oppositely. She became even more adulterous gave herself freely to ingratitude. Israel went so far as to hire lovers – 8: 9.
- The initiative went out from God to call His people to Him. This is God! Hosea faulted Israel for violating the Covenant – 4: 2, 8: 1. The cancellation of the covenant had come: “Call his name NOT-MY-PEOPLE, for you are not My people, and I am not I-AM to you.”
- True to God’s nature the reversal of that initiative of His is clear in 1: 10. This theme of God’s initiative is further developed in 2:14-23 and 14:47. Israel did not have the internal motivation to respond to her Lord. Israel was overwhelmed by her sin and she sold herself without compromise to her sinful and idolatrous way of life – 7: 8-9. Even if Lord’s own
heart would break with the Assyrian destruction, it was the only way to bring Israel to her knees before her loving Lord.
- Anything less than that, would not be enough to show God’s
commitment to His own people. The crucial message was that Israel did not know her Lord. The verb “to know” appears twice – 2: 8 and 11: 3. God wants His people to know Him intimately. The fundamental sin of Israel was that there “is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God
in the land” – 4: 1.
- What was found in plenty in the land is described in 4: 2. They were
morally corrupt and that was because they forgot the teachings of the Word of God – 6: 6. The knowledge of God was not only something that was locked up in the mind but, it had to reflect the total person.
- It is the fear of God, the totality of man’s relationship to God. Israel
was mistakenly thinking that she knew God – 8: 2. This deficiency was tragic and fatal.
4. The Book’s Application:
- What this story teaches us is, God’s love for His children is unfailing and His faithfulness never changes regardless of our failures. God is always ready and willing to restore our broken relationships when accompanied by confession and repentance.
- So how does it link to the NT? Matthew 2: 15 applies Hosea 11: 1 to Christ. Matthew used the second half of the verse to point out that the Exodus of Israel from Egypt, as a new nation was a prophetic type of
Israel’s Messiah who was called out of Egypt in His childhood. Both Israel and Christ left Palestine to take refuge in Egypt.
- The New Testament teaching that Christ identified with us in this sinful world and the fact that He became sin for us by lovingly redeemed us can clearly be seen in Hosea’s redemption of Gomer from the slave market. Here we learn of God’s restoration of the sinner.
- A key chapter is 3. Here we see that God loves sinners, redeems sinners, instructs sinners, disciplines sinners, and reconciles sinners.