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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Hosea

Description : Based on his painful family life, prophecies about unfaithful Israel & faithful God

Author: probably Hosea but maybe another.

Date written : uncertain but possibly after 722BC

Chapters :14


Brief Synopsis:


•  Hosea speaks mostly to the ten northern tribes, mainly in the period of Jeroboam II (“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 takes a wife who proves unfaithful but has sons with significant names (Ch.1)
•  This is taken as a picture of the Lord and Israel. (Ch.2)
•  Hosea is then told to take back his wife (Ch.3)
•  Prophecies follow, mostly about Israel 's unfaithfulness.

Outline :


Ch.1-3 .The Unfaithful Wife and the Faithful Husband

Ch.1 .The Children as Signs
Ch.2 .The Unfaithful Wife & the Lord's judgment and restoration of Israel
Ch.3 .The Faithful Husband

Ch.4-14 The Unfaithful Nation and the Faithful God

Ch.4-6 Israel 's Unfaithfulness
Ch.4.The general charge, the cause declared and the results described

Ch.5 A special message to the people and leaders   

Ch.6:3 A sorrowful plea      

Ch.6-10 Israel 's Punishment
Ch.6-7 The case stated   
Ch.8-9 The judgment pronounced
Ch.10 Summary and appeal
Ch.11-14 The Lord's Faithful Love
11:1-11 The Lord's fatherly love
Ch.11-13 Israel's punishment for unfaithfulness 
Ch.14 Israel 's restoration after repentance (ch. 14) 



Canon and order of the Minor Prophets
In the traditional Jewish canon the books that follow and we call ‘the minor prophets' are arranged in what was thought to be their chronological order:
(1) the books that came from the period of Assyrian power - Hosea , Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah,
(2) those written about the time of the decline of Assyria - Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah and
(3) those dating from the post-exile era (Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi).
On the other hand, their order in the Septuagint (the earliest Greek translation of the OT) is: Hosea, Amos, Micah, Joel, Obadiah, Jonah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, Malachi (the order of the first six was probably determined by length, except for Jonah, which is placed last among them because of its different character).
Key Verses :
The scope of Hosea's ministry
1:1 Th e 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's marriage would picture God and Israel
1:2,3 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD." So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
The Lord speaks of Israel as an unfaithful woman – yet with hope
2:2,13-15 Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts….. I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot," declares the LORD. "Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.
Hosea to restore his wife as the Lord desires to restore Israel
3:1 The LORD said to me, "Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."
Israel (Ephraim, another name for Israel ) condemned [36 times ‘Ephraim' used]
4:1,16,17 Hear the word of the LORD, you Israelites, because the LORD has a charge to bring against you who live in the land: "There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment of God in the land. The Israelites are stubborn, like a stubborn heifer. How then can the LORD pasture them like lambs in a meadow? Ephraim is joined to idols; leave him alone!

Priests, people and leaders, all guilty

5:1 Hear this, you priests! Pay attention, you Israelites! Listen, O royal house!

Reality of relationship, not ritual required

6:6 I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.

Samaria, the heart of Israel, the northern kingdom, living on borrowed time

10:5 The people who live in Samaria fear for the calf-idol of Beth Aven. Its people will mourn over it, and so will its idolatrous priests, those who had rejoiced over its splendor, because it is taken from them into exile. It will be carried to Assyria as tribute for the great king. Ephraim will be disgraced; Israel will be ashamed of its wooden idols. Samaria and its king will float away like a twig on the surface of the waters.



Concluding Comments


•  The early chapters are moving, with Hosea being called to use his family life as a picture of the Lord and His relationship with Israel.
•  Beyond that the book is in many ways a depressing picture of the hopelessness of the northern kingdom (although Judah does get mentioned as well) that is given over to idolatry which was institutionalised from the outset (see 1 Kings 12:26-29). No king had the courage to change this and so the days of Israel (the northern kingdom) and Samaria were numbered and Samaria fell in 722BC and the people exiled.
•  If we can see past the impending judgment because of the stubbornness of Israel, see the Lord's heart that desires to restore the people, if only they will be restored. Sadly they wouldn't! But remember the Lord's word through Ezekiel, I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (Ezek 18:32) Destruction only comes with the willfulness of sinful men, not with the desire of God!

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