Sunday School Bible Survey:      HOSEA

Theme: The sin of backsliding

Key word: Return (15 times)

Key verses:
"For Israel slideth back as a backsliding heifer" (Hosea 4:16a).
"And my people are bent to backsliding from me: though they called them to the most High, none at all would exalt him" (Hosea 11:7).
"I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him" (Hosea 14:4).

From the Scofield Study Bible:
Hosea was a contemporary of Amos in Israel, and of Isaiah and Micah in Judah, and his ministry continued after the first, or Assyrian, captivity of the northern kingdom (II Kings 15:29). His style is abrupt, metaphorical, and figurative.

Israel is Jehovah's adulterous wife, repudiated, but ultimately to be purified and restored. This is Hosea's distinctive message, which may be summed up in his two words, Lo-ammi, "not my people," and Ammi, "my people."

Israel is not merely apostate and sinful--that is said also; but her sin takes its character from the exalted relationship into which she has been brought.

The book is in three parts:

  1. The dishonoured wife (1-3).
  2. The sinful people (4:1—13:8).
  3. The ultimate blessing and glory of Israel (13:9-14:9).

The events recorded in Hosea cover a period of 60 years (Ussher)


  1. The name "Hosea" means "salvation" and is basically the same name as "Joshua" and its Greek form "Jesus" (cf. Numbers 13:16; Hebrews 4:8).
  2. Hosea's contemporaries were Amos, Isaiah, and Micah.
  3. The prophet Hosea lived and ministered in the northern kingdom of Israel just before the fall of Samaria, about 721 BC (1:1). He prophesied during the long and prosperous reign of King Jeroboam II.
  4. Hosea's prophetic ministry extended beyond the death of King Jeroboam, and into the reigns of his son Zachariah, Zachariah's assassin Shallum, Shallum's assassin Menahem, his son Pekahiah, his assassin Pekah, and his assassin Hoshea.
  5. It was a dark period of assassinations and civil wars, culminating in the fall of Samaria.
  6. "In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes" (II Kings 17:6).
  7. The Assyrians were a brutal people but God allowed them to conquer Israel because of Israel's rebelliousness (cf. 13:16).
  8. While King Jeroboam II's long reign was marked by prosperity, it was also marked by corruption and apostasy.
  9. "Besides lying, perjury, drunkenness, lust, robbery and murder, the state of religion was one of profanity, idolatry and formality" (Eric W. Hayden, Preaching Through the Bible).
  10. Israel was rotting away spiritually and morally, and instead of turning to God they preferred forging foreign alliances with neighboring countries (cf. 7:11).


  1. Hosea was commanded by God to marry a woman named Gomer, who soon proved to be unfaithful. "And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. " (Hosea 1:2, 3).
  2. Gomer is a vivid picture of the nation Israel, who was unfaithful to God. The fact that Gomer is referred to as "a wife of whoredoms" (1:2) has presented problems.
  3. For example, why would God order a prophet to marry an immoral woman? More than likely, Gomer was pure when Hosea married her, but God was warning the prophet that she would later be unfaithful just as the people of Israel were unfaithful.
  4. If Gomer was a harlot when Hosea married her, then he would not have suffered as much because he could expect nothing but trouble from an immoral wife.
  5. G. Campbell Morgan said, "The statement distinctly calls her a woman of whoredom, but it does not tell us that she was at that time. It certainly does mean that God knew the possibilities in the heart of Gomer, and that presently they would be manifested in her conduct, and knowing, He commanded Hosea to marry her, knowing also what his experience would do for him in his prophetic work" (Hosea, The Heart and Holiness of God).
  6. Hosea's message was a heart-breaking message of God's imminent judgment. This is not unlike any of the other Old Testament prophets. What makes Hosea unique is he had to live it himself before he could preach it to others.
  7. Hosea had to experience deep agony in his own marriage to his unfaithful wife, and all of this was ordained by God as an object lesson for him, the people of Israel, and for all who read the Word of God.
  8. G. Campbell Morgan called Hosea "the prophet with the broken heart." His wife's infidelity allowed Hosea to sense some of the pain God feels when sinful men and women break His heart.
  9. Yet in spite of his wife's unfaithfulness, Hosea loved her and brought her back from slavery and degradation. This is a vivid picture of God's relationship with backslidden Israel (cf. Hosea 3).
  10. Spiritual adultery is condemned in both the Old Testament and in the New Testament. James 4:4 says, "Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God."
  11. God's judgment upon Israel is illustrated by the names of Hosea's three children.
  • Jezreel (1:4, 5) means "God will scatter." Jezreel was where Jehu destroyed the house of Ahab. "The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel" (I Kings 21:23). The dynasty of Jehu was destroyed when Zachariah was murdered by Shallum.
  • Lo-ruhamah (1:6) means "no more mercy," referring to the Assyrian captivity.
  • Lo-ammi (1:9) means "not my people," signifying the Lord's temporary rejection of Israel (cf. 1:10; 2:1, 23).


  1. Hosea preached against Israel's backsliding and all of her terrible sins: swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, pride, treachery, hypocrisy, ingratitude, covetousness, and many others (cf. 4:1, 2; 7:1-7).
  2. The people had turned their back on God. Hosea 4:6 says, "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee."
  3. They had to reap what they had sown. "For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind" (8:7).
  4. The book of Hosea contains a message of hope, emphasizing the restoration of Israel and God's unchanging love for Israel. "O Israel, return unto the Lord thy God; for thou hast fallen by thine iniquity" (14:1).
  5. "I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him" (14:4).
  6. Merrill Unger said, "Although Hosea's theme is fourfold: Israel's idolatry, wickedness, captivity and restoration — God's enduring love for the nation is interwoven throughout" (Introductory Guide to the Old Testament).


  1. Their three children (1:1-9).
  2. The restoration of Israel (1:10, 11).
  3. Israel chastised for her spiritual adultery (2:1-13).
  4. Israel restored by our gracious God (2:14-23).
  5. Hosea's wife a picture of unfaithful Israel (3).

  1. Swearing, lying, killing, stealing, adultery, idolatry, etc. (4-7).
  2. Israel judged by God for her numerous sins (8:1-13:8).
  3. Israel restored by God (13:9-14:9).

These are simple Sunday School survey notes. They are not for sale. The author used many outlines from popular Bible teachers such as C.I. Scofield and J. Vernon McGee, and he has tried to give credit when using their material.

—  Pastor James J. Barker  —