“Unit 30: Day 2, Hosea,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 30: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
The Lord commanded Hosea to marry Gomer. The Lord used this marriage as a symbol to teach the Israelites about His covenant relationship with them. Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea. Similarly, the Israelites were unfaithful to the Lord because they sought after false gods. Hosea prophesied that in the last days God would extend mercy to the Israelites who repent.
Have you heard someone use the phrase “point of no return”? What do you think it means to arrive at a point of no return?
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf of the First Presidency said the following about this phrase:
“Flights over huge oceans, crossing extensive deserts, and connecting continents need careful planning to ensure a safe arrival at the planned destination. Some of these nonstop flights can last up to 14 hours and cover almost 9,000 miles.
“There is an important decision point during such long flights commonly known as the point of safe return. Up to this point the aircraft has enough fuel to turn around and return safely to the airport of departure. Having passed the point of safe return, the captain has lost this option and has to continue on. That is why this point is often referred to as the point of no return. …
“… Satan wants us to think that when we have sinned we have gone past a ‘point of no return’—that it is too late to change our course” (“Point of Safe Return,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2007, 99).
Sometimes people feel that when they commit serious sin they have passed a “point of no return” to their Father in Heaven. What are some of the dangers of thinking that when we have sinned we have gone past a point of no return? Have you ever felt this way or known someone who has?
As you study the book of Hosea, look for principles that can help us turn to the Lord with faith and hope when we have sinned.
Turn to the diagram “The Kingdoms of Israel and Judah at a Glance,” found in the lesson for 1 and 2 Chronicles (in the Unit 21: Day 1 lesson). Notice that Hosea was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel who prophesied before the Israelites were carried away captive by the Assyrians. At that time the Northern Kingdom of Israel had formed alliances with other nations, and many Israelites were practicing idolatry, including rituals that violated God’s law of chastity.
The book of Hosea begins with the Lord giving Hosea an unusual command. Read Hosea 1:2–3, looking for what the Lord commanded Hosea to do.
Hosea was commanded to marry a woman who had committed whoredoms, or sexual sins, and Hosea selected Gomer. The Lord used this marriage to teach the Israelites about His covenant relationship with them. As you continue to study the book of Hosea, remember that Hosea represents Jehovah, or Jesus Christ, and Gomer represents the Israelites.
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
Why is marriage is a good symbol for the covenant relationship between the Lord and the house of Israel?
According to Hosea 1:2, how was Gomer like the Israelites?
In Hosea 1:4–2:4 we learn that Hosea and Gomer had three children. The names of the children were dictated by the Lord and represented the consequences that the Israelites would suffer because of their sins. Through Hosea, the Lord also explained that consequences would come upon Gomer because of her actions. Read Hosea 2:5, looking for what Gomer did after her marriage to Hosea.
What feelings might Hosea have had after learning about Gomer’s actions?
Remember that the marriage between Hosea and Gomer symbolized the covenant relationship between Jesus Christ and the Israelites. Consider how Hosea’s experience with Gomer can help us understand how the Lord might feel when we break our covenants by sinning.
Read Hosea 2:6–13, looking for what the Lord said He would do because of the Israelites’ unfaithfulness. Hosea used symbolic language to describe the consequences Israel would receive. As you read, consider what this symbolic language might represent.
The phrases “hedge up thy way” and “make a wall” in verse 6 may refer to the Lord separating the Israelites from their false gods when the Assyrians would later capture them and carry them away. In verses 7–8, the Israelites recognized that they were better off staying true to their first husband, Jehovah, and they lament the decision to go after Baal. In verses 9–13, the consequences and judgments are set forth for going after other gods and forsaking Jehovah. The Israelites would be defenseless, exposed, and stripped of all their worldly possessions. From these verses we learn that if we violate our covenants with the Lord, we will suffer negative consequences.
- In your scripture study journal, write how the consequences that come to those who break covenants can be a blessing for them.
Read Hosea 2:14–15, 17, 19–20, 23, looking for what the Lord would eventually do for Israel. You may want to mark what you find.
The word allure and the phrase “speak comfortably unto her” in verse 14 mean that the Lord will invite Israel to return to Him. The word betroth in verse 19 refers to a binding commitment to be married. In this case, it is used as a symbol to show the Lord’s desire to reestablish His covenant with Israel and thereby bind His people to Him.
What do these actions teach you about the Lord?
As a review, in chapter 1 you read that the Lord commanded Hosea to marry a woman who had committed sexual sin, and he obeyed by marrying Gomer. In chapter 2 you learned that Gomer was unfaithful to Hosea, and the Lord compared her adultery to Israel’s apostasy.
In chapter 3 the Lord commanded Hosea to redeem his wife from bondage, so he purchased her freedom for 15 pieces of silver. If Gomer would forsake her sins and remain faithful to her marriage covenant with Hosea, then Hosea would continue to love and care for Gomer as her husband in spite of Gomer’s previous sins (see Hosea 3:3).
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How is what Hosea did for Gomer like what the Lord does for all of His people who turn to Him through repentance?
The Lord desires to continue His covenant relationship with those who have sinned. What is required of us in order to return to the Lord after we have sinned and been unfaithful?
From Hosea 2–3 we learn that if we will repent and remain faithful to the covenants we have made with the Lord, then He will receive us and forgive our sins.
President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency explained what he learned about the Lord as he taught a seminary class about the book of Hosea:
“In just two chapters, even my youngest students knew that the husband was a metaphor for Jehovah, Jesus Christ. And they knew that the wife represented his covenant people, Israel, who had gone after strange gods. They understood that the Lord was teaching them, through this metaphor, an important principle. Even though those with whom he has covenanted may be horribly unfaithful to him, he would not divorce them if they would only turn back to him with full purpose of heart.
“I knew that too, but even more than that, I felt something. I had a new feeling about what it means to make a covenant with the Lord. All my life I had heard explanations of covenants as being like a contract, an agreement where one person agrees to do something and the other agrees to do something else in return.
“For more reasons than I can explain, during those days teaching Hosea, I felt something new, something more powerful. This was not a story about a business deal between partners. … This was a love story. This was a story of a marriage covenant bound by love, by steadfast love. What I felt then, and it has increased over the years, was that the Lord, with whom I am blessed to have made covenants, loves me, and you … with a steadfastness about which I continually marvel and which I want with all my heart to emulate” (“Covenants and Sacrifice” [address given at a Church Educational System symposium on the Old Testament, Aug. 15, 1995], 2; si.lds.org).
Ponder why the Lord is willing to receive us again when we have broken our covenants with Him.
- In your scripture study journal, write how the principles taught in Hosea can help those who feel they have sinned so much that they cannot return to the Lord. You may want to write it as a letter to a friend who needs encouragement to repent and return to the Lord.
Ponder the following questions:
When have you experienced the mercy and love of the Lord?
How have you felt the Lord inviting you to return to Him when you have sinned or been unfaithful to Him?
Have the courage to act on any promptings you may receive to repent of your sins and fully return to the Lord.
In Hosea 4–11 we read that Hosea called upon the Israelites to return to the Lord and serve Him. Hosea 12–13 records that Hosea explained that the Lord uses prophets to guide His people. Hosea also taught that through the Savior, all people will overcome physical death. In Hosea 13–14 we read that Hosea taught the Israelites that their decision to be unfaithful to the Lord was the reason for their impending destruction. However, Hosea also extended a message of hope to them by teaching that in the last days, the Lord would heal them of their backsliding, or apostasy, when the people of Israel return to Him.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Hosea 1–14 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: