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The book of hosea

HOSEA

THEME: There is nothing we can do which will separate us from God's compassion and love

I certify that I am the author of this work and that any assistance I received in its preparation is

fully acknowledged.

PART I

The book Hosea was written between 790 and 710 BC by the prophet Hosea. The story is about

the relationship between Hosea and his wife, Gomer, and how their lives parallel that of the

northern kingdom of Israel. There are several themes in the book of Hosea and I will discuss

what I think to be the main one, "there is absolutely nothing we can do which will separate us

from God's love and compassion". While the northern kingdom prospers monetarily its morals

and spiritual condition is sacrificed. The peoples of the northern kingdom have fallen from God's

grace due to their worship of God's other than the one true God. The following text describes

my opinions, others opinions, and my observations of the book Hosea.

The book begins with God telling Hosea to marry an adulterous wife . He does this to

show

the relationship of the Israelites adultery to God by worshipping idols and other God's. Hosea

marries Gomer and they have a son. God informs Hosea to name the child Jezreel because he

is

going to punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel. Later they have a daughter and

God tells Hosea to name her Lo-Ruhama which means, not loved, in Hebrew. Once again

Hosea

and Gomer have a son that God tells Hosea to name Lo-Ammi which means, not my people, in

Hebrew. Chapter one ends with God describing how the two nations, Israel and Judah, be

reunited under one appointed leader and one God.

Chapter two describes God's feelings towards the nation Israel. He does this by

comparing

the nation Israel to Hosea's household. He describes how Hosea's wife has been unfaithful to

her

husband as the nation Israel has been unfaithful to God. He further goes on to describe his

plans

for the nation Israel and how he is going to let Israel search for Him, through other God's, and

the obstacles he'll place in their path to hinder their search. God also declares he will punish the

Israelites for forgetting about their one true God. God ends the narration by telling of the

restoration of Israel to his favor and the many benefits that will fall upon the nation Israel, once

they accept Him as the only God.

Chapters three, four, and five describe Hosea and Gomers reconciliation, Israel's lack of

faithfulness and love for God; and God's plan to deal with the people and priests of Israel;

respectively. The LORD tells Hosea to love his wife again so he buys her back from a slave

market and tells her she must live with and be faithful to him. The LORD is extremely distressed

by Israel's lack of love and acknowledgment of His existence. He describes how they have

reverted to lying, cheating , stealing, murder, etc. and further fail to follow his word. The priests

during this time are not to be let off lightly. God tells how the priests have not spread His

message, but rather they've fed off the Israelites sins. God tells how he's going to punish the

people of Israel, for their sins, and the priests, for their lack of concern. He closes by saying he

will go to his place and not recognize the peoples of Israel until they earnestly seek him out.

In chapter 11 God capsulizes Israel's sins and his judgment against the people. He

describes

how he chose the Israelites as His people and how he delivered them from slavery in Egypt.

During this dissertation he has a change of heart and decides he will not destroy the nation Israel

even if they turn from Him. He decides he will force Israel to repent by less destructive means.

In chapter 12 Hosea preaches the Lord's message to the Israelites. He starts by

describing

Israel's sins against God and how the Israelites wealth has taken them further and further from

God's embrace. He talks about how the Israelites will be punished for their sins and that God will

repay them, in-kind, for their goodness. He tells Israel they must return to God's favor or

judgment will be upon them. His inclusion of Jacob in the reasons for Israel's downfall are also

described in chapter 12. He believes since Jacob is His prophet he should also be held

accountable for the sins of Israel. He also describes what is going to happen to Gillead because

of

their wickedness and sacrificing of bulls. The chapter closes as Hosea tells of God's anger at

Israel for straying from His laws.

