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Hosea – Commentary


The Preacher’s Complete Homiletic





Introduction and Preface

The Prophet. Hosea = salvation, deliverance, from the same root as Joshua and Jesus; the son of Beeri, a native of Israel, whose sins and fates he chiefly records. The name in marked contrast to his mission—announcement of ruin; yet in harmony with his vocation and the object of his book—to proclaim deliverance after judgment. Nothing known concerning the circumstances of his life. His character and disposition gathered from his prophecy.

The Age. More or less contemporary with Isaiah, Amos, Jonah, Joel, and Nahum. Probably entered upon his work in the last year of Jeroboam, and ended it at the beginning of Hezekiah’s reign, i.e., about 60 years, from 784–722 B.C. “The shortest duration must have been some 65 years” [Pusey]. Others give a much longer period. This is the darkest period in the history of Israel. The obligations of the law were relaxed and the claims of religion disregarded. Baal was a rival to Jehovah, and in the dark recesses of groves were practised the cruel rites of idolatry. The land was distracted by domestic broils and foreign invasion. Might was marshalled against right. Princes and priests were accused of bribery and impiety. Murder and bloodshed were steps to the throne; stream met stream and deluged the land like a flood. “Remonstrance was useless; the knowledge of God was wilfully rejected; the people hated rebuke; the more they were called the more they refused; they forbade their prophets to prophesy; and their false prophets hated God greatly. All attempts to heal this disease only showed its incurableness” [Pusey]. Foreign nations are unheeded. Lycurgus the famous legislator, and Hesiod the Greek poet, lived during his ministry, but the prophet was intensely concerned with his own people. The threatened invasion came, and he saw the murder of the tribes and the ravages of the enemy. Invitations and warnings are replete with tenderness and woe. All is shrouded in darkness and gloom. Visions send forth lightning and thunder; but the sun breaks forth at last, and rainbow colours expand until encircled with brilliancy and hope. God in wrath remembers mercy.

The Book written by the author whose name it bears—the first of the twelve minor prophets, probably so placed on account of length, and resemblance to the greater prophets in earnest tone and vivid representation. Its Contents. Externally set forth national apostasy, prevailing corruption and judgments from God on account of that apostasy. Severe threatenings are mixed with gracious promises. Israel chastised would return in penitence to God; the kingdom would be restored and the people united under one head. Internally truths are presented, in form and language peculiar. Israel is viewed in the light of Jehovah’s love. This love is often wounded and chastises; is ever active and unchangeable, calls and heals. Its Style is bold, often abrupt, and for the most part mere hints. There are changes in figure, anomalies in gender, number, and person. We have fragments, a general summary, and fourteen short chapters include all that is left of perhaps the longest ministry in Old Testament record. “Each verse forms a whole for itself, like one heavy toll in a funeral knell. The prophet has not been careful about order and symmetry, so that each sentence went home to the soul” [Pusey]. Messianic references, not very numerous, lie in allusions, and may be gathered from New Testament citations. Its Analysis rather difficult—the following may help the student. First Period or Division, before the fall of Jehu’s house, chaps. 1, 2 and 3. Israel’s sin and rejection, chap. 1; Israel’s chastisement and conversion, chap. 2; Israel’s deeper guilt, prolonged punishment, and final restoration, chap. 3. Second Period or Division, after the fall of Jehu’s house. I. The Threatenings against the idolatrous people, chap. 4; against conniving priests, chaps. 5 and 6; against the royal court for unholy alliance, chap. 7; judgment ending in Assyrian bondage, chaps. 8–10. II. The Promises. God will have mercy, chap. 11; complaint resumed, chap. 12; Israel’s deeper fall, chap. 13; Israel’s conversion and richer blessings, chap. 14. Keil’s division has much to recommend it. Each of the two main sections, chaps. 1–3, 4–14, is divided into three smaller ones, (Hos_1:2 to Hos_2:3), (Hos_2:4-23), (3), (4–6:3), (Hos_6:4 to Hos_11:11), (Hos_12:11-14). In the Criticism we seek to bring out the meaning of the text, in the Homiletics to frame and apply that meaning for improvement in pulpit ministrations and the practical pursuits of life.

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