Theme: Spiritual Prostitution, Judgment, and Restoration; Key Verse: Hosea 4:1
Hosea Bible Walk
Theme: Spiritual Prostitution, Judgment, and Restoration
December 2006-January 2007
- Spiritual Prostitution, Judgment, and Restoration. We can summarize Hosea with four pairs—prophet and prostitute, God and Israel, sin and judgment, forgiveness and restoration. The Northern Kingdom, Israel continues to commit spiritual adultery with the pagan gods. God tells Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute or soon to be a prostitute. The marriage becomes an object lesson of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea remains faithful to Gomer, even to the point of redeeming (buying her back) after she left him for adulterous activities (Hosea 3). As Hosea Loved Gomer, God loves Israel in spite of her deliberate sin. He warns Israel, judges Israel, yet will forgive her and restore her to fellowship with himself.
- Hosea 4:1, “1 Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel, For the Lord has a case against the inhabitants of the land, because there is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of God in the land.” Hosea 14:1, “Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.”
- Hosea is the author according to Hosea 1:1-2.
- a. Very little is said about Hosea. He is likely from Israel, the Northern Kingdom because the primary interest of the prophecy concerns this kingdom. He directs his messages to Ephraim, the largest of the northern Israeli tribes. Ephraim is mentioned 36 times in 31 verses.
- b. Hosea means “He (Yahweh) saves” or “salvation.” He shares the name with Hoshea, the last king of the Northern Kingdom. In the English Bible the king’s name has the h in the middle to distinguish the two people.
- c. Hosea was the son of Beeri (1:1), the husband of Gomer (1:3). He had a son, Jezreel, “God sows” (1:3-4), a daughter, Lo-ruhamah, “no compassion” (1:6), and a son, Lo-ammi, “not my people” (1:8-9).
- d. Paul refers to Hosea as the writer of Hosea 2:23 (Romans 9:25) and Hosea 1:9-10 (Romans 9:26-27).
- e. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah, Amos, and Micah.
- Hosea ministered about 760 -715 BC, or about 45 years. He lived during exciting times.
- a. Hosea served during the reins of 11 kings of Israel and Judah, though he only mentions four kings of Judah—Uzziah (792-739 BC), Jotham (739-731 BC), Ahaz (731-715 BC), and Hezekiah (715-686 BC)—and one king of Israel, Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) (Hosea 1:1). These were to him the prominent kings. Why mention more Judean kings when his ministry was to the northern tribes? Probably because he recognized that the Judean kings were the rightful kings in David’s line.
- b. Uzziah and Hezekiah are the prominent kings during this time of history.
- i. Uzziah, the first king that Hosea lists (Hosea 1:1 and 2 Chronicles 26), ruled from 792 to 539 BC. He began his rule at age 16. Due to the weakness of Assyria at this time he restored strength and fame to Judah. He followed the Lord during much of his reign, but later he allowed pride to rule him. God punished him with leprosy for attempting to do what God has reserved for the priests—burn incense in the temple.
- ii. Hezekiah (728-686 BC, 2 Kings 18-20; 2 Chronicles 29-32) was the last king of Judah mentioned. Hezekiah was a godly king. He threw off Assyria’s yoke when the angel of the Lord killed 185,000 Assyrians (2 Kings 19.35; 2 Chronicles 32.21). The Lord gave him a miraculous sign that he would live 15 more years—the shadow on the staircase went back ten steps (2 Kings 20.8-11). He foolishly showing off the temple wealth to Merodach-baladan, the king of Assyria (2 Kings 20.12-15). Hezekiah is also famous for the construction of the 1777 foot long underground water tunnel that carried water from the Gihon springs outside the city (which he stopped up and covered over) into Jerusalem. Along with the water tunnel he built the Siloam reservoir to hold the water (2 Kings 20.20; 2 Chronicles 32.1-4, 32).
- c. Jeroboam II (793 to 753 BC) was the one northern king (kingdom of Israel) that Hosea mentions. He gave Israel a degree of prosperity (2 Kings 14:23-29).
- i. Jeroboam reigned from 793-753 (Albright begins his reign at 786 and Thiele at 782 BC). He was the strongest of the northern kings of this period. When Hosea began his ministry in the last years of Jeroboam’s reign (about 760 BC). At this time Israel was in a period of temporary prosperity. Jeroboam had ended the wars his father began. He took back territory lost earlier. He was able to increase commerce and wealth for Israel. But on the spiritual and moral side, the northern kingdom welcomed idolatry, empty ritualism, lawlessness, and selfishness.
