Hosea 1 - Outline of Hosea (Book Notes menu page)
The book of Hosea is the first of the "Minor Prophets" in the canon of Scripture. The last twelve books of the OT are called the Minor Prophets, in the sense that they are shorter than the other prophetic books (although Hosea is actually a little longer than Daniel). The prophets Elijah and Elisha wrote no books. Yet, their roles can hardly be regarded as minor. In fact, no true prophet is of minor importance, since each spoke "as the oracles of God" (1Pet 4:11; 2Pet 1:21).
1. The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri,
in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, [and] Hezekiah, kings of Judah,
and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
in the days of...- The opening verse establishes the period of Hosea's ministry.
His prophetic message is directed primarily toward the northern kingdom (which he addresses as Israel or Ephraim). However, the message was also for the ears of the southern kingdom (Judah), which was following a little behind the northern kingdom, on the downward path to destruction.
     Hosea was contemporary to the kings mentioned (c.767 - 721 BC). The events during their reigns are recorded in 2Kings 14:23 - 20:21 and 2Chr 25:17 - 32:33. During this period, Israel and Judah were being troubled by aggression from neighboring nations. The LORD spoke through His prophets, Isaiah and Micah (addressing the southern kingdom), and Hosea and Amos (addressing the northern kingdom), to identify their sin as the cause of their trouble, to warn of impending severe judgment, and to call the people to repentance.
     See the Chart of Israel's Kings and Prophets (opens in new tab).
In our Bibles, the Minor Prophets are not arranged in chronological order of when they were written. [For example, Joel and Jonah (the second and fifth in the order of inclusion in our Bibles) are thought to be the earliest written.] Rather, these twelve books are roughly grouped according to the time that their 'near term' messages were fulfilled:
  • Prior to the captivities - Re: Judgment, coming upon Israel and Judah:
    Hosea (to Israel), Joel (to Judah), Amos (to Israel)
  • Following the captivity of Israel - Re: Judgment, coming upon Israel's oppressors and also upon Judah:
    Obadiah (to Edom), Jonah (to Ninevah), Micah (to Judah), Nahum (to Ninevah), Habakkuk (to Babylon), Zephaniah (to Judah)
  • Following the partial return of Judah to Jerusalem - Re: Exhortation to Righteousness for the returnees, and the Promise of future Restoration for all Israel:
    Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi
Jeroboam the son of Joash - was the second "Jeroboam" to reign over the northern kingdom.
Jeroboam II, the first of seven kings to reign over the northern kingdom during Hosea's ministry, is the only one which Hosea mentions by name. The others persisted in the sinful ways established by Jeroboam I and II. It was for these sins that the nation was destroyed.
kings of Judah...- directly touched by Hosea's ministry:
  • Uzziah...- During his reign, Judah was strengthened spiritually and militarily (2Chronicles ch. 26).
  • Jotham...- During his reign, the first stage of Israel's captivity to Assyria, occurred (2Kin 15:29,30).
  • Ahaz...- During his reign, the Lord protected Judah from their enemies, in spite of the king's lack of faith (Isa 7:1-12).
  • Hezekiah...- During his reign, Assyria finalized the captivity of Israel,
    but the Lord delivered Jerusalem from their hands (Isaiah ch. 36-37).
King Uzziah's name is associated with another prophecy, which emphasizes the Holiness of God (Isa 6:1-8).
In the prophecy of Hosea, the Holiness of God is in tension with the Love of God for His people, who are unholy because they have corrupted themselves.
Hosea {his name means "salvation"} -
Hosea conveyed the LORD's agony of heart for His people, with a heart broken by his personal sorrows due to the unfaithfulness of his wife. His message of judgment, was not hard and cold, but bathed in warm tears. Hosea and Jeremiah, the weeping prophet, were alike in this... and also in their persistence in continuing to speak to an unhearing people, up to and beyond the time of their respective captivities (first, Hosea to the northern kingdom, then, a hundred years later, Jeremiah to the southern kingdom).
2. The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea.
And the LORD said to Hosea,
Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms:
for the land hath committed great whoredom, [departing] from the LORD.
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim;
which conceived, and bare him a son.
Go, take a wife of whoredom... and children of whoredom...- God commanded. Hosea obeyed.
Was Gomer a prostitute involved in the worship of Baal? Did she come from a family involved in such spiritually adulterous practices? We are not told. She could have been a childhood friend, with whom Hosea fell in love. In any case, God prophetically revealed to him that she would be unfaithful.
for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.-
Here is the purpose behind Hosea's personal experience: to illustrate the failed relationship of Israel to the LORD, and His prophetic purpose for His unfaithful people.
4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel;
for yet a little [while], and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu,
and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
5 And it shall come to pass at that day,
that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
Jezreel {his name means "God scatters"} -
The name, of Hosea's first born son, had prophetic significance in both the near term and the distant future.
I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu...- This relates to the near term.
Jehu became the tenth king of the northern kingdom after slaying, Ahaziah, the grandson of wicked King Ahab. This was in fulfillment of the judgment pronounced against Ahab by Elijah (1Kin 21:17-24). But Jehu, had gone beyond exercising the justice that God intended, by slaying seventy innocent descendants of Ahab, and several princes of Judah who were visiting them, in the town of Jezreel (2Kin 10:1-14). While Jehu did fulfill the prophecy against Ahab's house, he did so ruthlessly and for his own advantage, not because his heart was set on following the LORD. Therefore, God limited the reign of Jehu's descendants to four generations (2Kin 10:30,31; the kings who descended from Jehu were: Jehoahaz, Joash, Jeroboam II, Zechariah). Zechariah's brief six month reign, ended with his death in a coup, in fulfillment of prophecy (2Kin 15:8-12). Though a few kings (not descendants of Jehu) followed Zechariah, it was not long before "the kingdom of the house of Israel" was "caused to cease."
