Hosea 1-3

Thursday Evening Bible Study

February 16, 2006


In the days of Hosea, Israel was a divided kingdom. The southern kingdom was known as Judah after the largest tribe, while the northern kingdom was called either Israel, Ephraim (the largest tribe) or Samaria (the capital city).

Hosea ministered to the people of the northern kingdom.

Hosea lived at the time of the fall of the northern kingdom. In a way his ministry was similar to that of Jeremiah’s several hundred years later, warning the people of the coming judgment. It is thought that Hosea’s ministry started somewhere around the year 750 BC, about 30 years before the fall of the northern kingdom.

There were several other prophets with ministries at this time. Amos was alive in Hosea’s day, and he too ministered to the northern kingdom, as did the prophet Jonah. At this time, there were two prophets in the southern kingdom, Isaiah and Micah.

Hosea’s ministry began at the end of the reign of Jeroboam II, who reigned 41 years over the northern kingdom, one of the longer reigns for a king of the north. Even though he is called an “evil” king, as all the northern kings were, he did bring prosperity and actually enlarged the northern kingdom.

Under Jeroboam II, Israel lived in material prosperity but spiritual bankruptcy. Judgment and destruction of the nation would sound pretty unlikely. Sounds a little like the time we live in. About twenty years after Hosea’s ministry, the city of Damascus would fall to the Assyrians. By 722 BC, the northern kingdom of Israel was fallen.

The first three chapters of the book will deal with Hosea’s personal life. The remaining chapters contain messages given through his ministry. In the prophetic sections there are three main themes woven throughout: The sins of the people, the certainty of judgment, and God’s loyal love.

:1 The word of the LORD that came to 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.

HoseaHowshea‘– Hoshea or Oshea = “salvation”

(Uzziah, 790-739 B.C.; Jotham, 750-731; Ahaz, 731-715; Hezekiah, 715-686; Jeroboam II, 794-753)

When you look at the dates of when these kings ruled, the very smallest time frame of Hosea’s ministry would be from at least 753 BC (the end of Jeroboam’s reign) until 715 BC (the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign).

:2-9 What a family!

:2 When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD."

This has got to be one of the most bizarre things God has ever asked anyone to do. If it weren’t for the fact that we KNOW that Hosea was a real, live, bonified prophet, we might question this kind of a thing. “Yeah, sure …”

Hosea is asked to go marry a gal who was a prostitute. And he’s supposed to have children with her.

Some have suggested that she didn’t become a prostitute until after they got married.

Hosea is going to be a living picture of God’s relationship with His people.

It was not unusual for God to have a prophet do something to get a message across:

At times Isaiah was asked to do things as a picture of some prophecy. One time God asked Isaiah to go naked for three years, foreshadowing when the Assyrians would conquer Egypt and make their captives walk naked and barefoot (Isaiah 20).
The prophet Ezekiel was told to make bread out of certain vegetables and cook it over manure (Eze. 4), symbolizing what the people in Jerusalem were doing.

With Hosea, he will be representing God, who has been married to His people, but His people are like a harlot in that they are not faithful to God. How will God treat these people who have been unfaithful?


Painting a picture

I find it interesting that our lives are also a picture of God’s relationship with man.
We are a living picture of Jesus and the church

(Eph 5:22-32 NKJV) Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord. {23} For the husband is head of the wife, as also Christ is head of the church; and He is the Savior of the body. {24} Therefore, just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.

Paul is going to tell us that the marriage relationship is a picture of Jesus’ relationship to the church. The wife represents the church and Jesus represents the husband.

Submission is a difficult thing for anyone to swallow. We’re all supposed to be submitting to one another (Eph. 5:21), but here the focus is on the wives submitting to the husband.

Wives, the way you submit to your husband is a picture. It is telling the world about how the church submits to Christ. Does your marriage show the right picture?


