The message from Hosea is not a minor message. It is vibrant with profound spiritual truths about God’s character and his understanding of graceful mercy for His people. Never think this is a minor prophet with a minor message. Let’s explore the major message of this minor prophet:
The key to understanding Hosea’s major message is to understand the relationship he had with his wife, Gomer. His marriage serves as a perfect analogy of the relationship God had with Israel. The first three chapters describe the marriage relationship between Hosea and Gomer. It is one of dysfunction, forgiveness, and understanding.
In chapter 1, Hosea is commanded to married Gomer, who became a wife of harlotry. She was probably not a harlot before the marriage. Still, her tendencies before the marriage would lean her towards that behavior. Perhaps she was promiscuous and loose before the marriage. Gomer and Hosea have three children (Jezreel, Lo-Ruhmah, and Lo-Ammi). Some have thought maybe the last two children did not even belong to Hosea because the text does not say that Gomer bore Hosea these two children as it did before with the first child. Whatever the case, this family was totally dysfunctional. However, Hosea is told to find Gomer, pay off her debts to her lovers, and declare his love to her to hopefully restore her.
God says all of this dysfunction, the brokenness, and the repairing describe His relationship with Israel. Like Gomer, Israel became unfaithful to God and was cast aside or divorced, but God promises restoration (1:10-2:1). Israel is condemned for the sinful conduct of harlotry and adultery because she left the one true God she was married to and got into bed with other false gods. God is very upset and is enraged when he learns of the infidelity.
In chapter 2, God issues three punishments for Israel. First, God will stop Israel from finding her lovers. Second, God will take away all the benefits of being married to Him from Israel. Third, God will destroy what Israel has used to play the harlot.
At the end of Chapter two, God says he will restore Israel from her harlotry by using “wilderness” as he did during Moses and Joshua’s days. He is going to ask them to be faithful to Him and Him alone. God will again be merciful to Israel because they are His people, and He is their God. This language certainly references the restoration from captivity, but it also looks forward to the Messianic Age and the spiritual blessing God will provide through Jesus.
As chapter 3 begins, Hosea is told to love Gomer even though she is adulterous. It is then bluntly stated that this symbolized the relationship with God and how He will take them back. It is said they will return seeking the Lord and David their King (the coming Messiah). God can end the covenant with Israel, but out of love, compassion, and faithfulness, He will renew the covenant.
The whole theme of the book of Hosea is summarized in these first few chapters. Israel has rebelled, and God will bring severe consequences, but God’s love and mercy are more powerful than Israel’s sin.
The rest of the book deals with two sections of poetry (chapters 4-11 & chapters 12-14) that explore this theme and gives accusations and warnings for Israel. Each section is concluded with a poem of mercy and God’s hope for the future.
Chapters 4-10 talks about how Israel lacks real knowledge of God. This knowledge is more in-depth than knowing about God. What they lack is a real knowledge and understanding of God on a personal and relational level. God wants Israel to know him in an intimate relationship. He wants them to know He loves them, and then in return, they love Him back. Hosea exposes Israel’s hypocrisy in their worship and how they are continually breaking the commands of God. Still, then they go to the temple and offer sacrifices to as if everything is good between them. But the tension rises, and the relationship is strained even more. It is not just because of their hypocrisy but because they worship other false gods, too, like Baal. God also accuses Israel of trusting in their political allegiances with Assyria and Egypt. So instead of trusting in God, they are trusting political governments more. (Are some of us guilty of this? YES!!!)
Chapter 11 gives the hope of restoration and is a beautiful picture of the future. It depicts God as a loving father who raised his son Israel and gave him every blessing imaginable. But then the son is not thankful and rebels against the father. In this poem, God is emotionally torn in different directions. At some points, He is angry and other points He is heartbroken and merciful saying he is willing to forgive the son he loves so much.
In chapters 12-13, God gives a history lesson with three main points First, talking about Jacob and his deception. Second, talking about Israel’s rebellion in the wilderness. Then third, He talks about their appointment of Saul and the corruption that came with his reign. This is all Hosea’s way of showing how dysfunctional the family of Israel is and how some things never change. It is passed down one generation after another.
Chapter 14 concludes with more hope for the future. Hosea calls on Israel to repent and return to God even though he realizes that it will not last because it never has before. But, God says one day He will heal their waywardness and love them freely. This “new Israel” is described as a beautiful, fruitful tree that grows and offers shade to all the other nations of the earth. This is a throwback to the promise made to Abraham of how his nation would be a blessing to other nations. God says that the only way that can happen is if God demonstrates an act of compassion and mercy to heal the broken unfaithful, sinful human heart. It is the only way God’s people. (the church) can receive His love and then love Him in return in an intimate relationship.
The very last words of the book are a side note to the reader. It says, “Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; Whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, And the righteous will walk in them, But transgressors will stumble in them”. This statement is made so that you will know that the acts of Israel are not locked away in the past. It reveals profound truths about God’s character and human nature.
While God is very upset and hurt by our acts of harlotry, His purpose is to heal, forgive, and save us.
That’s a major message from the minor prophet of Hosea!
Do you think there are somethings we could learn?
I love you,