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Old Testament Overview - Hosea (A Look at the Heart of God)

Introduction (1:1) (Hosea's ministry took place during the reigns of four kings of Judah—Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and the famous Jehosophat.  It took place primarily during the reign of Jehosophat.  He was also a prophet during the reigns of Israel's King Jeroboam II and the reigns of the kings who ruled during the period when Assyria brought an end to Israel. See II Kings 17-18  The kings that followed Jeroboam II in Israel had short reigns.  Hosea's ministry was primarily to the northern kingdom of Israel.  He can be seen as the "weeping prophet" to the northern kingdom as Jeremiah was the "weeping prophet" to the southern kingdom.)  (Hosea was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel at the same time as Amos was a prophet to the northern kingdom and Isaiah and Micah were prophets to the southern kingdom of Judah. Compare Hosea 1:1 to Amos 1:1; Isa. 1:1; and Micah 1:1)

The theme summarized (1:2-2:1)  (Israel is spiritually adulterous, but God continues to love her.)  (1) Israel's adultery is symbolized by Hosea's marriage to Gomer. (1:2-3a)  (God commands Hosea to take a wife who will one day be an adulteress; just as He had taken Israel as a wife when He knew that she would also one day be an adulteress. See Deut. 5:28-29(2) Israel's sin and God's judgment symbolized by Hosea and Gomer's children. (1:3b-8)  (Their son Jezreel 1:3b-5)  ("Jezreel" is a significant name in Israel, for King Ahab and Jezebel had arranged for the murder of Naboth the Jezreelite. See I Kings 21:1-16  Elijah then predicted that Ahab and Jezebel would die where they killed Naboth. See I Kings 21:17-24 These predictions were fulfilled when Jehu murdered Ahab's family and Jezebel at "Jezreel." See I kings 22:37-38 and II Kings 9:25-27)  (God predicts here that Jehu's family of whom Jeroboam II was a member was about to be judged for their murders of Ahab's family.  Jehu's family was guilty of murder, even though the murders fulfilled God's judgment on Ahab.)  (Though Israel was prospering at the time of this prophecy, shortly after this time, the last in the family of Jehu, Jeroboam II's son Zechariah was murdered. See II Kings 15:8-12 And in fewer than fifty years, Assyria defeated the northern kingdom and sent them into exile. See II Kings 17:1-6)  ("Jezreel" is also another name for Armageddon, the valley where a great battle of judgment will take place in the future. See Rev. 16:16)  (Their daughter, "Lo-Ruhamah" 1:6-7)  (Her name meant "not loved"—a prediction of the coming judgment on Israel, the northern kingdom.)  (God would, nevertheless, rescue Judah, the southern kingdom. See II Kings 18-19)  (Their son, "Lo-Ammi" 1:8-9)  (His name meant "not my people."  His name is a prediction of how God would turn Israel over to the Assyrians. See II Kings 17:1-6(3) God's grace toward Israel (1:10-2:1)  (God, nevertheless, will bless Israel—increase their number, transform them into God's children, reunite them, and give them one leader.)  (At this great "day of Jezreel," they will once again be loved and be God's people.)  (The leaders in this "day of Jezreel" undoubtedly is the Messiah Jesus Christ. See Hos. 3:5; Jer. 23:1-6; Ezek. 34:23)

The expanded theme I (2:2-3:5)  (1) Israel's (Gomer's sin) and the judgment of God—divorce (2:2-12)  (Israel and Gomer go after other lovers until God and Hosea divorce themselves from them.)  (Both Israel and Gomer did not appreciate what they received from God and Hosea; so these blessings were removed from them.)  (God deprives us of His provisions for us at times to cause us to recognize where our provisions come from. See Deut. 8:2-3(2) God's (Hosea's) grace (2:14-3:5)  (God's future grace toward Israel 2:14-23)  (Here, God promises Israel a future kingdom where He will be her husband and where she will no longer call Baal her Master. 2:16-17)  (A kingdom where there will be peace between animals and men, 2:18; and where they will enjoy prosperity and be God's people, 2:21-23)  (The "Valley of Achor" of 2:15 was a valley when Achan disobeyed God and took some of the treasure from the conquered Jericho. See Josh. 7:24-26; Isa. 65:10)  (God instructs Hosea to be gracious to Gomer. 3:1-3)  (Gomer's path of idolatry led her downward until she became a slave.  She had become so needy that Hosea was able to buy her for a very small amount—fifteen pieces of silver was half the price for a common slave. See Exod. 21:32) For more about the "sacred raisin cakes" in 3:1, see Jer. 7:18, 44:18-19)  (Now, Hosea invites Gomer to return to him, if she will be faithful.)  (God predicts that Israel will return to Him as Gomer returned to Hosea—after a period of being without a king or a form of worship. 3:4-5)  (Here, Hosea predicted a time in the future when Israel will seek God and be ruled by His king. See also Jer. 23:1-6; Ezek. 34:23)

