Prophets play an important role in the Bible, and in the Old Testament, there have been numerous books that center on prophecies. Hosea is often referred to as the 'prophet of doom' because his message is one that concentrates on destruction. However, underneath his words – there is a promise of restoration. In this article, you will encounter the significance and meaning of the Book of Hosea.
Who is Hosea?
Hosea was a prophet during the 8th century BC, who ministered during a dark period in the history of Israel – focusing on the northern kingdom. His name actually translates into 'salvation.' At the time, the nation was prospering yet the people were spiritually demoralized and had turned their back on their faith. They were disloyal to God and in need of serious religious guidance. Hosea is known as one of the Twelve Prophets of the Hebrew Bible, which are also known as the Minor Prophets of the Christian Old Testament.
When Hosea was alive, the kings of the Northern Kingdom, their supporters, and the priests had led their people away from the Law of God. They chose to worship other gods and ignore the word of God. One such god was named Baal, who was the Canaanite fertility god. They embraced a life full of sin – committing acts such as homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin. Hosea makes a declaration that if they continue on this path, God will allow their nation to fall to destruction. He says that if they don’t repent their sins, the people will become captives of the Assyrians, which was a more powerful nation at the time.
Summary of the Book
In his prophecy, Hosea mentions the endless love of God, but the betrayal of Israel will be met with consequences. When reading the Book of Hosea, you will learn the following points:
God direct Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman named Gomer, who is full of disgrace. He obeys God, and this marriage stands to serve as a symbol of the relationship that God has with Israel, who has been unfaithful by continuing to break the commandments, which God expects His people to adhere to.
Secondly, Hosea and his wife have a son that God commands his name shall be Jezreel. The child's name is a reference to a valley that has seen a great deal of bloodshed throughout the history of Israel – especially when it comes to the kings of the Northern Kingdom (as mentioned in the Book of Kings). The name given to Hosea's son represents a prophecy against the rule of the Northern Kingdom.
The couple then have a daughter who God commands that she is named Lo-ruhamah. She represents the pity God will have for the Southern Kingdom, while he will no longer make allowances for the Northern Kingdom. Gomer next gives birth to a son, who may or may not belong to Hosea. God commands that his name will be Lo-ammi, which means 'Not My People.' The naming of this child represents the shame that the Northern Kingdom will receive when God exacts his punishment on the land. The child also signifies the union that God and the nation had at the time – which was broken.
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