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 4 begins the second major section of the book and constitutes the first collection of judgment oracles pronounced by the prophet. In this passage, the LORD confronts the nation Israel for her apostasy. He then accuses and condemns the priests for their failure to teach the covenantal laws to the people and for their self-seeking attitude in their priestly duties. Having condemned the priests, the LORD turns His attention again to Israel and describes her engagement in the Canaanite fertility rites of Baal worship. And while leveling new accusations against Israel, the LORD warns Judah not to imitate her sister because she is headed for an unpleasant surprise. The chapter’s outline is as follows: