HOSEA - PROPHET OF A BROKEN HEART AND HOME
Hosea (755-714 BC) was called to "weep" and suffer for Israel, just as Jeremiah was for Judah. The prophecy is timed to the conditions in Israel immediately proceeding the fall of Samaria. Israel is warned about the terrible savagery of the Assyrians (13:16). Amos cried out the righteousness of God; Hosea wept out the mercy of God. Hosea's prophecy deals mainly with Israel, but with an occasional reference to Judah. Hosea pours out his hear in short, sharp sentences, his broken home giving him ample illustration to convey the truths that were heavy on his heart.
Hosea's wife proved unfaithful. The children were a source of sorrow. Each step of the tragedy in his homelife is related to the tragedy in his homeland, for Gomer represented Israel, her children represented the people of the nation. Hosea's patience and pleading with his wife, who broke his heart, is like a parable of God's love and longing for Israel. When she forsook him to play the harlot, his love followed her, and at last found her dishonored and deserted and, it would seem, in slavery. He purchased her (3) but refused to restore her fully until a time of chastening had passed. The whole sad story of domestic tragedy and heartache taught Hosea that Israel's sins were as adultery and harlotry in the sight of God.
Hosea set himself to the sad task of translating all this into a passionate plea and warning to Israel. The sins of the nation were many: killing, lying, stealing, swearing, drunkenness, backsliding, adultery, idolatry, treachery, insincerity, pride, forgetfulness, craft, love of sin, ingratitude, oppression, covetousness, highway robbery, and anarchy. All of these are reflected in the pages of Hosea. The pagan priests aided and abetted murder (6:9) and the government was unstable: one faction wanted to compromise with Assyria, the other insisted on an alliance with Egypt (7:11).
Hosea's pleadings were unheeded. Israel had sown the wind and would reap the whirlwind (8:7). Throughout the book can be heard, as it were, the rumble of the gathering storm. But, the theme that God is love is ever present. Hosea tells us that sin hurts God; it not only breaks His laws but it breaks His heart. If the people would only repent, He says, "I will heal their backsliding, and will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away" (14:4). Thus we find that there is a promise of salvation glowing in the ever-darkening sky.
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