The expanded theme II (4-11):  (Hosea now understands how Israel had hurt God, for Gomer had hurt him in the same way.)  (We can also hurt God as Gomer hurt Hosea and as Israel hurt God.  Certainly, this book of Hosea gives us a look at the heart of God.)  (1) The sins of Israel that pained the heart of God. (4)  (They lived as if there were no God. 4:1, 6)  (The priests who were to lead Israel to God, instead, enjoyed Israel's sin—possibly because it caused the sin offerings and their portions of the sin offerings to increase. 4:6b-9)  (And the people of Israel chased after the fleshly practices of idol worship.)  (Notice, Judah was also warned not to go to Gilgal or Beth-Aven where Israel, the northern kingdom, offered their sacrifices to foreign gods. 4:15)  (Beth, or "house of God, is where they offered the sacrifices to idols, but God chose to call it "Beth-Aven," or "house of wickedness."  "Beth-Aven" was a city near Bethel. See I Sam 13:5, 14:23)

(2) God's judgment on Israel (5)  (God will not receive their sacrifices or honor their new moon festivals, 5:1-7; Israel will be laid waste, flooded over, moth-eaten, and overcome by rot. 5:8-12; and Assyria will not be able to help them, for God will tear them up and carry them away like a hungry lion kills and carries away its prey. 6:13-14)  (Notice that Israel's plight is not hopeless, for God will return to them and to us—when they and we confess our guilt and earnestly seek Him. 5:14 See also James 4:4-10)  (What is the "Spirit of prostitution" in 5:3-4? See also 4:12  Does it refer to a demonic spirit, to an evil influence, to a man's spirit, or to a combination of all three?  "Hebrew idioms often speak of inner tendencies in terms of  'spirit.'" (NIV Study Bible note on 4:12)

(3) Israel's half-hearted repentance will not satisfy God (6)  (Israel's half-hearted repentance 6:1-3)  (Notice the complete lack of any confession of sin in these verses.)  (Also notice the prediction of the resurrection of Jesus Christ on the third day in these verses.)  (But Hosea predicts that Israel will not be moved even by the resurrection of Jesus Christ until they are ready to turn from their sins.)  (God is not fooled by their superficial repentance. 6:4-11) (Their love is like the morning mist—very shallow and undependable.  And their sacrifices are mere outward forms. 6:4, 6)  (Notice also in 7:14, where it says that Israel does "not cry out" to God "from their hearts.")

(4) Israel's sin described in picture form. (7)  (Israel believes that God does not remember all their sins, but Hosea describes what Israel's sins are like to God: "I remember all their evil deeds." 7:1-2)  (Feinberg was reminded of the truth that "secret sin on earth is open scandal in heaven." Feinberg, The Minor Prophets)  (To God, Israel's immorality and sexual lusting is seen as a continual burning, like a fire in an oven that continually burns and needs no stirring. 7:4-7)  (They are like a pancake that is not turned over—they seem to be well cooked on the top—they appear to be devoted to God on the outside; but underneath they are all gooey with sin. 7:8)  (They are growing old and dying as a nation, but do not know it. 7:9)  (They are like a naive dove that continually wanders—they wander from God, flitting off to other nations. 7:11-15)  (And they are like a faulty bow that never shoots straight, no matter how well it is aimed. 7:16)

