Today’s Scripture Focus: Hosea 1:2-10
Today we begin a study of the Minor Prophets, also known as The Book of the Twelve (since there are twelve of them.) These books are called this as opposed to the Major Prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel) that we have studied. They are not called “minor” because they are less important, or because their authors served for shorter periods of time, but simply because the written record of their ministries is much shorter than that of the “majors”. Like the Major Prophets, the theme of these books is calling God’s people to repentance in light of coming judgement, as well as to offer promise of eventual redemption and restoration.
The first of the Minor Prophets is Hosea. The first three chapters of Hosea serve as an introduction to the entire twelve books, which conclude with Malachi. Hosea is the only one of the writing prophets to come from Israel, the Northern Kingdom. Remember the Jewish nation had divided into two kingdoms—Israel in the north, with its capital Samaria, and Judah in the south with Jerusalem as its capital. While most of the prophets centered their ministry in the south, Hosea prophesied in the north during the final, turbulent decades of its existence. Later, his writings made their way to Judah, where his warnings had just as much merit.
Hosea begins with the “word of the Lord” coming to the prophet. In the prophetic books, God spoke a “word” to the people through prophets—sometimes speaking directly, sometimes through dreams or visions, and sometimes through symbolic acts, as is the case in Hosea 1-3. The “word” given to Hosea is to marry a prostitute! So, he finds and marries a woman named Gomer. Now, “prostitute” can have three meanings in scripture—1) someone who is paid for prostitution services, 2) a promiscuous woman, or 3) a temple worker who engages in prostitution in fertility rites. Most likely, Gomer was the third.
The scripture indicates that Gomer had three children – the first, Jezreel, was Hosea’s son and his name meant “scattered”. Gomer then had a daughter and another son, born of her acts of prostitution. Their names meant “Not loved” and “Not my people”. God’s message was that because Israel had prostituted herself to other gods and kings, they would be scattered, and would no longer be under God’s loving covenant protection. However, as with all prophesy, the bad news isn’t the end of the story. Verse 10 promises that one day, Israel will be like the sands of the sea shore, and will be called God’s children again. No matter how broken our past or how bleak our present, in God we have a future.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Do you know the meaning of your name? Do you think your name’s meaning fits you?
That which speaks to Israel in the Old Testament speaks to the church today. What warnings should the church heed in Hosea 1?
Have someone read Hosea 2:21-23. How do the names “not loved” and “not my people” change? Pray as a class for all men to know that we are God’s people and dearly loved.