For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Romans 15:4



 A Bible Study - Commentary by Jim Melough

Copyright 2001 James Melough

Little is known of Hosea except that he was of the northern kingdom of Israel, and was a contemporary of Amos and Isaiah, his ministry extending over many years, perhaps thirty or forty, the highest estimate being from fifty to seventy years, until after the fall of Israel, the ten tribes, in 722 BC.

The moral decline of Israel (and to a slightly lesser degree, that of Judah) was what occasioned his ministry, he being chosen by God to expose and denounce the sin of the people, and to warn them of the judgments that must attend such flagrant disobedience.  Though the outward form was retained, the worship of Jehovah had been virtually replaced by that of Baal with all its accompanying gross sexual perversion; and as always when God’s standards are rejected, the whole fabric of moral propriety was cast aside, the leaders of the people being foremost in the abandonment of the Divine order. Murder, adultery, theft, judicial corruption, oppression, etc., were, as always, the rampant concomitants of idolatry.

It is to be noted also that this depravity was not when Israel was impoverished and oppressed, but when God had graciously granted her great material prosperity and political recovery.  Only spiritually blind eyes will fail to see, in fact, that the Israel of Hosea’s day was remarkably similar to our own society, particularly the affulent and powerful western world.  It too is characterized by every form of sexual perversion and abandonment of Divine standards both in private and public life.  God’s Word may not be taught in our schools, nor may students pray to Him, yet under the guise of conducting social studies, the educational system, with virtually no restraint, teaches our children about systems and cults directly opposed to all that is of God.  Our western society heads the world in murder (which includes abortion), rape, sexual pervertion, theft, to name only a few of the grosser rampant evils; and we are reading Hosea wrongly if we fail to realize that God’s warnings to Israel apply also to our own society, and to us as individuals. 

God’s patience is great, but not infinite.  Warning ignored will bring Divine retribution upon today’s world as it did upon the Israel of Hosea’s day.  Those familiar with the prophetic Scriptures are unanimous in their belief that the end of the age is upon us: the terrible Tribulation judgments are about to break, resulting in the global dissolution of the whole social structure, and the sweeping away of everything that is offensive to God, in preparation for the inauguration of the millennial kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The book of Hosea has been preserved, however, not only to inform us of God’s dealings with the Israel of a bygone day, but to warn us that rebellion in every age inevitably brings judgment, whether the offender be a man or a nation.  It is equally clear, however, not just in this little prophetic book, but in all Scripture, that judment is His “strange work,” Isa 28:21, and is designed to bring sinners to repentance and blessing, being destructive only when repentance is refused, and mercy despised.  God’s tender love for rebellious Israel is set before us on every page of Hosea’s prophecy, and is designed to point us to Calvary where that measureless love is displayed in all its fulness, as declared in the best known verse in the Bible, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life,” Jn 3:16.

Believer and unbeliever alike do well to heed the warnings of Hosea, for the disobediece of the believer will result in eternal loss of reward at the Bema; and that of the unbeliever, in the loss of his soul, and his having to endure eternal torment in the unquenchable flame of the lake of fire.

At this point it may be well to note that the captivity of the ten tribes (Israel) by Assyria in 722 B.C., not only destroyed the autonomy of the ten tribes, but it also ended the division between Israel and Judah.  Some have taught erroneously that Israel never returned from the Assyrian captivity, hence the myth of the “lost ten tribes.”  It is beyond question, however, that as a remnant returned from the Babylonian captivity, so over the years did some also return from the Assyrian captivity, see e.g., Ac 26:7, so that in the four hundred years preceding the Lord’s first advent there were dwelling in Palestine representatives of all the twelve tribes, but no longer divided into ten (Israel), and two (Judah).

[Hosea 1]


     Scripture portions taken from the Holy Bible, King James Version
© 2000-2005 James Melough