Hosea Bible Study: Getting to Know God Better
Book of Hosea: Old Testament Bible Study
Hosea from the Old Testament is often known for its harsh words but is also a book about hope. In the Jewish Hebrew Bible, Hosea was one of twelve prophets. He was known for making some fascinating decisions. It was his decisions that caused him to view Israel uniquely.
God had asked Hosea to marry a woman of harlotry. Most people, even if they thought God was genuinely asking them to do such a thing, would have a hard time obeying. Yet, Hosea, being a faithful follower of God, married Gomer, a harlot. After he married her, she had an affair. As you can imagine, Hosea became very jealous, betrayed, and humiliated, which colored his view of how God viewed Israel.
Hosea spent his years preaching to the people of Israel - God's people. He compared God's relationship with His people as a marriage. Just as God expects a total commitment between a husband and a wife, he also expects it from His people and Himself. Yet, as human nature tends to do, the Israelites were not faithful to God, worshipping many other gods.
The Chosen People of God Are Unfaithful
During the early times of Hosea's ministry, Israel was doing very well economically. In the Earth's past, the more plentiful riches are, the more spiritual trouble occurs. Israel was no different. Israel began worshipping other gods, more than God, our Lord. One, in particular, was Baal, which Hosea sites several times in his book. They were building shrines to these other gods and even felt there was a legitimacy to Sacred Prostitution as if prostitution could genuinely be a sacred element, which was an abomination to God and saddened Hosea. Israel was not unique during this time, but God held them more accountable due to their being the chosen people. Hosea recognized Israelites being the same as men before them, and after when he stated, "But like Adam, they have transgressed the covenant."
He may have felt stronger than usual because of his pain over his wife Gomer's infidelity. He thought he could relate to how God would feel, knowing that His people were unfaithful also. Although Hosea recognized why God's people were not submitting to the Lord and credited it to their lack of knowledge. He cried out in his book:
Listen to the word of the Lord, O sons of Israel
For the Lord has case against the inhabitants of the land.
Because there is no faithfulness or kindness
Or knowledge of God in the land. (4:1)
He wanted the people of Israel to know God more. He emphasized the importance of spending time with God in our spiritual walk. The only way we could truly live the way God expects us to live is to know God fully. Today we are given both the New and the Old Testament. We need to make sure we don't fall into the same traps. We can avoid this by praying, reading the Bible, getting to know our God.
Israel had already fallen away. The only way they could indeed come to know the Lord again is if they humbled themselves and repented. God was eager to forgive. In Hosea's own life, he manifested God's forgiveness with his wife, which he shows when he forgave her and took her back in his home after Gomer left him to be with another man. Taking back an unfaithful wife was very unusual during his time.
Just as he forgave Gomer, Hosea showed that God was planning on doing the same with Israel. Israel left God to worship Baal along with many other gods, yet the Lord was eager to forgive them. All he asked was for repentance:
I will heal their apostasy,
I will love them freely,
For my anger has turned away from them,
I will be like the dew to Israel,
He will blossom like the lily.
Hosea was foretelling that there would be a time when God would bestow His reward on Israel despite their profound transgressions. But this was not yet to happen. The first fruits would begin in 722 years when Jesus walked the Earth, but not thoroughly until the end of Earth itself, where God promises, "...there is a harvest appointed to you; When I restore the fortunes of My people." (6:11)
End of Times Prophecy
Despite the book of Hosea being a short book, it has great significance now, and especially during the time Jesus walked the Earth. In the New Testament, Hosea is quoted three times. Once to show that Hosea was prophesying the mere existence of Jesus (Hosea 11:1), which is quoted in Matthew 2:14-15:
So Joseph got up and took the Child and His Mother while it was still night and left for Egypt. He remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what had spoken by the Lord through the prophet (Hosea), 'Out of Egypt, I called My Son.'
Hosea was not only crucial to Jesus because it prophesied his arrival, but because it still held true to His feelings about the people at that time. Jesus referenced Hosea when confronted by enemies regarding his association with sinners. Jesus states, "I desire mercy and not sacrifice" (Matthew 9:13), which is a direct quote from Hosea.
The idea that Jews and Gentiles alike could come to the Lord was not new to the New Testament, in fact, Hosea had stated it much earlier in Hosea 2:23, "And I will say to those who were not my people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God," which is reiterated throughout the Old Testament, but none more directly than in Romans 9: 24-26:
To make known the riches of riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only but also from among Gentiles, As He says also in Hosea,
I will call those who were not my people, 'My people.'
And her who was not beloved, Beloved
And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, 'You are not My people.'
There they shall be called sons of the living God.
Hosea is often overlooked, which is a shame as it is vital to the Christian way of life. It emphasizes the importance of putting God first and worshipping Him as our only God. It points out that we are all sinners and need to repent of our evil deeds. Most importantly, it tells us that we are His people, and there is hope for everyone us through Christ Jesus.
Hosea; The Bible: New American Standard.
Arnold, Bill T., and Brian L Beyer, Encountering the Old Testament: A Christian Service, Baker Books; Grand Rapids, Michigan: 1998. pages 439-453.
© 2012 Angela Michelle Schultz