Book of the Week 28: Hosea

Hebrew Name: Hoshea 

Human Author: Hosea                                                        

OT or NT: Old Testament 

Number of Chapters: 14

Basic Facts

  1. Hosea is the twenty-eighth book of the Bible.
  2. In terms of literary genre, Hosea is classified as a book of prophecy.
  3. The Hebrew name for Hosea is Hoshea, which means “God save[s]” or “salvation.”
  4. Hosea was a prophet of God to the northern kingdom of Israel.
  5. Hosea was called by God to marry a prostitute in order to symbolize the unfaithfulness of Israel toward God.

Story of the Book

The ministry of Hosea takes place during the reigns of Jeroboam II and Joash, kings of the northern kingdom of Israel. God called Hosea to marry Gomer, an unfaithful adulteress. The marriage between Hosea and Gomer symbolized the faithfulness of God and unfaithfulness of Israel toward God. Just as Gomer committed adultery, Israel had committed spiritual adultery against God through the sin of idolatry. Despite Gomer’s unfaithfulness, God called Hosea to reconcile with Gomer, symbolizing God’s faithfulness despite the sins of Israel. The rest of the book details the sins which Israel committed against God, God’s coming punishment against the Israelites for their sins by sending them into exile in Assyria, and a call to repentance. The book ends by contrasting the love of God for His people and a call for Israel to repent and to return to the Lord. Despite all of Israel’s sins and unfaithfulness, God still loves His people. Even in the midst of punishing Israel and sending the nation into exile, God calls the people of Israel to return to God in order that He might show them mercy and ultimately forgiveness and restoration.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Hosea

During the ministry of Hosea, Israel had sinned greatly in many ways and rebelled against God. God’s call on Hosea to marry an unfaithful wife was to symbolize both Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness. In this, we ultimately have a picture of the Gospel. When Israel sinned and was punished by being sent into exile in Assyria, God was still faithful to offer forgiveness in restoration later on in the person of the messiah. In Hosea 11:1, God says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” When Israel sinned and rebelled, the nation was punished by God. However, God provided a way in Jesus Christ—who embodies true and obedient Israel as a representative—to live a sinless life and to remain faithful despite the unfaithfulness of the nation (Hosea 11:1; II Corinthians 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; Matthew 2:13-15). Through the sinless life of Jesus, the righteous requirements of the law were fully satisfied, and God the Father called Jesus to take the punishment for sin in our place. All who believe in Christ receive reconciliation with God through the atoning work of Jesus on the cross. Just as Hosea was earlier called by God to forgive his unfaithful wife for her sins, God has offered forgiveness to us in Christ. In this way, through the ministry of Hosea we have a warning against sin and a foreshadowing of the Gospel.