Join us as we study through Hosea verse by verse. Our discussion questions, verse by verse commentary, and applications can help you or your small group get the most out of this book as you grow in understanding and obedience.
Inductive Bible Study on Hosea 2 With Applications and Discussion Questions
I. Israel’s unfaithfulness exposed and punished (1-13)
II. God will be merciful to Israel again (14-23)
I. Israel’s unfaithfulness exposed and punished (1-13)
- Who is supposed to say these things (1)?
- Who is he to say them to (1)?
- Who does the pronoun “your” refer to (2)? How about “I”? How about “mother?” And “my wife?” Spend a moment to re-write verse 2 substituting proper names or specific people/groups for the pronouns in that verse.
- What is the main point of this passage in verses 1-13?
- What was Israel guilty of?
- Who are her “lovers” in verse 5?
- Why should she not be able to find her lovers in verse 7?
- What do you learn about God and Baal in verse 8?
- How was God going to deal with them because of their sin? List out specific punishments which the text mentions.
- Why would God do these things?
- What does this passage teach us about God? Is He jealous? What would you say to someone who says, “jealousy is wrong and therefore it is wrong for God to be jealous?”
Luke 6:36 – Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Matthew 5:7 – Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
Hebrews 13:4 – Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous.
Proverbs 6:32 – He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. God both gives mercy and doesn’t give mercy (1:6, 8, 2:1, 4, 19, 23) – When we read through these chapters, an apparent contradiction shows up. In some verses, God says that He will no more show mercy on Israel. In others, He promises to be merciful again. How can we understand these seeming different messages?
The answer is that two different time periods are being discussed. In the short term, God’s patience had already reached its limit. The people had repeatedly rebelled against the Lord and turned to idols. So He made up His mind that He was going to punish them. These sins that they had committed would be judged. This sentence of coming doom was sure. The people of Israel would be conquered by the Assyrians. God was not going to save them this time.
Habakkuk 3:2 – O Lord, I have heard the report of you,
and your work, O Lord, do I fear.
In the midst of the years revive it;
in the midst of the years make it known;
in wrath remember mercy.
And yet we remember scriptures like the one above. “In wrath remember mercy.” God would judge Israel, but it would not be a final forever separation from God and His blessings. After the short term judgment was delivered without mercy, God would once again show favor on His people and restore them to Himself finally.
From this we see again two important aspects of His nature, His justice and His mercy. These are always perfectly balanced. For believers, we also know that though God may discipline us for a time, He is always willing and ready to forgive if we will repent and come to Him.
Application: As God always remembers mercy in the midst of judgment, so should we. Parents who need to discipline their kids should follow God’s example by viewing restoration and repentance as the final goal.
2. The imagery of the relationship between God and Israel is like a marriage – Throughout this chapter and the book we see that God compares His relationship to Israel as to a marriage covenant. Hosea and Gomer serve as a vivid picture of how this relationship played out. By describing His relationship as a marriage God brings to life the betrayal He experienced at the hands of Israel. As people we can easily imagine how much it would hurt to be married to an unfaithful spouse.
The description of the marriage in this chapter likely is not meant to specifically describer Hosea and Gomer, but their story nonetheless drives the points home.
3. Verse 2 –
Your = Individual Israelites
Mother = Israel as a nation
She = Israel as a nation
My = God
I = God
Plead with your mother –
In this verse God instructs individual Israelites to plead with the nation to repent. One might say, “What can I do? I am only one person?” But revival starts with one person. If individuals would stand uncompromising and refuse to follow a crowd to do evil, they could start to change the nation little by little. Nations are composed of individuals and they fall off the moral cliff when masses of individuals go astray together like a flock of sheep.
Application: You can stand up to the crowds. You can shine a light and show people what it means to follow a higher standard, God’s standard. You can plead with your friends and family to follow the Lord. You can make a difference for God one life at a time. Perhaps it will not lead to revival on a national scale. But perhaps it will.
She is not my wife and I am not her husband – Israel as a nation had rejected marriage to God. It was as if they divorced Him in their lust for other lovers (idols.) The relationship was broken, not because God broke it or left her, but because Israel turned away from the Lord.
4. The intentional sin of the Israelite nation (5) –
She said “I will go after my lovers.” In this verse we see the hard heart of Israel as she intentionally and willfully make a decision to go after other gods. It was not just a “heat of the moment” mistake. The two choices were weighed and they consciously decided to abandon God in favor of false gods.
