Join us as we study through Hosea verse by verse. Our discussion questions, teaching points, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Hosea Chapter 1 Free Online Bible Study Notes and Discussion Questions
I. The Word of the Lord to Hosea (1)
II. Hosea is commanded to marry a “wife of whoredom” (2-3)
III. Hosea and Gomer have children named by God (4-11)
I. The Word of the Lord to Hosea (1)
- Why is it important that the book starts with the phrase, “The word of the Lord?”
- When did the events of this book occur?
- What was going on in Judah and Israel at the time?
1. The word of the Lord – A number of prophets begin their books with this phrase (Joel, Micah, Zephaniah, Zechariah, Malachi.) It is a reminder that the message is from God. It is authoritative and trustworthy. The opinions inside are not man’s, but are God’s.
2. In the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, King of Israel. His ministry would have been from roughly 760-710 BC (Judah was conquered by Babylon in 587 BC.)
Jeroboam son of Joash – Jeroboam was a contemporary of Uzziah. He was the thirteenth king of Israel and reigned for forty-one years. Jeroboam was successful militarily in expanding the borders of Israel, but like all of his fathers before him, he was wicked and rebellious toward the Lord.
Uzziah – He reigned for 52 years. It is likely that Hosea’s ministry started at the tail end of his reign. Uzziah became king at 16 years old. His name means “Jehovah is strength.” Uzziah started off as a godly king and enjoyed much success. Finally he became prideful and offered incense against the law in the temple, at which point he became struck with leprosy.
Jotham – He reigned for 16 years. Jotham was acknowledged as a good king (2 Chronicles 27). He followed the Lord faithfully, also learning from his father’s sin and therefore he did not go into the temple. But during his reign the people acted wickedly.
Ahaz – Ahaz was 20 when he became king. He reigned for 16 years. Ahaz was an evil king (2 Kings 16:2.) He engaged in idol worship and committed sacrilege agains the temple. During the time of Ahaz Judah was attacked by Israel, and though it was not conquered the war was very costly and more than 100,000 soldiers were killed.
Hezekiah – He reigned for 29 years. Hezekiah was the best King of Judah. He whole-heartedly followed the Lord (2 Kings 18:3). During his reign their were many challenges, including multiple attacks by Assyria, but God delivered them. Hosea became sick, but after praying was granted 15 extra years of life. It was during that time that he showed off to Babylon and the seed was planted in that empire to come fight against Judah. Also, Hezekiah was followed by the most wicked king of all, his son King Manasseh.
II. Hosea is commanded to marry a “wife of whoredom” (2-3)
- Why would God command Hosea to take a “wife of whoredom?”
- How can we interpret this command in light of the fact that God is holy?
- What possible “solutions” are there to this interpretative dilemma?
- How was Hosea’s marriage going to be used to teach the people?
- Since his marriage was a picture of God’s relationship with Israel, who does Hosea represent?
- Who does Gomer represent?
- What lessons does this surprising command teach us about God? About people?
Deuteronomy 23:17-18 – None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.
Leviticus 21:14 – A widow, or a divorced woman, or a woman who has been defiled, or a prostitute, these he shall not marry. But he shall take as his wife a virgin of his own people
Proverbs 6:24-26 – To preserve you from the evil woman, from the smooth tongue of the adulteress. Do not desire her beauty in your heart, and do not let her capture you with her eyelashes; for the price of a prostitute is only a loaf of bread, but a married woman hunts down a precious life.
1. Take to yourself a wife of whoredom – Here is a phrase you will not often see. God commanded Hosea to marry a “wife of whoredom.” This phrase does not identify Gomer as a prostitute, but does highlight her unfaithfulness. If Gomer was already unfaithful at the time of the original marriage to Hosea, it would be more difficult to reconcile the moral implications of God commanding him to marry her. More likely, Gomer was faithful at first, and only later abandoned Hosea and demonstrated unfaithfulness.
Gomer would act as an allegory demonstrating the Israelite’s unfaithulness as a nation against God. And Hosea represents God’s faithfulness and steadfast love. God looked forward in time and knew how many times Israel would rebel against Him, and yet still called them out of Egypt, extended the Mosaic covenant to them, and finally led them into the Promised Land. In a similar way, Hosea looked forward in time and knew that Gomer would betray him. Yet just like God, he still acted in love and fulfilled his own covenant obligations to Gomer.
Throughout the book we will see that God uses this relationship as a visible picture of his relationship to the nation of Israel. To properly illustrate this symbol, the prophet Hosea must act with love and commitment even when he knew what Gomer would become. Hosea must have unconditional love like God did or the object lesson would fail. And we will see that Hosea does just that.
Application: For the men, how would you as a single guy have felt if God had given such an instruction to you? What lessons do you learn from Hosea’s willingness to obey God in this?
2. We can see ourselves in this story – Although the story of Hosea and Gomer is a picture of God and Israel, it is also similar with God and us. Do you see yourself as Gomer or Hosea in this story? Actually we can see ourselves in both:
Gomer – Like Gomer, we are undeserving of God’s love. We have proven ourselves to be unfaithful again and again. Even after salvation, we knowingly sin and break God’s law. Though His love is perfect, we still are from time to time enticed by the sins of the world. He took the initiative to love us first (1 John 4:19). And He still loves us and forgives us no matter how many times we disappoint him. When we think of the story in this way, we are reminded of God’s faithfulness and hopefully grow more thankful to Him.
Hosea – God calls us to love and forgive others, even though they don’t deserve it (Ephesians 4:32). Your friends, family, and spouse will let you down. Perhaps they will not betray you to the level Gomer did to Hosea, but they will sin against you. You will be tempted to react in the same manner. But God calls us to be holy as He is holy. He wants every believer to show the same love, commitment, grace, and forgiveness toward others that He did toward Israel. God is our ultimate standard. And Hosea admirably gave us a model of a how a person who is committed to obeying God can, by His grace, do the same thing.