Going For The Juggler

A juggler, driving to his next performance, is stopped by the police. “What are these matches and lighter fluid doing in your car?” asks the cop. “I’m a juggler and I juggle flaming torches in my act.” “Oh yeah?” says the doubtful cop. “Lets see you do it.” The juggler gets out and starts juggling the blazing torches masterfully. A couple driving by slows down to watch. “Wow,” says the driver to his wife. “I’m glad I quit drinking. Look at the test they’re giving now!

Do people get the wrong idea when they watch our lives?

{25} Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, {26} that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word, {27} that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.

The way a husband treats his wife is another picture. Men, what would life be like for us if Jesus treated us the way you treat your wife? Scary, isn’t it?

A man’s love for his wife ought to be sacrificial. He laid down everything for us. A man’s love for his wife changes her for the good – she grows more and more beautiful under the right kind of love.

{28} So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself. {29} For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church. {30} For we are members of His body, of His flesh and of His bones. {31} "For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh."

Jesus is not only a husband to the church. He is also the “head” of His own body, which is also the church. A head is sure to take care of it’s body just as Jesus takes care of the church. When a man and woman are married, they are “one flesh”, like a head and a body. You are doing yourself good by taking care of your body. Take care of your wife. It’s good for you.

{32} This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

But Paul really isn’t talking about marriage after all. He wants us to focus on the whole idea that our marriage is a picture of Jesus and the church.

I’m glad that we get to be a picture of Jesus and the church and not Israel and God.

:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.

Now you know something is definitely wrong when a man marries a woman named Gomer.

GomerGomer – “complete”. Was her last name “Pyle”? Gawwwwwwleeeeeee!

:4 Then the LORD said to him: "Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.

Jezreel[email protected]‘e’l – “God sows”. Sometimes a prophet will name his child because the name itself means something. Here I think the focus is on the fact that Jezreel was the name of a famous, important place.

Jezreel was a valley in the north of Israel. It was where wicked King Ahab had his summer house. It would be the place where one of Ahab’s captains, Jehu, would kill Ahab’s son and wife, Jezebel, and eventually wipe out all the descendants of Ahab.

Even though God had warned Ahab and his house that he and his descendants would be wiped out because of Ahab’s sins, that didn’t mean that whoever killed the house of Ahab would get an automatic gold star in God’s eyes.

Jehu was commended by God for what he had done in wiping out Ahab and wiping out the worship of Baal (2Ki. 10:29-31), but he didn’t do all that he should have done in that he left the golden calves to continue.

God promised Jehu that his descendants up to the fourth generation would rule over Israel as a reward for the good things he did (2Ki. 10:30), but on the other hand they wouldn’t go past the fourth generations because Jehu didn’t go all the way with his faith, he only did part of what God wanted him to do.

The current king of the northern kingdom, Jeroboam II, was the third generation after Jehu. Jeroboam’s son, Zechariah, would only rule for six months before being killed (2Ki. 15:8-12).

:5 It shall come to pass in that day That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel."

There’s a bit of a play on words in the Hebrew between Israel (Yitsra-el) and Jezreel (Yetsre-el). Jezreel was one of the great battlefields in Israel, and the nation would be overthrown by the Assyrians, including battles at Jezreel.

Trivia note: The valley of Jezreel is also the location of the future battle of Armageddon.

:6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: "Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, But I will utterly take them away.

Here, the name of child will mean something.

Lo-RuhamahLo’ Ruchamah – “no mercy”. When she grew up and kissed her first boyfriend, he didn’t cry (Elvis voice), “Mercy, mercy”, but he cried, “No mercy, no mercy” J (the name could also be translated, “not loved”, pretty tragic really)

:7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, Will save them by the LORD their God, And will not save them by bow, Nor by sword or battle, By horses or horsemen."

Even though the northern kingdom would be wiped out by the Assyrians, the southern kingdom was not. When the army of the Assyrians came against Hezekiah at Jerusalem, God promised to save the city. The people trusted the Lord. They prayed. And God sent an angel that wiped out 185,000 Assyrians in a single night (Isa. 36-37).

:8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son.

:9 Then God said: "Call his name Lo-Ammi, For you are not My people, And I will not be your God.

