Do you think that the problems in our society are because people do not take responsibility for themselves or because the government is not taking responsibility for the people? Hosea's answer would be yes. He saw both as being at fault.

In the eighth century B.C. Hosea began his ministry in the northern kingdom of Israel (which he sometimes calls Ephraim, Jacob or Samaria). He probably preached at about the same time or a little after the prophet Amos during the prosperous reign of Jereboam II. Unfortunately, along with the strong growth of the economy, there were also massive gains in poverty, social injustice, religious prostitution, sexual immorality and sales of idols.

The century began without the threat of any superpowers in the Middle East. This allowed Jereboam II to consolidate politically and economically. Assyria (in the east) became the dominant military threat, while at the same time to a lesser degree Egypt experienced resurgence in the west. Israel, besides trying to play Egypt and Assyria against each other, utilized its military might to try to force Judah, the southern kingdom, to join them in a revolt against Assyria. This attempt failed and soon after (721 B.C.) Assyria destroyed Israel.

The book tells us little about Hosea's life; it is primarily about his message—a holistic critique of Israel. Using powerful metaphorical language, Hosea attacks theology, morals, economy and politics.

God is passionately concerned for both the responsibility of the individual as well as society to care for and to give justice to the poor. But the message he gives Hosea is not only one of drastic judgment, but also one of his astounding love, mercy and forgiveness. Carefully reading Hosea's message will help you flesh out these great truths.