Hosea prophesied during the reigns of Jeroboam II of Israel, and Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah of Judah.
Hosea's period of ministry was about forty years -- the last forty years of the northern ten-tribed Kingdom of Israel, just as Jeremiah prophesied during the last, sad forty years of the Kingdom of Judah.
...Such was the background of Hosea's prophecy, as the powerful but evil reign of Jeroboam II drew to its close. Israel did not realize it, but this reign was to mark the end of any real security or stability for the nation. In the remaining twenty-five years of the Kingdom, six kings were to rise and fall, and the dark shadow of Assyria, to whom they had first turned as an ally, was to grow swiftly and terribly until it completely destroyed and blotted out their nation, and carried them away.
Israel had looked to Assyria as a friend and helper, but worldly alliances are always disastrous in the end. *
Hosea's message sheds much light on the relationship between God's love for His people and their necessary chastening and disciplining.
While it manifests the great beauty and the transforming, appealing power of His infinite patience and affection, it clearly speaks in the strongest terms of the sorrows and bitternesses and hardships that must inevitably arise from disobedience and wickedness.
Its basic message is the great tragedy of Israel's blindness and unnecessary, self-caused miseries in the face of God's choice of them as the special recipients of His love -- a choice not as a matter of respect of persons, but as a witness and example to all the world of the beauties of His character and the glories of His purpose.
Even in judgment, its tone is sorrow rather than anger, and the severest condemnations always look forward to eventual reconciliation.
The book of Hosea contains many deep lessons on the subject of marriage and divorce -- deep spiritual principles of patience and kindness and hope, and faithfulness, and a love that bears and endures all things, and never fails.
The beautiful story of Hosea impresses us more than anything else could with the great depth of meaning in the words of Jesus to the Pharisces --
"Because of the hardness of your hearts, Moses suffered you to put away your wives." *
1 The word of Yahweh 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 book of the prophet Hosea is one of the most beautiful and powerful of the prophetic books. Hosea is the prophet of the love of God, the gentlest and tenderest of the prophets -- the John of the Old Testament. He speaks of the truest, and most patient, and deepest of loves in the face of the greatest of unfaithfulnesses.
He prophesied during the closing years of Israel's kingdom, just as Jeremiah and Ezekiel did later for the kingdom of Judah.
Like them -- only in an even deeper and more intimate way -- he enacted in his own life the sorrow and tragedy of his people.
Hosea's own name means "Saviour" or "Salvation" -- another form of Joshua or Jesus. He typifies God in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself.
"God commendeth His love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." *
2 The beginning of the word of Yahweh by Hosea. And Yahweh said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from Yahweh.
To Jeremiah, God said, in Judah's last days --
"Thou shalt not take thee a wife, neither shalt thou have sons or daughters in this place. . ."
"For I have taken away My peace from this people, saith the Lord, even loving kindness and mercies" (Jer. 16:1-5).
Ezekiel's prophetic burden was more terrible than this. God said to him --
"Son of man, behold, I take away from thee the desire of thine eyes with a stroke: yet neither shalt thou mourn nor weep, neither shalt thy tears run down ... forbear to cry; make no mourning for the dead."
And Ezekiel says --
"At even my wife died, and I did in the morning as I was commanded" (Eze. 24:16-18).
But Hosea's task was yet more difficult, more personal, and more prolonged. He was commanded -- as a testimony of God's great, unmerited goodness and love to Israel -- to love, and marry, and nourish and protect, a faithless and licentious woman, who should abandon him but who should eventually, after long patience and kindness, be reconciled to him in faithfulness and truth. *
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
4 And Yahweh 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.
Jezreel has a double meaning, which comprehends both Israel's judgment and her redemption. Basically it means, "God will sow." It is the name of God combined with the root word related to seed, planting, and conception -- both animal and vegetable. It also comprehends the meaning of the "seed or offspring of God" -- the Fatherhood of God -- the family relationship.
Jezreel also means "God will scatter" -- as seed is scattered, but with the idea of an eventual reaping and gathering --
"He that scattered Israel will gather him, and keep him as a shepherd doth his flock." (Jer. 31:10).
