The Minor Prophets: Hosea

The Minor Prophets Hosea


I. Historical context

    A. Hosea 1:1; 800-722 B.C. (Waddey), 790-725 B.C. (Butler), 750-725 B.C. (Hailey), “…in the years following 746 B.C., slightly after the time of Amos” (Lewis)
    B. “Thus Hosea was contemporary with Amos, but somewhat later.” (Coffman)
    C. “Although Hosea predicts, but does not record, the actual captivity of Israel which took place in 722 B.C., he still may have lived through the event. He would have been very old.” (Butler)
    D. “The time of Hosea’s early ministry was a time of material prosperity (cf. 2:8-13), but it was a society falling apart at the seams morally.” (Butler)
    E. Some of the more egregious sins were spelled out by the prophet in 4:2, 11-12: swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, harlotry, wine, idolatry
    F. “Religious leaders eagerly joined the masses in their sin. Jehovah’s worship was commonly mixed with the pagan practices of disgusting Baal worship. So widespread was spiritual ignorance that the people thought they were loyal to God when in reality they were but idolatrous pagans.” (Waddey)
    G. “When Israel came into Palestine she came into a land already inhabited for more than a thousand years. She learned farming from the peoples she did not drive out. But Canaanite farming was integrally connected with religious customs which Israel adopted….Subtly the religion crept in on them.” (Lewis)

II. About the prophet

    A. “The name means ‘deliverance,’ or ‘salvation,’ indicating that Hosea himself stands in the prophecy as a type of God Himself, especially in the matter of his unselfish and constant love for his sinful wife.” (Coffman)
    B. “Hosea apparently was a resident of the northern kingdom and has been described as ‘The home missionary of North Israel.’…Hosea was an eyewitness of the debaucheries and injustices that were the features of life in Samaria and the northern kingdom.” (Coffman)
    C. Married the harlot Gomer at the Lord’s command
    D. Gomer bore three children; only the first is known to be Hosea’s child

      1. A son, Jezreel, meaning “vengeance” (1:4-5)

        a. “It foretold a day of vengeance which was coming upon the dynasty of Jehu and the nation (1:4-5).” (Waddey)
        b. “…as a threat to the reigning house, which was soon to end.” (Lewis)

      2. A daughter, Lo-Ruhamah, meaning “no mercy” (1:6-7)

        a. “This signified that the nation’s day of grace was rapidly drawing to a close.” (Waddey)
        b. “…a threat that God will not pity and forgive the house of Israel.” (Lewis)

      3. A son, Lo-Ammi, meaning “not my people” (1:8-10)

        a. “This implied that Israel had forfeited her position as God’s people. It is obvious that by giving his son this name, the prophet doubted whether the child was his.” (Waddey)
        b. “…the threat contained in this child’s name obviously is that of the breaking of the relationship.” (Lewis)

    E. “Thus Hosea’s tragedy with a faithless wife becomes a type of God’s majestic, compassionate love for a backsliding Israel.” (Connally)

III. Lessons for today

    A. The importance of knowing God’s Word (4:6)

      1. “It is not scientific, secular, or technical knowledge that is meant, but religious knowledge, the knowledge of God through his revealed will, the Bible; and even more than this is meant; it means conformity to the will of God.” (Coffman)
      2. “As always the religious leaders are primarily responsible for the moral, ethical and religious knowledge of a nation….Ignorance of the law, neglect of its adherence or willful indifference and disobedience to its practices are fatal to any people.” (Connally)
      3. “One is led to think of the terrible condition of the Gentiles described in Romans 1:18ff when one sees the knowledge of God rejected. They ‘refused to have God in their knowledge…’ ‘they exchanged the truth of God for a lie…’ and so God gave them up to serve the enslaving and degrading passions of their bodies.” (Butler)
      4. John 12:48; Acts 17:11; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9; 2 Timothy 3:14-17; James 1:21-25; 2 Peter 3:18

    B. The importance of mercy (6:6)

      1. “Mercy” (NKJV, KJV), “goodness” (ASV), “steadfast love” (ESV), “loyalty” (NASB)
      2. “God was not here repudiating the covenant he had made with Israel, which surely included sacrifice, nor was he changing that covenant. What he did in this verse is to condemn the people, not for offering sacrifices, but for omitting the true devotion, loyalty to God, and integrity of heart that were necessary accompaniments of sacrifice.” (Coffman)
      3. “He does not exclude sacrifices, rather, he stresses that outward ritual without inner goodness is profitless.” (Waddey)
      4. “The people who were offering the sacrifices were not doing it because they had faith in Jehovah—there was no love in their hearts for God. Their offerings were abominable, revolting, sickening to the heart of God.” (Butler)
      5. Today, we must worship God in the right way and with the right attitude, understanding both the “what” and the “why”

        a. When observing the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:23-26)
        b. When praying and singing (1 Corinthians 14:15)
        c. When giving (2 Corinthians 9:7)
        d. When hearing the Word preached (Acts 2:41; 13:42; 1 Corinthians 15:1-2)

    C. The love of God (14:4-9)

      1. “Their sin of apostasy will be considered as a terrible disease which Jehovah will heal. Their reward will be His great love which He will bountifully bestow upon them; at the same time His anger will be turned away.” (Hailey)
      2. “When God’s people shall have humbled themselves and turned to Him in penitent thanksgiving, He will shower them with His love and blessings.” (Butler)
      3. “Thus, our task is clear. We must rebuke sin whenever and wherever it is found. We must labor diligently and untiringly to correct the errors and evils of the people. Yet, through it all our faith and strength must not fail, and we must make men see the love and forgiveness of God to all those who will repent. To this task we are dedicated until Jesus comes or we die, so help us God!” (Connally)
      4. “Jehovah accomplished this redemption under the Messiah, and today the spiritual Israel of prophecy enjoys the favor of Jehovah and acts as the leavening influence for good in a world of wickedness.” (Hailey)
      5. The love of God is on full display today in His care for the church (Ephesians 5:25-32)

Butler, Paul T. (1968). The Minor Prophets: The Prophets of the Decline. Joplin, MO: College Press. [Online at]

Coffman, James Burton. (1981). Commentary on the Minor Prophets, Volume 2: Hosea, Obadiah and Micah. Austin, TX: The Firm Foundation Publishing House. [Textual commentary excluding introductory notes on each book available online at]

Connally, Andrew M. “The Living Message of Hosea.” (1977). The Living Messages of the Books of the Old Testament. Garland Elkins and Thomas B. Warren, editors. Jonesboro, AR: National Christian Press, Inc.

Hailey, Homer. (1972). A Commentary on the Minor Prophets. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.

Lewis, Jack P. (1966). Minor Prophets. Austin, TX: R.B. Sweet Co., Inc.

Waddey, John. (2011). The Testimony of the Twelve Minor Prophets. Delight, AR: Gospel Light Publishing Company. [Online at]

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