“I Will Betroth Thee unto Me in Righteousness” (Hosea 1–3; Hosea 11; Hosea 13–14)
The official church guide can be seen at Lesson 34 of Official LDS Church site for Gospel Doctrine
We encourage you to make sure you are familiar with the official church curriculum as the first step in your lesson preparation, as this is the material recommended by the General Authorities of the church.
Supplementary material here is not intended to substitute for lesson preparation, but hopefully it will enhance your preparations for Sunday School.
Very little is known about the prophet Hosea. His name means "Salvation is of the Lord". He lived in the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 740–725 BC, which would probably make him a contemporary of Jonah, Isaiah and Micah. He was commanded by God to marry a prostitute.
The Book of Hosea
The book of Hosea is divided into two major sections:
- The illustration of Israel's infidelity (Hosea 1-3)
- The charges & punishment against Israel (Hosea 4-14)
In 1:2, God commands Hosea to marry a prostitute. There is much conjecture as to the details of this marriage (i.e. who was Gomer, what kind of prostitute, etc.). All we know for certain is that Hosea took an unfaithful wife as God commanded so God could use his marriage as a living illustration of God's relationship with Israel.
We do know that mere association with a prostitute, let alone marriage, would have alienated him from society. Not only was Hosea's reputation in jeopardy, but his happiness as a husband and father. He entered this marriage knowing that Gomer would betray him, and knowing that he would not have a happy marriage.
God's marriage to Israel
Hosea's marriage is a type of God's relationship with the nation Israel. God describes his relationship not as a master and slave, but husband and wife in 2:16. In chapter 11 God describes Israel as his child whom he loved and cared for. Like Gomer, however, Israel was a wife of prostitution. God knew that his chosen people would betray Him. Yet He chose them and loved them anyway.
Compare this to Romans 5:8, where the apostle Paul states that even while we were bitter enemies of God, He still gave the ultimate sacrifice, Christ, to die on the cross.
Chapter 2 describes the divorce of God and Israel. This description matches the Mosaic law found in Deuteronomy 24:1. Here, when a man finds that his wife is unclean (literally naked ), he writes a certificate of divorce and sends her out of the house. God is writing his certificate of divorce for the nation Israel. We will examine the charges against more Israel in more detail below.
Chapters 2 and 3 illustrate God's truly unconditional love. Even after the adultery of Israel, God pursues her and takes the initiative to restore a relationship with her. In 2:14 He says, “I will allure her.” Hosea again is commanded by God to illustrate this to the nation Israel by taking back his adulterous wife, Gomer. Gomer is not the one seeking reconciliation. It is Hosea, the offended party, who takes the initiative. He woes her back, buying her back for 15 shekels. Imagine Gomer's response to Hosea's wooing. She must have considered Hosea to be a fool.
This is a very clear picture of God's unconditional love. Even when we are not seeking Him, and are actively rebelling against Him, God is reaching out for reconciliation. He is eager to forgive and shower us with mercy. He is courting us, wooing us, back into a relationship with Him. And the divorce, or the judgment, is His discipline designed to bring us back to a relationship with Him.
The Restoration of Israel (Chapters 11 – 14)
Even in the midst of God's condemnation of Israel, it is always followed with a prediction of Israel's future restoration. Israel will come to know Yahweh, and He will give them plentiful crops and fertile herds, and (Hosea 2:23 NASB) "I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, And I will say to those who were not My people, 'You are My people!' And they will say, 'You are my God!'""
But this restoration will not come without the repentance of Israel. In a plea with his people, Hosea says, if Israel returns to the Lord, he will heal and bandage Israel and bring back the rains (Hosea 6:1, 3 NASB).
(Hosea 10:12 NASB) "Sow with a view to righteousness, Reap in accordance with kindness; Break up your fallow ground, For it is time to seek the LORD Until He comes to rain righteousness on you."
God is the initiator of restoration. But it requires a response on our part. We must seek Him, pressing on to know Him. We become broken before Him. Then God will respond by revealing Himself to us. Then we will know Him.
Chapter 14 concludes the book restating Hosea's plea to Israel to return to God. Hosea assures them that God is faithful, and will restore them, and Israel shall know their God.
(Hosea 14:4-7 NASB) " I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from them.  I will be like the dew to Israel; He will blossom like the lily, And he will take root like the cedars of Lebanon.  His shoots will sprout, And his beauty will be like the olive tree, And his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.  Those who live in his shadow Will again raise grain, And they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon”
Additional Teaching Materials
- Old Testament Institute Manual
- The Old Testament Made Easier Part 3. David J Ridges, 2006. ISBN 1-55517-957-6