Hosea was a prophet who called the people of Israel to repentance. God used Hosea’s personal life as a symbol of His relationship with Israel. Everything we know about the prophet Hosea comes from the book of Hosea.
Little is known about the prophet Hosea. He was the son of a man named Beeri and lived in the time when Israel was divided into two kingdoms: Judah, to the south, and Israel, to the north. Hosea preached mainly to the people of the northern kingdom, during the reign of Jeroboam II ( Hosea 1: 1 ).
At the beginning of his ministry, God sent Hosea to marry an unfaithful woman. So he married a woman named Gomer. Their marriage would represent the relationship between God and the people of Israel, who betrayed Him with their idolatry ( Hosea 1: 2-3 ).
When Hosea’s first son was born, God said his name would be Jezreel. Jehu, ancestor of Jeroboam II, had massacred many people in a place called Jezreel to become king of Israel. He and his descendants also rejected God. Therefore, God promised to end Jehu’s lineage and bring a great catastrophe on Israel in Jezreel ( Hosea 1: 4-5 ).
Later, Gomer had a girl, whom God called Lo-Ruama, which means “not loved”. With this, God announced that he would stop treating the nation of Israel with love, forgiving their sins, because people were not repentant ( Hosea 1: 6-7 ).
Gomer had yet another son, whom God called Lo-Ami, which means “not my people”. The people of Israel had rejected Him as their God, so God was going to reject them as His people ( Hosea 1: 8-9 ). But after the punishment, God promised to restore His people and show them love again.
Later, Hosea and Gomer were separated because she was tampering. But God told Hosea to be reconciled to her by treating her with love. By that time, Gomer was working as a slave and / or prostitute. So Hosea bought his wife back ( Hosea 3: 2-3 ). Hosea was ready to forgive Gomer and resume his relationship, if she were now faithful to him!
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Just as Gomer had been unfaithful to Hosea, the people of Israel had betrayed God. They were supposed to worship only God but had turned away from him to worship many false gods. Israel was prostituting herself spiritually. And this idolatry was also leading to moral degradation. The people were committing many terrible sins, because they did not respect the Law of God ( Hosea 4: 1-2 ).
At the time of King Jeroboam II, Israel was living in a time of prosperity. Through Hosea, God warned that this tranquility would not last long. As the nation did not repent, God would turn away from it and let it suffer punishment. Its “lovers” (the pagan peoples and the false gods) would go and enslave and abandon it. The nation would suffer greatly because of its sin ([Hosea 8: 8-10]).
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However, there would come a time when God would offer forgiveness. He would restore his people and bless them ( Hosea 14: 4-6 ). People would repent of their sins and really turn to God. Instead of holding a grudge, God would leave the past behind, because He loves us, just as Hosea loved his wife.