OLD TESTAMENT - LESSON 34
Hosea 1-3; 11; 13-14
- Using the similitude of a faithful husband and an adulterous wife,
Hosea describes the relationship between the Lord and Israel.
- Because of his love for his people, the Lord continues to invite Israel
to repent and return to him.
A study of this lesson should help us to understand that the Lord is
loving and merciful and will forgive us when we repent and return to him.
- Time frame:
Hosea lived during the reign of the Israelite king Jeroboam II. It
was under his reign that Israel reached its greatest size.
Conditions during this period:
- Hosea's mission: about 760-720 BC.
- Israel (the northern kingdom taken captive in Assyria in about 721
The prophet Hosea: "Hosea gives a more intimate view of his
personal affairs in his writing than any of the other prophets except Jeremiah.
He is a man who suffered many hardships to keep the Lord's commandments.
His writing is highly emotional and less objective than the writing of
his contemporaries." (Duane S. Crowther in Prophets & Prophecies
of the Old Testament, p271)
According to scholars this book has suffered seriously in the process
of transmission and is generally regarded as being more corrupt than any
other Old Testament book. This does not seem to take away from its basic
- The leaders had become rich, haughty and proud.
- The middle class was disappearing. Rich were foreclosing mortgages
on small landowners and taking their properties.
- The numbers of poor were increasing and they were becoming increasingly
oppressed. It became a common practice for parents to sell their children
as slaves in payment of debts.
- Worship had degenerated. Pagan rites and idolatry were still common
Hosea Describes The Relationship Between The Lord And
- WHAT IS A SIMILITUDE?
The book of Hosea compares the Lord's relationship with Israel (and
the Church today) and the relationship between a husband and a wife.
- The dictionary provides the following definitions (Random House Webster's
College Dictionary 1996, p1248):
- Likeness; resemblance.
- A person or thing that is like or the counterpart of another.
- Semblance; image.
- A likening or comparison; a simile, parable, or allegory.
- One of the most frequently used similitudes in the scriptures describes
the Lord as bridegroom (or husband) and his covenant people as his bride
- The first three chapters of Hosea use this similitude, comparing Israel's
idol worship to adultery. The prophet Hosea represents the Lord as the
husband and Gomer represents Israel as the wife.
READ HOSEA 1:2-3. Hosea takes Gomer as wife.
READ HOSEA 2:5,13. Gomer plays the harlot.
- WHAT DOES THIS COMPARISON TEACH ABOUT THE LEVEL OF COMMITMENT AND DEVOTION
THE LORD EXPECTS FROM US?
- Throughout the history of the world, marriage has been the most sacred
of institutions. Almost all civilizations have condemned infidelity and
unfaithfulness between marriage partners. Our relationship with the Lord
should be no different. Indulging in the ways of the world is similar to
being unfaithful to our marriage partner. The Lord wants us to be as faithful
to him and his commandments.
- Elder: Bruce R. McConkie: "In a spiritual sense, to emphasize
how serious it is, the damning sin of idolatry is called adultery. When
the Lord's people forsake him and worship false gods, their infidelity
to Jehovah is described as whoredoms and adultery. (Jer. 3: 8-9; Hos. 1:2;
3:1.) By forsaking the Lord, his people are unfaithful to their covenant
vows, vows made to him who symbolically is their Husband." (Mormon
READ HOSEA 2:8-9. Hosea to return and take away
- IN WHAT WAY WAS ANCIENT ISRAEL COMPARABLE TO GOMER?
- In this similitude, Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea. How many times did
Israel turn from devotion to the Lord to the worship of idols and commandment
- WHO OR WHAT WERE ISRAEL'S "LOVERS" OR THE THINGS THAT CAUSED
THE PEOPLE TO TURN FROM THE LORD?
- Idols or other gods.
- Material goods.
- Practices of the world.
- WHAT THINGS MAY BECOME OUR "LOVERS" AND DIVERT US FROM OUR
DEDICATION TO FOLLOWING THE SAVIOR?
- We are not so much different from ancient Israel. The same kinds of
things may become our seducers and "lovers" if we are not diligent.
We may not actually believe in idols and false gods, but there are those
who allow their possession to become their gods. Many get so caught up
in the pursuit of goods that they are led away from devotion to the Lord.
Through the media, the practices of the world are made to look inviting
and lure many away from keeping the commandments.
- President Spencer W. Kimball: "Modern idols or false gods can
take such forms as clothes, homes, businesses, machines, automobiles, pleasure
boats, and numerous other material deflectors from the path to godhood.
What difference does it make that the item concerned is not shaped like
an idol? Brigham Young said: 'I would as soon see a man worshipping a little
god made of brass or of wood as to see him worshipping his property'."
(Miracle of Forgiveness, p40-41)
- Consider what President Spencer W. Kimball said about one practice
of the world: "We have become a world of Sabbath breakers. On the
Sabbath the lakes are full of boats, the beaches are crowded, the shows
have their best attendance, the golf links are dotted with players. The
Sabbath is the preferred day for rodeos, conventions, family picnics; and
ball games are played on the sacred day. Even the 'stranger that is within
thy gates' is pressed into service. 'Business as usual' is the slogan for
many, and our holy day has become a holiday. And because so many people
treat the day as a holiday numerous others cater to the wants of the fun-lovers
and money-makers." Miracle of Forgivenss, p46)
- TO WHOM DID THE ADULTEROUS WIFE GIVE CREDIT FOR HER FOOD AND CLOTHING?
- "...my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool
and my flax, mine oil and my drink" (2:5).
- USING THIS COMPARISON, TO WHOM DID THE ISRAELITES ATTRIBUTE THE FRUITFUL
LAND IN WHICH THEY LIVED?
- Their false gods and idols.
- HOW DO PEOPLE TODAY GIVE CREDIT TO FALSE GODS FOR THE BLESSINGS THEY
- In the United States today we hear much about the properous circumstances
of the country. Where is the credit for this prosperity given? Politicians,
technology, free enterprise, or any number of other factors. Though some
of these may be elements, consider the words of the Lord to Nephi: "And
inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments, ye shall prosper, and shall
be led to a land of promise; yea, even a land which I have prepared for
you; yea, a land which is choice above all other lands."
- Individuals often credit themselves or luck for their blessings. True
blessings come only from the Lord and we so often see people, even some
of the Saints, giving credit for their blessings to someone or something
Consider the attitude of the husband towards his unfaithful wife:
- HOW DID THE HUSBAND REMIND HIS WIFE THAT HE--NOT HER LOVERS--SUPPLIED
HER WITH FOOD, WATER, AND OTHER POSSESSIONS?
- He said that he would return and take away her corn, wine, wool, and
- This was certainly prophetic in regards to ancient Israel and Judah.
Through their unfaithfulness to the Lord, they lost their blessings and
- The same is true for us today. Consider the words of Mormon to those
of us who live in America, "For behold, this is a land which is
choice above all other lands; wherefore he that doth possess it shall serve
God or shall be swept off; for it is the everlasting decree of God. And
it is not until the fulness of iniquity among the children of the land,
that they are swept off" (Ether 2:12).
- HOW CAN WE SHOW OUR APPRECIATION TO THE LORD FOR THE BLESSINGS HE GIVES
- Mormon's words hold the key, to "serve God". We do
that by keeping the commandments and reaching out in service to others
by sharing the gospel, doing work for the dead, and assisting those less
- We all know in a small sense how important it is to be grateful and
to be appreciated. I have two daughters that have left home, married, and
have had children. We tried to teach them to live righteously and keep
the commandments. They demonstrate to me their gratitude and appreciation
when I see them trying to live right and follow the counsel we gave them
for many years. This is what the Lord wants from us. We are his children
and we demonstrate our gratitude to him by the way we live our lives.
The Lord promised his wife if she would return to him, "And
I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me
in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies"
- In Hosea 2:6-13, we see that the husband his not pleased with the wife's
- "I will hedge up thy way with thorns, and make a wall, that
she shall not find her paths" (2:6).
- "I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, and my
wine in the season thereof, and will recover my wool and my flax"
- "I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days,
her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts" (2:11).
- "I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath
said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me" (2:12).
- Consider his attitude as shown in Hosea 2:14-23:
- "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the
wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her" (2:14).
- "And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley
of Achor for a door of hope" (2:15).
- "And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth
thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness,
and in mercies" (2:19).
- Even though the wife had been unfaithful, the husband still loved her
and wanted her to come back to him. Likewise, the Lord still loves his
people who have gone astray, and he wants them to turn again unto him.
