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 12 draws lessons from the life of Jacob to summon faithless Israel to return to God. Israel has boasted about his wealth, which he has acquired through greed and oppression. He has practiced deceit and violence to consolidate his power just as Jacob used deceit and lies to achieve security and prosperity. But later in his life, Jacob recognized his dependence on God, returned to Him, and experienced transformation and blessings. Therefore, Hosea encourages Israel to learn from the life of his father Jacob to return to the LORD, wait on Him, and live righteously before Him. The chapter’s outline is as follows: