The Book of Hosea, Biblical study by Dale and Sandy Larsen
For the book of Hosea, we used the LifeGuide Bible Study, “Hosea: God’s Persistent Love”, by Dale Larsen and Sandy Larsen.
God gave Hosea a difficult command. God said take an adulterous wife. Hosea obeyed and married Gomer, and she bore three children. The Lord made it clear that Hosea’s marriage to Gomer symbolizes His marriage to Israel. Despite Israel’s unfaithfulness and disobedience, God will not forsake them and He will lead them to eternal victory.
The Lord harshly condemns Israel, saying that He will not love them, He will force thirst upon them, He will take away their wine and celebrations, and He will ruin their grains and trees. After punishment, the Lord promises to wed Israel. He promises to make a covenant with her (marriage) and take her on a honeymoon (allure her to the desert so they can be alone to celebrate their union). God promises to be faithful to Hosea for eternity.
God commands Hosea to go redeem his wife by purchasing her back, despite her fornication. Hosea commands her to not lie with any man for the rest of her life. Similarly, the Lord will redeem his bride, Israel, and she will not worship any other gods or sacrifice to any other idols or ephods. Hosea will never leave Homer, just like God will never leave Israel.
God charges Israel with a variety of sins: cursing, lying, murder, bloodshed, and prostitution. He calls them “like a stubborn heifer.”
The Lord expresses judgement specifically against the Israelite leaders. They were responsible for leading the people of Israel in the wrong direction, and they were a snag to the people. Because of the people’s unfaithfulness, the Lord will be like “a great Lion” and tear the nation to pieces. I particularly like the metaphor and imagery of “a great Lion” tearing “a stubborn heifer” to pieces.
Israel acknowledges the Lord’s power and seeks repentance. However, the Lord accuses of them of being fickle like “the morning mist.” Their repentance was not genuine; they expected to receive abundant blessings in exchange for recognizing their Lord. God desires true repentance and humility, and He cannot be fooled by insincere actions.
The Lord elaborates further on Israel’s sins: adultery, deceit, lies, arrogance, and senselessness. He harps on their instability and unreliability, comparing them to a flat cake, a senseless dove, hot-tempered oven, and a faulty bow. Because Israel continues to stray and rebel, the Lord will bring destruction upon them.
Israel deceived themselves. Although they cried out to the Lord, they continued to build and worship idols, set up kings, and disregard God’s word.
Continued description of Israel’s adulterous actions and their impending destruction. When the Lord first found Israel, he described it as exciting as “finding grapes in the desert.” However, the initial sweetness lasted only a short time; they quickly became spoiled and vile. As part of Israel’s punishment, the Lord declared that they will be barren – no fruit on their vines, no children, no pregnancy, no birth, no conception. Every child will be slain.
In time, the Lord will punish the nations that suppressed Israel, and He will destroy their false idols. When that time comes, the Lord instructs Israel to seek Him and break up their “unplowed ground.” When the people do this, righteousness will rain down on them. However, before this time of blessing comes, the Israelites will be devastated in battle, and their leaders will be destroyed.
God is not wishy-washy. He recognizes evil behavior, and He condemns it. But God is also merciful and compassionate. He is “God, not man.” Although He has a fierce and righteous anger against Ephraim, He will not devastate them. Instead, He will roar like a lion, and His people will come trembling to his feet in response. God’s compassion will supersede his anger.
Aspects of Jacob’s life are used to illustrate Israel’s history and current condition: rebel against God’s design, wrestle with God, obedience to God, return to God. Hosea calls Israel to maintain two principles, love and justice. “Return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”
Israel goes in a cycle throughout the Old Testament. God shows them favor and rescues them, they forget God, they become proud, they worship idols, God punishes them, God redeems them, and the cycle starts over. Hosea reminds Israel of the times that God was faithful in delivering them from Egypt and providing food for them in the desert. Since the people have become proud, God will be like a lion, a leopard, and bear to Ephraim. God will destroy them, He will cause their children to be so dumb that they do not know how to leave their mother’s womb, He will plunder their storehouses and treasures, and He will cause an east wind to blow over them. East wind is significant, because God and heaven are always associated with the West; East is the direction of chaos and death.
In the concluding chapter of Hosea, God promises to heal His nation and love His people. He will cause them to flourish, like a green tree with strong roots, pleasing fragrance, beautiful blossoms, and abundant fruit. Israel will ask for forgiveness, forget their idols, and return to God.