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The prophet Hosea authored the book that bears his name. He was the first of the twelve Minor Prophets, so called, not because their works were less significant than the Major Prophets, but because their books were shorter. Hosea’s father was called Beeri (Heb. Be’eri, “my well”). The book of Hosea doesn’t reveal the prophet’s family history, which tribe he was from, his old life or death. However, the book indicates that the prophet belonged to the northern kingdom, Israel and served there.
The rulers during which Hosea ministered are dated according to an approximate chronology as follows: Uzziah (790–739), Jotham (750–731), Ahaz (735–715), and Hezekiah (729–686), kings of Judah, and Jeroboam II (793–753), king of Israel. Hosea started his prophetic ministry before 753 B.C. and continued after 729 B.C.
A historical back ground
Hosea lived in the worst period of the history of the kingdom of Israel, just before the nation was taken captive by Assyria. Because his book doesn’t refer to the captivity, it is likely that it was written before the final ruin of the northern kingdom.
The period of the Minor Prophets was characterized by greed, commercialism, and social wickedness. Externally, Israel under Jeroboam II was wealthy and successful more than any period since David and Solomon (Hosea 2:8). Its northern borders were widespread (2 Kings 14:25, 28). However, this external success only exposed the internal moral corruption of the nation. Political lawlessness and injustice were rampant. Kings seized the throne by killing their forerunners, and in turn were themselves killed.
Hosea lived in the time of the reaping of the people’s wicked sowing. People worshiped the creature instead of the Creator. God’s commandments were disobeyed. Dishonesty to God and man, triumphed. Bloodshed was prevalent. Injustice and oppression of the poor was the norm. Adultery was sanctified by religion. Depravity and blasphemy were symbols of the royal court. And the priests, dedicated themselves to idolatry and corruption
The prophet’s call to repentance
The Lord sent the prophet Hosea to call the nation to repentance. The prophet revealed God’s infinite love for His erring children. He frequently referred to the idolatrous calf worship set up by Jeroboam I (1 Kings 12) as a major reason of Israel’s wickedness (Hosea 14:2-4). This calf worship introduced the nation to a more inhuman worship offered to Baal and Ashtoreth, which was accompanied by the abomination of child sacrifice and sensualism.
Sadly, the admonitions of Hosea were rejected by the people. And the evil nation didn’t repent. Consequently, the nation was overcome by the Assyrians. Thus, Hosea bore God’s last message to the northern kingdom prior to its fall in 723/722 B.C.
The book of Hosea
The Book of Hosea is a prophetic message of God’s persistent love for His children (Hosea 2:23). It foretells the coming of Israel’s Messiah 700 years in the future. The experiences which the prophet went through in his own marriage, and the sadness of his heart toward his unfaithful wife, gave him a foretaste to the infinite love of God to His children (Hosea 1-3).
The Book of Hosea can be divided into two sections: First – Hosea 1:1-3:5 tells of an adulterous wife and a faithful husband, symbolic of the unfaithfulness of Israel to God through idolatry. This section contains three poems illustrating how God’s children kept on falling into idolatry. God commands Hosea to marry Gomer, but after bearing him three children, she leaves him to be with her lovers. Second – Hosea 4:1-14:9 tells of the condemnation of Israel for the worship of idols and her final restoration.
In the light of God’s love, the prophet called the people to obey God (Hosea 6:6). And he warned about the terrible paybacks that will fall upon Israel if they continue in their wicked ways. These warnings were not threats but were the natural consequences of sin (Romans 6:23). The book of Hosea showed the longing love of God for His lost people with many pleas for repentance and hopeful messages.
In His service,
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