A Study of Hosea: The Scandalous Love of God
In the summer 2020 message series “For the Love,” the Clear Creek Community Church Teaching Team will examine one of the least known sections of the Bible, the books known as the Minor Prophets, to better understand the great love of God and our faithful response to that love. Join with us in reading each book along the way! Each Sunday afternoon we will post an introductory video by The Bible Project and a 5-day reading plan with reflection questions to prepare you to hear the following Sunday’s message.
DAY 1—Read Hosea 1-3
In Chapter 1, Hosea is told to marry Gomer, a “wife of whoredom”—language that can feel shocking to us. She then abandons Hosea to pursue a life of sexual immorality. How is Gomer’s behavior representative of the nation of Israel? (1:2)
Chapter 2 gives us a poetic extension of the metaphor depicted by Hosea’s family. Who is the husband that Israel has spurned? Who are the lovers that Israel is pursuing? What does she believe that her lovers provide for her? Who is her true provider?
APPLY—Although the nation had forfeited many blessings because of their idolatry, Hosea still shares a hope of future restoration. How do we see this depicted in Chapter 3, both in Hosea’s marriage and in the nation of Israel? What hope can this give to followers of Jesus when we stray from obedience and intimacy with God?
DAY 2—Read Hosea 4-6
The remainder of the book contains the prophecies, or oracles, of Hosea—the messages he received from God to deliver to the nation of Israel. There are three types of oracles found throughout the books of the Prophets: warnings of judgment, calls to repentance, and promises of salvation. Which of these is most evident in the chapters you read today? What actions of his people have resulted in God’s response?
There are only a few verses in this chapter that provide a glimpse of hope to Hosea’s audience. Hosea 6:1-3 calls the Israelites to repentance with the promise of God’s mercy in return. When does the Lord promise to raise them to new life? How do we see this promise fulfilled in the New Testament? (1 Corinthians 15:3-4)
APPLY—Hosea’s promise that God “will raise us up, that we may live before him” is no longer just a future promise. Though we have not yet experienced bodily resurrection, believers have already been rescued from spiritual death through God’s mercy. Read Ephesians 2:1-7. In what ways did our lives before Christ resemble the idolatrous behavior of the Israelites? How can God’s grace to us in Christ, despite our sin, give us a hope that will ultimately transform our lives?
DAY 3—Read Hosea 7-9
In Chapter 7, Hosea uses several examples of metaphorical language to describe the nation of Israel (also frequently referred to as Ephraim)? To what four things does Hosea compare them, and what characteristics does each seem to illustrate? The first has been completed for you.
|Object of Comparison||Characteristics of the People|
|v. 4-7||A heated oven||Angry and rebellious|
In Chapter 8, Hosea reminds his listeners that this is not the first time that Israel has violated their covenant with the Lord. To what past rebellions is he referring in verses 4-6? (Check out Exodus 32:1-14 and 1 Kings 12:25-33.) Is God’s coming judgment an impulsive lashing-out or evidence of his patience and compassion?
APPLY—Chapter 9 continues the description of both the Israelites’ failure to honor God and the coming judgment that their behavior deserves. Why is it difficult at times for us to appreciate the Lord’s commitment to justice in the same way as his love or grace? What difference can it make when we attempt to know God in allthe ways he reveals himself?
DAY 4—Read Hosea 10-11
Chapter 10 continues Hosea’s indictment of Israel’s lack of faith. Where are they placing their faith instead? In what circumstances are you tempted to trust in your own way rather than God’s plan?
Hosea creates an extended analogy in Chapter 11, describing God as a loving father. Who is his child? What has the father done to care for his child? How has the child responded to the father’s care?
APPLY—Chapter 11 ends with a glimpse of hope that Israel will not be destroyed completely and permanently. Is this because Israel has changed their behavior (v. 12) or simply because of God’s love (v. 8)? In what ways have you experienced God’s grace in your own life, extending his compassion and blessings to you when you least deserve it?
DAY 5—Read Hosea 12-14
Hosea connects his nation to their historical context in Chapter 12 by retelling the story of Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel by the Lord. Jacob was known as a deceiver from his earliest years (Genesis 25 & 27), yet he received a vision of God’s greatness and a promise of future blessing from the Lord (Genesis 28:10-22). Hosea argues that just as Jacob had to leave his home as a consequence of his behavior, so would the people of Israel be sent away from their land (v. 9). But hope can still be found in the commands given to Israel in verses 4-6. What are they commanded to do, and by whose help will they obey?
The history lesson doesn’t end with Jacob, for Hosea then gives more evidence of Israel’s record of disbelief. At the end of Chapter 12, he references the nation’s wandering in the wilderness (v. 9, 13), where they were forced to spend forty years after doubting God’s promise to bring them into the Promised Land (Deuteronomy 1:19-2:15). This continues in Chapter 13—though God had provided for their needs in the wilderness, the nation failed to trust him even after they were brought into the land (v. 4-6). In what ways can comfort and complacency lead us into disbelief? How might we avoid this pitfall and continue in faith instead?
APPLY—In chapter 14, Hosea again pleads for Israel’s repentance, with a beautiful description of the blessings of a life lived under the mercy of God. Repentance always involves both turning fromsin and turning tothe Lord. What does Israel need to turn from? Why should repentance be a regular pattern in our lives, rather than a one-time event?
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