Introduction: Hosea addresses the northern kingdom in this book, often called Ephraim, the largest tribe of the 12 tribes of Israel. Jeroboam II (782-753 B.C.) was still reigning in Israel. Hosea was another prophet to Israel before they were taken captive by the Assyrians. Hosea prophesied long after Jeroboam II and spanned the reigns of the last six kings of Israel. Hosea wrote this book during the early years of King Hezekiah and ranged from 755 to 710 B.C. This book ranges 40 years of ministry.
When Hosea begins, Israel was enjoying a temporary period of political and economic prosperity under Jeroboam II. The reign of Israel’s last six kings were brief since four were murdered and a fifth was carried captive to Assyria. The last years of the northern kingdom, the people refused to heed Hosea’s warnings of imminent judgment. The people were in a spiritual stupor, riddled with sin and idolatry. Hosea offers the possibility of salvation if only the nation would turn from idolatry back to God – repent!
Verse 1 – The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeoboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Verse 2 – When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.”
This was not a vision, but a command from the Lord, to enter into a marriage that would portray God’s perspective of Israel. A promiscuous wife describes her behavior and character. She is not called a prostitute. The children that they would have, would bear the shame of their mother’s behavior and at the same time represent the shameful behavior and condemnation of the children of Israel.
Verse 3 – So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
God often commanded his prophets extraordinary obedience in extraordinary times. Hosea knew ahead of time that Gomer would be unfaithful to him, and so it was with Israel.
Verse 4 – Then the Lord said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the blood shed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
Jezreel, “God will scatter.” Jehu’s dynasty began in violence and would end in the same. Elijah had predicted that the family of Israel’s King Ahab would be destroyed because of their wickedness (1 Kings 21:20-22), but Jehu went too far in carrying out God’s command when he had seventy of King Ahab’s son’s slaughtered (2 Kings 10:1-11).
Verse 5 – It shall come to pass in that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
The very place where Jehu carried out the slaughter of Ahab’s sons was where God promised to put an end to Israel’s independent kingdom (“break Israel’s bow.”). This happened 25 years later when the Assyrians attacked and carried the people into captivity.
Verse 6 – And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but will utterly take them away.
Verse 7 – Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah. Will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.”
And Hosea’s daughter’s name meant “Not an object of mercy or gracious favor.”
Verse 8 – Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son.
There is no indication that these are Hosea’s children. In verse 3, it says, Hosea took Gomer as his wife and bore “him” a son, but the next children, it says, “And she conceived and bore a daughter, and a son.”
Verse 9 – Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.
Lo-Ammi – “Not My people,” was a symbolic proclamation that Israel had broken covenant with God. God’s statement amounted to a decree of divorce from Israel.
Verse – 10 “Yet the number of children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people, there it shall be said to them, you are the sons of the living God.’
God’s divorce was not final, only to that generation. Gentiles as well as Jews, “as numerous as the sand in the sea,” when all God’s children would be united.
Verse 11 – Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and appoint for themselves one head; and they shall come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel!
There will be “one head,” Jesus Christ, appointed by the Father, when His people accept and embrace Him.