As we enter into the minor prophets, I encourage you to read the brief introductions that help explain the context of these books of the Bible. The minor prophets are shorter and, therefore, more manageable.
Prophets are hard to understand. They do not think like most people. Some get their knowledge from visions or actual conversations with God, others may have more of an infused knowledge or any mix of these experiences. What they say or do is not a prediction, they simply report what they have been told by God or seen for the future. To them, there is no “if” of the things they tell the people will happen. They have a very deep relationship with God and so much is expected of them.
Hosea is from the northern Kingdom of Israel at around 786-746 BC. This is before the exile. God tells him to marry a harlot and he has children. One characteristic of Hosea is that God tells him to do things more than preach things. His life is a model of what is actually happening with God’s relationship and the people of Israel. Gomer, his wife, lends herself to harlotry (prostitution) and that symbolizes how the people do the worst thing possible in their relationship with God; they start to follow other religions and beliefs. They do not trust God.
This is probably why God had Hosea name his firstborn Jezreel. Jezreel is a city that was faithful to Saul. Later it became a place of false worship to Baal. Baal was a god of the Canaanites. Even the names of his children became a slap in the face of the people. No doubt, Hosea was probably not very well liked. The name of the second born, a girl, is “Lo-ruhama”. The definition of this name is “not pitied”. The third child is a son named “Lo-ammi”, which means “not my people”. God has utterly rejected them because they have rejected Him. All this happens in the first chapter.
Actually, it is not certain that these children are his blood children. But he still dreams of her coming back with real love. This is the hope that God has for all those who stray from the faith. He looks forward to the day of people calling Lo-ammi (not my people), “Children of the Living God” (Hosea, Chapter 3). But this does not last long. The promises of the people are merely lip service. The people despise God. The people persist in refusing to learn about the true God that loves them.
By the end of the book, people will turn back to Him. What is amazing is how everything applies so well with today. So many people have despised God and His ways. They call evil, good and good, evil. They cannot stand learning about God. So many people prefer lies to truth. This book gives us insight into the heart of God and what He suffers when we follow false beliefs. Like marriage, God (the Beloved) seeks to be one with us.
What is your response? Are you looking at everything else but God? Do you seek occasion or excuses to constantly betray the faith given in baptism? Or do you try your best to follow Him and to Love Him in return? The Church needs a lot of prayers today. We need to ask God for His mercy and to never leave us. With all the complaints God had with the Israelite people, He still remained with His people. He never left them. In fact, He came to them to die on the cross for them. He has done the same for us.