"My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…" Hosea 4:6
The Book of Hosea is about God's steadfast love for His people in spite of their continued unfaithfulness, vividly depicted by Hosea's marital experience. The Holiness of God, the depravity of man, the seriousness of sin, the inevitability of judgment and the amazing grace of God are strikingly portrayed throughout the Book of Hosea.
The Prodigal Wife
Hosea married Gomer only to discover that she was unfaithful. Although separation followed, Hosea's love for Gomer, like God's love for His own people, persisted, and reconciliation for the prodigal wife was eventually accomplished. Hosea's life and ministry dramatically portrays God's steadfast love for His Covenant people. In spite of Israel's idolatry and immorality, the Lord seeks to restore His unfaithful bride. The story of Gomer, the wife of Hosea, can be summed up in three words, sin, punishment and restoration.
Who was Hosea?
Hosea is the first of the twelve minor prophets. Hosea, like his contemporary prophet Amos, prophesied to the Northern kingdom of Israel at the same time Isaiah and Micah were ministering to the Southern kingdom of Judah. When Hosea began his ministry (2 Kings 14:23-17:41), it was during the reign of King Jeroboam II (782-753), when material prosperity and spiritual bankruptcy characterised Israel. His ministry followed that of Amos in the North and he was contemporary with the prophets Isaiah and Micah who prophesied in Judah to the South. 2 Chronicles 26-32 record the historical background of Hosea's ministry.
Idolatry and Harlotry
The Old Testament frequently uses prostitution as an image of the sin of idolatry. Idolatry is like marital unfaithfulness against the Lord. Harlotry (in Hebrew Zanah) refers to illicit sexual relationships. The Northern kingdom of Israel is also frequently called Ephraim after its largest tribe.