- ii. Hosea left out the other six northern kings of this period—Zechariah (753 BC), Shallum (752 BC), Menahem (752-742 BC), Pekah (752-732 BC), Pekahiah (742-740 BC), and Hoshea (732-723 BC).
- iii. The expansion by Israel was primarily due to the fall of Damascus (Aramaea) and the comparative inaction and weakness of Assyria.
- iv. Jeroboam II died in 753 BC and was followed by his son, Zechariah, who was assassinated after ruling for six months. Four of the last six kings of Israel were murdered.
- v. The last king, Hoshea, the last king of Israel, paid a heavy tribute to Assyria and was spared. But in about 724 BC he revolted against Assyria. Assyria, under Sargon II (r. 721-705 BC), then defeated, uprooted, and exiled Israel, including king Hoshea, to various parts of the Assyrian empire in 721 BC.
- d. At the time of Hosea the Assyrian empire was experiencing a resurgence of power.
- i. Jonah preached to Nineveh sometime during the beginning of the 8th century BC. Nineveh was failing at that time, but possibly due to the repentance of the people of Nineveh, around 745 BC Assyria regained strength and stature under the rule of Tiglath-pileser III.
- ii. Tiglath-pileser III (745-727 BC) was the Assyrian king who began the Assyrian recovery and restored Assyria’s glory. He is called Pul in 2 Kings 15:19. TP III conquered Babylon, invaded Israel and deported some of the people, and also broke up the alliance between Aramaea (Syria) and Israel.
- iii. Shalmaneser V (727-723 BC) attacked Samaria, the capital of the northern kingdom. King Hosea of Israel rebelled against Shalmaneser so Shalmaneser besieged Samaria, the capital. Shalmaneser died before the completion of the war, but Sargon II finished the job.
- iv. Sargon II (722-706 BC) completed the destruction of Israel and exiled the northern kingdom in 722 BC.
- v. Sennacherib (705-681 BC) conducted the famous siege of Jerusalem during Hezekiah’s reign. Sennacherib’s army of 185,000 was destroyed by the angel of the Lord. Hosea lived through this defeat of Israel by Assyria.
- Hosea was the prophet and author of this book. Hosea ministered about 760 -715 BC, or about 45 years. He lived during exciting times.
- Gomer was the wife of Hosea. She became unfaithful to Hosea. She illustrated Israel in the nation’s relationship to the Lord.
- Jezreel was Hosea and Gomer’s first son. His name means “God sows” and is a sign to Israel that God is sowing or planting the seeds for Israel’s discipline at the hand of Assyria in 722 BC.
- Lo-ruhamah was Hosea and Gomer’s daughter. Her name means “no compassion” and is a sign to Israel that God will stop his compassion on Israel for a time.
- Lo-ammi was Hosea and Gomer’s second son. His name means “not my people” and tells Israel that they are not living as his people should live and hence he will send them into exile.
Key Words and Phrases. Below are some key words and the frequency of use by Hosea. This should give a sense of the prophet’s emphasis.
- Adultery, 4 times in 4 verses.
- Destroy, 4 times in 4 verses.
- Destruction, 3 times in 3 verses.
- Ephraim, 36 times in 31 verses.
- Faithful, faithfulness, 3 times in 3 verses.
- Forgive, 1 time in 1 verse.
- God, 29 times in 26 verses.
- Harlot, 10 times in 10 verses.
- Holy One, referring to God, 2 times in 2 verses.
- Idol, 1 time in 1 verse.
- Israel, 44 times in 41 verses.
- Judah, 15 times in 15 verses.
- Judgment, 3 times in 3 verses.
- Lord, 49 times in 42 verses.
- Love, 6 times in 5 verses.
- Murder, 2 times in 2 verses.
- Prophet, 5 times in 4 verses.
- Punish, 7 times in 7 verses.
- Rebelled, 3 times in 3 verses.
- Rejected, reject, 4 times in 3 verses.
- Return 11 times in 10 verses.
- Righteous, 1 time in 1 verse.
- Righteousness, 3 times in 3 verses.
- Sin, 6 times in 6 verses.
- Sin, sinned, 8 times in 8 verses.
- Wickedness, 5 times in 5 verses.
- Word of the Lord, 2 times in 2 verses.
- The prophet, Hosea, and the prostitute wife, Gomer, Chapters 1-3.
- Israel is unfaithful to the Lord like Gomer to Hosea, 4-13.
- The Lord calls Israel to return to him, 14.
