Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
One of the most amazing truths in Scripture is the profound expression of the love of God. It’s impossible to fathom, really. How much does God love? Further, how much does God forgive? The story of Hosea and his wife serves as an illustration of the love and forgiveness of God toward wayward people. For those who desire to learn of God’s grace and forgiveness, Hosea is the best book in the Bible.
Main Themes: God’s Love for Israel
“Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.'” (Hosea 1:10)
“For I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice, and in the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6)
“Whoever is wise, let him understand these things; whoever is discerning, let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right, and the righteous will walk in them, but transgressors will stumble in them.” (Hosea 14:9)
For a general introduction to the Minor Prophets, see “Profiting from the Prophets”
The book of Hosea is a unique look into the extent of God’s love for His people. Hosea prophesied in the northern kingdom of Israel during the height of their apostasy. The chasm between their material prosperity and spiritual bankruptcy was vast. Rapidly, Israel was running hard away from the Lord and toward after false religion. In the eyes of God, they were spiritual adulterers.
The first section chronicles the story of Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer. Bible scholars are not certain if the prophet actually had a wife, or if the story served only as allegory, but the illustration is vivid nonetheless. In verse 2, God commands Hosea to take a wife, knowing full well she will be an adulteress. Immediately, the Lord is quick to indicate that this is to be a picture of Israel’s waywardness and God’s rejection (1:10-11). However, by chapter 2, she is restored, along with the promise to restore Israel. Chapter 3 is only five verses long and encapsulate Israel’s past (vv. 1-3), present (v. 4), and future (v. 5).
The second portion of the prophecy deals exclusively with the people of Israel. Chapters 4 through 10 present a message of judgment, where the nation is indicted for their sins (4:1-19) and found guilty (5:1-15). There is an interchange between the nation and the Lord, as they plea for the Lord to return (6:1-3), but He responds by rebuking them for their hardness of heart (6:4-11). God then cites their crimes against Him, including their ruinous domestic behavior (7:1-7) followed by their fatal foreign policy (7:8-16). At the end of it all, their spiritual adultery has brought about nothing but judgment from God (chapters 8-10).
However, the tone changes starting in chapter 11, from a message of judgment to a message of restoration. Interestingly enough, Matthew uses Hosea 11:1 to refer to Jesus Christ coming out of Egypt as a child (Matt. 2:15), although the verse is explicitly about Israel. But the theme of divine grace and promise is the main point. In the final chapters, Israel is promised a future, as the Lord will receive her back to Himself, in the same way Hosea restored Gomer. God promises, “I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (14:4).
What Makes This Book So Great:
The story of God’s love for Israel illustrated by Hosea’s love for his wife is a favorite story of many believers. Despite Israel’s waywardness, the lovingkindness of God is displayed beautifully. While we would never want to take His grace in vain (Rom. 6:1-2ff; 2 Cor. 6:1), we rejoice that God’s love and mercy are enough to sustain even the most vilest of sins. In the end, God has promised to be reconciled to everyone who believes in the Lord Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins.
This book can easily be broken up into two parts for easier reading. As with the rest of the Prophets, make note of common themes expressed in many of the books, such as the sins of the people, judgment, hope for the future, the coming of the Lord, the Day of the Lord, the coming kingdom, etc. For a special study, examine Hosea 11:1 and Matthew 2:15 to see the unique usage of an Old Testament text in the New Testament.
- David Allan Hubbard, Hosea (TOTC). Downers Grove: InterVarsity, 1989
Note: Don’t miss the introduction to the prophets series here: Entreatingfavor.com/Profiting-from-the-Prophets/
Note: Find the rest of the Best Book in the Bible series here: EntreatingFavor.com/BestBookSeries