The prophet Hosea, the son of Beeri, was a minister to Israel in the last days of freedom before the siege of Israel and Babylonian captivity. He was at work in Israel during the reign of King Uzziah (767-739 B.C.) through King Hezekiah (715-686 B.C.). The name Hosea means “salvation” and should Israel have listened to Hosea who was carrying the words of the Lord, they could have been saved. The book of Hosea parallels the historical record found in II Kings 15-16 and II Chronicles 26-28.
The word of the Lord to Hosea begins with what should be a most beautiful and exciting time of life for a young man like Hosea. It was time for him to be married and Solomon the inspired writer of Proverbs said, “rejoice with the wife of thy youth” (Prov. 5:18). God intended for man and woman to come together in the beauty of marriage and enjoy a special relationship that would last a lifetime (Matt. 19:1-9). But Hosea will not enjoy the special relationship which God had planned because he has set his eyes on a “wife of whoredoms” (1:2). Because his heart is inclined that way God says, “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms.” Please note that God tells him to take a wife of whoredoms, but that could not be God’s wish for Hosea or any man (Prov. 5). The priests were strictly commanded not to marry a whore (Lev. 21:7). The Proverb writer said that “by means of a whorish woman a man is brought to a piece of bread” (Prov. 6:26). Israel had been warned many times of the corruption brought on by whoredom and yet Hosea’s heart was set on Gomer. A significant comparison is seen in verse two of chapter one: Hosea represents what was going on in all the land. So what should have been a happy time for Hosea and Israel was a sad, bleak time because of sin.
When reading the book of Hosea one can see that God has been cheated on in His marriage to Israel. Gomer did commit adultery and cheated on Hosea (2:2-23) just as Israel had done to God. Hosea is willing to buy her love and affection back (ch. 3), but her heart is not with him. God would give Israel every precious thing, yet she would not return from her whoredom with a change of heart. After being taken captive without a king and without a prince, Israel will eventually be prepared to turn her heart back to the Lord (3:5).
But why and how could such a thing happen? The key verse of the book tells us why: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (4:6). Israel was not approved unto God because they left His Word and a knowledge of His laws. In Hosea 6:6 God said, “For I desire mercy and not sacrifice; and knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” A ceasing to retain God in one’s knowledge will lead to every kind of evil (Rom. 1:28). This is the exact thing that was found in Rome in the New Testament and the people were “without natural affection” (Rom. 1:31). Could it be that we in America know this same situation? What would possess a woman to kill her unborn child in abortion but a heart devoid of God and knowledge of His Word? What would allow men and women to run for public office in the United States of America and openly promote homosexuality and homosexual rights, moreover be elected with such an unclean, corrupt platform, but a people whose hearts are devoid of God and a knowledge of Him? How could it be a shock to anyone that a president would blatantly lie when all along he has promoted positions such as abortion and homosexuality which are as debased and unnatural as can be? When anyone or any nation ceases to retain God in their knowledge and refuses His longsuffering and grace, destruction is at the door. Hosea’s record of Israel reveals this clearly.
Hosea is a sad book. Many today say, “Be positive! We don’t like or need negative preaching and teaching.” Yet God wrote some of the most negative books to be found anywhere. Why? Because Israel needed to know and see how bad they really were in the sight of God. God said, “Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor” (9:1). How graphic, how negative, but how true it was. Israel could not see her own eminent destruction because sin and whoredom had blinded her eyes. In chapter 14 of the book of Hosea God’s longsuffering could not be clearer. He painted the sad picture of Israel’s condition throughout the book but ends with the earnest plea, “O Israel return unto the Lord thy God.” Notice that if they will just turn unto the Lord and confess their iniquity God will forgive, forget and bless them. But, sadly the Father’s faithful plea was not heard.
In closing Hosea brings a couple of other Bible references to mind. First is the statement by Paul in II Corinthians 6:14: “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers.” Also contained in that same verse is the question “what fellowship has light with darkness?” Finally there is this question: what do members of Christ have in common with harlotry? (I Cor. 6:15-20). When one studies the book of Hosea, it’s easy to see that even though 2,600 years have gone by man hasn’t changed. His heart seems to be set on doing evil and God will let it happen. The sad thing is that an awful price has already been paid and is yet to be paid for unforgiven sin. The Lord will forgive if we will turn to Him.
-David Hill