Jezreel is one of the fortresses commanding the valley of Megiddo, or Esdraelon. It is on the slopes of Mt. Gilboa, where Saul died, and it controls the gateway between the mountains down to the Jordan valley, the main entrance to Israel from the east. This is Israel's historic battleground, right back to the days of Gideon.
The "blood of Jezreel" that was soon to be avenged began with the treacherous murder of the faithful Naboth by Jezebel.
Jehu was raised up to destroy the house of Ahab for this wickedness, which he did at Jezreel, but because of his own subsequent wickedness and following in the ways of Ahab, all the bloodshed associated with Jezreel is held against him and his house, including his killing of Ahab's family. *
7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by Yahweh their Elohim, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. [But save them by the spirit]
Zechariah saw the Four Chariots of cherubim "going forth from between" these two mountains of political geography. He must, therefore, have seen them going forth from the Holy Land, which occupies that position.
They first stand by the Ruler of all the earth as the Two Anointed Ones of the Four Faces. In this position they are the "Four and Twenty Elders" and the
"Four Living Creatures full of Eyes before and behind,"
filled with the spirit as a lamp is filled with oil; and which in them burns before
"the throne as the Seven Spirits of God;"
which when in motion, "are sent forth into all the earth." But before they leave their standing position "to run to and fro," they sing to the Captain of their salvation,
"Thou art worthy to take the Book, and to open the seals thereof for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongues, and people, and nation; and hast made us for our God Kings and Priests; and we shall reign on the earth."
When they sing this song they are in the land of Judah; Isa. 26:1. They are there as "the Kings which are from a Sun's risings;" to prepare whose "way" the political Euphrates is "dried up." Apoc. 16:12; and the two mountains of brass are found temporarily occupying the place of its waters.
But Zechariah saw "them going forth." The wings of the cherubim are their armies; and the horses of the chariots are the same. "When they stand," says Ezekiel, "they let down their wings," which in motion are, "as the noise of great waters," or a multitude of people. They go forth to conquer for themselves their dominion, or as Daniel expresses it,
"to take the kingdom;" to "slay the fourth beast and to destroy his body;" to "take away his dominion, to consume, and to destroy unto the end." They "shall reign upon the earth;"
but they must first conquer the nations; for the nations will not accept them for kings and priests without compulsion.
The saints in their career of conquest are
"the stream of fire flowing and issuing from before the ancient of days;"
they are "the angels of Christ's power in a fire of flame;" the tormentors of the worshippers of the Beast and his Image, and the receivers of the mark of his name, with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lamb; and the 144,000 redeemed from the earth; the First fruits; who follow the Lamb whithersoever he goeth. They are the chariot wheels of the Spirit, full of eyes, and a burning fire-Dan 7:9, 10, Apoc. 14:10, 11, 3, 4; 2 Thess. 1:7, 8; Ezek. 1:18.
The Four Chariots in motion are "the called, and faithful, and chosen" in company with the King of Kings, in actual conflict with the nations of the earth. Apoc. 17:14; and are seen in Chap. 1:14, as the armies in the heaven following the Word of God upon white horses, who smites the nations with the sword of his mouth, and rules them with a rod of iron.
They are the war-chariots of the Spirit in the conflict of the great day of God the Omnipotent Ruler-παντοκρατερ. They invade the north and the south, and then make their expeditions into all other parts of the earth.
The horses of the chariots represent the forces commanded by the Saints; and the colours of the horses, their operations upon their enemies. The chariot horses are not literal horses; for it is written in Hos. 1:7. I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by Yahweh their Elohim, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen; but
"he will make Judah as his goodly horse in the battle."-Zech. 10:3; and "they shall be as mighty men, who tread down their enemies in the mire of the streets in the battle; and they shall fight because Yahweh is with them."-ver.5.
Judah and Israel are Yahweh's battle-axe and weapons of war, by which he will break in pieces the nations and destroy the kingdoms.-Jer. 21:20; but without the Spirit, they can no more effect this, than a battle-axe can wield itself in fight.
