Hosea’s name means “salvation.” He proclaimed a message of saving grace in the midst of a culture dominated by sexuality. Hosea proclaimed two primary themes: God as the husband of Israel and the adulterous character of idolatry. The NT contains over thirty quotes from this so-called minor prophet.
First, notice the importance of the historical background of the prophet (Hosea 1:1). Hosea served during crisis days as the Northern Kingdom of Israel approached their bicentennial celebration—a celebration observed by the death of the nation because of a refusal to heed Hosea’s message. 2 Kings 14-17 described this period as a period of internal chaos, international change as Assyria came to dominate the region, and the practice of religious syncreticism. Israelites combined the worship of God with the worship of Baal—a depraved religion of glorified sex. According to the Bible, the causes for this ungodly period were immorality (2 Kings 17:7), spiritual infidelity (2 Kings 17:7), and spiritual insolence (2 Kings 17:14). Against this background, Hosea 6:6 functions as the key verse.
Second, Hosea compared marriage to the relationship of God and His people (Hosea 1:2-8). The call of experience of the prophets was the key to the prophet’s message. Isaiah, for example, experienced a vision of the holiness of the Lord and his favorite title for God was “The Holy One of Israel.” God’s first word to Hosea dealt with marriage. As one who experienced an adulterous marriage, Hosea proclaimed the unfaithfulness of God’s people.
Hosea 1 contains four commands of God: marriage to a harlot and the names of three children. Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim (meaning “two fig cakes” or “two raisin cakes”). Fig cakes were common in the worship of Baal (Hosea 3:1). God provided a reason for the command to marry—the people of God have been promiscuous. God commanded Hosea to give symbolic names to Gomer’s children. The name Jezreel recalls the valley in which Jehu killed the kings of Judah and Israel; the beginning of the end of the nation as Jehu continued calf-worship. The name “No Compassion.” Israel had broken God’s covenant and God would have no compassion in His judgment. The name “Not My people” indicates that the fracture of the covenant between God and people. As the child was not Hosea’s, Israel’s unfaithfulness symbolized the rupture in the relationship between God and people. Yet, Hosea 1:10-11 sets forth a message of possible covenant renewal: reconciliation, restoration, and remarriage.
Third, Hosea experienced reconciliation as a picture of the restoration of the relationship between God and His people (Hosea 3:1-5). In chapter one, God commanded Hosea to take a wife; in chapter three God commanded Hosea to love his unfaithful wife. Hosea 3 sets forth five principles of marriage that mirror the relationship between God and His people. First, love is not natural; love is supernatural. The initiative to restore the prophet’s broken marriage come from God. Second, marriage involves the action of “go again.” God commanded Hosea to “go again” to Gomer and not quit. Hosea describes love by means of a picturesque word. The Hebrew work literally means “burn.” Love is a passionate, loyal, affectionate, committed, caring, forgiving, forebearing, desire to be united with the object of love. Third, love is active. God loved and paid a high price—the sacrifice of His son (John 3:16). Hosea scrapped the bottom of his resources to purchase Gomer from the slave market. Fourth, love is exclusive. Since Gomer could not practice self-control, Hosea isolated her to teach her. Gomer would not have sexual relation with either other men or Hosea. Fifth, at times, love means loving discipline is necessary. God would withhold his blessings (king and sacrifice) to teach the nation to trust only him.
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