“By God’s Spirit”

Hosea 1:1 – 2:1 

Today we are going back to the Old Testament to the book of Hosea. In our version of the Old Testament, Hosea is considered one of the books of the twelve minor prophets. However, in the Hebrew Bible the twelve are together in one book called “The Twelve” or “The Twelve Prophets,” or “The Minor Prophets.” 

The premise of Hosea focuses on the continued rebellion of the Israelites which was threatening their covenant with God. Hosea was sent to warn them of coming judgment and to compel them to repent. 

May the premise of this book do the same thing for us today. 

When will God’s people learn? Were we to discuss the continued rebellion around us in our world today I am sad to say, besides the fact we now have vehicles and running water, not much has changed since Hosea was called by God to lead God’s people back to Him. Let me provide some of the similarities. Hosea lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, about 200 years after they had broken off from Southern Judah. We are living in a country today that broke off from its British roots, about 200 years ago. During both of these divisions brothers, sons and fathers fought against each other for their cause. There were even not so benevolent kings involved in both scenarios. Today we are experiencing a division between Christian believers. Christians hold tightly to their cause and the division keeps growing wider and wider. Here’s a fact: Neither side is all right, and both sides are wrong. Yet, somehow, we continue to fight for what we believe is right. 

This is where prophets need to come in. Ironically, we don’t need to have one in person, we can read God’s Word and learn from the past. That is my hope for us as we study the book of Hosea. 

May our focus on God’s Word help us to recognize where our thinking and our actions need changing, or not. 

May we repent when necessary and proceed with humility otherwise. 

God’s greatest desire is for His creation to accept His forgiveness, become one of His children,  and strengthen their relationship with Him. With that goal in mind we begin with chapter one of the book of Hosea. 

The name “Hosea” means “salvation.” It comes from the Hebrew root (hoshea) as does the names Joshua and Jesus. Throughout this book Hosea demonstrates the need for salvation and that the only way to receive it is by turning away from our sin and turning towards the Lord. 

Hosea’s ministry lasted about 40 years from 760 to 720 B.C. This was some 250 years after the time of King David, when the monarchy had divided, creating two nations: Israel to the north, where Hosea resided, and Judah to the south. 

I have provided a chart of the kings that were in charge during Hosea’s ministry. As you can see, the first king, Jeroboam II wasn’t so bad, but as time went on, things got progressively worse. 



Kings of Israel during the Ministry of Hosea, 760 to 720 B.C.

Dynasty of Jehu

Jeroboam II

793-752 B.C.

Gave throne to his son


753-752 B.C.


Dynasty of Shallum


752 B.C. (one month)


Dynasty of Menahem


752-742 B.C.

Gave throne to his son


724-740 B.C.

Overthrown in coup d’etat

Dynasty of Pekah


752-732 B.C.


Dynasty of Hoshea


732-722 B.C.

Died in exile

Of the six kings following Jeroboam II, four were violently overthrown and one died, in exile, after being conquered by Assyria.

At the time Hosea started his ministry, things were going great. The people were politically successful and economically prosperous. Funny thing about success and prosperity, they often leave those who have benefitted by them no longer looking to the Lord, the way that they should. Following the successful and prosperous reign of Jeroboam II, Hosea’s later years of ministry were spent dealing with the tragic results of idolatry, spiritual failure and moral corruption. 

Check point: 

Many of us here have lived in, had, or have experienced a spiritually prosperous Christian ministry in the past 40 years. As we celebrated the 200 years of ministry provided here at Damariscotta Baptist Church we read how prosperous the church once was. Many remember the pews being full, choirs singing, so many children that Sunday School classes had to meet in the kitchen. 

In fact, things were so big, a new addition was added to the church. My, how things have changed. Hosea was called to help the Israelites let go of their past and keep their focus on their relationship with God. He can help us too. 

Verse two tells us that before God had Hosea reach out to others He gave Hosea a task. I don’t know about you, but it is often easier for me to tell others how to do things than it is for me to do things for myself. 

And did you catch what God had Hosea do? 


God commanded Hosea to take a prostitute as a wife. Can’t you see Hosea’s holy roller friends questioning him? 

“Hosea, have you lost your mind? 

God would never even suggest such a thing?” 

Not exactly the advice we would think God would give to a prophet, but God had His purpose, and as we continue to read in verse 2, we find out what that purpose was, 

“like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.”

God’s picture throughout the Old Testament is that of Him and His people, where the Lord is the husband of Israel. But Israel had a passionate, chronic attraction for idols, much like the lust of an adulterer. Their actions were as unfaithful as a prostitute. 

