Hosea 1:1 (KJV) The word of the LORD that came unto 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 of the Lord – Hosea’s message carried God’s authority. These were not his own words or opinions, but God’s words (2 Peter 1:21).
Hosea, the son of Beeri – Very little is known of Hosea or Beeri outside the scope of this book.
in the days of… – This identifies the time period in which Hosea preached. It is not precisely known why kings of Judah are listed because Hosea preached to the northern kingdom of Israel. They are perhaps listed because after the death of Jeroboam II in the North, there were some periods of anarchy or uncertainty in the ruler-ship of Israel.
From a strictly secular viewpoint, this was a time of unprecedented success financially and militarily. Spiritually, however, it was a time of desperate poverty (cf. Amos 6:1-8, Amos prophesied to the northern Kingdom close to the same time period as Hosea).
Hosea’s Marriage to and Children by Gomer, vv. 2-9
Hosea 1:2 (KJV) The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
take unto thee a wife of whoredoms – Some have speculated that Hosea did not actually marry a wife who was a prostitute, but rather he is speaking allegorically. This simply is not the case and it is clear from a plain reading of the text that Hosea actually married Gomer who was a harlot.
for the land hath committed great whoredom – The purpose of this command is that Hosea’s home life would serve as an illustration of the controversy God has with His people. Every time an Israelite saw Gomer’s unfaithfulness and Hosea’s love for her, he saw a picture of his own spiritual unfaithfulness and God’s love for him in spite of it. Unfaithfulness and idolatry are often described using the metaphor whoredom, harlotry and adultery (Deut. 31:16, 2 Chron. 21:13, Jer. 3:1-2).
Hosea 1:3-5 (KJV) So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. (4) And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. (5) And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
So he went and took Gomer – Hosea is an example of the importance of obedience (Matt. 7:21, Lk. 6:46). This must have been a difficult command for him to obey. A future of heartache lay ahead of him.
Call his name Jezreel – Jezreel literal means “to scatter”, it is a word that describes how a farmer would scatter seed upon his land.The Lord leaves no question as to why he is named thus.
1. God is going to avenge the blood spilled by Jehu. King Jehu was commanded by God to wipe out those remaining of the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:6-9, 10:11), however, he was bloodthirsty and went far beyond the scope of God’s command. He also did nothing to stem the tide of idolatry and unfaithfulness (2 Kings 10:31).
2. The Assyrian policy of conquering and resettlement resulted in the nation literally being “scattered” throughout other lands and foreigners then being “scattered” into the area formerly occupied by the northern kingdom.
3. Israel will cease because of their rebellion against God. God is going to “break the bow” of Israel in “that day” (722 BC, 2 Kings 17:20-23). The bow is the strength behind the arrow. It does not matter how many arrows one has, if he has no bow, he is defenseless. So it will be with Israel. They may have a mighty army, but it will be to no avail. They will have no strength.
Hosea 1:6 (KJV) And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
Loruhamah – Her name literally means “no mercy”. Ordinarily the birth of a child would be a joyous occasion, but one can imagine Hosea’s sadness upon naming his children. Her name was a constant reminder of God’s judgment on the horizon.
Hosea 1:7 (KJV) But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
I will have mercy upon the house of Judah – Judah will not be taken by the Assyrians as was Israel. God will save them, but it will not be by their own might or military prowess. In one night, an angel slew 185,000 Assyrians and sent Sennacherib back to Nineveh with his tail between his legs (Isa. 37:36-37)
Hosea 1:8-9 (KJV) Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. (9) Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Loammi – It seems clear that this son was not sired by Hosea but rather one of Gomer’s lovers (cf. 2:4-5). Here again, consider the heartache Hosea is having to endure. Israel will no longer be God’s children because of their wickedness. They have broken the covenant with God and therefore will no longer enjoy the covenant relationship with Him.
This has to be one of the saddest verses in the Old Testament. (Petrillo)
Israel’s Future Restoration, vv. 10-11
Verses 10-11 point to the New Testament church under the reign of Jesus Christ the Messiah. The New Testament refers to Christians as the true Israel of God (Rom. 2:28-29, 9:6-26).
Hosea 1:10 (KJV) Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
shall be as the sand of the sea – God’s Kingdom has no earthly boundaries. His children are and have been from every place on earth and from every walk of life. They are truly like the sands of the sea when one considers those who have passed from this life into the next and those yet still alive on earth, they truly are as the sands of the sea.
Ye are the sons of the living God – Paul and Peter quote this very passage and apply it to NT Christians (Rom. 9:24-26, 1 Peter 2:10) who truly are sons of the living God (John 1:12, Rom. 8:14-17, Gal. 4:6-7, 1 Jno. 3:1-2).
Hosea 1:11 (KJV) Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
Then – During the reign of the Messiah, see comments above.
the children of Judah and the children of Israel – In Christ’s ministry many of the descendants of those who had been scattered by the Assyrians had returned to the land of Palestine. Christ preached to them as well as the descendants of those from the southern kingdom who had been taken into Babylonian captivity.
for great shall be the day of Jezreel – “Scattering, no mercy and not my children” are not the last words in God’s dealings with His people. Under the reign of Messiah God will reclaim his children and have mercy upon them by sowing the seed of the Gospel upon their hearts (Luke 8:11).