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Hosea is not about Hosea


Hosea is not about Hosea
Posted on September 5, 2021  - By Tobin Mattackal

One of the first things that crosses our minds about the book of Hosea is the story between him and Gomer. Some think that this story should not have been in the Bible. Others are confused as to why God would ask such a thing of Hosea. 

Many feel this way because they haven’t read the whole book to try and understand what God is revealing about Himself. 

Introduction to Hosea

Before we dive any deeper, I want to give you an introduction to this book. The title identifies the author as Hosea. But halfway through the book, there is a change in the literary form. Some scholars believe that this suggests that there were a few others who helped write or complete this book. 

Regardless, it is clear that whatever this book contains is the message that God gave to Hosea. The opening line reads like this: “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea.” 

For further context, let us explore when this book was written. Hosea prophesied to the Northern kingdom of Israel, also called Ephraim — which is used a lot in this book. This is set about 200 years — i.e. between BC 760 and BC 722 — after Israel was split up (1 Kings), as Isaiah and Micah, Hosea’s contemporaries, prophesied to the Southern kingdom.

Now, Hosea was also called to speak on God’s behalf to His people during the reign of one of Israel’s worst kings, Jeroboam II. 

To be faithful to God, first, we need to know Him personally

The text makes it clear that the message was given to the Israelites. Under Jeroboam, the nation descended into chaos, with God’s chosen people being carried away into exile by the Assyrian empire.

God wanted to call out their unfaithfulness towards Him. That’s why this book was written. The people had sinned in countless ways, but these could be grouped into two broad categories: material prosperity and spiritual bankruptcy.

Let me start by pointing out that Hosea is not about Hosea. Nor is it about Gomer. Yes, these characters are really important in this book. But if you were to take a closer look, you will realise that this book is really about God and His merciful heart. 

Through this article, I’d like to briefly point out some truths about God that the book teaches. I believe it will help us know Him, love Him, and worship Him better.

The faithful, covenant-keeping God

Hosea brings out the contrast between man and God. It presents man, who is consistently unfaithful towards God, as opposed to a God who is ever faithful to His people.

God has been a faithful husband to Israel throughout. Consider the OT from a bird’s-eye view: it was the Lord that rescued them out of slavery, He brought them to Mount Sinai, where He entered into a covenant with them. 

He asked them to be faithful to Him alone and brought them into the promised land. But they took all the abundance that He gave them, and they dedicated it to the worship of the Canaanite god, Baal. 

So God had a legitimate reason to divorce His nation. He could have ended the covenant with them. But instead, He says that He’s going to pursue Israel again and renew His covenant with them (ch. 2:14–23). And He says why: purely because of His love, compassion, and faithfulness. 

How does this truth apply to us today?

  1. It is important to examine ways we are being unfaithful to God. We are not any different from the people of Israel. In many ways, we are quick to forget God and His works in our lives. We run to God in need, but then once that is taken care of, we forget Him.
  2. To be faithful to God, first, we need to know Him personally. Numerous times, God repeats that Israel lacks all knowledge or understanding of God.
    The Hebrew word ‘to know’ is ‘Yadá’. It’s more than mere intellectual activity; it describes personal relational knowledge. The Israelites knew God in their heads but their knowledge was not transforming their hearts. God wants Israel and everyone to know Him personally.
    He wants everyone to experience His love for them. He wants the knowledge to transform their hearts and lives so that they love Him in return. True personal relationship with God will not only increase our knowledge and understanding of who God is but it will always reflect in worship. 

Everything we are enjoying today is because of God’s constant mercy towards us

The compassionate and merciful God

So Israel’s unfaithfulness is an overlying theme in Hosea. From chapter 4–14, we see God warning and accusing the Israelites. But amid these warnings and indictments, what we don’t see is God condemning them forever. 

Chapter 11 shows us God’s very heart for His people. Verses 1–7 reveals how God has raised Israel as a loving father does. But Israel kept going away from God. And so, what they truly deserve is the just wrath of God for their unfaithfulness towards Him

But then, when we reach verses 8-9, and see God’s compassionate and merciful heart. “… My heart recoils within me; my compassion grows warm and tender. I will not execute my burning anger; I will not again destroy Ephraim; for I am God and not a man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”

How humbling it is to know that our God’s mercy and compassion is much greater than all our sins!

How does this truth apply to us today?

  1. If God has gotten into a covenantal relationship with us today, be assured that He will never condemn us. On the other hand, everything we are enjoying today is because of His constant mercy towards us.
  2. God extends mercy beyond His people to the whole world. Asking Hosea to marry a woman of whoredom in itself is the beautiful picture of God’s good news. 

God, in His loving kindness, sent His Son Jesus to die for sinners like us, people who did not want anything to do with God; whose deeds are evil and wicked; who deserve God’s wrath.
But God poured His wrath out on Jesus. Jesus is the ultimate Hosea who came pursuing sinners like us. He not only pursued us, but He gave up His life for us, and paid off all our debt to God. By His sacrifice, through salvation received by faith, we can now have a relationship with this God.

Tobin Mattackal

About Tobin Mattackal

Tobin Mattackal completed his Masters in Bible Studies at Criswell College in Dallas, Texas. Raised in the UAE, he spent his university days discipling youngsters and reading Scripture with them. He is currently serving at his local church in Bangalore, India, and is devoted to sharing the good news of salvation with the lost.



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