Let’s bring this illustration back to marriage for a moment. It is as if a married person tells his spouse “I am going to go commit adultery.” It is a very blatant, callous sin. Adultery under any circumstances is wrong. Sometimes it happens because of a mistake, a lax standard, a moment of indiscretion. Israel’s sin did not fall into that category. It was brazen and planned.
5. God will cause Israel to return again to Himself (6-7) – As a faithful and committed husband, God would not let Israel go easily. He sought to block her way with “thorns” and a “wall.” He would prevent her from finding her lovers (false gods). This could mean that they would finally realize the promises those false gods make are empty. Israel would chase after them, but find nothing. The deaf and mute idols could not satisfy her or provide for her. Like false teachers in the New Testament period, all they can give is “springs without water” and “mists without rain.” (2 Peter 2:17)
God would bring about obstacles to Israel’s success and cause failure. Eventually she would realize that these false gods could not genuinely help her and come back to the Lord. This will finally be realized just before the second coming of Christ and the millennial reign.
Application: We should be thankful that we have a God who cares enough to fight for us. He is a jealous God. Jealousy is sin when it is misplaced, when we are protecting our rights to something that doesn’t belong to us. But a husband whose wife is with another man should be jealous! If he is not jealous, there is something the matter with him. That would be a terrible sin of apathy and would demonstrate a gross lack of love. In similar manner, God is jealous for Israel and He is jealous for us. When we pursue anything but God He is jealous. He wants our full attention and our full devotion. And it is good for us to have a God who loves us that much.
If you are married, how can you fight for your spouse? If you are not married, what kind of area can you practice “righteous jealousy?”
6. All the good gifts Israel received were unknowingly from God (8) – Verse eight is a powerful reminder of God’s love. Imagine again the story of Hosea and Gomer. Gomer leaves her faithful husband to live with her lover. But her lover didn’t actually provide for her. Supplies would show up in the kitchen. Grain. Wine. Oil. Gifts would show up on her bedside stand. Gold. Silver. Jewelry. But they weren’t actually from her lover at all. Hosea knew where she lived. And he would make regular trips and secretly drop supplies and gifts off for her. Instead of thanking Hosea, the giver of the gifts, she would use these to ingratiate herself with her lover, who in turn would do nothing for her.
Although this verse likely does describe something that Hosea actually did, thinking of it from that angle helps us to more deeply understand what God is saying here.
Even when Israel was unfaithful, God was faithful. He continued to give gifts from above (James 1:17) even when Israel was chasing after false gods. Israel in turn took these gifts, which she received from the Lord, and sacrificed them to Baal. People are terribly unfaithful and undeserving of God’s love and yet He still loves us.
Application: Who is someone you can show love to this week, even though they may not deserve it? What will you do for them to show your unconditional love?
7. God will punish Israel for its idolatry (9-13)
In verses 9-13 we see that God has come to a decision. Israel has spurned His many blessings, His gifts, His love. So He was going to punish her. How specifically would He do this?
- He would take back the gifts (9)
- He would uncover her unfaithfulness (10)
- He will put an end to her festivals (11)
- He would destroy her farms and land (12)
- He would punish her (13)
Since we are to follow God’s example, if you had an unfaithful spouse should you also finally decide to act toward her in like manner?
Although we should imitate God, this does not apply in every case. God performs many different roles. He is not only husband. He is also judge. “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay.” (Romans 12:19) But we can learn a lesson here nonetheless. The goal of these actions is finally restoration. God did these things not because He hated Israel or even because He wanted to permanently end the relationship. He did them in order to drive her back to Himself.
A believer should never willingly divorce his spouse, but instead should always seek final restoration (Matthew 18:21-22). Sometimes the spouse will choose to divorce and there is nothing you can do about it, but the believer should strive to mend the relationship (Romans 12:18). And sometimes it could be dangerous to be together (as in cases of domestic abuse), but the believer should from a safe location pray for and work toward eventual restoration. God did not abandon Israel even when she rebelled against Him repeatedly for centuries. Time and time again she stabbed the knife in the back of her White Knight. And yet He still kept coming to save her. You should do the same for your spouse. God calls us to love others unconditionally.
II. God will be merciful to Israel again (14-23)
- What is the main point of this passage in verses 14-23?
- How will He treat Israel in this passage? List out specific examples in the text.
- How can we reconcile the first part of the chapter (that God is going to punish Israel) with the second part of the chapter (that He is going to show mercy to Israel)?
- How does the figurative language about husband and wife help you to understand the relationship between God and Israel?
- How is their relationship like a marriage? How is this similar to the church’s relationship with Christ?
- When is “that day” (16, 21)?