The Saints will ride the tribes of Israel in their wars. They will be their goodly horses, then in their conflicts with the Kings of the earth and their armies, which will be utterly routed and overthrown. "Thou wilt ride upon thy horses," says Habakkuk,
"thy chariots are salvation. Thy bow is made bare; the oath concerning the tribes is the word, Selah. With indignation thou wilt march through the earth; even in anger thou wilt thresh the nations. Thou wentest forth to save thy people, to save thine Anointed. * * * Thou leddest thine horses through the sea, the foaming of mighty waters."
And alluding to the same crisis David says in Ps. 68:18.
"The chariot of twenty thousand Elohim, thousands of thousands; the Ruler is among them as on Sinai, in the Holy" (Land.)
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Oct 1858
5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
6 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.
7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by Yahweh their Elohim, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
8 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.
And so the basis of the allegory is laid in Hosea's wife and three children. The three names represent three successively increasing stages of divine abandonment -- Jezreel, Lo- Ruhamah, Lo-Ammi -- Scattered, Unloved, Rejected.
Bro Growcott - I Will Return To My First Husband
"The flesh profiteth nothing" in the kingdom of God. Although a Jewish kingdom, no man can inherit the things belonging to it, such as glory, honour, eternal life, might, majesty, power, dominion, &c., because he is born a Jew and circumcised in the flesh. Even a Jew must become a son of Abraham by faith, and circumcision of the heart, before he can inherit the kingdom; how much more necessary in the case of Gentiles, seeing they have no hereditary claim on Abraham at all.
These things being so, it is not difficult to define the position of Israel and the nations at the present time. Israel is in the Lo-Ammi and Lo-Ruhamah relation to God-they are not his people, nor have they yet obtained mercy. They believe that Moses, in whom they trust, is dead; hence they are dead likewise. His law is to them a dead letter and without Spirit, for they neither understand it, nor keep it, nor can they if they would.
And for this reason, because they "continue not in all things written in the book of the law to do them," they are "cursed" of Moses; and have therefore not even a righteousness according to the law. They seek another Christ than Jesus, therefore at present he does nothing for them; as it is written,
"Their sorrows shall be multiplied that hasten after another: their drink offerings of blood will I not offer, nor take up their names into my lips."
Concerning Israel, then, until they are grafted into their own olive, there is but one scriptural conclusion, and that is, that they are
"dead in trespasses and in sins."
And what can we say of all other nations? "Jews and Gentiles are all under sin," says the apostle; "and all the world guilty before God." The nations at present without a single exception all belong to Satan, whose high priests are the chiefs of their hierarchies for the time being. "The power and glory of them belong to me," says he;
"and to whomsoever I will I give it. If thou therefore wilt fall down before me, all shall be thine."
The condition was an easy one to perform, and the offer quite liberal-Satanically so. But Jesus refused to accept them of him upon any terms; so the power and the glory of the nations belong to Satan unto this day, to keep them until a stronger than he appears to wrest them from his grasp. Aggregately they constitute Satan's kingdom, lying under sin, and awaiting unconsciously the punishment that is due. Until the vengeance falls upon them, and the judgment in Christ. is executed, they have no interest in Christ.
The Pope, and the Commander of the Mohammedan faithful, and the Grand Llama, and the Brother of the Sun and Moon, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, et id genus omne, are their mediators with heaven; but who like themselves are without credit, reputation, or influence there.
Not a single non-Jewish nation was ever constituted a holy nation, and peculiar people to God. The unsprinkled "pious" among them (unsprinkled by the blood of the covenant, I mean) are useful in antagonizing vice and tyranny by their benevolent schemes. For this the faithful may commend them, and be grateful to them too; for the Bible, though not understood by them, has been made a humanizing and civilizing agent in their hands; for without the Bible, earth would have been an orthodox hell in which the children of the covenant, if permitted to live, would have lived only to endure the malice and tortures of the foe.
All Gentile institutions, then, religious and political, are from beneath, and consequently "earthly, sensual, and devilish." They serve for that sort of "order" which is the admiration of the governments and their peoples.
A son of the covenant can have no sympathy with it, though he submits to it for the Lord's sake, so far as is compatible with his allegiance to the truth; being consoled with the assurance, that the time is at hand when it will be overthrown, and the kingdom of God set up instead thereof to the joy of Israel and the world.
Mystery of the Covenant of the Holy Land Explained
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Jan 1855