The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days
of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto you a
wife of harlotry and children of harlotry: for the land has committed great harlotry, departing from the LORD.
Hosea was a prophet in the latter half of the 8th century BC. He was a contemporary of Amos, Micah, and Isaiah. He prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah (aka Azariah), Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah of Judah, (792-686 BC) and Jeroboam 2 of Israel.
Six other kings also presided over Israel during the time of Hosea, but are not mentioned. They are Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekehiah, Pekah, and Hoshea, who was the final king of the northern kingdom when they fell into captivity to the Assyrans in 722 BC.
Some scholars suggest that these kings were deliberately omitted in order to emphasize the legitimacy of the Davidic line in Judah, as opposed to
the instability and disintegration of the northern kings.
Hosea’s message was primarily directed to the northern kingdom, but since he continued to preach after the fall of the
Northern kingdom, it is obvious that his message was also directed toward Judah as well.
The message of the book of Hosea can be summed up in three words: sin, judgment, and salvation. God's covenant people had sinned grievously against Him,
and were going to experience God's judgment. They had sowed the wind, and would now reap the whirlwind. (Hosea 8:7)
Way back in the book of Deuteronomy, God had clearly told them the
blessings that would follow their obedient faithfulness to Him, as well as the judgments, or curses, that would result from their unfaithfulness.
Knowing those promises of Deuteronomy, particularly chapter 28, is essential in understanding the book of Hosea. That’s where God made Israel His
covenant people – and the whole nation agreed to that covenant. God does not force His will on anyone! Obedience to the covenant would bring
blessings, as outlined in Deut. 28:1-14.
And it shall come to pass, if you shall hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD your God, to observe and to do all his commandments which I
command you this day, that the LORD your God will set you on high above all nations of the earth: And all these blessings shall come on you, and
overtake you, if you shall hearken unto the voice of the LORD your God. Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the field.
Then God told them exactly what would be the result of their disobedience: judgment upon the entire nation, including capture by their enemies and eventual exile – as described in Deut. 28:15-68.
Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your ground, and the fruit of your herds, the increase of your cattle, and the flocks of your
sheep. Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough. Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD shall cause your enemies that rise up against you to be defeated before your face: they shall come out against you one way, and flee
before you seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon you in your storehouses, and in all that you set your hand unto; and he shall
bless you in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
The LORD shall establish you a holy people unto himself, as he has sworn unto you,
if you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and walk in his ways. And all people of the earth shall see that you are called by the
name of the LORD; and they shall be afraid of you.
And the LORD shall make you bountiful in goods, in the fruit of your body, and in the fruit of your
cattle, and in the fruit of your ground, in the land which the LORD swore unto your fathers to give you. The LORD shall open unto you his good
treasure, the heaven to give the rain unto your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand: and you shall lend unto many nations,
and you shall not borrow.
And the LORD shall make you the head, and not the tail; and you shall be above only, and you shall not be beneath;
if that you hearken unto the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day, to observe and to do them: And you shall not
go aside from any of the words which I command you this day, to the right hand, or to the left, to go after other gods to serve them.
But it shall come to pass, if you will not hearken unto the voice of the LORD your God, to observe to do all his commandments and his statutes
which I command you this day; that all these curses shall come upon you, and overtake you: Cursed shall you be in the city, and cursed shall you
be in the field. Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading-trough.
Cursed shall be the fruit of your body, and the fruit of your land, the increase
of your cattle, and the offspring of your sheep. Cursed shall you be when you come in, and cursed shall you be when you go out.
The LORD shall send upon you cursing, confusion, and rebuke, in all that you set your hand unto to do, until you are destroyed, and until you perish
quickly; because of the wickedness of your doings, by which you have forsaken me.
The LORD shall make the pestilence cleave unto you, until he has consumed you from off the land, which you go to possess. The LORD shall
strike you with a consumption, and with a fever, and with an inflammation, and with fiery heat, and with the sword, and with blight, and with mildew;
and they shall pursue you until you perish. And your heaven that is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth that is under you shall be iron. The LORD shall make the rain of your land
powder and dust: from heaven shall it come down upon you, until you be destroyed.
The LORD shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies: you shall go out one way against them, and flee seven ways before them: and
shall be a terror to all the kingdoms of the earth. And your carcasses shall be food unto all fowls of the air, and unto the animals of the earth, and
no man shall frighten them away.
The LORD will strike you with the boils of Egypt, and with tumors, and with the scab, and with the itch, of which
you can not be healed. The LORD shall strike you with madness, and blindness, and confusion of mind: And you shall grope at noonday, as the
blind gropes in darkness, and you shall not prosper in your ways: and you shall be only oppressed and plundered continually, and no man shall
You shall betroth a wife, and another man shall lie with her: you shall build a house, and you shall not dwell therein: you shall plant a vineyard, and
shall not gather the grapes thereof. Your ox shall be slain before your eyes, and you shall not eat thereof: your donkey shall be violently taken away
from before your face, and shall not be restored to you: your sheep shall be given unto your enemies, and you shall have none to rescue them.
