Hosea: Introduction and Overview
“How can I give you up, Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I set you like Zeboiim?
My heart churns within Me;
My sympathy is stirred.”
As terrible as was Israel’s rebellion, and as dire as were the judgments God would bring against them, still, the prophet is never very far from a word of comfort and the promise of restoration.
After all, Israel was God’s people only because of His grace, only, that is, because of the kind of God He is. The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is not fickle and domineering, so that He has to be continually placated and cajoled, like the gods of paganism. He has spoken His Word and entered into His covenant with His people. He is faithful, and He does not change.
So while the people may rebel, and thus incur the discipline of the Lord, His promise will not fail. Though wrath and judgment must come, yet God will restore His people to Himself once again. Especially is the promise of restoration held out for a day when all the people of God will be united in one flock with a Leader to shepherd them Whom God Himself will provide.
Here’s an outline of the book of Hosea:
Part 1, Preparation: Hosea 1-3
God calls Hosea and gives an overview of His charge against the nation of Israel. God uses Hosea’s own experience to symbolize and emphasize the nature and importance of the message he must proclaim.
Part 2, Charge, Consequence, and Call to Repentance: Hosea 4-6
Hosea issues a broadside against the nation of Israel, in which he outlines God’s charges against them and calls them to turn in repentance to the Lord.
Part 3, God’s Charges Detailed: Hosea 7-10
Hosea provides more detail both of God’s charges against His people and of the judgment He is preparing for them.
Part 4, In the Midst of Judgment, Hope: Hosea 11-14
God wraps His people in His love and promises that, after they have suffered for their sin, He will restore them to Himself again.
Read Hosea 13, 14
How many different images can you identify by which God assures His people of His love? How can such images encourage us in our walk with and work for the Lord?
Glory to Glory
How and why does God discipline His people today (Heb. 12.3-11)? What forms might we expect this discipline to take? How can we know when we’ve come under the discipline of God? How should we respond to God’s discipline when it falls upon us?
O LORD God of hosts,
How long will You be angry
Against the prayer of Your people?
You have fed them with the bread of tears,
And given them tears to drink in great measure.
You have made us a strife to our neighbors,
And our enemies laugh among themselves.
Restore us, O God of hosts;
Cause Your face to shine,
And we shall be saved!
T. M. Moore
Each week’s studies in our Scriptorium column are available in a free PDF form, suitable for personal or group use. For all available studies in Hosea, click here.
A primary theme of the book of Hosea is Israel’s failure to keep covenant with the Lord. God’s covenant is a central theme and provides the organizing motif for all of Scripture. Learn more about God’s covenant by ordering a copy of T. M.’s book, I Will Be Your God, from our online store (click here).
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.