Profile Of The Prophets - Hosea

by Joseph Hunting

In order to gain some perspective concerning the time of Hosea's prophecies, we need to remember that this Hebrew prophet accurately foretold Israel's destiny eight hundred years before the legions of Julius Caesar besieged Londinium, and Boadicea rallied tribal chiefs to repel the Roman invaders. He was given the Word of the Lord concerning many events not mentioned by other prophets.

Even by today's standards Hosea's marriage was a disaster. In order to illustrate the nation's infidelity to God, the Lord commanded the prophet to marry a harlot. He had children by her which the Lord also named to convey to His people warnings of coming judgement. Then his wife, Gomer, deserted him and returned to her former adulterous ways.

No doubt Hosea felt that enough was enough. But the Lord required of Hosea a further act of obedience in taking Gomer back, which he unhesitatingly did! He paid the market price of fifteen shekels for an almost worthless piece of humanity (remember one could buy a slave for thirty shekels) and took her again to himself. Out of this truly amazing experience came this even more amazing prophecy: "So I bought her to myself for fifteen pieces of silver, and for a homer of barley. And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; and thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man; so will I also be for thee.

"For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a king, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

"Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days." (3:3-5)

At the time this prophecy was given both Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel had kings on their respective thrones. About 722 B.C. the king of Assyria besieged Samaria and finally carried the survivors of the invasion captive to Assyria. Then in 586 B.C. the armies of Babylon destroyed Jerusalem and ended the Davidic dynasty. Thus for 2,500 years Israel has been "without a king, and without a prince".

The next phase of the prophecy came to pass when the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D., ending the sacrifices and the priestly services requiring the ephod. And for good measure, Israel has abhorred the use of images and teraphim (small household gods) ever since the termination of the Babylonian captivity.

Just as the first portion of this prophecy has been remarkably fulfilled under conditions over which Israel had no control whatsoever, so we may expect the remaining prediction to come to pass. Indeed the present regathering of some of all the twelve tribes back to the Land is the beginning of the prophecy's ultimate fulfilment: AFTERWARD SHALL THE CHILDREN OF ISRAEL RETURN .

The final words of Hosea's prophecy bring back Israel's prophetic destiny a full circle to a glorious climax. This nation which has given to the world the Holy Scriptures, the Messiah, and the blessings of music and medicine (to name just two of many fields of expertise) far out of proportion to its numerical size, will one day fulfil not only Hosea's prophecy, but all the hundreds of others making the sum total of prophetic truth contained in both Old and New Testaments.

The total realization of this truth is quite beyond us. To piece together all the prophecies as parts of a giant jig-saw would take months of study and would entail reading the Bible over and over from cover to cover, especially noting all the covenants and promises that God has made with Israel. When this nation finally "seeks the Lord, and David their king and fears the Lord and His goodness in the latter days" all those covenants and promises will have their fulfilment. Not only will Israel be restored into covenant relationship with the God of Israel, but it is also written that all creation meanwhile is groaning awaiting that glorious day.

But nearly 2,500 years have passed since the last of Israel's prophets delivered their Divinely-inspired messages to the nation. During that long period only one authoritative voice has broken the silence. His heart-broken words over Jerusalem still haunt the Holy City.

"O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them who are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathers her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth TILL YE SHALL SAY, BLESSED IS HE THAT COMETH IN THE NAME OF THE LORD." (Matthew 23:37-39)

Hosea prophesied a similar message to Israel which holds the key to the nation's ultimate restoration to the Lord their God and the blessings that will accompany this long-awaited event: 

"I will go and return to my place, TILL THEY ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR OFFENCE AND SEEK MY FACE; in their affliction they shall seek me early." (lit. earnestly). During this 'affliction' Israel responds: "Come, let us return unto the Lord; for He hath torn, and He will heal us; He hath smitten, and He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; in the third day He will raise us up, and we shall live in His sight. Then shall we know, (if) we follow on to know the Lord: His going forth is prepared as the morning; and He shall come unto us as the rain, as the latter and former rain unto the earth." (5:15; 6:1-3)