Out of all the prophets with books in the Old Testament, Hosea, son of Beeri, is the only one from the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and his ministry was directed primarily toward the people of that region. Hosea, whose name means “Yahweh saves,” served as a prophet around 750-715 bc, following on the heels of Amos, and probably overlapping with Jonah, Micah, and Isaiah. His book was most likely written in the later years of his ministry.
Hosea’s family life served as an analogy for his message from the Lord for His people. Hosea’s wife Gomer was unfaithful, just as the people of Israel were unfaithful, for although Israel was experiencing a time of prosperity, this gave way to corruption, prostitution, complacency, substance abuse, and war. The children (two boys and a girl) of Gomer were given names that pronounced judgement on Israel. This judgement came in the form of Assyria conquering Israel, capturing its capital of Samaria and exiling its people in 722-721 bc. Yet, in the midst of judgement, the Lord offers hope and promise. Even as Hosea redeems his unfaithful wife, the Lord, in His exceptional love and mercy, promises to redeem His people, ultimately bringing salvation through the Messiah Jesus. “I will heal their waywardness; I will love them freely, for My anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4).