HOSEA (The Prophet of God`s Merciful Love)
Hosea was a son Beeri. He lived and prophesied in the Northern kingdom during the region the region of King Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah while Jeroboam son of Johoash was King of Israel.
Hosea was greatly concerned with exposing the idolatry of the people. The Historical situation was the same as that of Amos`s time socially, politically and economically.
Hosea portrayed his message in a very good way buy using his marriage experience with an unfaithful woman to expose the Israelites weaknesses.
HOSEA`S ENCOUNTER WITH GOMER (Chapter 1-3)
Hosea was commanded by God to marry an unfaithful woman (Gomer). This was to illustrate a special relationship God had with the Israelites. Hosea represented God while Gomer represented the Israelites. Hosea had a special bond with Gomer likewise the Israelites had a special bond with God which they were not supposed to break.
Hosea loved and protected his wife. Likewise God protected the Israelites on their way to the promised landlord he also helped them to settle.
Gomer resorted to prostitution a factor which spoilt her relationship with Hosea. Gomer`s prostitution with other men portrays Israel`s attempt to gain favor from other gods.
Hosea produced 3 kids and they were given symbolic names to expose what was taking place in Israel. The children behaved like their mother. This explains the fact that Israel`s subsequent generations sinned against God.
The first son was called “Jezreel”. This was a name of a valley between mountain Samaria and Galilee which was associated with blood shed. There was more than one massacre in that place. It’s a place where Ahab and his family members were destroyed. This symbolized that the lord was going to destroy Israel`s military power for violating the covenant law (Judgment upon Israel).
The second child was a girl and was named “Un loved” (ho! ruhamah). This was connected with a womb and portrayed compassion a mother has for a child. The people of Israel neglected God and God was going to denounce his people for favoring Baalizm.
The third son was named “Not my people” (ho! Ammi) this portrayed the most devastating word of judgment. Israel is no longer the elect the God. God was withdrawing his love from them.
Hosea stressed the fact the God was ready to restore his people if they endeavored to change their behavior. God promised to re-unite the people of Israel and Judah, give them a single leader and they were to grow and prosper in their land. These encouraging messages were illustrated by change of the Christian names, Jezreel will turn to prosperity, Not my people will turn to my people and un loved to loved.
In chapter 2:1-3, Hosea requested his children to go and plead with their mother so that she could abandon prostitution. Like God was to send prophets to tell the people to turn back to him.
Chapter 2:4-5, Gomer hoped to get water, wool, food etc. from her lovers. Likewise the Israelites strongly assumed that the good things were to come from other gods. They hoped to get better yields, rain, good health etc.
Hosea put barriers of various forms in order to enable her reform. He was to strip her naked in front of her lovers not to show her children love and mercy, to fence her in with thorn bushes, build a wall to block her way and even put an end to everything in her life likewise God was to punish the Israelites for burning incense to Baal, forgetting the Lord, God was to put an end to all the festivals and Sabbath celebrations.
The story of Hosea is explained in four minutes. Watch the video below
Gomer failed to get satisfaction from her lovers. She realized that she was better off with her first husband, she even confessed that “am going back to my husband, I was better off than I am now”
Hosea was supposed to take on Gomer as a wife again likewise this emphasized God`s love of the people of Israel even though they turned to other gods.
Hosea was to pay 15 pieces of silver and 150kgs of barley to buy her back. This portrayed the cst of saving the Israelites. It would involve a lot of sacrifice.
Gomer was to go through a very difficult time for some time she was to stay on her own and wait for Hosea without being a prostitute. This portrayed a period when the Israelites will suffer deprivation. They will have to live for a long time without Kings or Leaders without sacrifice, sacred stone pillars to use for divination.
Hosea was ready to discipline his children as a father disciplines a child. In the same way God was ready to discipline the people of Israel however the punishment would be reformative and would lead to repentance. The people would eventually adhere to the covenant law.
THE LORD`S ACCUSATION AGAINST ISRAEL Chapter 4:1-3
This is a summary of what Hosea condemned; Israel will face disaster because of her wickedness.
- They used to grow fast on people`s sins. They were interested in seeing people sin more and more because they would get more sacrifices. Such sacrifices would not bring them blessings they thought to obtain but only shame.
- Wine robbed them of their sense of judgment.
- They used to commit Adultery i.e. relations between married people, others engaged in temple prostitution. In Canaanite religion sacred prostitution was thought to be a means of ensuring fertility of the land.
- The people defiled themselves by worshiping idols i.e. the golden bull. They also used to offer sacrifices to the idols. They engaged in sacrifice and burnt offerings on the high places i.e. those places that were not authorized by the law.
- They also made alliance with other nations i.e. they asked the emperor of Syria for help. These alliances robbed them of their strength.
- They used to accumulate wealth dishonesty by using false sale measures, over changing their commodities, selling expired goods etc.
- They used to offer empty sacrifices. God was more interested in their hearts than fattened animals.
- They used to break their promises.
- They used to murder innocent people i.e. they killed innocent people on the way to the holy place at Sohechem.