Chapter 13 describes God's anger at Israel for idol worship and chapter 14 tells of God's

blessings, on the nation, for its repentance. In chapter 13 Hosea tells how the worship of Baal

has

angered God. God intercedes and reminds the nation Israel that they should acknowledge no

other God besides Himself. He also restates the exodus epic and how He led the nation Israel

from slavery and saved them in the desert. He then goes on to describe an east wind that will

destroy their crops and dry up their wells. The final chapter of Hosea describes how God will

save Israel from itself and restore the people as His people. Even though He's angry with Israel

he's unable to lay waste to the nation.

PART II

The experts don't all agree on whether God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute.

According to Tullock (1992) this question can be answered in one of the following ways:

1. The LORD actually commanded Hosea to Marry a prostitute, which he did.

2. Gomer was not a prostitute physically. Instead, she was a Baal worshiper,

and as

such, was spiritually unfaithful. Whether she was ever physically unfaithful was not important.

3. Gomer was a virgin when Hosea married her, but she became unfaithful after

marriage.

Later, when he looked back upon the experience, he realized that she already had such

tendencies

when he married her.

4. The whole story is an allegory, which had no relationship to Gomer's morals

(Hosea

1:2). (p. 195)

Wood (1975) states, "The name of each child was linked symbolically to Israel's coming doom"

(p. 20). According to Scott (1975), "By theses experiences Hosea became in heart the

instrument

of God to declare God's grace, mercy and love (p. 20).

"In an oracle calling for his children to plead with their mother that she change her ways,

Hosea compared his relations with Gomer to the Lord's relations with Israel" (Hos. 2:2-23)

Tullock, 1992, p. 195). Scott (1975) took this verse to mean, "It is as though God is calling the

children of Israel to indict their mother because of her crimes against God (2:2) (p. 21). Wood

(1975) concludes, "She (Israel) was guilty because she credited her blessings to Baal, not to

Jehovah God (p. 31).

The comparison of Hosea's personal life with that of the nation Israel's spiritual life is

evident

throughout the entire book of Hosea. "This verse summarizes the case against Israel as seen in

the first two chapters and now relates the whole to Hosea's own personal experience with Gomer

as a fit comparison for teaching purposes" (Hos.3:1) Scott, 1975, p. 30). "Religious failures had

corroded the national character. The unifying covenant of Sinai had long since been forgotten in

practice, if not in name" (Southwestern Journal of Theology, 1975, p. 8).

Throughout the whole of chapters three through five Israel's lack of faith and love for

God is

evident. "The sinful woman stands for Israel. Hosea's ransom speaks of God's love for his

people" (Wood, 1975, p. 42). Three things in particular are mentioned as expected by God: (1)

truth; (2) lovingkindness sometimes translated "goodness"; and (3) knowledge of God" (Scott,

1975, p. 32). Tullock (1992) describes how, "Israel had become so mired I the muck of Baal

worship that the people could no longer find their way back to the LORD" (p. 197). Israel

consistently ask for forgiveness, falsely, and was about to find out their fate.

Verse 6 of chapter 11 describes God's describes the fall of Israel. "The sword (of the

enemy

Assyria) will whirl against Israel's cities" (Scott, 1975, p. 71). "Hosea had hope for the nation

despite the fact that it had to go through judgment" (Tullock, 1992, p.199). Wood (1975)

describes how, "Hosea pointed out that God's grace transcended Israel's guilt, and compelled

him

to spare her from complete oblivion: (p.103). "Happily, the message of Hosea is not one of

ultimate despair. As with other Old Testament prophets this man succeeded in sustaining a note

of hope and optimism in spite of the darkness of his time" (Southwestern Journal of Theology,

1975, p. 54).

"Judgment must come (Hos 12:1-13:16). Judgment had to come. The people had

sinned to

much to avoid it" (Tullock, 1992, p. 199). "Hosea was no fatalist. The people made the choice

themselves with their own free will" (Wood, 1975, p. 113). "Since God's real covenant lies with

the father of both Judah and Israel, namely with Jacob, God's punishment will therefore be

meted

out to Israel and Judah and His mercy will be shown to both" (Scott 1975 p. 75). "Because Israel

exalted herself she went to far and exalted herself against God going after Baal" (Scott 1975 p.