(5) Therefore, God's judgment on Israel is imminent. (8-10)  (Israel has sown their seed: they selected their own kings by their own standards, and they worship idols of their own creation—a calf idol.  So, they will reap God's judgment.  They have sown the emptiness of the wind, so they will reap the whirlwind of God's judgment. 8:1-7)  (God will remove their joy. 9:1-2)  (They will be taken away into exile. 9:3-6)  ("The days of punishment are coming," because Israel rejected the message of God's prophets and turned to idolatry. 9:7-10)  (They will no longer bear many healthy heirs. 9:11-16)  (Notice the many uses of plant life to illustrate how Israel's growth is contrary to God's desire for them.  They are like a vine that produces fruit for itself rather than fruit for God—their altars were not for God but for self-indulgence. 10:1-2)  (Their false promises and agreements caused endless and hopeless lawsuits to spring up as poisonous weeds spring up in freshly "plowed fields." 10:4)  (Israel will be broken off from God and carried away by the Assyrians like a twig that is carried away by a river; and thorns and thistles will grow over their altars. 10:5-8)  (God desired to use Israel as a heifer to plow a field where righteousness would be sown, but they chose to sow wickedness instead.  So, they must reap evil deception against them and be defeated by the Assyrians. 10:9-15)  ("Shalman" is short for Shalmanezer the Assyrian king who would soon invade and totally conquer Israel. 10:14)  (We have no other record of Shalmanezer's victory over "Beth Arbel" other than this verse.)  (What is the reason for God's judgment?  Hosea lists some of Israel's sins in chapters 8-10: they were looking to Assyria for help and not looking to God, 8:9-10; they were able to twist their worship of God into another opportunity to sin, 8:11-13; they had forgotten their "Maker," 8:14; they regarded God's spokesmen as fools, 9:7-9; and they trusted in their "own strength," 10:13.)  (The "days of Gibeah" in 9:9 and 10:9 refer to the extreme sexual perversion of the Benjaminites described in Judges 19:16-20:48)  ("Baal Peor" in 9:10 describes a time when the wayward prophet Balaam led the Moabites to sexually seduce Israel away from their God and toward the worship of Baal at Peor. See Numbers 25:1-5, 31:16

(6) God's unending love toward Israel. (11)  (God's early love for Israel and Israel's lack of love for God are described. 11:1-4)  (God, in love, rescued Israel from Egypt.  He did not seek to control them as their Egyptian slave masters had.  Instead, He removed their yokes of slavery and led them with kindness.  Yet, Israel chose to worship Baal rather than Him.)  ("I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them." 11:4)  (Because Israel rejected God's love, God will strike out in righteous judgment against them. 11:5-7)  (God allows Israel to turn from Him.  He also will not exalt a nation that chooses a path that leads to their own judgment.)  (God, nevertheless. will not cease to love Israel. 11:8-11)  ("How can I give you up, Ephraim? How can I hand you over, Israel? How can I treat you like Admah? How can I make you like Zeboiim? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger, nor will I turn and devastate Ephraim. For I am God, and not man— the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath." 11:8-9)  (In these verses, we see the struggle in God's heart between judging Israel for their hardened sinfulness and reaching out to this hardened nation with unceasing love.)  (In 11:8-11, we get a look at God's heart like few other places in the Bible.  We see how God continues to care about Israel even though they have hardheartedly rejected Him—just as Hosea's heart continued to ache for Gomer, even though she was chasing other lovers.  Because of this love, God cannot treat Israel as he treated "Admah" and Zeboiim"—they were two cities that were judged along with Sodom and Gomorrah. See Gen. 10:19, 14:8, 19:24-25; Deut. 29:23)  (At some time in the future, God will reach out in love to Israel because the judgment that they deserved and we deserve was poured out on His Son instead of on them and us.  At that time, Israel will return to Him. 11:10-11)

Expanded theme III (11:12-14:9)  (1) Israel's sin and God's judgment (11:12-13:16)  (Israel's sin: Like someone trying to eat the wind, Israel chases after emptiness. (11:12-12:1)  (They put their dependence on lies, on violence, and on nations that had no concern for them, rather than depending on the truth and depending on God.)  (Jacob the man had pursued God, but Israel the nation was not pursuing God and needed to return to God. 12:2-6)  (Although Jacob's ways of pursuing God were often fleshly, he nevertheless pursued God—even from the womb.  But Jacob's people chose to pursue the wind.)  (Because Israel's dishonesty was not being punished and because they were becoming more wealthy, they believed that God was pleased with their lives. 12:7-8)  (This is a very human trait.  We at first fear to do something that we know is wrong because of our fear of God.  But, if we eventually do it and there is no immediate punishment, it is not long before we forget that it is wrong. See Eccl. 8:11)  (God will take away their wealth and they will again live in tents as they did before they came into the Promised Land.  And He will turn their altars into a pile of stones. 12:9-14)  (Hosea seems to be using Jacob's exile into Aram to search for a wife as a symbol of what was about to happen to Israel.)  ("Gilead" and "Gilgal" are symbolic of those regions of Israel that are east and west of the Jordan River.  He describes the wickedness of this part of Israel.)  (Israel's sin of idolatry 13:1-2)  ("Ephraim," the largest tribe in Israel symbolizes the northern nation of Israel.)  (Because of Israel's sins, her security will be taken away and they will pass away "like the morning mist," like "chaff," and like "smoke." 13:3)  (Because Israel has chosen to worship that which will pass away, they will pass away also.)  (Israel's pride and ingratitude. 13:4-6)  (Israel took what God gave them in the desert, but when they were no longer in need; they, in their pride, forgot how much they needed God. See Deut. 8:10-9:6  Has not this also happened in our nation as well?)  (God's judgment: He will come against them with the fury of a carnivorous animal, and He will tear them apart. 13:7-9 See Luke 12:45-46)  (God's judgment: They wanted to be ruled and protected only by kings and not by God.  God judged them by letting them see what happens when they put their trust in kings. 13:10-12)  (Israel did not respond to God's discipline.  Israel's troubles do not bring them to God.)  (Israel is like an unborn child that causes a mother's birth pains, but never is born and never gives a mother relief. 13:13-14)  (Nevertheless, God will one day rescue Israel from death—through the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Compare 13:14 and I Cor. 15:54-55)  (God's judgment on Israel: a nation from the East will totally devastate them. 13:14c-16)  (It will be like an east wind that dries up everything.  It will be a nation that shows absolutely no mercy, even to pregnant mothers and children.)