CONDEMNATION ABOUT PRIESTS Chapter 4:4
- Priests neglected their duties i.e. they failed to teach people the law. They were supposed to observe and tech people the law.
- They were condemned for their greed especially in matters pertaining sacrifices.They used to grow rich on people`s sins Chapter 4:8 according to Hosea, a sacrifice was meant to be an outward and sign to show inner commitment to God but the Israelites lacked inner commitment.
- Some priests were condemned for going on with temple prostitutes.
- Priests also used to offer pagan sacrifices chapter 4:14. Hosea stressed the fact that cult prostitution was to yield nothing.
- The Lord warned the priests against idolatry. This implied that they failed to acknowledge their Lord.
- Some priests were not exemplary. They used to get drunk and were seen staggering everywhere. Wine robbed them of their sense of Judgment.
- The Lord condemned incense repentance. The Lord said that he was interested in constant love not animal sacrifice.
- The priests used to ask for revelations from objects i.e. pieces of wood and thus would make false predictions. (Chapter 4:12).
GOD`S LOVE AND THE OFFER OF SALVATION TO THE REPENTANT PEOPLE (Chapter 11)
- The Lord will restore the Israelites. This points to God`s special love. His love is illustrated in Verse 8-9 where the Lord says “I will not punish you in my anger; I will not destroy Israel again. For am God and not man, I the holy one am with you, I will not come to you in anger.”
- Hosea calls upon people to repent and turn back to God i.e. they were to change their behavior.
- The people had to seek for protection from God. Assyria as a nation was not to save them in any way. They were to live under the Lord`s protection.
- The Lord was not ready to abandon them.
- The Lord would answer all their prayers and take good care of them.
- Hosea stresses the fact that God desires constant love and not animal sacrifice “ I would rather have my people know me than burn offerings for me.”
- The people with blossom like flowers. They will be firmly rooted like tries of Lebanon. The trees were to give shed from the hot sun and a fragrant smell.
- The people will grow corn and be fruitful like a Vineyard.
- The people of Israel will have nothing more to do with Idols.
MESSAGES WHICH PORTRAY THE LORD`S ANGER
- The lord will reject the priest and their sons for misleading their people.
- Fertility gods were not to yield anything i.e. they were to worship fertility gods but still have no children.
- The golden bull which was worshiped at Samaria was to be smashed into pieces (Chapter 8:6)
- The Lord was to send them into exile.
- The Lord will send a fire that will burn down their palaces and cities.
- The Lord will break down their altars and even destroy their sacred pillars.
- The people will eat a share of the sacrifice but still be hungry.
- The Lord will treat the people of Israel and Judah like a lion, tear them into pieces and no one will be able to save them. (13:4-8)
- Empty sacrifices were going to bring them nothing in return.
- Because people used to accumulate wealth dishonestly, God was going to let them live intense again. (12:7-9)
- The lord will send a hot wind from the desert. It would dry up their streams and the wells. It will even take away everything of value. (13:15-16)
RELEVANCE OF THE BOOK TO CHRISTIANS TODAY
- His teaching about God`s love is an important aspect in the New Testament particularly that of John 3:16 therefore Christians should Love one another as Jesus illustrated.
- The book challenges modern Christians to reject all equivalents of Baal. People consult because of greed for material things and power.
- Hosea encourages married to learn to tolerate each other in case of problems. They should learn to reconcile with each other.
- The book challenges modern religious leaders who promote hypocrisy in society and mislead fellow followers. Religious leaders should guide their followers and help them appreciate God`s teachings.
- The book calls upon Christians to learn to forgive and forget Just as Hosea did with Gomer.
- Modern Christians should abandon spiritual and moral prostitution which Hosea condemned. Therefore Christians are supposed to respect only one God and even respect their bodies.
- People should endure to show inner commitment to God when offering sacrifices.
- Political leaders should refrain from political alliances with other countries they should only seek for protection from God.
- People should always respect god`s messengers.
- People should respect holy places.
- People should accept their mistakes and seek for forgiveness.
A COMPARISON BETWEEN HOSEA AND AMOS
- Both prophesied for the same God
- Both were people of the covenant faith and were to teach people covenant stipulation
- Both stressed the universality of the Lord i.e. Amos attacked Moab, Syria, Philisia, Ammon. Hosea also condemned Israelites alliance with Assyrians.
- Both prophesied in Israel i.e. Northern region.
- Both called people to repent i.e. there was to be restoration after repentance through the faithful remnants.
- Both used to plead with their brethren to show sincere worship and abandon religious hypocrisy.
- Both prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam.
- Amos prophesied in a foreign land while Hosea prophesied in his home land. Amos was from Judah and prophesied in Israel.
- Amos was more concerned with the Lord`s justice while Hosea was concerned with merciful love.
- Amos used visions to illustrate his message while Hosea used his own marriage experience.
- Amos was openly challenged by Prophet Amaziah while Hosea was challenged by Gomer.
- Amos lived a celibate life while Hosea was married.