Lo-AmmiLo’ ‘Ammiy – “not my people”

It kind of makes me wonder if Hosea was unsure if he was the father of this child or not. What would people think when they asked Hosea what the boy’s name was and he answered, “not my people”, which would sound like, “not my son”.

I will not be your God – the phrase could literally be translated, “and I AM not I AM to you” and could possibly refer to God’s famous talk with Moses, where Moses asked what God’s name was, and God replied, “I AM that I AM”.

Now God would be no longer “I AM” to those people.

:10- 2:1 Hope

:10 "Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people,' There it shall be said to them, 'You are sons of the living God.'

:11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel!

great will be the day of Jezreel – it could be talking about how great the day will be when God “plants” the people again in the land.  I wonder if the “great will be the day of Jezreel” could even refer to the battle of Armageddon (taking place in the valley Jezreel), where God wins, and evil is defeated.


God isn’t finished with me yet

Sometimes all we can think about is how we’ve failed God. It’s hard to see past the guilt and condemnation.
But the truth is, God isn’t finished with you yet. He certainly isn’t finished with the nation of Israel.
We have several promises that remind us that God is still working on us:
(Phil 1:6 NKJV) being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;
(1 Th 5:24 NKJV) He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
Remember the verses about the husband and wife? The husband (Jesus) keeps washing the wife (the church) in the water of His Word, removing the spots and wrinkles, getting her (the church) ready to meet His Father.
Keep going. Don’t give up. God hasn’t.

Hosea 2

:1 Say to your brethren, 'My people,' And to your sisters, 'Mercy is shown.'

This probably fits better with the verse at the end of chapter 1.  The time of restoration will be a time when God once again says to Israel, “You are my people” and “You are loved”.

The chapter break could probably be better placed after this verse.

:2-13  Divorce

:2 "Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts;

It is often the case nowadays that after the kids are born, that a wife might go back to work.  Apparently Gomer has gone back to work.

:3 Lest I strip her naked And expose her, as in the day she was born, And make her like a wilderness, And set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst.

It’s possible that there is a parallel here between what Hosea will go through with Gomer and what God does with His people.  It could be that these are simply the words of God to His people.

The words used in verse 2 are very close to the words used in a formal declaration of divorce.

The Law of Moses allowed for divorce by saying that if a woman “finds no favor” in the eyes of her husband, he could give her a certificate of divorce, and the marriage was over (Deut. 24:1-4).

In Jesus’ day, there were some who interpreted Moses’ statements to mean that even if she burnt his toast, that was reason for divorce.

(Mat 19:3-9 NKJV)  The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, "Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?" {4} And He answered and said to them, "Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning 'made them male and female,' {5} "and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'? {6} "So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate." {7} They said to Him, "Why then did Moses command to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?" {8} He said to them, "Moses, because of the hardness of your hearts, permitted you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. {9} "And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."

God’s original plan was for there not to be divorce.  God’s original idea was that when a man and woman became “one flesh”, that it was inseparable.  But by the time of Moses, God made an allowance because of the “hardness” of a heart.  And Jesus clarifies that when sexual immorality was involved, that this was a justifiable reason for divorce.  I think the idea works like this – when a person has been betrayed at the level of sexual unfaithfulness, then their heart can become so hard that it just can’t go on in the marriage.  And God allows for this.  But I think Jesus is hinting that even this wasn’t God’s original intent.  It’s just an allowance.
Does Hosea and Gomer’s marriage qualify for a divorce?  It seems so.  Would God’s marriage to Israel qualify for a divorce?  It seems so.

:4 "I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry.

:5 For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.'

She went back to work.  Just as Israel was unfaithful to God and worshipped other gods.

:6 "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in, So that she cannot find her paths.

Perhaps speaking of how God would make it difficult for Israel to go after other gods.

:7 She will chase her lovers, But not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go and return to my first husband, For then it was better for me than now.'

:8 For she did not know That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold; Which they prepared for Baal.

God provides us with all we have.  And yet we pervert it and use it to go after other gods.

Baal – though this was the name for the chief god of the Canaanites, the word itself means “lord”, “owner”, or even “husband”.

