The Agora
Bible Commentary

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Hosea 1

Hos 1:1

See Lesson, Minor prophets, and their messages.

See Lesson, Prophet, the.

"Hosea's period of ministry was about forty years -- the last forty years of the northern ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel, just as Jeremiah prophesied during the last, sad forty years of the Kingdom of Judah.

"Hosea began his prophecy in a time of prosperity for Israel. The land had been in great distress before Jeroboam began his reign, but God in His pity for the sad condition of Israel, even though they were wicked, greatly strengthened and helped Jeroboam and enabled him to recover Israel's lost territory and defeat her enemies and even extend his rule over Syria to the north.

"It was one more opportunity for Israel to recognize and appreciate God's goodness and love, and the wisdom of drawing nigh unto Him in faithfulness. But Israel did not respond. Because of their apparent strength and stability, they could not believe the end was so near. In spite of God's help, they and their king intensified their wickedness and idolatry. God often blesses, as a last invitation to repentance and reform, before pouring out His judgments on sin.

"Such was the background of Hosea's prophecy, as the powerful but evil reign of Jeroboam II drew to its close. Israel did not realize it, but this reign was to mark the end of any real security or stability for the nation. In the remaining twenty-five years of the Kingdom, six kings were to rise and fall, and the dark shadow of Assyria, to whom they had first turned as an ally, was to grow swiftly and terribly until it completely destroyed and blotted out their nation, and carried them away" (GVG).

HOSEA: Another form of Joshua/Jesus: sig "the salvation of Yahweh".

Hos 1:2

GO, TAKE TO YOURSELF AN ADULTEROUS WIFE...: "For us, so many centuries later, not the least of its {Hosea's] values is its astonishing revelation of the tender love of God towards those who are His, His yearning desire that they 'might not perish' but might turn unto Him and be saved. This love is expressed in Hosea with such earnestness, that if we had not had this sanction of the word of the prophet himself, we might well not have dared to presume that it could be so great. In the light of Hosea we may enter a little better into the convictions of the apostle Paul that nothing, literally nothing, can 'separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord' [Rom 8:38,39]" (FP, Xd 113:99).

AN ADULTEROUS WIFE: Not that Gomer was necessary an immoral woman, or a prostitute, BEFORE her marriage. But rather that she turned out to be so later. (Consider that v 2 also speaks as though the "children of unfaithfulness" were already there -- when of course they were not born as yet!: vv 3,6,8.)

The Hosea story is all about redemption. But the whole of the OT is about redemption: Israel was a slave in Egypt, and a "harlot" and an "idolator"... but she was redeemed (ie, bought out of slavery) by the blood of the Passover lamb. And we can surely see ourselves, as you say, in Gomer: we are all "slaves" to sin, and we are unfaithful in our allegiance to the world, and worshipers of many false "gods" -- yet we have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Passover Lamb, which is priceless beyond our feeble words to describe.

The question is: do WE really see ourselves in Gomer? And what does that say about us?

AN ADULTEROUS WIFE: " 'A wife of harlotries.' The noun means 'prostitute; harlot' (HAL 1:275). The term does not refer to mere adultery which is expressed by a different root (HAL 2:658). The plural noun (lit 'harlotries') is an example of the plural of character or plural of repeated behavior. The phrase 'wife of harlotries' prob refers to a prostitute, poss a temple prostitute serving at a Baal temple" (NET notes).

Gomer was possibly a Gentile, and a prostitute at a pagan temple.

Cp God taking Israel to wife, as described in Exo 34:15; Deu 31:16; Jdg 2:17; Isa 54:4-6; Jer 3:14; 31:32; Eze 16:17; 23:5; Rev 17:1,2.

THE VILEST ADULTERY: "Israel was guilty of gross spiritual prostitution by apostatizing away from Yahweh. The verb is used in a concrete sense to refer to a spouse being unfaithful in a marriage relationship (HAL 1:275.1), and figuratively 'to be unfaithful' in a relationship with God by prostituting themselves with other gods and worshiping idols" (Exo 34:15; Lev 17:7; 20:5,6; Deu 31:16; Jdg 8:27,33; 21:17; 1Ch 5:25; Ezek 6:9; 20:30; 23:30; Hos 4:15; Psa 106:39) (HAL 1:275.2)" (NET notes).

Hos 1:3

Vv 3-9: "Following God's instruction, Hosea married an adulterous wife and was given three children by her. Each of his children were named by God and their names were designed to be parables of the state and future of the nation of Israel. The message of Jezreel was that Israel would soon be punished and destroyed. The message of Lo-Ruhama was that Israel was no longer loved or forgiven by God. And the message of Lo-Ammi's name was that God disowned his people: 'You are not my people and I am not your God.'

"God through Hosea had given three devastating prophecies that were fulfilled not long after they were given. However, in God's destruction of Israel He still remembered his promises to Abraham and David; still, in His warnings, He gave the hope of redemption. He did not leave Israel totally without hope despite their desperate situation. He told them that they would again be His people and be a numerous as the sand on the seashore.

