Hosea – Love lost and found. Sermons in 2019
Over the months of June to September(ish) in 2019, Craig will be preaching through a series of sermons on the book of Hosea.
The prophet Hosea preached to the northern kingdom (‘Israel’, ‘Ephraim’ Samaria) in the eighth century BC. His preaching spanned many years, from times of great prosperity in Israel up to the imminent threat of war with Assyria, with no small amount of local political anarchy in the meantime (Hosea 1.1 lists a turnover of five kings). Assyria overcome the northern kingdom in 733-32 (BC), with Samaria falling in 721.
A striking and, to modern ears, somewhat disconcerting image which dominates Hosea’s preaching is that of marital unfaithfulness expounded with the powerful language of whoredom and prostitution. Hosea’s personal life becomes a model for the relationship between Yahweh and Israel when Hosea is told to take ‘a wife of whoredom’, ‘for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord’ (1.2). The theme of Israel’s unfaithfulness is then developed in terms of adultery and seeking other ‘husbands.’ The children of this union are given names which symbolise the impact of Israel’s turning away from God.
The charge of unfaithfulness is brought with anger and hurt on God’s part, and with the threat of dire consequences. At the same time, Yahweh’s willingness to forgive and be reconciled, by which Israel returns as ‘wife’ in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love, and in mercy (e.g., 2.14-23), is also a central theme of Hosea’s preaching.
Preparing for the series:
- The best introduction to Hosea is to read the book itself. It’s not long and a half hour might get you through it. Plan to do this a few times through the series!
- A short animated video introduction can be found here, which summarises the book a little simplistically nevertheless tells the story pretty well (how much can you expect from 7 minutes!?).
- A more sophisticated introduction (with Isaiah) can be found in this lecture
- So far as commentaries go, the ‘Interpretation’ series provides reliable introductions to biblical books for those who don’t need a full-blown scholarly treatment. The volume including Hosea can be found here, among other sources. Beeby’s commentary is a bit more expansive but still very accessible (here, among other places). A more general volume on the prophets, such as Brueggeman’s ‘The prophetic imagination‘ might also be helpful.