In Hosea 3:1-2, the husband purchased his wife from her lover, "So
I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley,
and an half homer of barley" (3:2).
- WHAT DOES THE LORD PROMISE HIS PEOPLE IF THEY WILL REPENT AND RETURN
- READ HOSEA 2:20, 23.
- They can can know the Lord.
- He will have mercy upon them.
- He will once again call them his people.
- WHY IS THIS PROMISE IMPORTANT?
- It means we still have a chance. If they opportunity to repent and
receive the forgiveness of the Lord ceased to exist, what would be the
purpose of even living? What would be the reason for seeking to do good?
We would be eternally damned. Thank goodness that we can repent and have
our sins forgiven.
- It is important to note that in the culture of this time and place,
that women were often considered property and could be bought and sold.
- Hosea 3:3: "And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many
days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another
man: so will I also be for thee."
- WHAT DID THE HUSBAND REQUIRE OF HIS WIFE AFTER HE PURCHASED HER?
- To be faithful and true to him only.
- WHAT DID HE PROMISE HER?
- He would be devoted to her.
- Consider these verses:
- Acts 20:28: "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all
the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed
the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood."
- 1 Peter 1:18-19: "Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed
with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation
received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of
Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot."
- Like the unfaithful wife in Hosea, we have also been purchased if we
are willing to repent and live faithfully. Rather than having been purchased
by silver, barley, and homer, a much greater price has been paid, the infinite
and eternal sacrifice of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Continues To Invite Israel To Repent &
Return To Him
- Throughout the book of Hosea, the Lord reproves the Israelites for
their great sins. Through Hosea, the describes the captivity and destruction
that will result from Israel's wickedness. He invites Israel to repent
and return to him. Israel will be rewarded according to its faithfulness.
READ HOSEA 11:4. The Lord raises the yoke.
- "I will punish them for their ways, and reward them their doings"
- "Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up
your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain
righteousness upon you. Ye have plowed wickedness, ye have reaped iniquity;
ye have eaten the fruit of lies: because thou didst trust in thy way, in
the multitude of thy mighty men" (Hosea 10:12-13).
- Wickedness brings judgment. Righteousness brings blessings. These effects
are both earthly & eternal. President Benson said: "We are
free to choose, but we are not free to alter the consequences of those
choices" (Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson, p382).
We read in Hosea 12:13: "And by a prophet the LORD brought
Israel out of Egypt."
- "This is an agricultural simile, and refers to the custom of
raising the yoke from the neck and cheeks of the oxen so that they can
more readily eat their food. Henderson says: 'The ol, yoke, not only included
the piece of wood on the neck by which the animal was fastened to the pole,
but also the whole of the harness about the head which as connected with
it. The yokes used in the East are very heavy, and press so much upon the
animals that they are unable to bend their necks.'" (Old Testament
Student Manual 2:108)
- WHAT DO WE LEARN ABOUT THE LORD'S FEELINGS FOR HIS PEOPLE THROUGH HIS
- Again, we see a demonstration of the Lord's love through his Atonement
for the sins of the people. Without his sacrifice we would be bound by
an eternal yoke and unable to feast on the things of eternal life.
- Consider what the Lord has to say about his yoke: "Come unto
me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take
my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and
ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden
is light" (Matthew 11:28-30).
READ HOSEA 14:4-7. The Lord's promise to Israel
if they repented.
Hosea's final words: "Who is wise, and he shall understand
these things? prudent, and he shall know them? for the ways of the LORD
are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall
fall therein" (Hosea 14:9).
- The Lord reminded the Israelites how their ancestors were delivered
out of captivity in Egypt. He also did this in Hosea 11:1 and 13:4-5.
- WHAT MIGHT THIS BE A SIMILITUDE OF?
- Hosea 13:14: "I will ransom them from the power of the grave;
I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave,
I will be thy destruction: repentance shall be hid from mine eyes."
- As the Lord delivered Israel from bondage in Egypt, so he will deliver
all who come unto him from sin and death.
The book of Hosea reminds us of the importance of being faithful. We
are also reminded that if we sin, there is still a chance for us to be
restored to our former blessings. If we repent and strive to live faithfully,
we can still be redeemed through the atonement. What a wonderful blessing!
It gives each of us hope.
Lesson 35: Amos 3; 7-9; Joel 2-3.
Additional Reading: Joseph Smith--History 1:41; D&C 1:14-28;
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