This past Sunday was week 4 in my class on the Gospel according to the Minor Prophets. We worked our way through Hosea, one of the best known Minor Prophets. He ministered during the reign of four kings of Judah (Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, & Hezekiah). One northern king is also mentioned: Jeroboam II. This results in a ministry that could have ranged from 753-687 B.C. (66 years). While probably not that long, Hosea ministered during the last half of the 8th century, a time when Assyria wiped out the Israel and seriously threatened Judah. He watched in horror as both the northern and southern kingdoms engaged in idolatry with Baal and other gods. Central to his message was the imagery of Yahweh as the husband of his people, which led to Yahweh calling Hosea to take a wife of whoredom to visualize Israel and Judah’s unfaithfulness. Thus Hosea writes to indict God’s people for their spiritual adultery and call them to return to Yahweh their true husband.
The central biblical-theological themes in Hosea is the depiction of God’s relationship with his people as a marriage. This is a theme that runs throughout the Bible, with the clearest expression coming in Ephesians 5:22-33 and climaxing in the Wedding Supper of the Lamb (Rev 19:6-9).
How can we as God’s people today benefit from Hosea? What is it that God has to say to us today through this Minor Prophet?
I believe the starting point is determining the theological big idea, which I would summarize as follows: God’s people must turn from their idolatrous pursuit of lovers who will not satisfy and return to the Lord, their true husband and redeemer.
The prophetic books are particularly pointed in their ability to expose the idols in our own hearts. We all have a tendency to pursue other things more than Christ that we think will satisfy us more than Christ. For some of us it might be your career. Or maybe its your hobbies. Or sex. Or money. Or your comfort. Or your children. Or perhaps its even your marriage, which leads me to my next application point.
The God-ordained purpose of marriage is to reflect God’s relationship to his people. Its not our comfort. It not companionship. Its not procreation. Its not personal fulfillment. Don’t misunderstand me; God often gives these precious gifts in marriage. But they are not the purpose of marriage. Unfortunately those things are often presented as the ultimate goal of marriage, even within the church. But that is not biblical! How might a marriage look different if it took seriously this God-ordained purpose? I’d encourage you to talk this over with your spouse.
Finally, I want to conclude by focusing on the precious promise of Hosea 1:10-11. Both Peter (1 Pet 2:9-10) and Paul (Rom 9:25-26) apply that language to us the church. We were once not a people, but now we are the people of God; we previously had not received mercy, but now we have received mercy at the cross. What a God we have who would send his own son to experience his justice so that we might experience his mercy, and may we long for the day when we will sit at the marriage supper of the Lamb with our Redeemer-Husband, Jesus Christ.
Want to hear more? You can check out the audio and the handout below:
Week 4 – Hosea (Audio – NOTE: forgive my voice; I’m fighting off a sinus infection)