Hosea came to the northern
kingdom beginning his work in about 750 B.C. during the reign of
Jeroboam II. Some of what he has to say involves Judah but his
ministry was to Israel. The total length of his period of work is
uncertain. His work probably continued for 25 years and may
have been much longer. Everything that we know about the prophet is
found in the book.
The approach taken by this prophet is
objectionable to some students of the scriptures. Our God chose to
take an approach that to many men may be considered as vulgar or
objectionable. Our God chooses his prophet very carefully, and also
very carefully directed the prophet regarding his family life. This
is a lesson delivered to a sinful people, and the illustrations used
in this book are certainly unusual and special in contrast to what
we expect to hear from God.
Perhaps one of the most
important lessons that we learn from this book is to understand that
our God will provide his word to men in his own way. It is important
that we do not judge God as we read his word. I truly suspect that
many people are tempted to become critical of God as they read this
book. It is my conviction that this book is of great value if for no
other reason than to challenge us regarding the way we read of the
work of our wonderful God.
The primary theme of the book involves
the tremendous love of God for his people as he has put up with them
as they have pursued idols. Hosea's relationship with his wife is
the chief example of this teaching.
In the 1st chapter Hosea
is directed by God to chose an adulterous wife and the account of
her children is recorded. The primary point of the chapter is that
Israel is to be compared to this adulterous woman, because the
people have committed adultery with idols. Chapter 2 continues
the picture of great adultery, and speaks of punishment to come
upon this nation of sinners if there is not repentance. The latter
part of the chapter shows the love of God as the promise of
blessing is given to the one who returns to faithfulness.
Chapter 3 shows us a
picture of the loving husband who buys his wife back from the
house of prostitution, and directs her that she is now to be
faithful to him. The next chapter (4) turns the lesson directly to
Israel and declares that there is no faithfulness, no love, and no
acknowledgment of God in the land. The text continues to discuss
the lack of study of the scriptures and the tremendous love for
sin in the land.
Chapter 5 pronounces a
judgment against Israel from God that promises great misery for
this sinful people. Chapters 6 thru 13 continue the
discussion of the sin of the people and the price to be paid by
them for their choice. The 14th chapter is an invitation to
this people to return to God and receive his blessing.