Twelve more favourite Bible characters – Hosea

Hosea

When we think of Hosea, we might well want to compare him with another outstanding prophet, his near contemporary, Amos (whose concern for social justice, for example, could also qualify him as a favourite). Both prophesied to the Northern Kingdom, Israel, and were the last to do so before Israel was taken into captivity by the Assyrians. What they each saw was quite similar – a nation where many (but not all) were doing well, often were smug and self-satisfied but, as was manifest in many different ways, had turned from God and broken their covenant with Him. While, as would be expected, their messages had much in common, their approaches were notably different. One commentator has associated the notions of affection, wooing, tender and mercy with Hosea and justice, accusation, warning and tough with Amos, and the truth for any gospel preacher today is both are needed. Hosea introduces and develops the importance of what is encapsulated in the Hebrew as “Chesed”. This is used to depict kindness or love between people, of the devotional piety of people and faithfulness towards God and love or mercy of God towards humanity. It is seen in the marital motif of troth and betroth. The thrilling thing to note in Hosea’s story, of how the message and the man interacted, is how God uses the life experiences of individual prophets in their respective ministries. Hosea married a prostitute but despite her unfaithfulness went out of his way and at personal cost to woo her back into the marital home. What Hosea was doing with Gomer, his wife, is what God has been doing all along with his faithless people, Israel. “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him” Hosea 14:4, has ever been God’s desire. I am encouraged that God can and does use our painful experiences as we serve in His cause.

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