(2) God's love (14)  (God will respond to Israel's genuine confession and repentance. (14:1-3)  (Genuine confession will take place when Israel humbly acknowledges their sin and wholeheartedly seeks God's grace.  Repentance will occur when Israel turns from trusting in Assyria and from worshiping idols and returns to God.)  (Then, God will heal their land. 14:4-8)  (Notice the example of health and fruitfulness that are used to describe God's healing of Israel.  They will be moistened with the morning "dew"; they will "blossom like a lily" (that, according to Feinberg, can produce as many as fifty blossoms); their "roots" will go deep into the earth like the roots of "a cedar of Lebanon"; they will be like the evergreen "olive tree"; and they will be fragrant "like a cedar of Lebanon." 14:7-8)

ConclusionThe wise will listen to these words and realize that God's ways are right, and they will walk in them. (14:9)  (But, the rebellious will reject God's words and experience the consequences.)

Key people: Hosea, Gomer

Key verses:  1:2-3, 2:23, 3:1-5, 4:6, 12, 6:2, 6, 7:2, 8:7, 9:7, 10:12-3, 11:1, 4-11, 12:3- 6, 13:2-4, 14:1-9

Key teachingsGod loves Israel, though she is like Gomer, Hosea's adulteress wife. (1:2-3, 3:1-5, 4:10-19)  God knows all of our sins (7:2)  Israel depended on their own strength rather than depending on God's strength  (10:13)  God's loving heart toward rebellious Israel described—He cannot give up on them or us.   (11:4-11)  Jacob's search for God described (12:3-4, 12)  God will return to Israel when Israel returns to God (14:1-9)

Old Testament Overview Studies

Old Testament Overview
Table of Contents
Old Testament Overview Outline
Old Testament Overview Genesis
Old Testament Overview Exodus to Deuteronomy
Old Testament Overview Furniture of the Tabernacle
Old Testament Overview Dress of Priests and High Priest
Old Testament Overview Dress of High Priest
Old Testament Overview Canaan: What Can it Teach Us?
Old Testament Overview Israel, God's Kingdom
Old Testament Overview Moses—Failure the Backdoor to Success
Old Testament Overview The Mosaic Covenant
Old Testament Overview The Ten Commandments
Old Testament Overview The Offerings
Old Testament Overview Uncleanness
Old Testament Overview The Priesthood
Old Testament Overview The Festivals
Old Testament Overview The Nazirite Vow
Old Testament Overview Joshua to Ruth
Old Testament Overview Prophecies of the Redeemer—Genesis to Ruth
Old Testament Overview I and II Samuel
Old Testament Overview Saul and David Compared
Old Testament Overview Jonathan and David Compared
Old Testament Overview The Davidic Covenant
Old Testament Overview I And II Kings
Old Testament Overview Israel's and Judah's Kings
Old Testament Overview Divided Kings who Divided
Old Testament Overview Criticisms of God's Actions in the Old Testament
Old Testament Overview Ezra, Nehemiah, and Esther
Old Testament Overview Ruth and Esther Compared
Old Testament Overview Job to Song of Solomon
Old Testament Overview Proverbs: Wise Man or Fool?
Old Testament Overview Isaiah
Old Testament Overview Jeremiah
Old Testament Overview Daniel
Old Testament Overview Hosea
Old Testament Overview Joel
Old Testament Overview Amos
Old Testament Overview Obadiah
Old Testament Overview Jonah
Old Testament Overview Micah
Old Testament Overview Nahum
Old Testament Overview Habakkuk
Old Testament Overview Zephaniah
Old Testament Overview Haggai
Old Testament Overview Zechariah
Old Testament Overview Malachi