I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.-
This statement looks beyond the judgment upon the house of Jehu, to judgment upon the nation. Israel's military strength would fail them. This was partially fulfilled when the northern kingdom of Israel was carried away into captivity by the Assyrians. While there may have been skirmishes between these nations in the valley of Jezreel, the record does not indicate a prominent role of this location, at that time. Therefore, it appears that the prophecy looks beyond the present age (the Age of Grace, the Church Age), toward the final battles of the Tribulation period, which will be fought in this valley, which is also known as the valley of Armageddon, where the nations will be gathered against Israel, just prior to the return of their Messiah to deliver His people (Rev 16:16).
6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter.
And [God] said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah:
for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel;
but I will utterly take them away.
7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah,
and will save them by the LORD their God,
and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
8. Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son.
9 Then said [God], Call his name Loammi:
for ye [are] not my people, and I will not be your [God].
Lo-ruhamah...- her name means "unpitied."
...for I will no more have mercy {HB=racham, (the root of Ruhamah), compassion, tender affection}...-
Some suggest that due to the unfaithfulness of Gomer, Loruhamah did not know who her father was, and therefore did not experience the tender love of her natural father for his daughter. This may have been the case. However, she was given this name to illustrate that God would no longer show compassion...
...upon the house of Israel...-
Israel had trifled with God's mercy. God had patiently warned them, while withholding the judgment that they deserved, but He would withhold it no longer. The account of their captivity includes a list of their sins, for which judgment came upon them (2Kin 17:4-23).
But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah...-
Judah would be spared, for the LORD was not ready to withdraw His mercy from the southern kingdom, at the time of Israel's fall to Assyria. Assyria did threaten Jerusalem, at that time (2Kin 18:17-37). But the king of Judah, Hezekiah, made His appeal to the LORD, who answered him through the prophet Isaiah, and miraculously delivered the city "not... by bow, nor sword, nor by battle..." (2Kin 19:1-37). [In a similar way, at the end of the future Great Tribulation period, the LORD Himself will deliver Jerusalem, when His people, aware of their own weakness, cast themselves upon His mercies.]
Lo-ammi - The boy's name, meaning "not my people" is singular (one 'people,' not many 'people').
In effect, the boy was labeled "not my son." If there had been doubt as to whether Hosea was the father of Loruhamah, there was none about Loammi. Note that the text states that Hosea was the father of Gomer's first child ("bare him a son," v.3). But of the second and third child, the text says only "she conceived again, and bare..." (v.6,8).
for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.-
That is a very strong statement, which leads some to believe that God has irrevocably cast off His people, Israel, and replaced them with the Church. If this was all that God had to say on the matter, we might agree with them. However, no scripture is of "any private interpretation" (2Pet 1:20). Therefore, we must consider these words in the light of all that God has said. This is especially true, in that immediately, in the next verses, the LORD explains clearly that His irrevocable purposes for Israel will be fulfilled in the future, in spite of their failures and chastenings.
10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea,
which cannot be measured nor numbered;
and it shall come to pass,
[that] in the place where it was said unto them, Ye [are] not my people,
[there] it shall be said unto them, [Ye are] the sons of the living God.
11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together,
and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land:
for great [shall be] the day of Jezreel.
it shall come to pass...-
The apostle Paul quotes v.10 in Rom 9:24-26, applying it to the salvation of Jews and Gentiles, alike. The context (Romans ch. 9-11) shows that although Israel has been temporarily set aside, due to unbelief and rejection of their Messiah, they will ultimately be restored (eg., Rom 11:1-2, 26-27).
    If God can take Gentiles, who never were His people, and make them "sons of the living God" (Rom 9:26), He can do the same for Israel, when they recognize and receive the Savior (eg. Jer 30:18-22).
Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together...-
The wall of partition which separated Jew and Gentile is broken down through faith in Christ (Eph 2:11-17). So, likewise, the animosity which divided Israel from Judah will dissolve when the whole nation receives Him as their King. But scripture indicates that the nation will not turn to Him, until the time of the end.
Then... for great shall be the day of Jezreel.-
The day of Jezreel refers to the future battle of Armageddon. Rev 16:14-16
     (The valley of Jezreel and the plain of Megiddo form one continuous valley.)
Differing aspects of the meaning of Jezreel {'God scatters'} are played against each other, here.
  • As Hosea was writing, Israel was soon to be 'scattered' in the Assyrian captivity, which would cause Israel (the northern kingdom) to cease from being a nation (v.4).
  • At the eventual fulfillment of the prophecy, in the place called Armageddon, the children of Israel (both houses of Israel) will be delivered from the nations of their diaspora (where they had previously been scattered), when the Lord judges their enemies (Jer 30:10,11; 31:10). At that time, Israel and Judah "shall be... gathered together" under one King (Jer 23:5,6; 30:3).
  • At the time of their future deliverance, the LORD will 'sow' His people ('scattering them as seed') into their land (Hos 2:23), and restore them as 'my people' (Jer 31:1-9; 33:16,17).

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