THE BOOK OF HOSEA
Hosea was a contemporary of Amos in Israel, and of Isaiah and Micah in Judah. It is possible he was also active during the prophesying of Joel. His ministry covered a period of about sixty years. Hosea’s distinctive message is to Israel, who as Jehovah’s adulterous wife was repudiated, but is to be ultimately purified and restored. His warnings are mingled with tender and pathetic expostulations, we characteristic of the prophets of old who “spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost”, thus revealing the undying love of God for His people.
The book is in three parts:
1. Chs. 1 to 3. Jehovah’s dishonored wife.
2. Chs. 4 to 13:8. The sinful people.
3. Ch. 13:9 to Ch. 14. The ultimate blessing of Israel.
JEHOVAH’S DISHONORED WIFE.
By the symbol of his marriage to a harlot who thereafter bore him children, the prophet Hosea brought the message of God to the northern kingdom of Israel. So greatly had the people fallen away from God that He likened the nation to the unfaithful wife. The prophet plainly taught that the kingdom of the house of Israel should cease, Ch.1:4. This came to pass at the time of the Assyrian captivity, and there is no promised restoration of the northern kingdom as such.
When a daughter was born to the prophet she was named, Lo-ruhamah, which means “unpitied” vs. 6-7. By this God made it known that His day of mercy for Israel had ended but that He still had Judah on His heart. A son was born and named, Lo-ammi which means “not my people,” for God was through with them, and refused to be called their God. A day of future mercy was mentioned, however, for the Lord always looks forward to the final restoration of His people Israel, even though they were so prone to wander to sin, vs. 10-11.
Ch. 2 is written in the same strain. In v.1, we find the tenderness of God manifested as He still clings to the nation, but chastisement was be administered, after which a restoration can be brought about, v.23, and in Ch.3 we are again reminded of the undying love of Jehovah for His own.
THE SINFUL PEOPLE.
So sinful had the people become, due somewhat to their ungodly rulers, that Hosea was made to state in detail somewhat about their guilt, Ch. 4:1-2. The Word of God was available for any who would interest themselves, but the people rejected the light, which would have kept them in the straight and narrow way, v.6. Because of this, they became very idolatrous, vs.12-19. Such always happens when one neglects to feed upon the scriptures. God was unable to bear their ways any longer and said He had withdrawn Himself from them; Ch.5:6, and would stay away until they acknowledged their offence and sought for Him again, v.15.
In Ch. 6:1-3 we have a petition from the people such as they will pray in the last days when the remnant will turn again to the Lord. The chapters, which follow, contained God’s response to their cry in which He enlarges upon their great need, and the carious causes of same. He looks back and thinks of Israel as a child whom He called out of Egypt, Ch.11:1, but who in later years has gone from the right way.
THE ULTIMATE BLESSINGS OF ISRAEL.
Because of God’s covenant with the fathers, Hosea closes his prophecy with the offer that the Lord will be their King. He will heal their backsliding, Chs. 13:10; 14:4 &8, until Ephraim shall say, “what have I to do any more with idols? I have heard Him, and observed Him: I am like a green tree”. And God responds, “From me is thy fruit found.”