Hosea’s moving story is addressed to both the northern and southern kingdom, as far as I can see. They are all God’s people, and God addresses them through this prophet. It’s also God’s word to us as well. Paul writes in Romans 15:4, “ For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.” The offer of forgiveness and restoration seen in Hosea and the Gospel of Jesus Christ is the hope of the world. The opening verse of Hosea is “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, 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.” The “word” Hosea heard from God and passed on is what Jesus, the living Word, came to demonstrate to us. Romans 5:8 says, “God demonstrates his love for us in the, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Hosea brings the message of God’s love to His people, even while they remain rebellious!

Hosea’s ministry took place during the reigns of four kings of the southern kingdom of Judah. Jeroboam II, son of Joash, was reigning as king in the northern kingdom of Israel. It seems to have been a long ministry, “perhaps fifty or sixty years, but we are told nothing about Hosea’s life during those years save the poignant story with which the prophecy begins.”[1] The strange thing is that during the reigns of the four kings of the south that are mentioned, there were six other kings that reigned in the north besides Jeroboam II. Checking the list, you’ll see that Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea all reigned in the north during those times. Garrett suggests two explanations for this, “The reason appears to be twofold. First, he regarded Jeroboam II as the last king of Israel with any shred of legitimacy. Those after him were a pack of assassins and ambitious climbers with no right to the title ‘king.’ Second, he hoped for better things from Judah.”[2] He will be disappointed. Others endorse this explanation, “The failure to mention any of Jeroboam II’s successors may indicate something of the conflicting claims for legitimacy of rule in the turbulent closing years of the northern kingdom.”[3]

God sent Hosea to tell all the people that God’s promises will always be fulfilled. God’s steadfast love for us will not falter no matter how unfaithful we are. The picture of the long-suffering husband of the unfaithful wife that we encounter in the book of Hosea shows us in the explicit metaphor of marriage the themes of sin, breaking the covenant, judgment, repentance, and forgiveness.  One web page says this, “Embedded within the book of Hosea, then, is a powerful and ever-relevant reminder for God’s people around the world and down through time. God has bound himself to his people in the most personal, self-giving way possible. He is theirs; they are his. He and they belong to one another. They have committed themselves to one another.”[4]

[1] Boice, James Montgomery. 2002. The Minor Prophets: An Expositional Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

[2] Garrett, Duane A. 1997. Hosea, Joel. Vol. 19A. The New American Commentary. Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[3] Patterson, Richard D., and Andrew E. Hill. 2008. Cornerstone Biblical Commentary, Vol 10: Minor Prophets, Hosea–Malachi. Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.

[4] https://www.esv.org/resources/esv-global-study-bible/global-message-of-hosea/