Your sons and your daughters shall be given unto another people, and your eyes shall look, and fail with longing for them all the day long: and there
shall be no strength in your hand. The fruit of your land, and all your labors, shall a nation which you know not eat up; and you shall be only oppressed
and crushed continually: So that you shall be driven mad by the sight of your eyes which you shall see.
The LORD shall strike you in the knees, and in the legs, with painful boils that cannot be healed, from the sole of your foot unto the top of your head.
The LORD shall bring you, and your king which you shall set over you, unto a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known; and there shall
you serve other gods, of wood and stone. And you shall become a horror, a proverb, and a byword, among all nations where the LORD shall lead you.
You shall carry much seed out into the field, and shall gather but little in; for the locust shall consume it. You shall plant vineyards, and dress them,
but shall neither drink of the wine, nor gather the grapes; for the worms shall eat them. You shall have olive trees throughout all your borders, but you
shall not anoint yourself with the oil; for your olives shall drop off. You shall beget sons and daughters, but you shall not enjoy them; for they shall go
into captivity. All your trees and fruit of your land shall the locust consume.
The stranger that is among you shall rise up above you higher and
higher; and you shall come down lower and lower. He shall lend to you, and you shall not lend to him: he shall be the head, and you shall be the tail.
Moreover all these curses shall come upon you, and shall pursue you, and overtake you, till you are destroyed; because you hearkened not unto the
voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you: And they shall be upon you for a sign and for a
wonder, and upon your descendants forever.
Because you served not the LORD your God with joyfulness, and with gladness of heart, for the
abundance of all things; Therefore shall you serve your enemies which the LORD shall send against you, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness,
and in want of all things: and he shall put a yoke of iron upon your neck, until he has destroyed you. The LORD shall bring a nation against you from
afar, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flies; a nation whose tongue you shall not understand; A nation of fierce countenance, which
shall not regard the person of the old, nor show favor to the young: And he shall eat the fruit of your cattle, and the fruit of your land, until you are
destroyed: who also shall not leave you either grain, wine, or oil, or the increase of your cattle, or offspring of your sheep, until he has destroyed you.
And he shall besiege you in all your gates, until your high and fortified walls come down, in which you trusted, throughout all your land: and he shall
besiege you in all your gates throughout all your land, which the LORD your God has given you.
God gave them the choice, and clearly defined what the result of their disobedience would be. Hosea’s role was to expose the way the nation had broken the covenant with God and committed idolatry, or spiritual adultery.
Israel had turned to the Canaanite god of Baal, a fertility and storm god. There are many other sins the Israelites were guilty of, including violent
crime, social injustices, religious hypocrisy – but the overall sin was idolatry: they had abandoned their covenant relationship with Yahweh.
To expose the idolatry of Israel, Hosea was instructed by God to marry a woman of loose morals, to illustrate how immoral Israel had broken their
covenant vows to their God. God often referred to Israel as His wife, and He as her husband. The close, personal, intimate, and loving
relationship of a marriage covenant was a
picture of God's covenant relationship with His people.
But by this time in their history, Israel had been unfaithful, committing spiritual adultery
by turning to other gods, as an unfaithful wife turns to other men.
After putting up with Israel's unfaithfulness for so long, God had finally had enough.
Israel had been unfaithful to their God, and would now suffer the consequences of their adultery.
However, the other message of the book, the over-arching message, is that God will not abandon Israel completely. Each judgment - right up to the final judgment, their captivity and subsequent
exile from their own land -
was intended to turn Israel back to God.
Why? Why would God continue to try to reach these stubborn, sinful Israelties who had committed spiritual adultery? They didn't deserve His
mercy, they had sinned and committed idolatry. But even when they did not deserve His grace and mercy, even when they had forsaken the one true God for other false gods,
God did not abandon them entirely, because God is a covenant God. He keeps His covenant even when His people are unfaithful to it – not because they deserve it, but because He is
faithful and cannot and will not go back on His covenant.
As we look at God's message to His covenant people through Hosea, we must remember that God will not EVER abandon His covenant people, Israel.
But we also need to understand that WE are God's covenant people, as well as Israel.
We are adopted into His family when we
receive Jesus Christ as our Savior. Jesus came to earth to establish a new covenant, a better covenant - one with even better promises!
But now has he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better
promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
And for this cause he is the mediator of the new covenant, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first covenant, they who are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance.
God will do WHATEVER IT TAKES to reconcile His people to Himself – even sending His only begotten Son to die for our sins!
He will do all these things, not because we are worthy, or we deserve it, but because He is a covenant God, and we are His covenant people.
And God always keeps His covenant!
Who is wise, and he shall understand these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall stumble in them.