Study of Hosea - Chapter 1

As Christians, we tend to focus on only the New Testament as opposed to the entire Bible. We often neglect the Old Testament as well as the books of the major and minor prophets and think that God's messages to the Israelites were only for them during that time. However, the truth is that God is the great "I AM", who was, is, and is to come and His Word is always applicable to His people, both then and now. That being said, we are starting a new series where we deep-dive into the Book of Hosea. We will go through each chapter to see what God had to say to His people then and how His word still applies to our lives now. Although there are many harsh truths and tough lessons to learn from this scripture, ultimately the Book of Hosea is about God's enduring love, patience, and mercy for His people despite their rejection of Him. As we delve into the Word, we will gain a better understanding of what He expects and desires from His people, what a relationship built on love should look like, and a better appreciation for the Lord and the love that He has for us.

 Let's begin...

Chapter 1


1 The Lord gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash (Joash) was king of Israel. 2 When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea He said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” 3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.” 6 Soon Gomer became pregnant again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to Hosea, “Name your daughter Lo-ruhamah (“Not Loved”) for I will no longer show love to the people of Israel or forgive them. 7 But I will show love to the people of Judah. I will free them from their enemies – not with weapons and armies or horses and charioteers, but by my power as the Lord their God.” 8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she again became pregnant and gave birth to a second son. 9 And the Lord said “Name him Lo-ammi (“Not My People”) for Israel is not my people and I am not their God. 10 Yet the time will come when Israel’s people will be like the sands of the seashore – too many to count! Then, at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people’, it will be said, ‘You are the children of the living God’. 11 Then the people of Judah and Israel will unite together. They will choose one leader for themselves and they will return from exile together.  What a day that will be – the day of Jezreel (“God Plants”) – when God will again plant His people in His land.” 2:1 “In that day you will call your brothers Ammi (“My People”). And you will call your sisters Ruhamah (“The Ones I Love”).



Verse 2: Hosea marries the prostitute, Gomer, to illustrate how Israel behaved like a prostitute by forsaking the Lord and worshiping other gods.

Verse 3-9: Hosea and Gomer have three children: Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah (“Not Loved”), and Lo-ammi (“Not my people”).

  • Jezreel – named in remembrance of the bloodshed committed by King Ahab and Jezebel through the killing of Naboth for his vineyard and for the killing of the Lord’s prophets in the land of Jezreel. The Lord intends to punish the king of Israel and his entire line as a result of these sins and it is to occur in the Jezreel Valley.

  • Lo-Ruhamah (“Not Loved”) – named to symbolize that God will show no love or mercy to the people of Israel because they had rejected Him. However, He will still show love to Judah and rescue them by His own hand.

  • Lo-Ammi (“Not My People”) – named to symbolize that God no longer recognizes Israel as His people because they no longer recognize and serve Him as their God.

Verse 10-11: God promises restoration after punishment. Israel will again be recognized as the children of the Living God and they will be too numerous to count. Israel and Judah will be reunited under one king. The Day of Jezreel (“God Plants/Sows”) will be when the unified nation returns from exile and will be planted the in land that God had initially promised to them. They will then be called Ammi (“My People”) and Ruhamah (“The Ones I Love”).


Contextual Background

The first chapter of Hosea is a rebuke to Israel and its king, Ahab, as well as his wife, Jezebel – a princess of Phoenicia (modern-day Lebanon). The story of their rule is mostly told in 1 Kings, Chapters 16 through 22. During their reign, Ahab and Jezebel unrepentantly committed many sins and lead the nation of Israel to follow their ways and turn from God. Upon their marriage, Jezebel led her husband, Ahab to worship Baal. As the king of Israel, Ahab then setup temples and altars to the worship of Baal and Asherah. Thereby, leading the people of Israel in the worship of false gods. Jezebel then established prophets of these false gods and then attempted to kill all of the prophets of the Lord. However, 100 were saved. The Lord then sent the prophet Elijah to confront Ahab and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. After the destruction of the prophets of the false gods, Jezebel threatened the life of Elijah. For a time, King Ahab returned to the Lord but then he returned to his sinful ways and disobeyed the Lord. Ahab the coveted the vineyard of a man named Naboth located in Jezreel. When Naboth refused to give up his vineyard, Jezebel then orchestrated his death by having two people make false statements about Naboth which resulted in him being stoned. Jezebel told Ahab what she had done and he then went to claim Naboth’s vineyard. Again, Elijah confronted Ahab and told him the Lord would destroy Ahab and his entire family for his sins, being influenced to sin by his wife Jezebel, and then causing the people of Israel to also sin.  In response, Ahab repented, fasted, and humbled himself before the Lord so the Lord decided not to bring the punishment against the nation during Ahab’s lifetime but instead during the reign of his sons. Jezebel, on the contrary, neither repented of her sins nor turned to the Lord. She remained defiant until her death. As such, she received the full punishment that was prophesied against her.


Interpretation and Explanation

There is a lot to unpack in this scripture and the story of Israel and its leaders during this time. The scriptures show us how easily we can fall to sin as well as the consequences of these sins when we do not repent and reject God’s mercy and patience. Both King Ahab and Jezebel committed a series of sins but their repercussions differed due to how they responded to the Lord’s rebuke.

