Hosea, we would have to acknowledge is a rather neglected book. Complex in many ways, it is a book one could almost give up on. Having already given a lengthy introduction in Part 1 with a variety of background information, we will now consider the outline of the book to help us with further study.
Outline: As you will notice in the various outlines that I have enclosed with these notes, the dividing up of a book or a chapter is a subjective matter. Perhaps like the book of Judges, Hosea follows a “cyclical order” rather than an uninterrupted message.
In the period of the Judges there was a recurring fivefold cycle of:
Departure from God (Judges 3:5-7).
Bondage because of their sin resulting in servitude (Judges 3:8).
A Crying to God for deliverance (Judges 3:9).
God raising up a Judge and granting Deliverance (Judges 3:9-11).
The land/people Resting (3:11). Then the next cycle begins (Judges 3:12-30).
In Hosea we will trace a recurring threefold cycle of:
The Transgression of Israel in departing from God!
A Visitation by God in judgment for Israel’s unfaithfulness!
Restoration by God because of His unfailing love for Israel!
With this in mind, we will try to outline the cycles in which I have been helped by Robert B. Chisholm, Jr's commentary on Hosea in the Bible Knowledge Commentary. However, it is vital to notice that the first three chapters are the key to the understanding of Hosea!
Chapter 1. The Significance of Unfamiliar Names! Gomer… Hosea’s wife. Her name means, Complete! Gomer would develop the harlot character described, as opposed to before her marriage to Hosea. This is in keeping with Hosea, as the relationship is illustrative of God and Israel. Instead of Completeness, Gomer was a huge disappointment to Hosea, just as Israel was to God. Jezreel… a son of Hosea and Gomer. Meaning “Sows”, or in sowing, “Scattering”. God will avenge. Jehu was God’s instrument for judgment on the house of Ahab, but the way he did it cried out for the avenging (visitation) of God. He also took no heed personally to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel (see 2 Kings 9 & 10). Lo-ruhamah… a daughter of Hosea and Gomer. Her name means, No Mercy or Unpitied! There is no need to question parentage here because “bare him a daughter”, that is Hosea, is omitted. This is also the case in the family of Jacob where no question of parentage is involved (Genesis 29:32 & 30:23). Lo-ammi… second son of Hosea and Gomer. Meaning: Not my People! God will avenge, scatter, do it without mercy and disown! Note: all three names are found at (1:11-2:2). Jezreel/great, or instead of sowing by scattering… now planted in the land never to be removed. Ammi/My people. Ruhamah/Having obtained mercy. This points to Israel’s blessing as a nation in the future Millennial Kingdom under the Messiah.! Chapter 2. The Sins of an Unfaithful Wife! The sin of Gomer is magnified because it was a deliberate action in going after and seeking out her lovers, unlike the sin of Eve, who was beguiled by the Devil. This fits the action of Israel against God, “For my people have committed two evils; they have forsaken me the fountain of living waters, and hewn them out cisterns, broken cisterns, that can hold no water” (Jeremiah 2:13). Israel’s unfaithfulness was deliberate and determined.
Chapter 3. The Sensitivity of an Unfailing Husband! In the Second Cycle, section 3; I have outlined the words that express the love of a husband. Beautiful, full of expression, spanning chapters 2 and 3. Loved by Hosea; Gomer is bought… abiding many days… without many things… even the close union of husband and wife!!! Does this picture Israel presently in their relationship to God, with all to be changed in the latter days? Like a wife then: Israel will be allured, loved, redeemed, restored!
The “cyclical order” following a three-fold pattern:
Transgression… whoredoms… adulteries… played the harlot (2:2-5).
Visitation… Notice:I will hedge (2:6), I gave (2:8), will I return (2:9), will I discover (2:10), I will also cause (2:11), I will destroy (2:12). And I will visit… (2:13).
Restoration…Therefore (2:14). God now moving in grace to restore. Notice: Allure, bring, speak, give, door of hope, sing, call me Ishi, make a covenant, break the bow and the sword, betroth, lovingkindness, mercy, Thou art my people… Thou art my God (2:14-23). Notice: love, bought, abide, return, seek, fear, goodness, latter days (3:1-5).
Visitation… Punish (visit) them for their ways (4:9). Punish (visit) occurs again in (4:14). Notice: quotation, “I will not punish… daughters… spouses… for themselves…” or “because they…” (Helen Spurrell OT Translation). Is this a reference to the men… themselves… because they? Is the verse giving the sense that God reserves the greater punishment or visitation on those who had given such a poor example?
Restoration…I will go… offence acknowledged, seek, return, He will heal us, He will bind, He will revive, He shall come (5:15-6:3).
Fourth Cycle… Chapter 6:4-11:11.
Transgression… Transgressed the covenant (6:7). Notice: The oven… manifold sins (7:4-8). Silly dove, fluttering anywhere and to anyone but God (7:11-16).
Visitation… God will visit their sins (8:13 & 9:9). Visitation (9:7).
Restoration… “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah? How shall I set thee as Zeboim…” (11:8)? For Admah and Zeboim, see: Deut 29:23! I will not… (twice), I am God… I will not enter… I will place them (11:9-11).
Fifth Cycle… Chapter 11:12-14:9.
Transgression… Lies and deceit… lies and desolation… covenant with the Assyrians (11:12-12:1).
Visitation… “The Lord… will punish (visit) Jacob according to his ways… recompense him” (12:2).
Restoration… Chapter 14!
Vs 1-3. The prophet speaks… O Israel!
Vs 4-7. The Lord speaks… I will!
V 8a. Ephraim speaks… What have I to do any more with idols?
V 8b. The Lord speaks… I have heard him and observed him!
V 8c. Ephraim speaking…? Or… The Lord speaking…? I am like a green fir tree!
V 8d. The Lord speaks… From me is thy fruit found!
V 9. The prophet speaks… The ways of the Lord are right!
Some outlines from various authors to consider in the study of Hosea:
The Tragedy in Hosea’s Home Life (1:1-3:5).
The Signs (1:1-11).
The Sins (2:1-23).
The Saviour (3:1-5).
The Tragedy in Hosea’s Homeland (4:1-14:9).
The Polluted People (4:1-7:16).
The Punished People (8:1-10:15).
The Pardoned People (11:1-14:9).
(John Phillips, Exploring the Minor Prophets: Kregel Publications).
Personal… Adulterous Wife and faithful Husband (1:1-3:5).
National… Adulterous People and Faithful Lord (4:1-14-9).
Sin and Guilt Prominent! Transgression! God is Holy (4:1-8:14).
Judgment Prominent! Visitation! God is Just (9:1-10:15).
Hope Prominent! Restoration! God is Love (11:1-14-9).
(Irving L. Jensen, Jensen’s Survey of the Old Testament: Moody Publishers).
Chapters 1-3. The rejection and future recovery of Israel as illustrated in the adultery and redemption of Hosea’s wife Gomer. Chapters 4-13. Condemnation and predictions of judgment mixed with messages of love and mercy. Chapter14. Jehovah’s appeal to the nation to return, followed by the glory of their redemption. (J.M. Flanigan, What the Bible Teaches: Ritchie Old Testament Commentaries).
Chapters 1-3. Israel’s Unfaithfulness Described. Chapters 4-7. Israel’s Sins Denounced. Chapters 8-10. Israel’s Judgment Determined. Chapters 11-14. Israel’s Restoration Declared. (Warren W. Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary: Published by David Cook)