Who wrote it
Hosea 1:1 identifies the author of the book as the Prophet Hosea. It is Hosea’s personal account of his prophetic messages to the children of God and to the world. Hosea is the only prophet of Israel who left any written prophecies which were recorded during the later years of his life.
When(ish) was it written?
Hosea, the son of Beeri, prophesied for quite some time, from 785 to 725 BC. The book of Hosea was likely written between 755 and 725 BC.
Why was it written?
Hosea wrote this book to remind the Israelites—and us—that ours is a loving God whose loyalty to His covenant people is unwavering. In spite of Israel’s continual turning to false gods, God’s steadfast love is portrayed in the long-suffering husband of the unfaithful wife. Hosea’s message is also one of warning to those who would turn their backs on God’s love. Through the symbolic presentation of the marriage of Hosea and Gomer, God’s love for the idolatrous nation of Israel is displayed in a rich metaphor in the themes of sin, judgment, and forgiving love.
Some Key Verses
[quote] When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
– Hosea 1:2 [/quote]
[quote] And I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’
– Hosea 2:23 [/quote]
[quote] For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
– Hosea 6:6 [/quote]
[quote] Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.
– Hosea 14:2-4 [/quote]
A Quick Summary
The book of Hosea can be divided into two parts:
- Hosea 1:1-3:5 is a description of an adulterous wife and a faithful husband, symbolic of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God through idolatry.
- Hosea 4:1-14:9 contains the condemnation of Israel, especially Samaria, for the worship of idols and her eventual restoration.
The first section of the book contains three distinctive poems illustrating how God’s children returned time after time to idolatry. God commands Hosea to marry Gomer, but after bearing him three children, she walks away from Hosea to her lovers. The symbolic emphasis can be seen clearly in the first chapter as Hosea compares Israel’s actions to turning from a marriage to life as a prostitute. The second section contains Hosea’s denunciation of the Israelites but followed by the promises and the mercies of God.
The book of Hosea is a prophetic accounting of God’s relentless love for His children. Since the beginning of time God’s ungrateful and undeserving creation has been accepting God’s love, grace, and mercy while still unable to refrain from its wickedness.
The last part of Hosea shows how God’s love once again restores His children as He forgets their misdeeds when they turn back to Him with a repentant heart. The prophetic message of Hosea foretells the coming of Israel’s Messiah 700 years in the future. Hosea is quoted often in the New Testament.
Hosea 2:23 is the wonderful prophetic message from God to include the Gentiles [non-Jews] as His children as recorded also in Romans 9:25 and 1 Peter 2:10. Gentiles are not originally “God’s people,” but through His mercy and grace, He has provided Jesus Christ, and by faith in Him we are grafted into the tree of His people (Romans 11:11-18). This is an amazing truth about the Church, one that is called a “mystery” because before Christ, God’s people were considered to be the Jews alone. When Christ came, the Jews were temporarily blinded “until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in” (Romans 11:25).
What does this mean?
The book of Hosea assures us of God’s unconditional love for His people. But it is also a picture of how God is dishonored and angered by the actions of His children. How can a child who is given an abundance of love, mercy, and grace treat a Father with so much disrespect? Yet, we have done just that for centuries. As we consider how the Israelites turned their backs on God, we need to look no further than the mirror in front of us to see a reflection of those same Israelites.
Only by remembering how much God has done for each of us will we be able to avoid rejecting the One who can give us eternal life in glory instead of the hell we deserve. It is essential that we learn to respect our Creator. Hosea has shown us God’s heart of loving commitment. When we do sin, since we are positionally in Christ, God will bring us back to Himself and show His never-ending love (see 1 John 1:9) as we approach Him with a sorrowful heart filled with repentance.
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- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hosea 1-3, 1 Peter 1:18-19, and 2 Timothy 2:13. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
- Has God ever asked you to do something very unexpected? How do you respond when the clear teaching in God’s Word doesn’t match up with your own plans and preferences? How does the story of Hosea help?
- When have you been most thankful for the “one way love” God has for you? Do you tend to be a person who feels “good enough” for God, or are you more likely to have a low view of yourself and feel that you “don’t deserve” God’s love?
- The name “Hosea” means “savior.” It is the same root word the name “Jesus” comes from. How does Hosea become a picture (or foreshadowing) of Jesus Himself? Does the story of Hosea help you understand the unconditional and sacrificial love of Jesus? How can you follow Hosea’s example in your unconditional love for others?
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- Take a few minutes to read aloud the Scripture from Hosea 1-9 and 11:8-12. What verses or ideas stand out to you from these passages? What questions do you have? What “next step” are you considering as a result of your interaction with God’s Word?
- Check out Hosea 2-9, What is your gut reaction to being called “Gomer”?
- What areas of your life do you seek to redefine good and evil on your own terms? (Sexuality, finances, justice?)
- Are there areas in your life that you’re blocking God off and intentionally forgetting Him?
- Is it difficult to receive love? If so, why? What lie does Hosea speak truth to?