This is the word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and of Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel.
Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Deuteronomy 31:16-19). But the same word which had predicted the rejection, predicted also the recovery (Deuteronomy 30:1-16). Hosea, in this new word from God, repeats and confirms the promise. The blessings predicted are -
I. NUMERICAL INCREASE. "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea," etc. This was the original promise to Abraham (Genesis 15:5). Israel's unfaithfulness could not make it void (Romans 3:3). Neither did it.
1. God has made up for the rejection of Israel by giving Abraham a spiritual seed vastly outstripping in numbers the natural seed. The spiritual seed was included in the promise:" And in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed" (Genesis 12:3). God has given Abraham this seed. Even now, while Israel's rejection lasts, a vast seed has been raised from the Gentiles, "which in time past were not a people" (1 Peter 2:10). God has, as it were, from the stones raised up children to Abraham (Matthew 3:9). This seed will go on increasing till it embraces all peoples of the earth.
2. Mercy waits even for the natural Israel, who will yet, in great numbers, enter the kingdom of God (Romans 11.).
II. RESTORATION TO SPIRITUAL HONOR. "In the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God."
1. The privilege. "Sons of the living God." Formerly they were called God's "people;" now they are called his "sons." The last honor is greater than the first. Sonship, which formerly was predicated of the nation, is now predicated of the individuals composing it.
2. The heirs of the privilege. Gentiles as well as Jews (Romans 9:26; 1 Peter 2:10). For Gentiles are now admitted to Israel's privileges, they are part of the spiritual seed. Israel, in its state of rejection, stands towards God on no higher a footing than the Gentiles. "Not my people." Conversely, the scheme of grace through which it is recovered has a range wider than the natural Israel; it applies to the whole class of "Not-my-people," and includes Gentiles as well as Jews. The middle wall of partition is broken down (Ephesians 2:14); there is no more any difference (Romans 3:22, 29).
3. Greatness of the privilege.
(1) Great, in contrast with former condition. "Once," not the people of God; "now," not his people only, but his sons.
(2) Great in its own nature. "Sons of the living God." What honor, what dignity, what favor, is implied in this! We have this sonship in Christ, the beloved Son. Angels do not possess this honor. It is reserved for sinful but redeemed man. "Behold, what manner of love," etc. (1 John 3:1).
III. REMOVAL OF DISUNION. "Then shall the children of Israel and the children of Judah be gathered together," etc. The words imply:
1. That Judah, like Israel, would be found at length in exile.
2. That mercy was in reserve for both.
3. That a new Head - a King - would be given, under whom both would return from captivity. The return will certainly take place, in a spiritual sense, in Israel's conversion; whether also in a literal sense remains to be seen.
4. That the leadership of the new King would be voluntarily accepted - "appoint themselves one Head" (cf. Psalm 110:2).
5. That in the restored kingdom of God no place would be found for existing divisions. The old enmities would disappear. Enmity has already disappeared between Judah and Israel. The present Jews have in them the blood of all the twelve tribes. We may learn
(1) that in the kingdom of God there ought to be no disunion;
(2) that in the perfected kingdom of God there will be no disunion;
(3) that in the kingdom of God the Center of unity is Christ - "One Lord, one faith, one baptism" (Ephesians 4:5).
IV. GLADNESS AND REJOICING. "Say ye unto your brethren, Amlni; and to your sisters, Ruhamah" (Hosea 2:1).
1. Because of God's great goodness in the extension of his Church. "Great shall be the day of Jezreel," this time in the sense, "God will sow."
2. Because of reversal of former rejection. No longer Lo-ammi, but Ammi - "my people;" no longer Lo-ruhamah, but Ruhamah - "pitied." This joy will be universal. Will fill all hearts, will occupy all lips. Each will greet, rejoice with, and congratulate the other. - J.O.
I. WHO HE WAS. His name means a saviour, one who brings salvation, and many saving and savoury truths this prophet brings to us. The Jews say that when a prophet's father's name is given, the father was a prophet as well as the son. "Beeri" means a well that has springing water in it, freely and clearly running.
The Word of the Lord that came to Hosea.I. HE WAS DIVINELY COMMISSIONED. Holy men of old spake not of their own wisdom or of their own will; they spake the Word of God. In what a contemptuous light their conduct places those who in the present day quote the sayings of the Fathers, the Church, or Tradition, or suggest modern innovations, and strange interpretations. We have the Word of God, and the prompting of the Spirit; and is not that enough?
II. HE HAD WORTHY ANCESTRY. His father's name would not have been mentioned had it not been to honour the son. How the father can strengthen and establish the son, or the son ruin and crush the father!
