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The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness

The State of Faith
A Study on Holiness

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Renewing Your Mind


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Old Testament Survey


Key Verses


Key Chapters

Chapter 4

Key Concepts

Harlot, Harlotry
Love, loyal love

Thoughts for Reading

God compares our relationship with Him to an adulterous affair.
Is this accurate?

Hosea 3:1
Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

Title -- Author

Hosea, whose name means “salvation,” is described as being the son of Beeri (1:1). He preached to his own people in Israel, the Northern kingdom. His name should actually be spelled “Hoshea” based upon its meaning. This change in spelling does help us to distinguish the prophet from Hoshea, the last king of Israel (732-722 B.C.). Based upon his apparent knowledge of religious affairs, Hosea may have been a priest, but this is not stated in Scripture.

Harlots and Rejection v.s. True love

Hosea is a living parable of God’s true love for His chosen people, even when they turn away. The prophet has three children, Jezreel, "God sows" (1:4), Lo-Ruhamah, "No compassion" (1:6f), and Lo-ammi, "Not my people" (1:8ff). There is a hint of suggestion that the last two children may have been born from the adulterous relationship Hosea’s wife, Gomer, had and were not the prophet’s natural heir (2:4).

The prophet’s ministry dates to about 790-686 B.C. His ministry is during the reign of Jeroboam II king of Israel (793-753) and it appears that Hosea lived beyond the captivity of the Northern kingdom because of the mention of Hezekiah’s reign (729-686 B.C.). This makes the prophet’s ministry occurring during the reign of four kings in Judah – Uzziah (790-739), Jotham (750-731), Ahaz, (735-715), and Hezekiah.


The listing of the kings of Judah suggests that although Hosea’s message is primarily directed to the Northern kingdom, it was intended for all of Israel. It is a call to repentance. God’s loyal love and faithfulness as compared to the idolatry and unfaithfulness of the nation. The prophet’s message is demonstrated through the picture of his marriage to the harlot Gomer and the birth and naming of the children. Just as his wife is unfaithful, so the nation has become unfaithful toward God and lack knowledge of him.

Hosea 4:6
My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.

At the same time, the actions of the prophet in going after his adulterous wife and bringing her home reflect the loving concern of God for His people.

A simple outline of the book is:

Jesus in Hosea

Jesus is seen as the Son of God (11:1 compared with Matt 2:15). As the Son of God He is the only Savior of His people (13:4 compared with John 14:6). Christ is also seen as

Hosea 1:2
The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.

The issue of God’s command to Hosea to marry a harlot gives many a pause for concern. There is a moral concern over the concept of a man of God marrying a sinner, an unsaved person, indeed, a harlot. Three views of interpretation have arisen.

  • Some interpret the passage allegorically, viewing the characters as representing spiritual and symbolic truths. While one can argue this approach avoids the moral problem of God directing the unequal yoking, it does not remove the command itself.
  • Some interpret the book purely literally, seeing the marriage as an object lesson to Israel. This approach ignores the actual moral issue behind God’s command.
  • A third approach is to treat the book basically literally, but to see Hosea as looking back as he tells the story. This allows Gomer to be a virgin at the time of the marriage. She then becomes an adulterous wife during the relationship. Hosea looks back with the voice of experience and concludes that Gomer was a harlot from the start, thus, God commanded the prophet to marry a harlot. The value of this view is that it resolves the moral dilemma of God commanding Hosea to marry a harlot.

The third approach is the most palatable for the church, but there is little basis in the words of Scripture to suggest this is the correct reading. If the book is read literally, God commanded the prophet to marry a harlot. There is no direct sense in the book that the prophet wrote based upon his actual life experiences.

Was Abraham “pure” when God called him? Was the nation pure when God sent Moses? Scripture is silent on these issues too.

Hosea married and loved the unfaithful Gomer. When Gomer repents, Hosea brings her home. This is the picture of God and Israel. This is the real intent of the prophet’s message. God desires obedience, not mere ritual. God desires faithfulness of heart, not a “sign” that says “I am a Jew [Christian].”

Hosea 6:6-7
For I desired mercy, and not sacrifice; and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings. [7] But they like men have transgressed the covenant: there have they dealt treacherously against me.

The children of the prophet are the sign of the judgment and restoration.

How faithful have you been?

Do you observe the “rituals” but miss the true relationship with God?




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