- What will happen then?
- How does this passage remind you of the relationship you have with God?
- We see in this passage that idols ensnared the Israelites. What are some things which may ensnare us today?
- How can you keep faithful in your marriage?
- How can you keep faithful in your relationship to Christ?
Jeremiah 31:31-34 – “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
Hebrews 8:6 – But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises.
Hebrews 9:15 – Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Verses 14-15 – In case it wasn’t clear before, these verses make it crystal clear that this chapter is about God’s relationship to Israel. Verse 15 says when “she came out of Egypt.” This is a clear reference to Israel during the time of the Exodus.
God is once again going to show mercy and “woo” Israel back to Himself. He says, “I will allure her” and “speak tenderly to her.” It should not be necessary for God Almighty to have to win back what is already His. In this we can see that He really desires to have a relationship with Israel. He wants to call her His people. And in this we see the depth of God’s mercy. As the infinite Creator of the universe, He exists to eternity past. God most certainly does not need people. But He still pursues us. God is the one who takes initiative at every point in the relationship.
1 John 4:19, “We love because He first loved us.”
2. In that day (16) – The day of the final restoration will be just before the Second Coming during the time of the seven year tribulation when Israel as a nation finally accepts Jesus as the Messiah.
3. You will call me “My Husband” (16) – This verse contrasts with verse 2 where Israel said, “You are not my husband.” The nation will come full circle in repentance. That is what repentance is. It is a one hundred eighty degree change of direction. They will reject Baal and false gods to such an extent that they won’t even remember the names of those whom they worshiped. Releasing the false gods, they will hold on to Yahweh and never let go.
4. I will make a covenant with them in that day –
The reference is to the millennium. Some of the curses given in the Garden of Eden will be pealed back. People’s fundamental relationship to the world, nature, and other people will change. It will be a time of peace. There will be peace between people as God will abolish war. There will be peace between people and nature as even fierce animals will become tame (see verse below.) And there will be peace between God and Israel, whom He will betroth to Himself.
Isaiah 65:25 – The wolf and the lamb shall graze together; the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt or destroy in all my holy mountain,” says the Lord.
5. I will betroth you (19-20) – God repeats this phrase three times. He will betroth Israel to Himself in “righteousness and justice,” “love and mercy,” and “faithfulness.” And He will betroth Himself to them “forever.” Forever denotes that all of the ups and down of Israel’s spiritual life will be gone. No more will they abandon God and run after idols. The cycle of disobedience to God saving to disobedience will be broken and they will finally be faithful and steadfast.
In the past Israel completely failed to accurately depict what a good marriage should look like, instead serving as a heinous illustration of a an adulterous woman. The still future betrothal will be permanent and sweet.
Application: For the Jews this will be an awesome day. For those of you who are not Jews, why is this important for you?
6. I will answer (21-23) – In these verses is a beautiful picture which shows the harmonious interconnection in the world and ultimately God answering His creation. The imagery depicts first Jezreel (representing Israel) crying out to the crops of the field in her need for provision. These in turn cry out to the earth for nutrition. The earth then turns to heavens asking for rain. And the heavens ask help from Yahweh. He is the source of all life and goodness. And He will answer this appeal sending the rain and providing for His people through nature.
On this interesting Scripture William Macdonald says, “In that day, Jezreel (Israel) will no longer mean scattered but sown. The people will be sown in their own land; heaven and earth will join in blessing them and making them fruitful.”
It is a vivid picture of a restored relationship. But it is not only a restored relationship because God and His covenant people. It depicts a restored relationship between even the earth, the crops, heaven, and people. Creation was not originally designed as we see it now. Originally people served as stewards of a cooperative creation, which provided abundantly and easily. But after the fall the world was cursed and man had to work hard for what he got. It was almost as if creation was unwilling to yield to man and had to be forced.
Genesis 3:17-19 – Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face you will eat bread, till you return to the ground, because from it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.
Application: Although this is addressed specifically to Israel, believers in Christ will all be there. What a glorious future we have to look forward to!
7. I will say ‘You are My people’ and they will say ‘You are my God.” – It will be a truly exciting day to see Israel finally restored to the Lord! In chapter one Hosea was commanded to name his child, “Not My People” as a visible reminder that the people of Israel were broken off their relationship to God and and living in rebellion. But one day the child will be renamed “My People” and will respond in affirmation.
Application: As a Gentile, how does this passage apply to you? How has your view of God deepened as a result of what we have learned? Do you view yourself any differently after having seen the depth of betrayal of Gomer and Israel?
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