75).

Chapter 13 is considered by most of my references to be the defining chapter of the

book

Hosea. God goes on record to describe the sins of the nation Israel and how they should be

punished. "Instead of gratitude for the good things God gave them, they became satiated and

proud" (Scott 1975 p. 78-79). "Hosea believed the sins were in heavens record. The guilt would

not fade with the passing of time. Israel's sins were "bound up" (v. 12) to await the day of

judgment" (Wood 1975, p. 121). "Like Gomer wanton Israel is running after other "loves"

instead of being faithful in her "marriage" to God" (NIV Study Bible 1992, p. 987). "The chapter

closes with a horrible picture of the enemy's almost unbelievable cruelty and the nations awful

fate (vv. 15-16)" (Wood 1975 p. 117).

The final chapter of the book of Hosea describes God's judgment upon the nation Israel.

"Only one solution was offered. Israel must repent" (Wood 1975, p.127). "He who said earlier

that He would like to have healed Israel (7:1), now declares the He will do so" (Scott 1975, p.

83). "Could any contrast be greater than the declaration of judgment in 5:8-12 and the

assurance

of restoration in 14:4-7" (Southwestern Journal of Theology 1975, p.55). "The God who

redeems us purposes that we walk in his statutes free from guilt, but also free from deceit, guile,

and willful sin. Through Hosea's closing warning, God makes His appeal to us" (Wood 1975, p.

133).

PART III

At first I was confused by the way Hosea was talking about Israel and Judah in the same

sentence (1:11). I didn't know that Israel had split into the Northern (Israel) and southern

(Judah) kingdoms. This fact made me go back and read Tullock and find out what had

happened.

I also didn't know why the Lord would tell anyone to marry an adulterous (1:2). The whole first

chapter had me confused and it wasn't until I read the book of Hosea and studied my reference

material that I could make sense of what was going on. Once I'd read the entire book I was able

to see how God had used Hosea's family life to relate to His relationship with the people of

Israel.

At first I thought Hosea 2:1 was God telling Hosea to dump his wife for her adultery. It

wasn't until I'd read several of my references that I came to realize it was God telling Hosea's

children to rebuke their mother for the way she behaved. I also came to realize this was a veiled

reference for the Israelites to forsake their idols and worship of other Gods'. When I read Hosea

2:6 - 13 I saw a very angry God ready to punish Israel for its transgressions. Then Hosea 2:14 -

23 contradicted everything that was said in Hosea 2:6 - 13. This confused me to no end. I ten

began to realize how the theme, "there is absolutely nothing we can do which will separate us

from God's love and compassion" was going to play a role in this book. It also made me realize

that some of the current problems (murder, robbery, theft, etc..) were prevalent in ancient times.

I also came to understand a person could call themselves "born again" and feel completely

secure

in the feeling God would forgive them for their previous sins.

Chapter 3 has played a part in my life. My father was unfaithful to my mother and my

siblings

and I had a hard time understanding how my mother could possibly forgive him. Not only did

she

forgive him she took him back, just as Hosea did with his unfaithful wife. The numerous

references to prostitution in chapter 4 I thought was an excellent analogy to the way the Israelites

were giving their bodies and souls over to false Gods' just as prostitutes do to those who also

don't acknowledge nor love them. I also see a resemblance to today's society in these verses.

Murder, robbery, theft, lying, cheating, etc. are on the rise and we spend all our time blaming

everything and everybody without realizing that maybe we've lost our ways in Gods' eye.

Reading chapter 5, to me, was redundant. I saw this entire chapter as a rehash of chapter 3 v. 6

-

13.

Chapter 11 reminded me of my relationship with my son. No matter how angry I get with

him

I still love him. It also confused me because I thought it was a sign of God showing human

characteristics until I realized God created man. Therefore, maybe we show God - like

characteristics when we forgive others. It also reminded me of my relationship with my own

father. He's an alcoholic and spent the majority of my childhood in neighborhood bars.

