August 21, 2015: Daily Bible Reading with Commentary for Hosea 1-7
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Author: Hosea, prophet to the Northern Kingdom, Israel
Date: 760 BC to 710 BC (estimated)
Context: Books of prophecy are often filled with symbolism, which can make them difficult to read and understand. Hosea is no different. Hosea is commanded by God to marry a harlot, a whore, a hooker. Not only was she a harlot, she came from a mother who was also a harlot! The marriage represents the Lord’s relationship with Israel. Israel has repeatedly rejected the Lord, turned their back on Him, and sold themselves to other gods. They were spiritual harlots. The first three chapters of Hosea deal with his personal life, which reflects the relationship the nation of Israel has with the Lord. Chapter 4 begins with the general complaints (1-3), before identifying the three guilty groups: religious leaders (4-11), common people (12-13a), and women (13b-14). The remainder of chapter 4 and the entirety of chapter 5 offers three warnings for Israel and Judah: Israel’s apostasy serves as a warning for Judah (4:15-19), Israel leads Judah into sin (5:1-7), and Israel and Judah will face God’s wrath (8-15). Chapter 6 begins with a three-fold call to repentance (1-3), which is a conclusion to the previous chapters. The remainder of today’s reading laments the stubbornness of the nation. This sections includes God’s frustration (4-6), the sins of the people (7-9), apostasy of Judah (10-11a), unforgiven sins (6:11b-7:7), the folly of Ephraim (8-12), and God’s lament (13-16).
World History: Hosea began his prophetic ministry during the reign of Jeroboam II, in Israel. Jeroboam’s reign ended around 750 BC. Hosea continued his ministry for numerous years after, as evident by the list of Judean kings. Hosea lived during the time of Hezekiah (Judah), who came to the throne over 30 years after the death of Jeroboam II. Hosea’s ministry was a long one! During Hosea’s ministry, Joel was also a prophet in the northern kingdom of Israel, while Isaiah and Micah were serving as prophets for the southern kingdom of Judah.