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 3 – Hosea Loves and Forgives Unconditionally
I. God’s instruction to Hosea (1)
II. Hosea redeems Gomer (2-3)
III. The meaning of this allegory (4-5)
I. God’s instruction to Hosea (1)
- Give a short review of the history of Hosea and Gomer’s relationship (from chapter 1).
- Why would God command Hosea to do this?
- What does this verse teach us about God?
- How is Hosea’s love for his adulteress similar to God’s love for Israel?
- Why does God mention the fact that they love “cakes of raisins?”
Romans 1:25 – Because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
Psalm 115:4-8 – Their idols are silver and gold, the work of human hands. They have mouths, but do not speak; eyes, but do not see. They have ears, but do not hear; noses, but do not smell. They have hands, but do not feel; feet, but do not walk; and they do not make a sound in their throat. Those who make them become like them; so do all who trust in them.
Colossians 3:5 – Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.
Romans 5:8 – But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. God commands Hosea to do a difficult task – What is the hardest thing you have ever had to do? It is likely that the answer to that question is not as difficult as what God told Hosea to do. He commanded Hosea to love his wife who had proven unfaithful and was currently with another man. In chapter 1 God told Hosea to marry Gomer, and Hosea knew full well what Gomer was going to become. That was a difficult challenge, but Hosea obeyed. Yet at that time Gomer’s unfaithfulness was a still future event. It was going to happen, but in a way it was theoretical, certainly intangible.
Now it was happening. Gomer had deserted Hosea whom she bore three children for and ran off with another man. Would you be willing to forgive your spouse who did this to you? Many of us would say “yes” right now before it ever happens. The real challenge would be in actually forgiving our spouse if it ever did happen.
Obeying God is not easy. He may ask you to do something you never could have imagined you would be able to do. Forgiving people who have hurt us deeply is one of the most difficult things God asks believers to do.
Corrie Ten Boom is one example. She was the daughter of a watchmaker in Holland. During WWII she and her family hid Jews in their house to protect them from Nazis. She and her sister Betsy were taken as prisoners to Ravensbruck. While there, they were seriously mistreated. Betsy passed away. After the war was over, Corrie was freed. God led her to travel around and talk about forgiveness, trying to bring healing to a broken land.
While in one church sharing about forgiveness, to her horror she saw one of her guards from Ravensbruck in the congregation. Afterwards, he came up to her. He wanted to know if it was really true that she could forgive and that God could forgive. He told her that he was a guard in Ravensbruck (not knowing that she remembered who he was.) Then he reached out his hand and asked for forgiveness.
For Corrie, time seemed to stand still. Her body was paralyzed. The man in front of her had been cruel and evil. Her sister had died. She knew she should forgive. That is what she was teaching people about, but faced with that decision in that moment it was the most difficult thing she could imagine.
Finally, she said a silent prayer asking for help from the Lord. At that moment He helped her. She was able to extend her hand and offer forgiveness, as a warmth and love filled her heart for this guard. Embracing him, she told him that she did forgive him.
Another example is Richard Wurmbrand. He was a Romanian minister serving under the Soviet Union’s occupation of Romania. He was imprisoned and tortured for his faith and commitment to keep sharing the gospel, even with Russian soldiers. His most notable crime was publicly saying that communism and Christianity were not compatible. He was tortured in prison for fourteen years. Voice of the Martyrs was later established by Richard and his wife. You can watch a movie called Tortured for Christ about his life. At the end of the movie it quotes Richard as saying even after enduring so many years of torture by the hand of the Russians he still loved them. And he wanted to see them saved.
Their examples and the life of Hosea show us that forgiveness, while difficult, is possible.
Application: What difficult task has God asked you to do? Is there someone in your life who has hurt you whom you need to forgive? If so, will you go to them this week and tell them that you forgive them?
2. Go again – God told Hosea to “go again.” Here we learn a couple of key lessons about forgiveness.
A. You should take initiative to forgive others and restore relationships. It is tempting for us to wait for the offending party to ask for forgiveness before we forgive them. Many times this is pride rearing its ugly head. In our hearts we may be thinking, “He is the one in the wrong. I will forgive him, but he should come and ask me first.”
