The book of Hosea contrasts God’s faithfulness to Israel’s faithlessness. In the first three chapters, Hosea introduces the reader to Israel’s infidelity to their Suzerain (Ruler) God who entered into a covenant with Him, and spelled out the path they could take that would lead to great blessing. God’s covenant with Israel can be viewed as a marital contract. By using Hosea’s own marriage to his unfaithful wife, Gomer, God demonstrated that Israel is an unfaithful covenant partner. Israel had broken her vows to her Covenant Husband.
Throughout the rest of Hosea, Israel’s condition is described as disobedient, rebellious, and idolatrous. As God had warned, Israel’s adoption of pagan principles of self-indulgence led to exploitation, deception, and violence (Hosea 4:2). The people of Israel stood in need of repentance and genuine righteousness. Hosea called them to repentance, but Israel declined.
Israel spent years sowing to its own destruction, making and breaking alliances with the world’s superpowers at the time, Egypt and Assyria, dealing treacherously. Hosea describes Israel as acting like a “silly dove” flitting from one nation to the other, rather than turning to God for protection (Hosea 7:11). Thus Assyria will come and put Israel into exile, which God will use as a way of punishing Israel for its infidelity to its covenant with God (Hosea 11:5).
Through it all, however, the book offers hope to Israel. For although the Suzerain God invoked the discipline provisions of their covenant contract with Him, resulting in them being wounded grievously, in the end times He will heal them, revive them, and restore their blessings (Hosea 2:20, 14:7). May all who read this book find comfort and hope in the steadfast love and faithfulness of God!
Hosea 1 introduces the prophet, his marriage, and his family. God commands Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife and have children with her. Hosea takes Gomer as his wife, and she gives birth to three children. Hosea’s faithfulness to his faithless wife teaches important spiritual lessons about the faithfulness of the Suzerain God, who is as a husband to His unfaithful people, Israel. The chapter can be outlined as follows:
I. Hosea receives the word of the LORD during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel (v. 1).
II. The LORD commands Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife and have children with her. Hosea marries Gomer, and she first gives birth to a son. God commands Hosea to name the child Jezreel to symbolize the end of the dynasty of Jehu and of the northern kingdom of Israel (vv. 2-5).
III. Hosea’s wife gives birth to a daughter, and the LORD commands Hosea to name her “Lo-ruhamah” (No Mercy) because He will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel (vv. 6-7).
IV. Hosea’s wife gives birth to another son, and the LORD commands Hosea to name him Lo-ammi (Not My People), meaning the Israelites are not God’s people and He is not their God (vv. 8-9).
V. The LORD promises to restore Israel and Judah. He states that one day the nation will experience a great increase in population and will be gathered together under one leader (vv. 10-11).