Today, I begin a series of blogs on the minor prophets of the Old Testament. They are more like the blogs I envisioned when I set up this category. I hope you’ll find the brief introductions to the prophets helpful, and that these blogs inspire you to read a much misunderstood and neglected part of the Old Testament.
Have you read Hosea lately?
Have you read the biblical prophet Hosea lately? He’s called a minor prophet by Biblical scholars, not because he’s insignificant, but because his writings were not extensive. Yet Hosea is significant.
Israel had fallen away from God. The nation was no longer loyal nor faithful. People were involved with other gods because they had entwined themselves with the worshipers of those deities. Their national identity as the Lord’s people had been forgotten. Business ethics had gone to pot. Family relations were broken down. People were dying young, crops were failing, and war clouds surrounded. This sounds strangely contemporary, doesn’t it?
Hosea was called by God to do an amazing thing…to marry a prostitute. He was to take her as a wife knowing what sort of woman she was. He was to have children by her and love her deeply. Yet Gomer was to prove faithless to Hosea. Nevertheless, he was to take her back into his life. His marriage became a metaphor for Israel’s relationship with the Lord, and through Hosea, God was telling Israel that the nation needed to repent, mend its ways, and return to its first love—the Lord.
Hosea’s prophecy was not about telling the future, as so many people think prophecy is. It regarded Israel’s falling away from God, its backsliding into sinfulness, and its need to change. Hosea’s prophecy is a call for the nation to return to the one who loved Israel. God was waiting patiently for his “wife” to become faithful again. Hosea announced the Lord’s longsuffering, his desire to have Israel home, and his willingness to receive the disloyal nation back to himself.
The spirit of Hosea’s prophecy is contained in these verses, although not all he had to say to Israel was expressed so positively. On God’s behalf, Hosea declared,
Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt. (Hosea 2:14-15, NIV)
The Lord was hopeful for his people’s return and summoned them to rejoin him in a wonderful relationship of love and loyalty.
If you haven’t read Hosea in a while, or if you’ve never read his prophecy, maybe this is a good time to delve into it.