Hosea’s book foretells a gathering of Israel following the scattering, and we look forward to the fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy when the Lord shall say, “Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God” (Hosea 2:23).
“The Imagery of Hosea’s Family and the Restoration of Israel,” Aaron Schade, in The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, The 38th Annual BYU Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009).
Hosea 1–2 uses imagery to describe the Lord’s covenant with Israel, relating Israel’s covenant to that of the patriarch Abraham; the text unfolds several phases of the covenant relationship between God and his people with past and future generations. While Hosea’s message carries with it proclamations of destruction and hardship, it also includes words of hope and reconciliation for Israel and its descendants.
“‘How Excellent is Thy Lovingkindness’: The Gospel Principle of Hesed,” Dan Belnap, in The Gospel of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament, The 38th Annual BYU Sidney B. Sperry Symposium (Provo, UT: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, 2009).
Understanding hesed (mercy, lovingkindness, faithfulness) as action, as having the right motive, and as part of a covenant with God helps us understand God in the Old Testament a little more.
Hosea uses the term: “For I desired hesed (mercy), and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings” (6:6). In other words, the intent, the mental state one is in, is as much a characteristic of hesed as the act itself.
“Symbolic Action as Prophecy in the Old Testament,” Donald W. Parry, in Sperry Symposium Classics: The Old Testament, ed. Paul Y. Hoskisson (Provo and Salt Lake City: Religious Studies Center, Brigham Young University, and Deseret Book 2005), 337–355.
Hosea and his wife represented Jehovah and unfaithful Israel respectively (see Hosea 1; 3:1–5):
Source: Hosea 1:2–11
Revelation formula: “The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea” (Hosea 1:2)
Object or person used as a symbol: Hosea and Gomer, his wife of whoredoms, and their children
Symbolic action: Hosea marries Gomer, and they have three children
Prophecy: A prophecy that Israel (Jehovah’s wife) will commit whoredoms by departing from Jehovah (Hosea) and chasing after false deities (spiritual adultery). The children represent different aspects of the Lord’s relationship with Israel.
Source: Hosea 3
Revelation formula: “Then said the Lord unto me” (Hosea 3:1)
Object or person used as a symbol: Hosea and Gomer
Symbolic action: Hosea is once more commanded to demonstrate love to his wife, the adulteress
Prophecy: As Hosea once more shows love for his wife, so the Lord will once more show love to Israel.
“The Ministry of Hosea: A Call to Faithfulness (Hosea),” Old Testament Student Manual Kings–Malachi (1982), 103–10.
During the time of Hosea, the Israelites were influenced heavily by the worship and ways of the Canaanites. The sophistication of the city–based Canaanite farmers who surrounded them, the fertility of their flocks and fields (apparently elicited from the gods and goddesses of fertility) attracted the Israelite farmers. The rites by which the people supplicated the gods of fertility were lewd, licentious, and immoral. Even though Israel had covenanted at Sinai to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation unto God, by the time of Hosea, God’s people had become deeply involved in the practices of their neighbors, whose way of life should have repelled them.
Using the imagery of a marriage, the Lord, through Hosea, taught His people that though they had been unfaithful to Him, ye He would still not divorce them (cast them off) if they would but turn back to Him.