What does it say?
Hosea was a contemporary of Isaiah, but unlike Isaiah he was a northerner. Hosea appears at the end of Jeroboam II’s reign. His ministry will span four decades until right before Israel falls to the Assyrians in 722 BC. Idolatry in Israel has reached crisis level and God will use the life of Hosea as a living parable.
The book opens as God instructs Hosea to marry a woman he knows will be unfaithful. The couple has three children, each of them given a name that is a message of God to Israel. As God knew would happen, Hosea’s wife is unfaithful and Hosea pleads with her through his children (Hos 2). By the third chapter Hosea’s wife’s infidelities have put her in a downward spiral resulting in her slavery. Not able to win her by his love and pleading, Hosea buys her back from the slave block.
From Hosea 4 onward there is no more narrative about Hosea’s family, but the application of the living parable colors the remainder of his prophecy. Here, God thunders against the spiritual infidelity of Israel and holds the priests, the religious leaders responsible. Hosea 5 addresses a generation that has not known God and announces judgment to come. God also includes Judah in this pronouncement as also guilty of similar sin.
As is so often the case, in the midst of proclamation of judgment, a brief section from Amos 5:15 – 6:3 is a glimpse of repentance and restoration that will be completely fulfilled only in the Messianic kingdom. What follows through the end of chapter 7 is a catalogue of Israel’s evil ways.
What does it mean?
Following generations of prophetic warning, Hosea is a final plea and pronouncement of imminent divine judgment. The entire book is a stark contrast between the spiritual adultery of Israel and God’s steadfast love. The living parable of Hosea’s life is powerful, showing God’s unconditional love that loves even in the face of adultery, prostitution and slavery. Even when his wife Gomer knew nothing of it, in her darkest days, Hosea secretly provided for her needs by giving to her lovers (2:7-8). Hosea even purchased her as she is reduced to slavery (3:2) One doesn’t need much imagination to see the parallels between Hosea’s relationship to his wife and God’s to his people.
How will I respond?
How is my life a living parable? What is it that people around me could learn from my life and my relationship to God? Seriously, if I could make a list of three principles lessons of biblical truth that are seen in my life, what would they be?