James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.Hosea 1:1-3:5
THE SWEEP OF THE BOOK
It will be seen by the opening verse of this lesson that we are back in the land of Israel before the Babylonian captivity. Examine 2 Kings 14-20 and the corresponding chapters in 2 Chronicles for the history of this period, and the more carefully you read those chapters the more interested you will be in Hosea, and the more you will get out of it. While four of the kings named in Hosea 1:1 reigned in Judah, and only the last-named, Jeroboam, in Israel, nevertheless it is to Israel rather than Judah that Hosea’s prophecies apply.
THE PROPHET’S DOMESTIC HISTORY (Hosea 1:2-9)
God called upon him to do an unusual thing in taking an unchaste woman to wife (Hosea 1:2), but it had a symbolical significance which the last part of the verse explains.
Other prophets, Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel, were called upon to do strange things with the same purpose, so we are not surprised. It was not wrong for Hosea to contract such a marriage because God commanded it, and because his motive was to exalt the woman to his own moral sphere. When he married her, and it became known in Israel, his opportunity came to show the loving-kindness of Jehovah to a nation that had no more to commend itself to Him than this woman had in Hosea’s case. See the marginal references for the proof of this.
The children of his union are symbolical in their names (Hosea 1:4-9). For historical reference to Jezreel and Jehu (Hosea 1:4), see 2 Kings 10:11; but notice that there are two predictions in this verse, separated by the comma after “Jehu,” which are at least forty years apart in their fulfillment. Judgment fell on the house of Jehu in Zachariah’s reign (2 Kings 15:12), while the kingdom of Israel did not cease till the Assyrian captivity in King Hoshea’s day (2 Kings 18).
The names of the other two children are given (Hosea 1:6; Hosea 1:8-9) with reference to this captivity. For the fulfillment of Hosea 1:7 see the marginal reference to 2 Kings 19:35 in the light of its context.
THE BETTER DAY COMING (Hosea 1:10-11)
Like all the prophets, Hosea speaks of Israel’s happy future, which shall come to pass after the tribulation of which we learned in Daniel. How is her increase indicated? Her restoration to her own land? Her reunion with the two tribes? In explanation of the last clause it should be noted that the meaning of Jezreel is “the seed of God.”
AN UNFAITHFUL WIFE (Hosea 2:1-23)
This chapter begins at Hosea 2:2, and we see that Hosea’s wife, failing to appreciate her blessings, went after her former lovers, took up with her old life of sin again. In this the prophet’s domestic history carries further the symbolic reference to Jehovah’s relationship to Israel. That nation did in the spiritual realm what the wife did in the physical. It is difficult to determine just where the symbol ends and the history of Israel begins in the chapter, because the two are so closely blended, but there is little doubt that the nation is in view at Hosea 2:3 and the following. Students will recall earlier teachings about “the law of double reference” which finds illustration here.
Going through the chapter, note the punishment to fall on the adulterous nation (Hosea 2:6-13); her political bewilderment (Hosea 2:6); her disappointments in the expectation of help from the Gentiles (Hosea 2:7); her deprivation of the divine blessing and the positive suffering entailed by it (Hosea 2:9-13). All of these came to her in her captivity, and are her experiences still among the nations.
But again we see the future bright when, in repentance and faith, she returns to the Lord (Hosea 2:14-16). Ishi means “My husband.” Baali, “My master” (see margin). Millennial conditions follow (Hosea 2:17-23).
A LOVING HUSBAND (Hosea 3)
“The law of recurrence,” finds an illustration in chapter 3, where the story of the preceding chapter is repeated with additional data.
The prophet is commanded still to love his wandering and faithless wife as Jehovah still loves Israel in her disobedience (Hosea 3:1). His love takes shape in material provision for her, though she is separated from him (Hosea 3:2), as Jehovah is still caring for Israel that she should not perish from the earth. In the meantime the wife is not to take up with another husband, and the prophet will not marry again (Hosea 3:3), the application of which is stated in the next two verses. The foregoing lessons in the prophets have made this plain.
1. State the time of this book.
2. Have you re-read the history of the time?
3. To which of the kingdoms was Hosea particularly sent?
4. Relate the story of the prophet’s domestic history in your own words.
5. What two prophecies are found in 1:4?
6. In the reign of what king of Judah was 1:7 fulfilled?
7. What is the definition of the name Jezreel?
8. What two laws of rhetoric find renewed illustration in this lesson?