:9 "Therefore I will return and take away My grain in its time And My new wine in its season, And will take back My wool and My linen, Given to cover her nakedness.

:10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, And no one shall deliver her from My hand.

:11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, Her New Moons, Her Sabbaths; All her appointed feasts.

:12 "And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, Of which she has said, 'These are my wages that my lovers have given me.' So I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field shall eat them.

:13 I will punish her For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot," says the LORD.

There would be a time of judgment because of Israel’s unfaithfulness.

:14-23 Restoration

:14 "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her.

allure – the word speaks of “enticing”.  God is going to win the girl back.

I wonder if this isn’t speaking of the coming Assyrian and Babylonian captivities (the wilderness), where God would refine the nation.

:15 I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

:16 "And it shall be, in that day," Says the LORD, "That you will call Me 'My Husband,' And no longer call Me 'My Master,'

My Husband – the Hebrew is “Ishi”

My Master – the Hebrew is “Baali”

In reality, the two words are pretty interchangeable.  There are actually times when God Himself is referred to as “ba-al”.  But here the obvious idea is that the people aren’t going to be confused anymore as to who their God is.  They’ll stop worshipping the Canaanite God “Baal”.

:17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more.

:18 In that day I will make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, With the birds of the air, And with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely.

:19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy;

betroth – technically this refers to something similar to being “engaged”, though in the Hebrew culture, betrothal was much more binding than our idea of being “engaged”.  In the Hebrew mind, you didn’t break an engagement, you’d have to actually get divorced to break a betrothal.

One commentary, (Kidner) points out that the word betroth marks ”a new beginning, with all the freshness of first love, rather than the weary patching up of differences“ (Love for the Loveless, p. 34).[1]



When Jesus wrote a letter to His bride in Ephesus, He wrote,
(Rev 2:4-5 NKJV)  "Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. {5} "Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place; unless you repent.

There is a way back to the “first love”.  It works in our relationship with the Lord.  It works in our marriages.

Remember – think about what “first love” was all about.  After all, that’s where you’re headed, back to “first love”.

Repent – if there’s anything that’s taking you away from your lover, get rid of it.  If there’s anything that keeps you from loving God with all your heart, get rid of it.  If there’s anything that is causing you and your spouse to grow distant, get rid of it.

Re-do – Get back to doing the kinds of things you used to do when you were first in love.  As a Christian that probably means doing things like reading your Bible as much as you can, praying, singing praise songs to Jesus, and going to church all the time.  In a marriage it probably means doing all those “little things” you stopped doing – saying nice things, opening the door, spending as much time together as you used to do.  We often think that we’d only do those things if the feelings would come back.  The truth is that the feelings will come back if we get the actions back where they ought to be.

Renew the “betrothal”.

:20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.

:21 "It shall come to pass in that day That I will answer," says the LORD; "I will answer the heavens, And they shall answer the earth.

:22 The earth shall answer With grain, With new wine, And with oil; They shall answer Jezreel.

:23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they shall say, 'You are my God!'"

All this speaks of a restoration between God and His people and the blessings that will come from it.

In our human marriage, there is also great blessing when we renew and strengthen our marriage.

Hosea 3

:1 Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans."

We now get back to Hosea’s marriage.  God is telling Hosea to buy his wife back from prostitution.

:2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.

:3 And I said to her, "You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so, too, will I be toward you."

:4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.

:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.


Marriage and Divorce

I understand that there’s great pain that many go through in a difficult relationship.  And though there are allowances for divorce, divorce doesn’t have to be an “automatic” thing.
Hosea would have been justified in divorcing Gomer for good.  But he took her back.
Divorce is not always the best solution.
Sometimes the best solution is to work through the reconciliation – like God did.


God’s grace

This is the wonder of God’s love toward us.
We are just like Gomer.
And yet He searches for us to “allure” us back to Him.
Why would He ever do that?  Because He loves us.

[1]Walvoord, J. F., R. B. Zuck, & Dallas Theological Seminary. The Bible Knowledge Commentary : An Exposition of the Scriptures. Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1983-c1985.