Hosea: An Exegetical Study

As we will see throughout Hosea, God uses this prophet’s life as a model for the mercy He bestows on Israel and on us.

The goal of this study is three-fold. First, we want to explore what God has for us in Hosea because this book is a part of His Word, given to us “for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)

Second, studying the Old Testament is just as important as reading the New, but most believers don’t have chapters about prostitution on their favorites list. The Old Testament is confusing and, well, old but there are wonderful shadows of Christ and many things that we can learn about God’s character. For example, the name “Hosea” comes from the same verb as “Joshua” and “Jesus” and that root means “to save or deliver.” As we will see throughout Hosea, God uses this prophet’s life as a model for the mercy He bestows on Israel and on us. Joshua delivered Israel into the Promised Land. Hosea will save his adulterous wife Gomer, despite her unfaithfulness. Jesus saves and delivers His people through death on the cross and resurrection three days later! 

Finally, we are studying Hosea as a non-traditional blog post in order to model what it looks like to exegete scripture. That’s a fancy theology word that means a “critical explanation or interpretation of a text, especially of scripture” (Oxford Languages). In summary, we are going to look at what the Bible says and interpret it based on what the text says and not what we want it to mean. We will model verse-by-verse observations and applications taken directly from the text, without overshadowing the things it reveals about the Lord. It can be tempting to read the Bible as a guidebook for what we should do and there are certainly practical applications but something to always remember: The Bible is NOT about you!

Hosea 1 

  • Hosea is set during the reign of four kings of Judah and one king of Israel.
  • The northern kingdom is in decline and God’s judgement is pending.
  • Writing Style: poetry/prose, prophecy 
  • Connective Passages: 2 Kings 15-16, Isaiah 7:1-9
  • Israel has been unfaithful to the Lord and Hosea is commanded to marry a whore as a living/physical representation of Israel’s unfaithfulness (v. 2-3). 
  • God is justifiably upset with His people’s unfaithfulness and faithlessness (v. 4-5).
  • God plans to cut ties with Israel and to later redeem them (v. 6-11)
  • Israel is being condemned for their idolatry and lack of satisfaction in God (v. 2). 
  • The Lord is punishing Israel and will not show them mercy, but He will show mercy to Judah. 
  • The house of Jehu will be punished for the bloodshed in Jezreel. The kingdom of Israel will end.
  • The warnings and imagery of adultery in this text should motivate repentance in the people of Israel.
  • How does the passage point to Jesus? V. 11 says that the children of Judah and Israel will be gathered together under one head. This foreshadows furtive redemption because in salvation, Jews and Gentiles both are gathered together in Christ. Jesus is the head mentioned.
  • Jezreel means God will sow. As we see in v. 11 when it says, “Great will be the day of Jezreel.” so, great will be the day that God sows. 
  • We need to trust that God will have mercy on us. His compassion is not a license to do as we please but to live with joy because our future is secure in Christ. 
  • We are all prone to go astray. We are not satisfied by anything, we always want more. We are not satisfied because we seek things other than God to satisfy us when it is only in God that we can be satisfied. Only God is sufficient. We (I) need to be watchful of our hearts toward God, faithful to God and remembering that only He is sufficient. “On Christ, the solid rock I stand….All other things are sinking sand.” (My Hope Is Built On Nothing Less by Edward Mote). James 4:2-4 says, “You desire and do not have, so you murder/ You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people!”

Hosea 2

  • v. 2-3 have parallels with other warnings of judgement in the Old Testament: Isaiah 50:1 and Ezekiel 16:25. 
  • v.8 reminds Israel that God is the one who provided grain, wine, etc. even though they are attributing these blessings to Baal. When God brought Israel into the Promised Land, he promised to provide for all of their needs and he had even before. Nevertheless, Israel often doubted and complained and attributed the things they received to Egypt instead of God. 
  • Reminder: Hosea is written as poetry and therefore the metaphors, similes and imagery are confusing. This is why exegetical study is helpful! 
  • The covenant marriage between God and Israel has not ended but it is in danger. God issues this warning and illustrates what Israel must do to repair its marriage with God: “She [must] put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts.” (v. 2) This demonstrates God’s desire to have a personal relationship with His people, that He is faithful and that He values reciprocated faithfulness. Just as Hosea entreats his wife Gomer to stop whoring after other men, God is proclaiming through His prophet a warning to Israel: they need to put away their idolatry and honor their covenant with the Lord. 
  • The three therefores (v. 6, 9 and 14) reveal God’s plan of judgement and redemption. God will block Israel off from her idols. He will “hedge up her way with thrones” and “build a wall against her” so that Gomer cannot reach her lovers just as Israel will be cut off from their idols (v. 6). Secondly, God will remove the blessings He provides so Israel will know where their provision comes from (v. 9). Then, He will “speak tenderly” to His people and reconcile them to Himself (v. 14). 
  • v. 16 and 21 parallel Jeremiah 31:33 “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”
  • “She did not know” in v. 8 reveals Israel’s failure to recognize that their prosperity was from the Lord, and not from Baal. 
  • Although these warnings and promises are focused on Israel, they provide an example for us as well. We must turn from false gods so that we do not forget our Lord and we must realize that God is the one who is sovereign over our lives and the giver of everything we have. 
  • Just as God redeems Israel from their adultery to Baal, Jesus provides our redemption from idolatry to sin. This truth should motivate our repentance and insight love and faithfulness to God.
  • The language in v. 16-19 reflects New Testament mentions of Jesus as the bridegroom (2 Corinthians 11:2). 
  • Putting our trust in idols as the source of our blessings instead of the Lord leads to us forgetting God (v. 8). 
  • Hosea’s call for Israel to repent from idolatry and be reunited with their covenant husband, the Lord, is a picture of how we should also be reconciled to Christ our bridegroom. Like Israel, we must turn from our sin and remember that it is the Lord who provides. 
  • The graphic imagery of adultery between Hosea and Gomer helps us to grasp the magnitude and betrayal related to seeking satisfaction in things other than God. What idols do you have in your life that are preventing you from following Christ wholeheartedly? 
  • God’s faithfulness is constant and unfailing while we are completely unreliable. Despite our adultery, the Lord provides forgiveness and redemption through His judgement which encourages us to repentance.