Application: We should be thankful for God’s love and forgiveness. And in turn, we should be motivated to show the same love and forgiveness to others. Is there someone who has sinned against you and hurt you whom you need to forgive? Are you willing to approach them this week and say those most difficult words, “I forgive you?”
III. Hosea and Gomer have children named by God (4-11)
- What was the significance of Hosea’s children’s names?
- Who chose his children’s names?
- What does even this fact teach us about the role of parents as stewards of their children?
- How might you have reacted if God commanded you to name your children these names?
- What are some challenging things you have to face as a parent who is raising children to serve God?
- Why should he name his first child “Jezreel?”
- Why should he name his second child “No mercy?”
- Why should he name his third child, “Not My People?”
- What do we learn in these verses about the Jews relationship with God at this point in history?
- What important promise is seen in verses 10-11?
Zechariah 10:9 – Though I scatter them among the peoples, yet in distant lands they will remember me. They and their children will survive, and they will return.
2 Kings 9:7-8 – You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free.
2 Kings 10:11 – So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining.
2 Kings 10:29-31 – However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. And the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin.
1. The Lord chose the name of Hosea’s children – From this, we are reminded that our children belong to God.
Psalm 127:3-5 – Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord, the fruit of the womb a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them!”
Psalm 119:13, 16 – For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. . . . All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.
Children are entrusted to their parents’ care. Their parent’s job is to raise them as good stewards, to train them in the way of the Lord. When they grow up, the parents then shoot them as arrows, launching them to be used for God’s glory how He sees fit.
The example of Hannah is an inspiring one. Before Samuel was born, she dedicated him to the Lord. As soon as he was weaned, she took him to the temple to begin serving the Lord. Though she saw him every year, she recognized that Samuel belonged to God and treated him as such. God is not calling us to send our kids away at a young age like she did, but we must approach our children with the same mentality.
Sometimes God may also ask us to do something uncomfortable with our kids. Hosea had to give his children very weird names. Imagine naming your child “No Mercy” or “Not My People!” But Hosea was obedient. Even before his children were born he obeyed God’s will for His children, namely that they be used as object lessons to teach the country fundamental principles about God’s relationship to them.
God enabled Gomer to conceive and have children at a specific time for a specific reason. Hosea acted as a good steward of his children by obeying God’s instructions for them, no matter how strange.
Application: You cannot hold on to your children forever. They should not be viewed as an investment to provide for you in your old age. Neither should they be viewed as a proxy so that you can live out your dreams through them. In some aspect, they are a resource, your very greatest resource to use for God’s glory. Name 1-2 specific ways you can dedicate your children to God.
2. I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel – Jehu was commanded by God to strike down and kill all of Ahab’s house (2 Kings 9:7-8). And indeed he was commended by the Lord for doing that (2 Kings 10:30). Yet here in Hosea 1:4, God says that He is going to punish Jehu’s house for the “blood of Jezreel.” So was Jehu going to be punished for obeying the command of the Lord?
There are three interpretations I can think of:
A. Jehu’s house was going to be punished because he went too far in his bloodthirstiness. He not only killed Ahab’s family, but he also killed many others connected to Ahab including friends and priests, in addition to King Ahaziah of Judah. There is no reference that God commanded him to kill so many people. Therefore it could be that Hosea 1:4 condemns Jehu for his excessive violence in going too far.
B. Jehu was condemned because he had the wrong motivation. Though he may have gone too far, he did carry out the instruction of the Lord. But God also looks at our heart. And in 2 Kings 10:31 we get a glimpse into Jehu’s heart and it is not pretty. He did not truly follow God from his heart. A correct action can be sin when we do it with the wrong motivation.
C. God may have decided to punish the house of Jehu because he walked in the same sins as those whom he destroyed at Jezreel. Jehu carried out God’s sentence against idol worshipers, but then he too led Israel into idolatry. Jehu should have known better. After all, he received a message directly from God about how He was displeased with Ahab’s house. but then he went away and did the same thing. Therefore his house would suffer the same fate.
3. No Mercy – This is not a name you see everyday! The name of Hosea’s daughter was a visible reminder of a prophetic declaration that God would have no more mercy on the house of Israel. They had been warned over and over again about their idolatry and refused to listen. When you look at the Israelite kings you will notice that not one of them was a good king who followed the Lord. The nation continued rebelling against God for its entire existence from 930-720 B.C. The nation would be defeated by the Assyrian Empire, reaping what they sowed for their idolatry.
Application: God’s patience and mercy have limits.
Exodus 34:6 – Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth.
God is slow to anger, but that does not mean he never gets angry. He gives many opportunities to repent, but if they are not taken, then finally judgment will come.
Though God would not save Israel from destruction, He always promised to preserve a remnant and the nation of Judah would be saved. Their deliverance would not come from strength of arms, but through God’s divine intervention. (2 Kings 19).
4. Not My People – God declared that the nation of Israel as not His people anymore. Just as they had chosen to reject Him so He would choose to reject them. This rejection was not complete in the sense that all of them would have no part of God’s blessings. Even in the midst of this declaration God promised to preserve a remnant. The remnant would not only be made up of the people of Judah, but also the children of Israel. Eventually the nation of Israel will be gathered together and restored to blessing and finally have a relationship with God as His people. During the millennium, this prophesy will be ultimately fulfilled after Israel as a nation embraces Jesus as the Messiah. The “one head” in verse 11 is Jesus the Messiah.
Application: What does this promise teach us about God? How should you respond to God’s faithfulness?
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