Introduction to the Book of Hosea
and Study of Hosea 1-3
September 14th

Produced by The Listening for God Ministry
Copyright 2016

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Hosea (Overview)

Hosea was one of the twelve Minor Prophets whose books are represented in the Old Testament. He was a prophet living in the Northern Kingdom during the same time as another Minor Prophet named Amos, which was during the period before it was occupied by Assyria.

Given this timeline, the events in the books of Hosea and Amos took place generations before the books of Daniel and other prophets of the exilic period.

Like Daniel, the book of Hosea is relatively brief, consisting of 14 chapters and reads more like a history than some of the other prophet books such as Isaiah. The main message of the book is that God loves us and wants to reconcile with us. The book can be divided into several sections (1), as shown below:

    Hosea 1-3 (Obedience of Hosea) - September 14th
    -Describes the broken marriage between God and his people

    Hosea 4-10 (Oracles of Hosea) - September 15th
    - Hosea discusses the broken covenant and other topics

    Hosea 11-14 (Bridge to Redemption) - September 16th
    - A closing vision of hope after judgment

References used in this study include the following books:

  • Boadt, Lawrence, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ; 1984
  • Fee, Gordon D., Stuart Douglas, How to Read the Bible Book by Book, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, MI, 2002
  • Heschel, Abraham Joshua, The Prophets, Harper Perennial Modern Classics, 2001, New York (originally published by Harper & Row in 1962)
  • Holy Bible, New Revised Standard Version, Zondervan Bible Publishers, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993
  • Life Application Study Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, M; 1991 (with commentary from an inter-denominational team of experts)
  • Men's Devotional Bible, New International Version, Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, MI; 1993 (with daily devotionals from Godly men)
  • Myers, Jacob M, The Layman's Bible Commentary, Volume 14, The Book of Hosea, The Book of Joel, the Book of Amos, the Book of Obadiah, and the Book of Jonah; John Knox Press, Richmond, VA, 1959
  • Peterson, Eugene, The Message, The Bible in Contemporary Language, NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO, 80920, 2005

We also have heard that Thomas Edward McComiskey's The Minor Prophets is very good, but we have not yet used it as a reference.

Hosea 1-3 (Hosea's Obedience)

Please refer to the Bible version of your choice to read this section. For your convenience, links are provided below that take you directly to these chapters in multiple Bible versions: Hosea 1-3 (King James Version - KJV) Hosea 1-3 (New Revised Standard Version - NRSV) Hosea 1-3 (New International Version - NIV) Hosea 1-3 (The Message - MSG)

US Conference of Catholic Bishops
Introduction to Hosea (New American Bible - NAB) (click the "next chapter" link on the site for chapters 1-3)

British Bible Society
Introduction to Hosea (Good News Bible - GNB) (click next for chapters 1-3)

Key Verse

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:.

- Hosea 1:1 (NIV)

Summary of Chapters

The first three chapters introduce Hosea and his calling. In chapter 1, the LORD begins speaking to Hosea and instructs him to marry an adulterous woman. They had a number of children whom the LORD named in memory of sins of the nation.

Chapter 2 is a review of Israel's past and future, written in poetry form, as if Israel were a bride. It reviews her unfaithfulness and then at the end declares that she will be restored and once again the LORD will call them his people and they will call him their God.

    "Therefore I am now going to allure her;
        I will lead her into the wilderness
        and speak tenderly to her.
    There I will give her back her vineyards,
        and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
    There she will respond as in the days of her youth,
        as in the day she came up out of Egypt."

    - Hosea 2:14-15 (NIV)

In chapter 3, God instructs Hosea to reconcile with his wife. The reason for un-reconciliation was not explained, but Hosea had to pay hard money to get her back. The prophet explains that in the same way, Israel will one day return to the LORD:

    Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.

    - Hosea 3:5 (KJV)

Reflection and Application

Like the prophets in the earlier books, Hosea is unswervingly obedient to God, even when the instructions are against what would otherwise be good judgment. Ezekiel had been forbidden from mourning his beloved wife and Hosea had to marry a woman of ill repute. His marriage became like a symbol of the nation of Israel, an honest man married to a wayward woman who produced children that were cursed from the beginning.

It' hard to imagine how each of us would respond if God called us to such a task. If the task he calls us to is something difficult, but not as challenging as Hosea's assignment, then we should be grateful and obedient.

Hosea had to pay money to get back his wife, perhaps she had been punished for adultery and someone had to pay to free her, else she would suffer in slavery. In the same way, Jesus would pay the ultimate sacrifice to buy us back from our slavery to sin, freeing us to be saved and serve the LORD. We should approach the LORD with trembling and gratefulness for this gift.

Questions and Prayers for Further Reflection

    Related Questions
    1. In what circumstances have you been asked to have a relationship with someone who had done things you did not agree with (e.g. friend, colleague at work, fellow church member)?
    2. Why should we forgive people who have gone against God's law?
    3. Who can you forgive today?
    Recommended Prayer
    Father in heaven, we know that you love us like a husband loves a bride. You accept us the way we are and are willing to forgive and pay the price to win us back. Help us to love you back unconditionally.

    Suggested Prayer Concerns


    (1) Boadt Lawrence, Reading the Old Testament: An Introduction, Paulist Press, Mahwah, NJ; 1984, p.320

    Looking Ahead

    Tomorrow's reading: Hosea 4-10 (Oracles of Hosea )

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