(12) What’s in a name? Hosea
The Talmud calls Hosea the greatest prophet of his generation. He was a Northern Israelite – the only native Israelite prophet to leave a written legacy. He preached at the same time as Amos, during a period of deceptive ease as the Assyrians begin to take over the neighborhood. Amos preached mostly against oppression, injustice, poverty and other social ills. What do you remember about Hosea, and what theme do you expect to find reflected in his teaching?
The characters in the book of Hosea frequently have meaningful names. Even Hosea’s name means something. Read Numbers 13:8,16.
1. Can you imagine how Hosea is changed into Joshua? (Hint, add Je...)
2. Do you know, or can you guess what Hosea means? It was an appropriate name for Moses’ successor.
3. What other name do you know that’s derived from Joshua?
4. And have you ever been tempted to read a meaning into your name?
Read Hosea 1:1
1. What useful information do we find at the start of the book?
2. Do you usually read or skip lists of names in the Bible?
Read Hosea 1:2
1. What does this us about Hosea’s world?
2. How do you imagine the scene as God speaks to Hosea? People have imagined it in many different ways.
Read Hosea 1:3-5
1. Read 1 Chronicles 1:6, Ezekiel 38:6. Gomer is the name of Noah’s grandson, and also of a tribe. The name means “complete.” In what sense might Gomer’s entry to the story complete it?
2. Jezreel means “God sows.” Does the thought of God sowing remind you of any parables?
3. Jezreel is also the place where King Omri’s dynasty was overthrown by Jehu (ancestor of the current King Jeroboam of Israel). Why might this be significant in naming the child?
4. Read Hosea 2:21-23. What is God promising to sow? Have you ever felt sown or planted by God?
Read Hosea 1:6-7
1. How would you feel if your name was “No Mercy,” or “No Love”?
2. What sort of mercy is God promising for Judah?
3. What mercy do you think he promises for us?
Read Hosea 1:8-9
1. Even worse, what if your name was “Not My People”?
2. How do names affect you? Can you think of someone whose name fit them perfectly, or whose name was nothing like the person?
3. If it would be cruel to name someone “No Mercy,” is it also cruel to name them “Mercy” unless God calls you to?
Read Hosea 1:10. Has this happened yet?
Read Hosea 1:11-2:1. All three children’s names come into this short passage, completing (Gomer) the picture. Can you weave a story of yours or your family’s names?
Read Hosea 3:1-5. Some readers imagine Gomer left her husband and he bought her back. Others suggest this is just the same story being repeated in a different way (like Genesis 1 and 2). What is important in the story, whichever way we read it?
Let’s move on now to read how God feels about his people.
1. Read Hosea 2:2-3. What has Israel done, and what might be the punishment?
2. What might a call to “rebuke” the mother mean to us today? Is mother the government, the church, or something else entirely?
3. Read Hosea 2:4-5. Is there a sense in which our society or our churches go after other lovers? Have they in history? What tempts them?
4. Read Hosea 2:6-10. How might God “block their path,” or ours. If someone told you modern society is a parable of our relationship with God, would you condemn the sinners or beg forgiveness for yourself? Which should we do in general?
5. Read Hosea 2:11. Was Israel still worshiping God? What makes worship real?
6. Read Hosea 2:14. Is this a punishment or a kindness? Why is it sometimes hard to tell the difference?
7. Read Hosea 2:16-23.
a. What’s the difference between a husband and a master?
b. The names of the Baals will not be remembered. Will God remember our sins?
c. Why would there be a covenant with the beasts and birds? Read Genesis 1:25, 8:17, Isaiah 11:6-9, Ezekiel 34:25
d. Would you feel safer if all weapons were destroyed, or would you wonder how to defend yourself?
e. What gifts make it possible for us to know the Lord?
f. How do you think God feels about us, our churches, our neighborhoods, our country, our world? And are any of these really ours?