Get the picture? Idolatry and rejection of the Lord, leaves God feeling much like the faithful spouse. When we put anything before our relationship with God, it hurts Him just like unfaithfulness hurts the victim of an adulterous marriage. God’s command to Hosea was done in order for Hosea to feel what God feels and

 it didn’t feel good. 

In verses 3-5 we read that Hosea actually followed through with what God commanded. It had to have taken a good deal of courage and obedience for Hosea to actually carry out this difficult command. I suspect Hosea thought Gomer would give up her sin and be devoted to him. She might have shown some sign of commitment to Hosea, but as is the pattern of human nature, she fell back into prostitution. 

Let’s see, 

perhaps she did so because she felt neglected, 

or maybe Hosea wasn’t exciting or 

could it be that she had some unmet need. Watch out! Sadly we share the same inexcusable reasons for our idolatry, whenever we choose something before the Lord God.

Gomer did manage to provide Hosea with three children. All of whom were named for the circumstances around their birth. The first son, named Jezreel, stood for two things. First, the meaning of Jezreel is “scattered.” Israel was to be scattered in exile by the Assyrian army. Second, Jezreel referred to the Valley of Jezreel, and confirmed God’s promise to avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel by judging the house of Jehu. Basically, bad news for Jeroboam II. It meant his dynasty of Jehu was about to end. In fact, before the prophetic ministry of Hosea was finished, Israel was defeated, destroyed and taken captive by the Assyrian Empire. We saw that in the chart in the bulletin and you can read about it in 2 Kings 17:20-23.

Hosea’s second child was a daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, which means, “No Mercy.” 

Everytime Gomer called her daughter to dinner, “Lo-Ruhamah, time to eat.” 

Hosea and everyone else around them were reminded of coming judgment and exile. 

Yet we read in verse 7, 

“Yet I will show love [or mercy] to Judah; [the southern nation] and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.”

You can read how the house of Judah was shown mercy in 2 Kings 19:35, where God miraculously fought against Assyria on behalf of Judah and killed 185,000 soldiers in the camp of Assyria in one night. We read that these soldiers were killed, 

“not by bow, not by sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the Lord their God.” 

Did you catch that? Two points I would like to emphasize here:

First: That mercy was shown

Second: How mercy was shown

First point: 

Mercy was shown. 

By definition, for mercy to be shown, the recipient should not deserve it. If one deserves leniency, then one should receive leniency, this is a matter of justice. Mercy is shown to the guilty. In this particular situation, the Southern Kingdom of Judah was more faithful to God than the Northern Kingdom of Israel. However, they were not guilt free. God has the prerogative to show mercy to whomever and whenever He decides, Romans 9:15

“I will have mercy on whom I have mercy,

    and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.”

As for the act of “showing of mercy,” one is never unfair for showing it. 


Second thing to notice is how mercy is shown. 

How often, as humans, do we try to show mercy or make things right by our might? Whether by brain or brawn, we set out to do the right thing and we choose human ways of doing so. I don’t want to suggest we limit God in how things should be done, but I do want to suggest we step out of our human thinking and give God’s Spirit a whirl. 

God’s ways are better than our ways……….. always. 

Even when God suggests a prophet marry a prostitute. Or when God uses His Spirit to kill thousands rather than having them killed by a bow or sword. 


I think we miss out on seeing God work in our lives, because we don’t allow Him to do things His way, and especially in His timing, with His Spirit.


Hosea and Gomer have a third child, a second son named Lo-Ammi. By this time things have gotten really bad because this name means, 

“for you are not my people, and I am not your God.” 

Life as a prophet was never easy. Not only did Hosea have a difficult message to give the people, God was having Hosea live it. This name was not given as a penalty but was more like a statement of fact. The people of Israel really didn’t want God, they had rejected Him and this was the Lord’s way of recognizing it. God does not play games. 


He does, however, keep His promises. Beginning with the one He made to Abraham. Judgment was inevitable but there would come a day of prosperity, increase and blessing. Israel would one day return and be restored completely, thank you for the cross. This chapter ends with the same hope as the cross, the restoration would change the meaning for Jezreel back to greatness, rather than judgment. The names Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi will be redeemed as Israel will once again be regarded as “My People” and “Mercy” will be shown to them. As we read more of the book of Hosea we will see that God was busy redeeming His children, in the Old Testament. Just as He did in the New Testament. Thanks to the cross, redemption continues to exist for us and for generations to come, by God’s Spirit. Let us rejoice and be glad in it. 

Let’s pray.