- Chapter 1: The prophet and the prostitute
- Chapter 2: Unfaithful Israel—judged, forgiven, restored
- Chapter 3: Hosea redeems his prostitute wife
- Chapter 4: Indictment—Israel is a prostitute and idolater
- Chapter 5: Verdict—God condemns Israel
- Chapter 6: Loyalty and knowledge, not sacrifice and burnt offerings
- Chapter 7: Lord would heal and redeem, but Israel continues to sin
- Chapter 8: Israel sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind
- Chapter 9: Israel—wanderers among the nations
- Chapter 10: False prosperity brings pride and problems
- Chapter 11: Israel, God’s son, rebelled
- Chapter 12: Ephraim and Judah sin, though the Lord has been their God
- Chapter 13: Israel sins more and more
- Hosea 14, Return to the Lord your God; he will heal and love you
Trace the Theme
- Hosea 1, the prophet and the prostitute. Hosea received this revelation during the reigns of several mentioned kings—798-686 BC. In verse 2 the Lord tells Hosea to marry Gomer, a woman who will become a prostitute. The Lord’s reason is that Israel is committing spiritual adultery and Hosea and Gomer’s marriage becomes a graphic object lesson of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea and Gomer had two sons and one daughter. The first son was Jezreel. His name means “God sows” and is a sign to Israel that God is sowing or planting the seeds for Israel’s discipline at the hand of Assyria in 722 BC. The daughter was Lo-ruhamah. Her name means “no compassion” and is a sign to Israel that God will stop his compassion on Israel for a time. The second son was Lo-ammi. His name means “not my people” and tells Israel that they are not living as his people should live and hence he will send them into exile. These hard predictions will not last forever. The Lord says in verses 10 and 11 that the nations will like the sand of the sea and will be sons of the living God. In the distant future Israel and Judah will come together. They will have one leader. Verse 11 plays on the word Jezreel. God will again sow his people in their land. It will be a place of victory and blessing. Recall that Jezreel also was the place of Gideon’s victory (Judges 6:33-8:28).
- Hosea 2, Unfaithful Israel—judged, forgiven, restored. This chapter portrays Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord through Hosea’s comments to his children. As Gomer left Hosea and became an adulteress, so Israel has left the Lord. Both Gomer and Israel will be disciplined (2:3-6 and 9-13). Israel has gone crazy after spirituality adultery with the idols of the ancient near east. As the crazed adulteress cannot find love, security, and happiness, so Israel will not find that for which she seeks (2:7). In spite of the sins of Israel, the Lord will chase her down and restore her to himself (2:14-23). Israel will call the Lord Ishi, “my man”. He will make a covenant for Israel that will bring peace, safety, and fellowship with the Lord (2:18-23). The Lord will call her “my people” and they will call him “my God.”
- Hosea 3, Hosea redeems his prostitute wife. Hosea buys back Gomer from prostitution (3:2). He then restricted her activity (3:3). God will also restrict Israel—most likely referring to exile lasting through the times of the Gentiles. At the end of that period Israel will turn to the Lord and to David their kings. This is a picture of the future kingdom under the messiah’s blessing.
- Hosea 4, Indictment—Israel is a prostitute and idolater. Israel is characterized by no faithfulness or kindness, no knowledge of God, they have forgotten God’s law, and are without understanding (4:1, 6, 14). They commit all kinds of sin (4:2-5, 7). Idolatry is rampant (4:11-19). God will judge them (4:9-10, 19).
- Hosea 5, Verdict—God condemns Israel. God proclaimed his judgment to the priest, all Israel, and the king. In this chapter his warning goes out from Gibeah, Ramah, and Beth-aven—mountainous areas in Israel (5:8). Both Israel, also called Ephraim, and Judah come under his judgment (5:3, 5, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14). In verses 6, 14, and 15 God will withdraw from the people, judge them, and withhold deliverance until Israel repents.
- Hosea 6, Loyalty and knowledge, not sacrifice and burnt offerings. The message in chapter 6 begins with the prophet speaking for the nation and calling them all to return to the Lord (6:1-3). The Lord replies with a question of what shall he do with Ephraim (Israel) and Judah (6:4). They are disloyal (6;4); they offer meaningless sacrifices (6:6); they transgressed God’s will (6:7); they murder (6:8-9); and commit spiritual adultery (6:11). Even Judah will be judged before she will be restored (6:11).