King Ahab’s first offense against the Lord was disobedience. When the Lord rescued the Israelites out of Egypt, He instructed them to not intermarry with the people of the lands he was bringing them through and he forewarned them that doing so would lead the people astray into the worship of other gods (Deuteronomy 7:3-4). King Ahab disobeyed the Lord when he married the Phoenician princess Jezebel. She had her own customs and served her own gods, not the Lord, so either she would acquiesce to Ahab or he would to her. In this case, it was the later which led to dire consequences for both him and the nation. In today’s time, the verse in Deuteronomy still stands but the apostle Paul clarified it:

2 Corinthians 6:14 - “Do not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. For what partnership has righteousness with lawlessness? Or what fellowship has light with darkness?”.

In the context of the Old Testament, the nation of which a person was from and lived largely indicated not only their culture but also their customs and religion. Today, there are Christians all over the world so not intermarrying with people from other nations is not applicable from the original context of Deuteronomy. However, the truth at the core of the scripture still applies such that we are not to be “unequally yoked” – meaning tied together in bonds – with non-believers. This applies to relationships, marriage, business partnerships, etc. When oxen are yoked together, where one goes, the other is forced to go as well. If the oxen are of different sizes then the yoke causes injury to the oxen and they are unable to accomplish their task. As such, we should not knowingly enter bonds or share yokes with unbelievers, less we subject ourselves to injury and lack of progress. This is especially required of leaders of all positions for the consequences of disobedience in this situation also drastically affects the people that are being led as we see with Israel and the series of bad kings. God’s commands may seem burdensome or difficult but Jesus tells us in Matthew 11:29-30 that with His "... yoke is easy, the burden is light and we will find rest" (paraphrased). Whereas the yokes we place upon ourselves are always to our detriment. Therefore, obedience to the Lord and His commands can save us a lot of trouble and pain in the long term. If you are married to an unbeliever, this does not mean you need to get a divorce because through you, they may come to know Jesus. However, if you are not already tied in bonds with an unbeliever then you should be wise in not doing so as you continue your walk with the Lord.

Jezebel committed many sins in rapid succession. One of the firsts was murder of God’s prophets followed by idolatry and apostasy when she led her husband, King Ahab and subsequently the nation of Israel, int o the worship of Baal and Asherah. It is one thing to sin, but it is worse to sin and lead someone else into it as well. Jezebel’s next sins were deceit, envy, pride, greed, theft, lying, bearing false witness, covetousness, and murder (Sheesh!) when she executed her plan to murder Naboth and take his vineyard (1 Kings 21). Worse yet, she was unapologetic and unrepentant for her actions. Therefore, she died a horrible death just as the prophet Elijah had spoken (2 Kings 9:30-37).

Ahab committed the sins of envy, greed, and covetousness. He also shared in the Jezebel’s sin of murder in this situation. Although he did not order Naboth’s death, he was aware and complicit. He allowed it to happen and then proceeded to take Naboth’s vineyard after it was done. However, when confronted by the prophet Elijah, King Ahab’s response was much different than his wife’s. He humbled himself and repented for his sins to which the Lord showed mercy and did not punish him to the full extent he deserved (1 Kings 21:27-28). How we respond to the Lord when we are confronted with our sin has a direct impact on how He then responds to us in return.

Ahab’s biggest sin was not keeping God first. This sin had a cascading effect in his life. It first led to his disobedience in marrying Jezebel. This resulted in him placing his wife before God by following what she said and wanted instead of what God decreed. As a result, Ahab followed both Jezebel’s lead and sins which led to the destruction of both his dynastic line and the nation of Israel. Ahab had many opportunities to do the right thing but because he didn’t let God lead his life and instead, he let his wife be his god, he was led astray and ultimately to his downfall. How often do we allow others or even ourselves be our “god” and then complain to God when things don’t turn out right? There is no question, you will be led to destruction anytime you let anyone lead your life other than God.

Exodus 20:2-3 - “I am the Lord your God who brought you out of Egypt and slavery. You shall have no other gods before more”


Key Points and Application

  • There can only be one God in our lives and He desires loyalty and commitment from His people. We are not to have idols or other gods of any type. Anyone or anything can become an idol/god in our lives if we place them before the one true God. When we don’t place God first, we can easily fall into more sin.

  • We must not be unequally yoked with unbelievers, or else we will get pulled in their direction – often unpleasantly. This does not mean we cannot interact with unbelievers or we cannot have friends that are not believers. It means we must not be tied in bonds such that our lives are impacted by the direction they go or decisions they make. This applies to relationships, marriages, partnerships, etc.

  • God holds both the nation and its leaders accountable for their sins but He holds leaders more accountable for their actions that lead others astray. He rejects those that reject him and punishes a nation for complicity following corrupt leaders and for forsaking Him and His decrees. However, He is merciful and forgiving to those who are humble and repentant.

  • God’s punishment for our sins is for correction and discipline, not condemnation or retribution. As the loving Father that He is, He disciplines His children to root out bad behaviors (sin) and to help us grow. His desire is that we would return to Him and that we would become the men and women He has called us to be. Sometimes this growth is uncomfortable but it is ultimately for our good.

  • God’s discipline doesn’t last forever if we yield to Him. He is a good Father that is loving and merciful and He only desires good for us. He delivers on his promises. After discipline He reconciles us to Himself and restores us and gives us more. We only need to humble ourselves, repent, and draw near to Him.