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 11 begins with a historical retrospect in which the Suzerain God reflects on His past relationship with Israel, referred to here as His beloved son. God has delivered Israel from the threatening situation of slavery in Egypt, where He called Israel His “firstborn”(Exodus 4:22). This passage includes a verse quoted in Matthew 2 as a prophecy that Jesus would be delivered by escaping to Egypt (Matthew 2:14-15).
God has provided Israel with His most tender care. Despite God’s deliverance and protection, Israel has become ungrateful and has turned to idolatry, and adopted the self-seeking pagan culture of deceit, exploitation, and violence.
Consequently, God pronounces a two-pronged judgment on Israel. Israel will go into exile in Assyria, and the sword of war will whirl against his cities to demolish his gates and destroy his people.
Yet suddenly God speaks with compassion, and moderates His judgment. In lieu of utter destruction, God will roar like a lion to summon Israel back to the land. Israel will return Him with a genuine heart.
Chapter 11 ends with Israel’s restoration and resettlement in the Promised Land It has a two-fold structure, as shown below,