- Hosea 7, Lord would heal and redeem, but Israel continues to sin. This message the Lord clearly tells Israel that it is his desire to heal them (7:1) and redeem them (7:13) but the nation continues to sin. For example, iniquity and evil deeds (1), do not consider (2), wickedness (2 and 3), adulterers (4), hearts like and oven (6), none calls on me (7), neither returned to nor sought the Lord (10), silly dove (11), call to Egypt and go to Assyria (11). Israel cannot escape God’s judgment, no matter what they do or where they go (12-13). They will not repent (14). They turn away from the Lord (14), devise evil against the Lord (15), and they will not succeed (16).
- Hosea 8, Israel sows the wind and reaps the whirlwind. Because Israel has rebelled, sinned, rejected the Lord, and made idols the nation will reap the consequences (7) of destruction and dispersion (8-14). Judah will face the same consequences (14).
- Hosea 9, Israel—wanderers among the nations. The prophet continues to warn Israel. Because of her sin, Israel will be exiled to Egypt and Assyria (3). Her judgment will come quickly (7). The Lord began Israel with a good future, but she soon turned to idolatry (10). Because of Israel’s disloyalty to the Lord, he will severely judge her (13-17). God will drive them out and love them no more (15). He will cast them away and they will be wanderers among the nations (17).
- Hosea 10, False prosperity brings pride and problems. When Israel prospered she not only forget the Lord, she turned against him. She built idols and worshipped these. Neither her prosperity nor her idols will help her. She has sinned against God and nothing can help her. It is time to seek the Lord (12) for he is the only hope.
- Hosea 11, Israel, God’s son, rebelled. Israel began as the object of God’s love and care (1-4). Even though God rescued them from Egypt, they turned against him. He will judge Israel, but will not destroy her (8-9). Israel and Judah’s action is all the more terrible because “the Holy One is in your midst” (9).
- Hosea 12, Ephraim and Judah sin, though the Lord has been their God. Ephraim (Israel) and Judah continue to sin even though they have a long history of relationship and blessing from the Lord, the God of hosts (1-5). The Lord calls for them to return to him, to observe kindness and justice, and to wait for God to work (6). In spite of all God’ goodness, protection, and revelation, Israel and Judah think that they have done well for themselves.
- Hosea 13, Israel sins more and more. Ephraim continues to worship Baal by making more idols and sacrificing to the idols (1-2). Therefore God’s judgment will come upon Ephraim (3). The Lord has been Israel’s God since Egypt. There is no God and no savior except him (4). The Lord cared for them, but will now be like a lion, a leopard, a bear, and a lioness (5-8). In the past God even gave them a king, but the king did not help (10-11). God’s judgment will hide his compassion (14), and his judgment will be terrible (15-16).
- Hosea 14, Return to the Lord your God; he will heal and love. The final chapter of Hosea’s prophecy is the Lord’s call to Israel to return to him (1-2). God asks them to come to him for forgiveness and safety and to realize that Assyria and idols cannot help them (3). God will heal them, love them, and turn away his anger (4). God will be the cause for renewal of national life, blessing and protection (5-8). The final verse appeals to those who are wise enough to know that the ways of the Lord are right (9).
- Divine discipline and judgment on individuals and the nation
- God’s faithfulness to his people
- God’s love for Israel and Judah
- Idolatry or spiritual adultery, or unfaithfulness to God
- National restoration of Israel
- Marriage—grace toward the unfaithful
- Knowledge of God and his word and fellowship with him is vital to his people
Lessons For Us Today
- How do I view God? Do I understand his holiness, or do I have a casual attitude toward sin? God forgives sin, but he must, at times, bring discipline.
- Idolatry is not just kissing a stone or wood image. According to Paul, idolatry includes a number of sins among which are immorality, impurity, lust, and greediness (Ephesians 5:5 and Colossians 5:5). These sins turn our attention away from God and focus on our attention on activities that Israel did in her idolatry.
- God wants his people to return to him, regardless of the sins committed. Do I understand that God is not through with his people if they sin, whether Israel or church believers?
- Gomer’s activity is quite frequent in marriages today, including Christian marriages. Divorce is often a quick way out. The Bible allows divorce in these situations, but Hosea’s sacrifice, responsibility, and redemption gives us an illustration of the best way to repair a hurt marriage.
- Knowledge of God and his word and personally knowing God better is crucial to pleasing and fellowshipping with God. The Jews of Hosea’s ministry did not think so. They suffered from lack of knowledge and fellowship. What is my desire about knowing God, God’s word, and fellowship with Him and what am I doing about it?