Hosea 1:1-9 Israel No Longer His People-Judah Spared.
As with all the prophets, the word of the LORD came to Hosea-he did not conceive it in his own imagination, and it came at a specific time in history. Hosea was called to prophesy mainly to the northern kingdom of Israel, from about 750 B.C. to just before its fall to Assyria in 722, even though the four kings mentioned were kings of Judah (v. 1). The book depicts Israel’s thoughts and actions as an adulterer in their covenant relationship with the LORD. The nation had experienced prosperity under Jeroboam II (793-753), but this “was followed by a period of political and social chaos and religious decline under the next six kings, who reigned for a combined period of twenty-five years (2Kin. 15:8-17:41)” (NGSB. p.1357). Her idolatry was spiritual adultery, and they also married outside of the faith.
Before Hosea even began his ministry, he was told to marry a harlot, who would serve as a symbol of the LORD’s being in covenant with one who was unfaithful (v. 2 Cf. 3:1; Dt. 31:16; Jud. 2:17; Ps. 73:27; Jer. 2:13; Ezek. 16:1-59; 23:1-49). When Gomer had a son, the prophet was told to name him Jezreel, meaning God sows or plants (vv. 3-4 Cf. II Kgs. 10:11; 15:8-10; 17:6, 23; 18:11), and it was in the valley of Jezreel that the nation was judged in 733 B.C. (v. 5 Cf. II Kgs. 15:29). “Israel’s military strength, symbolized by the bow (Gen. 49:24; 1 Sam. 2:4; Ezek. 39:3), was broken by the Assyrian army under Tiglath-Pileser III, who conquered the northern territories of Israel. This punishment through military defeat suggests the theme of covenant breaking since it reflects the curses recorded in Lev. 26:17; Deut. 28:25, 49-57” (Ibid. p.1359).
The LORD had sowed Israel in the promised land, but when Gomer’s daughter was born they were told to name her Lo-Rumamah, meaning “no mercy,” because now the LORD would “no longer have mercy on the house of Israel,” but instead would see that they would be taken away captive (v. 6 Cf. II Kgs. 17:6). However, at this time in history, Judah did remain relatively faithful, so that the LORD would continue to “have mercy on the house of Judah, and save them, but not “by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen,” rather, they would be saved directly by the LORD their God (v. 7 Cf. II Kgs. 19:29-35; Ps. 44:3-7; Is. 30:18; 37:36-37; Zech. 4:6). With the name of Gomer’s second son, Lo-Ammi, meaning “Not-My-People,” the new status of Israel was symbolized (vv. 8-9).