Today we begin the book of Hosea. Hosea was a prophet from the Northern Kingdom, to the Northern Kingdom. This is the only writing we have from a native prophet of Israel that prophesied to Israel. Jonah was from Israel, but prophesied to Assyria. Amos prophesied to Israel, but was from Judah. Hosea was a contemporary of Amos, as he prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam II (Amos 1:1 – see 2 Kings 14:23-29). Like the other prophets of the Northern Kingdom, Hosea’s message is largely indictment and judgment. But as always, there is also a call for repentance.
The book begins with an instruction from God for Hosea to prophesy through his actions. This happens with other prophets, as well. Here, Hosea is commanded to “take a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom” (1:2). Why? Because the land (Israel) has played the whore by forsaking YHWH. So Hosea is to be a type of the nation – his actions symbolize what Israel has done. And Hosea obeys (v. 3). When his son is born, God tells him to name him “Jezreel” (v. 4). This is more symbolism. Jezreel means “God Plants”. It was the name of a very fertile valley in Israel. It is also where Jehu murdered Joram (2 Kings 9:16-25) and where the vineyard of Naboth was (1 Kings 21:1). God is symbolically referring to Israel as the people He planted in Israel. And where He planted them, He will punish them at the hands of Assyria (v. 5).
Hosea then has a daughter, symbolically named “No Mercy” (v. 6). God will not show mercy to Israel. Yet God still has His people in Judah, whom He will save from the Assyrians (v. 7 – see 2 Kings 19:35-36). Hosea then has another son, whom God names “Not My People” (v. 9). Israel (as we have seen) were no longer God’s people, because He was not their God (they worshiped false gods).
But then (1:10 starts a new chapter in the Hebrew, rightfully so), God promises that the children of Israel will be “like the sand of the sea” (v. 10), which is a reference to the promise God gave Abraham after his willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Gen 22:17). This is the restoration Amos prophesied of in Amos 9:11-15. Note how God in Amos 9:15 speaks of the day He will “plant them on their land” – this is what “Jezreel” refers to in Hosea 1:11. God will plant His people and say to them “Sons of the Living God.” Who are these sons?
In the Old Testament, the sons of God are heavenly beings, what we would call angels (see Gen 6:2, Deut 32:8, Job 1:6, 2:1, 38:7). Hosea will later refer to Israel as God’s son (Hos 11:1), pointing out that they rejected God despite their call. Then, in the New Testament, Jesus is called God’s Son (see Matt 14:33, John 5:25, Rom 1:4), and this is expanded to describe those who believe in Jesus (Rom 8:14). Of particular note is Galatians 3:26-29, where Paul says that by faith believers are not only “sons of God,” but that we are heirs of the promise as the offspring of Abraham, which is the subject of Genesis 22:17, and Hosea 1:10.
Putting it all together, this (Hos 1:10-11) is speaking of believers being “planted” in the New Heaven and the New Earth, where we will be “equal to the angels and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection” (Luke 20:36). With this understanding, we can see how the prophets use Israel and Judah as types of the church, like in Hosea 1:11 (see also Amos 9:14). We will be gathered together, and have “one head” (Christ) on the great day of Jezreel (the day God plants us in our forever home). God is rejecting the nation of Israel, but not His people.
Chapter 2 continues the promise of restoration by reversing the judgments of “No Mercy” and “Not My People” (2:1). Note that along with Jezreel (1:11), God has now promised to overturn the judgments symbolized by Hosea’s children’s names. God then calls Israel to repentance. She (Israel) has left her Husband (God) and played the whore (v. 2). God is offering a chance to repent before meting out the judgment of removing her from the land and sending her into captivity, a parallel to the wilderness wanderings on the “day she was born” where God provided water for her thirst (v. 3). God can undo what He has done for Israel.
The lovers in verse 5 are false gods. Israel turned their back on the true Provider (see v. 8) and have shamefully worshiped idols. Once God removes all blessing (v. 6, 9), Israel will try to return to YHWH (v. 7), but for the wrong reasons. So God will end her empty religion (v. 11) and let her have only what the false gods she worships can provide (vv. 12-13).
Yet God will use the judgment of Assyria as a way to call Israel back to Him (v. 14). In verse 14-15, God is telling Israel that He will give her a “do over.” He will bring her back through the wilderness like when He saved her from Egypt. And He will give her provision and hope where before there was disobedience and death – the Valley of Achor being a reference to the sin of Achan in Joshua 7:10-26 (Achor means “trouble”). This “do over” will be when Christ comes and preaches repentance. Most of Israel will not take advantage of God’s mercy.
In verse 16, God points to the ultimate salvation in Christ, our Bridegroom (see Eph 5:32, Rev 21:1-2) in the New Heaven and the New Earth. Every false god will be destroyed, and God will restore His perfect creation (vv. 17-18). There will be no more war (see Ps 46:9, Isa 2:4) and we will dwell securely (see Jer 23:6, Rev 21:4). We will be with our Bridegroom forever (vv. 19-20). And we will know the Lord truly (see Jer 31:34, Hab 2:14, 1 John 3:2).
In verses 21, we have a reference to the witness of heaven and earth God spoke of in Deuteronomy 30:19. They will one day bear witness to the blessings God gives His people. God will plant His people (vv. 22-23), and He will have mercy on a people He formerly had no mercy on and will call His people who were formerly not His. The New Testament applies these verses to the church (Rom 9:23-26, 1 Pet 2:9-10).
In chapter 3, Hosea is now told to marry an adulteress. Now, Hosea is a type of YHWH Himself. He loves the adulteress even though she has forsaken her husband (3:1). Verse 3 is a call to repentance. This is the “do over” God will give to Israel. In verse 4, God tells Hosea that Israel will go through a period of time where they will have no king, no sacrifice, and no priest. In verse 5, He tells Hosea that there will be a time when they will again seek Him and “David their King”. And those who repent will come to God “in the latter days.” This is similar to what God promised Israel in Deuteronomy 4:25-31. Note there again that heaven and earth will be a witness against them, and they will be removed from the land. But “in the latter days” they will obey Him, a merciful God. In Hosea, we see these same themes, but that these “latter days” will be when the Davidic King comes. This is when Christ will come to call them to repentance (see Matt 15:24).