God had chosen several prophets to work for the Northern Kingdom of Israel. “A man of God” was sent with a message to help King Jeroboam I, but he failed to faithfully obey the word of God and a lion attacked him on the way home and he died (1 Kings 13:24). On the other hand, Elijah and Elisha faithfully worked for God. The Lord had chosen Hazael, the future king of Syria, to chastise northern Israel for worshipping golden calves and bring them to repentance (2 Kings 8:12-13). Later God wanted to use Assyria to chastise northern Israel, but He first sent Jonah to Nineveh with a message to repent. They did, even their king repented. However, Jonah was angry with God because of His kindness and acceptance of the repentant Assyrians. So peace continued, the northern kingdom prospered, and Jeroboam II enlarged the territory of Israel almost like it was in the time of Solomon (2 Kings 14:25).
God chose two more prophets, Amos and Hosea, to work for the good of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. Hosea was the last prophet to speak to the people there. The corrupt idol worship of the golden calves and Baal were prevalent, and the social evils were intolerable during the prosperous period of Jeroboam II (793-753 BC). The messages of Hosea were given to the northern Israel for about 30 years (755-725 BC).
Near the end of the long reign of Jeroboam II (793-753BC), Hosea was told to take (back) his wife of harlotry (1:2). It was an illustration of God’s love to Israel. At first Israel was a pure wife to God (2:7), as most probably Hosea’s wife was. God wanted to have Israel back, just like Hosea’s wife had returned to her husband. God would accept the return of the repented wife Israel (“I will go and return to my first husband” (2:7). So Hosea was to accept his wife back and to love her and the children born by them.
God told Hosea to name his first son, “Jezreel” (1:4). Later, Jehu killed Jezebel, the wife of Ahab, and all who remained from the house of Ahab at Jezreel (2 Kings 9:30-37; 10:14). So the name of Hosea’s son, “Jezreel” stood for a sign that God would punish Israel, including Jehu who did not obey God nor did he depart from the sins of Jeroboam (2 Kings 10:31). Hosea’s daughter Loruhamah means “Un-pitied.” It prophetically represented the destruction of the Northern kingdom Israel by Assyria. Those who disobey God are Loammi “Not My people,” the name of Hosea’s other son.
However, God lovingly accepts those who are willing to return to Him, and as a people they will live under His protection and prosper (1:10-11).
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D.