Needless

to say our relationship was never close; yet I still love him. I also see this love - hate relationship

among nations. Whether we're allies or enemies due to political or moral differences you never

know when you'll forgive your enemy for his transgressions (perceived or real) and they become

you staunchest ally.

I had a hard time following along in chapter 12. Hosea preaches the lord's message to

the

Israelites and he starts by describing Israel's sins against God. Again I thought this was quite

redundant even though it wasn't through the spoken word of the Lord. I would imagine had the

writer of the book consolidated all of Israel and Judah's sins into one chapter and Gods anger

into

another the book could have been cut in half. Chapter 13 v. 8 made me think of the rich today.

Do they also feel that since they're rich God can't find fault in them, or do they feel that if they

become philanthropists God will only see good in them. Even reading my reference material I

couldn't understand why God made reference to Gilgal sacrificing bulls (12:11). I assumed

animal sacrifice was acceptable, at that time, and couldn't understand why God was angry at

Gill.

His inclusion of Jacob in the reasons for Israel's downfall led me to wonder whether the priests of

today are feeding off other peoples misery and sins. I find many current articles and news

stories

of priests committing acts of pedophilia quite disturbing; are we also headed in the same

direction

as Israel and Judah?

Chapter 13 made me wonder about Catholics. I'm not nor do I profess to be an expert

on

religion, but I have to wonder when I see Catholics praying to God through the Virgin Mary, St.

Peter, St. Anthony, St. Pauly Girl, (a lame attempt at humor), and other saints and what I think

are deities. It also made me wonder about my lack of knowledge about other religions besides

my

own Presbyterian background. Am I wrong to assume other major religions are trying to develop

a relationship with God through the worship of idols? My own ignorance of other religions

became quite apparent to me when I thought of the many religous images we take for granted, i.

e. Crosses, images of Saints, statues and images of Jesus, etc. I also wonder what will happen

to

atheists and agnostics. Though I don't think they worship false God's I feel that denying the

God's existence is just as bad.

I felt that God was bribing the Israelites in chapter 14 by telling them what He would

bestow

upon them if they came back into his fold. I also sensed that God was unable to control his

"chosen people" even though he constantly told them, through his prophet Hosea, what would

happen to them should they stray from his flock. Since He was unable to control them I felt He

had no recourse but to try to show them the benefits they would reap for their love and worship

of Him. I also got the feeling that he was a benevolent God and would love mankind no matter

what sins they committed.

I came away from reading the book of Hosea feeling their was hope for all mankind.

Though

I'm constantly bombarded by newspaper articles and television reports about the sins and evils

of

mankind I know that deep down man is not evil nor is he wicked. I feel though, that society has a

great deal to say about his brothers, and sisters, actions. Should we turn a "blind-eye" to the sins

and wickedness of others, are we not just as sinful and wicked. God gives us a choice and it's

up

to us to determine the path we'll take. I have to honestly say this is the first chapter of the Bible

(Old and New Testament) that I've studied this thoroughly and I can also say this will not be the

last. I came into this course thinking it was just a requirement for me to receive my degree and

I'll leave it with the knowledge that I've received more than just three credit hours.

References

Rainbow Studies, Inc. (1992). The new international version rainbow study bible (4th

ed.).

El Reno, Oklahoma: Author

Scott, Jack B. (1971). The book of hosea: a study manual (2nd Printing). Grand Rapids,

Michigan: Baker Book House.

Tullock, John H. (1981).The old testament story (3rd ed.). Englewoods Cliff, New

Jersey:

Prentice Hall, inc.

Southwestern Journal of Theology (Fall 1975). Studies in hosea (No. 1). Fort Worth,

Texas:

Faculty of the School of Theology, Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Wood, Fred M. (1975). Hosea: prophet of reconciliation. Nashville, Tennessee:

Convention

Press.

Random House Webster's College Dictionary (1991). New York, Random House Inc.

11

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