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                    "STUDIES IN THE MINOR PROPHETS"

                 Hosea - God's Redeeming Love (1:1-3:5)


1. About the time that Amos (the "country prophet") was prophesying to
   the northern kingdom of Israel, another prophet came on to the scene
   a. His name was Hosea
   b. Whose name means "salvation" (Joshua and Jesus are derived from
      the same word)

2. While the audience was the same, there were some differences...
   a. Amos was from Judah (Tekoa); Hosea appears to have been from
   b. While Amos showed little patience with his northern relatives,
      Hosea displayed a large degree of sympathetic understanding
      toward his own people
   c. Just as Amos is reminiscent of John the Baptist in his approach,
      so Hosea is reminiscent of how Jesus approached people

[In this lesson, the first of several on Hosea, we will see why Hosea
was so sympathetic, even as he condemned his own people for their sins.
Let's start with some...]


   A. THE MAN...
      1. His father was named Beeri (Hos 1:1), but nothing more is 
         known of his ancestors
      2. Some think he may have been a priest, in view of his high 
         regard for the duties and responsibilities of the priesthood
      3. We read of his wife (Gomer, Hos 1:3) and his children...
         a. Jezreel, a son - Hos 1:4
         b. Lo-Ruhamah, a daughter - Hos 1:6
         c. Lo-Ammi, another son - Hos 1:8-9
         -- Through his family, the basic message of Hosea will be 
            illustrated (see below)

   B. THE DATE...
      1. Hosea prophesied during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, 
         and Hezekiah, kings of Judah; Jeroboam II also reigned during
         this time in Israel - Hos 1:1
      2. Most place the time of his work at 750-725 B.C.
      3. Hosea was possibly a young man when Amos was almost through
         with his ministry
      4. His work in relation to other prophets during this period of
         a. Amos and Hosea prophesied to Israel
         b. Isaiah and Micah were prophesying in Judah

      1. For a good background of this period of Bible history, cf. 
         2 Kin 14-17; 2 Chr 26-29
      2. The northern kingdom of Israel was on its last legs...
         a. Sin was even more rampant than seen in the book of Amos
         b. Religious, moral, and political corruption was rampant
      3. One word sums the condition of the nation of Israel:  harlotry
         (whoredom, KJV), used thirteen times throughout the book

      1. An analogy is made between Hosea's experience with Gomer, and
         the Lord's experience with Israel
      2. This analogy is described in chs. 1-3, and serves as the 
         backdrop to chs. 4-14

[With this brief introduction to the book of Hosea, let's now survey
the first three chapters...]


      1. Hosea commanded to marry "a wife of harlotry" - Hos 1:2-3
         a. Her name was Gomer
         b. If the parallel between Gomer and Israel is exact, then she
            was not a harlot at the time of the marriage; but her 
            background would prompt her to become one
         c. She certainly would come to symbolize what Israel had 
      2. Gomer bears three children - Hos 1:4-9
         a. The first son is named "Jezreel"
            1) Which means "God scatters", or "God sows"
            2) His name prefigured God's judgment on the ruling house 
               of Israel - Hos 1:4-5
         b. The daughter is named "Lo-Ruhamah"
            1) Which means "no mercy"
            2) Her name describes God's attitude toward Israel, though
               Judah still found grace in God's sight - Hos 1:6-7
            3) Some suggest that the daughter (and the son to follow)
               were not Hosea's
               a) Note it does not say she bore "him" (Hosea) a 
                  daughter, as before
               b) I.e., Gomer had become a harlot - cf. Hos 2:4
         c. The second son is named "Lo-Ammi"
            1) His name means "not my people"
            2) Thus God declares his rejection of Israel - Hos 1:8-9

      1. Though cast off, God promises a restoration
      2. There might be a reference to the restoration from Assyrian 
         and Babylonian captivity
      3. However, both Paul and Peter apply this promise to believing
         Jews and Gentile in the church - Ro 9:25-26; 1 Pe 2:10

      1. Condemnation for her sinful conduct - Hos 2:2-5
         a. Charges of harlotry and adultery
         b. No mercy on her children, as the children of harlotry
         -- God's rage for Israel's unfaithfulness described in terms
            of an enraged husband who learns not only of his wife's 
            adultery, but that the children are not his
      2. Punishment for her sinful conduct - Hos 2:6-13
         a. God will prevent Israel from finding her lovers
         b. God will take away the blessings and the feasts that Israel
         c. God will destroy what Israel has used to commit spiritual 
         -- Israel's sin was foremost her idolatry (cf. references to
            "Baal"); God viewed such idolatry as a form of "harlotry"!

      1. Using a "wilderness", God will win her back, just as He did in
         the days of Moses and Joshua - Hos 2:14-15
      2. God will cure her of using the language of Baal worship 
         - Hos 2:16-17
      3. God will establish a covenant of peace and safety, and betroth
         Israel to Him once again - Hos 2:18-20
      4. God will once again bless them, and be merciful to them as His
         people - Hos 2:21-23
      -- While there may be references to the restoration from 
         captivity, it also foreshadows the age of the Messiah and His
         spiritual blessings - cf. Ro 9:25-26; 1 Pe 2:10

      1. Hosea is charged to love an adulterous woman - Hos 3:1-3
         a. Most take this to be Gomer, who had gone into harlotry
         b. Hosea takes her back, though with a period of probation
      2. Symbolizing God's willingness to take Israel back - Hos 3:4-5
         a. Also with a probationary period, in which there be no king,
            sacrifices, etc.
         b. But Israel would return, and seek the Lord and David their
            king (the Messiah?)


1. In these first three chapters, it appears God used Hosea to teach 
   Israel an object lesson...
   a. Through Hosea's experience with Gomer, God provided Israel a 
      concrete illustration of what His relationship with Israel had 
      been like
   b. Israel had played the harlot; but God would take her back, 
      following a period of punishment and probation
   -- Keeping this analogy in mind will assist our understanding of the
      remaining chapters

2. A lesson to be learned from this analogy is how God views apostasy:
   spiritual harlotry!
   a. Christians, we are "betrothed to Christ - cf. 2 Co 11:2
   b. But we too can become spiritual harlots" if we are not careful! 
      - 2 Co 11:3

Are we being true to our betrothal?  May the words of the Lord in Hosea
encourage us to remain ever faithful:

   "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me
   in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will
   betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the LORD."
                                             (Hosea 2:19-20)
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