The humble in heart will be willing to take initiative to seek restoration. It is not easy to be the first person to speak up after a fight. It is not easy to pick up the phone and call an estranged family member and open the lines of communication again.
It was not easy for Jesus to come out of heaven to this world to show us God’s forgiveness. It was not His responsibility. He was not at fault. Our sin broke the relationship, not His. But He took initiative to “go” from heaven and to “come” to us. He pursued us.
Application: Is there a broken relationship in your family? Is there a grudge in your heart against someone or vice-versa? If so, you need to take the initiative to go to that person and seek restoration.
Matthew 5:23-24 – So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.
B. You may need to do this again and again. God tells Hosea to “go again.” It wasn’t the first time he had to go to her. Forgiveness is not a “once and I am done” proposition. Forgiveness is needed again and again, especially for those you are closest with.
Think about your own family. You are together almost 24/7 for years. For spouses it is decades. Sins start to add up! How many times have you sinned against your spouse? How many times has your spouse sinned against you? I hope you are not really counting! But it is a lot. Harsh words, pride, selfish acts, these add up over time. It might be that you are happy to forgive the first time, the second time, maybe even the third time, but what if your spouse (or another family member) just keeps doing the same sin against you again and again?
Peter had the same question for Jesus.
Matthew 18:21-22 – Then Peter came up and said to him, “Lord, how often will my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? As many as seven times?” Jesus said to him, “I do not say to you seven times, but seventy-seven times.
Peter thought forgiving up to seven times was very benevolent. In Jewish culture rabbis taught that you should forgive two or three times for the same offense. Peter was willing to go far beyond that. But Jesus’ standard was incredible. God wants us to forgive again and again and again without limit.
The story of Hosea shows us that the severity of the sin does not negate our responsibility before God to forgive even more than once.
3. Love as the Lord loves the children of Israel – Hosea’s marriage is a picture of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea was supposed to represent God’s love for Israel in his own undying love for Gomer. And here we see the standard God wants us to follow and that is that we are to love as He loves us. It is the same standard given in the New Testament to husbands who are to model Christ’s love for the church (Ephesians 5:25.)
Application: Do you love your spouse as Christ loves the church? If not, you have room to grow! What is one way you can love your spouse this week?
II. Hosea redeems Gomer (2-3)
- What lessons can we learn from Hosea’s actions here?
- Why would Hosea have to purchase his own wife?
- How is this redemption similar to God’s redemption of us?
- What instruction did Hosea give to Gomer after he redeemed her?
- How is this similar to salvation?
- What lessons can you learn from these verses about forgiveness? About relationships? About marriage? About commitment?
Ephesians 1:7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace.
Titus 2:14 – Who gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.
Colossians 1:20-22 – And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.
1 Timothy 2:6 – Who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. I bought her – John MacArthur suggests that Hosea may have purchased her from a slave auction. Another possibility is that Hosea directly paid the man she was with to give her up back to him. In either case it is a remarkable act of love and a vivid picture of God’s redemption of us.
Gomer already belonged to Hosea. She was his rightful wife. In that culture it is likely he had already paid a dowry to her parents. What would most men think if it was suggested to them that they have to pay for their wife…again?
Most husbands would be outraged. “She left me! I already paid for her once! Why should I have to do it again? She should pay me to take her back! And even then I am not sure if I want to. It is not fair.”
Is it fair? Fairness would be allowing her to remain in her own sin and face the due penalty for it in the consequences that came her way. It is not fair. It is grace. Gomer did nothing to deserve Hosea’s gracious treatment or the price he paid to redeem her. She had proven herself to be unfaithful. But Hosea loved her anyway.
My children sometimes say, “it’s not fair!” And I often tell them what my parents told me, “life isn’t fair.” Thank God that life isn’t fair! If life was fair we would all be on the way to hell. Think about it for a moment. We are all like Gomer. Turning away from God’s love and instruction, we have proven ourselves to be unfaithful many times. We have “played the harlot” like Israel did by pursuing other things besides God.