III. He prophesied at a critical period.
1. It was a long time. Probably eighty years.
2. It was a changeable time. Various scenes. Different characters of kings and peoples. He lived in the reigns of one good king and four bad ones. He saw plenty and famine. He saw one revival and much sin.
3. It was a tentative time. Upon the conduct of the Jews depended their ultimate existence.
IV. PRACTICAL THOUGHTS.
1. Hosea must have begun his ministry very young.
2. How very little we have of his prophesyings. His chief work was directly relative to his age. God has preserved what was of permanent interest.
3. How long a man of God may labour, and yet how little good he may accomplish. He did not prevent the Captivity. We arc not answerable for our success, but we are for our duty. We are not to relax our efforts because men am blind or fools.
II. To where WAS THE PROPHET SENT? Especially to the Ten Tribes. The Ten Tribes, rending themselves from the house of David, separated themselves also from the true worship of God, and horrible wickedness and all manner of abominations grew up amongst them.
III. WHAT WAS HOSEA'S ERRAND TO THEM? To convince them of their abominable idolatry, and those other wickednesses in which they lived, and to denounce severe threatenings, yea, most fearful destruction. His threatening is more severe than any given before, Yet he, too, has a message of mercy.
IV. WHAT WAS HIS COMMISSION? He had the "Word of Jehovah." Hosea did not go for the Word of the Lord, but the Word came to him. The knowledge of a call to a work will help a man through the difficulties of the work.
V. THE TIME WHEN HOSEA PROPHESIED. About the time that the city of Rome was built. The beginning of the Olympiads. During the reign of four kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. A lengthened prophesying of nearly fourscore years. See what of God's mind will spring from this.
1. It pleases God sometimes that some men's labours shall abide more full to posterity than others, though the labours of those others are greater and as excellent as theirs.
2. It appears that Hosea began to prophesy very young.
3. Hosea prophesying thus long it appears he lived to grow old in his work.
4. By Hosea s continuance m so many kings reigns, it is evident he must have gone through a variety of conditions. He preserved a constancy of spirit, however varied might be the difficulties of his work.
5. God may continue a prophet a long time amongst a people, and yet they may never be converted.
6. It is an honour to the ministers of God, who meet with many difficulties and discouragements in their, way, yet continue fresh and lively to the very end.
7. It pleases God many times to let His prophets see the fulfilling of their threatenings upon the people against whom they have denounced them.
Homilist.I. THE ESSENCE OF SCRIPTURE. What is the essence of the Bible? It is here called "The Word of the Lord." Analyse the expression.
1. It is a "Word." A word fulfils two functions; it is a revelation and an instrument. The Bible is the manifestation of God, it shows His intellect and heart, and is His instrument as well; by which He accomplishes His purpose on the human mind. By it He is said to enlighten, — quicken, — cleanse, — conquer, etc.
2. It is a Divine Word. "The Word of the Lord." Words are always powerful and important according to the nature and character of the speaker. Because the Lord is all-mighty and holy, His Word is all-powerful and pure.
3. It is a Divine Word concerning men. The prophecy came to Hosea in relation to Israel. The Bible is a Word to man.
4. It is a Divine Word concerning man coming through men. In the Bible God speaks to man through man. This gives the charm of an imperishable humanity to the Bible.
II. THE MORTALITY OF KINGS. Several kings are here mentioned who appeared and passed away during the ministry of Hosea. Uzziah was the eleventh king of Judah. His example was holy, and his reign peaceful and prosperous. Ahaz was a son of Jotham: at the age of twenty he succeeded his royal sire. He gave himself up to idolatry, and sacrificed even his own children to the gods of the heathen. Hezekiah, the son and successor of Ahaz, was a man of distinguished virtue and religion, animated by true piety and patriotism. Jeroboam was the son of Joash, and great grandson of Jehu, and followed the former Jeroboam, the man who made Israel to sin, and, like him, sank into the lowest idolatry and corruption. Some of these kings had come and gone during the ministry of Hosea; — kings die, etc.
1. This fact is a blessing. When we think of such kings as those of which Ahaz and Jeroboam were types, we thank God for death, and rejoice in the "king of terrors," who comes to strike the despots down.
2. This fact is a lesson. What does the death of kings teach?(1) The rigorous impartiality of death. Death is no respecter of persons, it treats the pauper and the prince alike.(2) The utter powerlessness of wealth.(3) The sad hollowness of worldly glory. Death strips sovereigns of all their pageantry and reduces them.to common dust.
III. THE PERPETUITY OF TRUTH. Although these kings successively appeared and passed away, the ministry of Hosea kept on.
1. The "Word of the Lord" is adapted to all generations. It is congruous with all intellects, it chimes in with all hearts, it provides for the common wants of all.
2. The "Word of the Lord" is necessary for all generations.
(Joseph Parker, D. D.)
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