Hosea’s prophecy continues to unfold along the lines of marriage, faithfulness, infidelity and prostitution as symbols of Judah and Israel’s (Ephraim) tumultuous relationship with God. Key symptoms of this infidelity include trust in extravagant wealth and dishonest gain (ch. 12), but also the covenants and alliances that Israel and Judah made with Egypt and Assyria. Not only does that betray their trust in God for their security, not only does it obligate them to Egyptian and Assyrian kings and policies, it obligates them to Egyptian and Assyrian gods and idols. Pagan empires understood their empires, policies and treaties in religious terms. Their empires were not only about the military, political and economic reach of their kings, but about expanding the religious reach of their tribal deities as well. In that way, ancient Near Eastern paganism was militant and evangelistic, but by military and political means.
But God continues to court his people, just as Hosea courted Gomer, even after she betrayed him (ch. 3:1). The depth and pathos of this love are powerfully expressed in chapter 11, where God laments the waywardness of Israel, like that of a spouse and of a child. The threat of future exile is viewed as the responsible actions of a spouse who will no longer enable the infidelity of the other spouse. And yet that exile will be like a second honeymoon (2:14-23), similar to the first one, during the Exodus. Just as there is grief over Israel’s faithlessness, so there is hope for restoration.
The influence of Hosea upon Jesus and the New Testament is most evident in Hosea 6:6, which Jesus quoted: “I desired mercy, not sacrifice, and the acknowledgment (or knowledge) of God more than burnt offerings.” The knowledge, or acknowledgment, of God is more than mental; it is relational, devotional and covenantal, as in marriage. It grows and shows through justice, mercy, holiness and compassion. Another connection between Hosea and the New Testament is the theme of the church as Christ’s faithful bride, developed in Ephesians and John’s Revelation.
….is a lament, attributed to David, during his flight from Saul. That accords with the two things being lamented: his longing for the house of God (1-2); and betrayal and attack from enemies (9-10). It is amazing that David speaks of himself as “king,” even while he is yet pursued, before he is installed. But so should every believer hold to their royal status, while in this life, before the fullness of it comes to pass. Yet that is not anything to hold over others, as an excuse to lord it over them. Rather, it drives us into worship, devotion and confidence (vv. 3-8).