Jesus could have said, “It isn’t fair. I created them. I gave them everything. I sustained them. And they sinned and rebelled against my good and just rule. Why should I have to pay for them? It’s their sin, not mine. They should have to pay me to take them back again! And even then, I am not sure if I want them.”
But He didn’t say this. In John 10:18 Jesus said, “No one takes it [my life] from me, but I lay it down of my own accord.” He took the initiative to come to us and extend His grace, by laying down His life in order to redeem us. Not fair. Not fair that He faced the punishment and we didn’t. Thank God that He was willing to take the short stick for us.
Application: Next time you are tempted to complain that life isn’t fair instead stop and thank God that it isn’t fair and that He has given you grace upon grace.
2. You must dwell with me…you must not play the whore – Hosea loved and forgave Gomer. But he also expected that Gomer should change her lifestyle and leave her life of sin behind and communicated this to her.
John 8:11 – “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
God is willing to save us and forgive us from any sin we have committed, just like Jesus said to the adulteress. This does not mean that we have license to go back to our former lifestyle of sin. He expects us to change and wants us to “sin no more.”
3. So will I also be to you – Hosea promised faithfulness to his wife. In like manner, God is always faithful to us.
III. The meaning of this allegory (4-5)
- When is the time period when the Israelites would dwell without king, prince, or sacrifices?
- When is the “latter days” when they would return to seek the Lord?
- How is this similar to Hosea and Gomer’s relationship?
- What lessons does this teach you about God?
Isaiah 55:3-4 – Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live; and I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. Behold, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples.
Jeremiah 30:9 – But they shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.
Ezekiel 34:23-24 – And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd. And I, the Lord, will be their God, and my servant David shall be prince among them. I am the Lord; I have spoken.
Verse by Verse Commentary
1. Verse 4 – What does this verse mean? Israel would go through a period of time of shall we call it “political and religious celibacy” before returning to the Lord. During this time they would have no king or prince, signifying their fall as a nation and God’s disfavor. In addition, they would not have sacrifices, ephods, or household gods. For a period of time they would no longer chase after the gods of this world. But were they genuinely saved yet? Not yet. Although they were not pursuing idols, neither would they be sincerely seeking after God.
Verse 5 makes this more clear since it says that only after the events of verse 4 the people of Israel would truly seek after God.
Looking at Israel’s history helps us to understand this verse even more clearly, because it is being fulfilled before our eyes.
For Israel’s history from the time of the Babylonian exile until 1949 they did not have an independent government (except for a short time during the reign of the Maccabees). And even now they do not have a king from David’s line sitting on the throne.
From a religious perspective Israel is not pursuing idols and hasn’t been for a long time. After the Babylonian exile, it was very rare for Jews to worship idols. Perhaps it was their punishment in the foreign land that contributed to this disdain for idol worship.
And yet neither is Israel seeking after the Lord. Jesus was rejected as Messiah and the Jews are in “no man’s land” religiously speaking. They do not follow after idols, but also do not follow after the Lord.
In short, we see verse 4 has already been fulfilled, but verse 5 has not been fulfilled yet.
So how does the story of Hosea and Gomer compare to this? It is not immediately evident by reading verse 3 in isolation, but it appears that when Hosea invited Gomer back to live with him she had to abstain from sexual relations with him for a period of time. And only after that period of time passed would they truly be united as husband and wife. It makes sense that Hosea would ask this of Gomer. It would be awkward to immediately have relations with her right after she was with another man so establishing a time gap to repent and purify herself would seem appropriate.
2. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord – It will take them awhile, but eventually the Jews will fully return to the Lord. What an exciting day that will be! This hasn’t happened yet and will be finally fulfilled during the millennial rein of Christ.
3. David their king – Probably this means that the line of David will be restored to the throne with the Messiah (the descendant of David) reigning as king. With the Messiah reigning the kingdom of Israel would be restored once again in the Davidic covenant. Verse 5 should be contrasted here with verse 4 which talks about Israel having no king for a period of time. In the millennial reign they will once again.
Application: What is one way you are going to obey what you have learned in this chapter in the coming week?
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