"In the same way He has offered hope to every sinner that turns to Him. In the midst of the wages of sin, death, there is always the hope of the gift of God -- eternal life, if we turn to God. Turn to Him today!" (RP).

BORE HIM A SON: Notice the "him" here: in contrast, Gomer has two other children, but the "him" is absent: suggesting the last two children (vv 6,8) were not fathered by her husband.

Hos 1:4

"Hosea's message sheds much light on the relationship between God's love for His people and their necessary chastening and disciplining.

"While it manifests the great beauty and the transforming, appealing power of His infinite patience and affection, it clearly speaks in the strongest terms of the sorrows and bitternesses and hardships that must inevitably arise from disobedience and wickedness.

"Its basic message is the great tragedy of Israel's blindness and unnecessary, self-caused miseries in the face of God's choice of them as the special recipients of His love -- a choice not as a matter of respect of persons, but as a witness and example to all the world of the beauties of His character and the glories of His purpose.

"Even in judgment, its tone is sorrow rather than anger, and the severest condemnations always look forward to eventual reconciliation.

"The book of Hosea contains many deep lessons on the subject of marriage and divorce -- deep spiritual principles of patience and kindness and hope, and faithfulness, and a love that bears and endures all things, and never fails" (GVG).

I WILL PUNISH THE HOUSE OF JEHU FOR THE MASSACRE AT JEZREEL: "Jezreel is one of the fortresses commanding the valley of Megiddo, or Esdraelon. It is on the slopes of Mt Gilboa, where Saul died, and it controls the gateway between the mountains down to the Jordan valley, the main entrance to Israel from the east. This is Israel's historic battleground, right back to the days of Gideon.

"The 'blood of Jezreel' that was soon to be avenged began with the treacherous murder of the faithful Naboth by Jezebel (1Ki 21; cp 2Ki 9:7). Jehu was raised up to destroy the house of Ahab for this wickedness, which he did at Jezreel, but because of his own subsequent wickedness and following in the ways of Ahab, all the bloodshed associated with Jezreel is held against him and his house, including his killing of Ahab's family.

"Jehu had boasted, 'Come and see my zeal for the Lord.' He manifested a great zeal for vengeance and destruction, and condemnation of others, but such a zeal -- if it is not accompanied by righteousness and gentleness and mercy and tenderness toward the weaknesses of others -- is merely an ugly, hypocritical, Pharisaical manifestation of the evil of the flesh.

"Jezreel (cp Hos 2:22) has a double meaning, which comprehends both Israel's judgment and her redemption. Basically it means, 'God will sow.' It is the name of God combined with the root word related to seed, planting, and conception -- both animal and vegetable. It also comprehends the meaning of the 'seed or offspring of God' -- the Fatherhood of God -- the family relationship. 'We also are His offspring,' as Paul told the Athenians -- both naturally, and also potentially in a spiritual sense, as John expresses it -- 'Beloved, now are we the sons of God.'

"Jezreel also means 'God will scatter' -- as seed is scattered, but with the idea of an eventual reaping and gathering -- 'He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock' (Jer 31:10)" (GVG).

Hos 1:6

Vv 6-9: "And so the basis of the allegory is laid in Hosea's wife and three children. The three names represent three successively increasing stages of divine abandonment -- Jezreel, Lo- Ruhamah, Lo-Ammi -- Scattered, Unloved, Rejected" (GVG).

LO-RUHAMAH: "Not loved". Ct with Peter's words: "Once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy" (1Pe 2:10). "LORD Almighty, how long will you withhold mercy from Jerusalem and from the towns of Judah, which you have been angry with these seventy years?" (Zech 1:12).


Hos 1:7

YET I WILL SHOW LOVE TO THE HOUSE OF JUDAH: Judah will be spared as an independent kingdom even after Israel is destroyed.

I WILL SAVE THEM -- NOT BY BOW, SWORD OR BATTLE, OR BY HORSES AND HORSEMEN, BUT BY THE LORD THEIR GOD: The defeat of Sennacherib's invading force (2Ki 19:35). (Cp other examples: Gideon in Jdg 7; Deborah and Barak in Jdg 4.)

Hos 1:8

GOMER HAD ANOTHER SON: Ct v 3n. Gomer seems to revert to her previous life as a prostitute. "Where is your mother's certificate of divorce with which I sent her away? Or to which of my creditors did I sell you? Because of your sins you were sold; because of your transgressions your mother was sent away" (Isa 50:1).

Hos 1:9

LO-AMMI: "Not my people". Ct with Peter's words again: "Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God" (1Pe 2:10).

Hos 1:10

LIKE THE SAND ON THE SEASHORE: Gen 13:16; 32:12; Isa 48:19; Rom 9:27,28.

Hos 1:11

REUNITED... ONE LEADER: Subsequent returns to the Land, under Zerubbabel, then Ezra, and then Nehemiah. But, of course, the last great Return of the End Times, under Christ: Eze 37:21-28; Zec 14:8,9; 12:6-10. God scattered Israel among the nations, but in the Last Days He will reap an increase (Jer 31:10), under Jesus Christ, the true "Jezreel" (Seed of God).

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