Hosea was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah (southern Kingdom) and Amos (northern Kingdom). He lived, as we are told in the first verse, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom), and during the reign of Jeroboam II, the son of Jehoash, the king of Israel. Jeroboam II was one of the wicked kings of Israel and the nation was going through a difficult time when Hosea was preaching. People were "living it up," as we might say, and didn't have much time for God. Or as a preacher friend said of Israel’s state: “The spirit was willing but the flesh was ready for the weekend.”
- The Time in Which the Prophet Lived
The prophet Hosea had a real-life situation that God used to illustrate his problem with the nation of Israel. Hosea's adulterous wife had broken his heart, and this is exactly what the children of Israel had done to God when they played the harlot with other gods. Later when her adulterous affairs had led her to be sold on the slave block, Hosea was willing to buy her back for he could not give her up. This dramatically illustrated Israel's situation for soon they would be conquered by the Assyrians and then sold into slavery because they had forgotten their God. The prophet Hosea spoke about a future blessing in which God will restore Israel (I believe this blessing was fulfilled in 586 B.C. as we will see).
Key Verses: “So My people are bent on turning from Me. Though they call them to the One on high, None at all exalts Him. How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? How can I make you like Admah? How can I treat you like Zeboiim? My heart is turned over within Me, All My compassions are kindled. I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 11:7-8, 14:4).
- The Truth Which the Prophet Revealed
The book of Hosea can be divided into two parts to reveal an overall theme for the entire book:
“God’s faithful love toward His unfaithful people”
Part One – PERSONAL – (Chapters 1-3) – Hosea’s marriage; his children; the separation; and reunion.
Part Two – NATIONAL – (Chapters 4-14) – Israel is guilty; God is holy. Sin brings judgment; God is just.
Key Verses: Read Hosea 2:19-20; Hosea 3:1; and Hosea 11:1-12
As Christ was “called out” from Egypt as a child, so too Israel was “called out” by God from Egypt (see Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15). In addition, Hosea’s redemption of Gomer from the slave market is a beautiful Old Testament picture of Jesus Christ taking us out of the market of sin and bondage by His powerful, beautiful and loving redemption in the payment of His own blood (death) on our behalf.
- The Timelessness of the Prophet’s Message
- Perfect love casts out fear; or in other words, “hearts full of love fear no pain” (see Ephesians 3:14-21).
- Perfect love brings the lost home; or in other words, “the love of Christ constrains us” (II Corinthians 5:14).
- Perfect love is found in actions, not feelings; or in other words; “love is…” (see I Corinthians 13).