Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Introduction to Hosea

From Amos, we move to study a prophet who picks up on tail end of the sheep-herder's ministry, but will continue to speak to both Israel and Judah across 45 years. Hosea began his prophesying in 755 B.C., forthtelling God's Word to Israel until its captivity by Assyria in 722. He would continue to speak to the Southern Kingdom, Judah, and would overlap with the prophesying of Isaiah and Micah.

Hosea's name comes from the Hebrew and is a name also given to Joshua and Jesus. The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains: "The name..., probably meaning 'help,' seems to have been not uncommon, being derived from the auspicious verb from which we have the frequently recurring word 'salvation.' It may be a contraction of a larger form of which the Divine name or its abbreviation formed a part, so as to signify 'God is help,' or 'Help, God.'" Joshua means 'Jehovah is salvation' and we know from Matthew 1 that Joseph is told to name the baby Jesus "...for He will save His people from their sins." (1:21) We know Hosea didn't save God's people from going to captivity, but he wanted to reach them with God's Word to save their souls.

It is amazing the number of kings on the throne in Israel during this time. Hosea's ministry is covered, historically, in the books of II Kings and II Chronicles, so you know much time will be spent putting his prophecy into context with history. Four of those kings serving would be assassinated by their successors. That says a lot right there! The "plot line" of the book is similar to Amos, in that we know Israel is enjoying economic prosperity in a time of spiritual and moral depravity. Let's see how Hosea reflects God's message compared with Amos.

Times in Judah are not good either, lest you think Hosea would have nothing to say after Israel's captivity. There were different problems facing the kings on the throne there as well--from leprosy to Baal worship to making alliances with the wrong nations--making for a very weak nation. But Judah's captivity and the destroying of the Temple will not come until much later, after Hosea's time.

What is very interesting about this book is a major theme that runs through its first half, paralleling Hosea's marriage to the state of Israel at the time of his prophecy. God has worked up something amazing here in a real-life analogy, even though the context for this marriage is very surprising indeed! We have not seen a prophet in this kind of relationship before. And it all begins with Chapter 1 next week!

.... 'Til next Wednesday!


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Next week: Hosea 1:1-5

Note: I read from the New American Standard Bible translation,
specifically, The MacArthur Study Bible (NASB).
I will quote other sources if used in a post.

I also use
Strong's Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible
(with notes from the King James Version).