This book tells a story of a man’s love for his unfaithful spouse. But the story of the prophet Hosea and his wife Gomer illustrates another love story, and that is that God loves us, even when our sins have broken His heart. Here is a picture of God who longs to forgive us when we turn to Him.
It is a story of one-sided love and faithfulness between a prophet and his faithless wife and Jehovah and His faithless people. Just as Gomer was married to Hosea, Israel is married to God. In both cases, the bride plays the harlot and runs after other lovers. But unconditional love keeps seeking even when it is spurned. Hosea offers the possibility of salvation if the nation will only turn from idolatry back to God.
According to chapter 1, verse l, the author of this book was Hosea, son of Beeri. It was probably written around 715 B.C. and recorded events from 753-715 B.C. Hosea began his ministry during the end of the prosperous but morally declining reign of Jeroboam II, king of Israel. He prophesied until shortly after the fall of Samaria in 722 B.C.
The theme of the book is God’s steadfast love for Israel in spite of her continued unfaithfulness and illustrates this through his marital experience. God told Hosea to find a wife, and told him ahead of time that she would be unfaithful to him. In obedience to God, Hosea married Gomer. After Hosea’s marriage, as predicted, Gomer left him to pursue her lusts (chapter 2). But Hosea found her, redeemed her, and brought her home again, fully reconciled (chapter 3).
Hosea’s message to Israel can be summarized in three words: sin, judgment, and salvation. In exposing Israel’s sin, Hosea emphasized its idolatry. He compared Israel’s covenant relationship to the Lord with marriage and accused Israel of spiritual adultery. To illustrate Israel’s infidelity, Hosea married a woman who would, like Israel, prove unfaithful to her husband.
Just as Hosea went after his unfaithful wife to bring her back, so the Lord pursues us with His love. His love is tender, loyal, unchanging, and undying. As we read this book, we can see Hosea submit himself willingly to the Lord’s direction, grieve with him over the unfaithfulness of his wife and his people, and hear the clear warning of judgment.
The book of Hosea can be outlined according to two tragedies: