How to Study Hosea
The first three chapters of Hosea provide the setting for Hosea's prophetic message to the northern kingdom of Israel. Read these three chapters as you would a story; just remember it is a true story.
Read through Hosea 1 again. As you read:
Mark every occurrence of the word harlotry.
In your notebook, draw a simple family tree that shows whom Hosea married and the names of their children. Under each family member write a brief description of what the person was like or what his or her name meant. If your Bible has reference notes in the margin, consult them if you have problems discerning the meanings of the children's names.
Observe what this chapter teaches about the sons of Israel and the sons of Judah.
Now go back and read the introduction, which precedes. Then:
Read 1 Kings 11:26-40, where God tells Jeroboam what He will do after King Solomon's death. Notice why God does what He does.
Read 1 Kings 12, which tells of the fulfillment of God's word to Jeroboam. This chapter describes how the kingdom of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom, consisting of ten tribes, and the southern kingdom, consisting of two tribes. Pay attention to what Jeroboam does, since the northern kingdom no longer has access to Jerusalem and the temple, where they were to worship God three times a year.
Read Hosea 1:2 again and then Hosea 3:1. Watch the word as in 3:1.
In the margin of chapter 1 write why Hosea was told by God to marry Gomer. This will help you see why chapters 1 through 3 provide the setting for Hosea's message to the northern kingdom of Israel.
Keeping in mind what you have seen thus far, read Hosea 2 and do the following:
Mark every occurrence of the word harlotry and the phrase in that day.
Check your Bible's reference notes for 2:1 and either write in the text what Ammi and Ruhamah mean or highlight the reference note.
Carefully observe what the children are to say to their mother and why.
Read chapters 1 and 2 and underline every occurrence of the Lord said or declares the Lord. Then highlight or mark in a distinctive way every occurrence of I will. Then decide who is speaking throughout chapter 2 and who the her and she refer to.
Finally, read each I will chapter 2. Watch the sequence of events and summarize the type of action taken in these "I wills." Also watch what happens to her. Record your insights in your notebook.
When you come to 2:23, read your Bible's reference notes on this verse and compare this with 1:6,9 ; 2:1.
In the light of all you have seen in chapters 1 and 2, read chapter 3 and do the following:
In a distinctive way mark the word love.
Summarize in your notebook what God tells Hosea to do and why.
Read 3:5 and mark in the last days, but before you choose how to mark it, see if you notice any parallel to in that day in chapter 2. If you think any of these references pertain to the day of the Lord, record your insights.
Write the themes of each of the first three chapters on the Structure of Hosea chart. Then record the chapter theme in your Bible.
Keeping in mind the sitting of Hosea 1-3, read through Hosea 4-14 chapter by chapter. As you do:
Mark in a distinctive way the following key words (with their synonyms or pronouns): harlot (harlotry) knowledge, covenant, return, woe, iniquity (guilt, wickedness, sin). Also mark the phrases I will, from Me, and against Me (the Lord). Write these words on an index card and use it as a bookmark.
Also mark Judah, Israel, and Ephraim, each in its own distinctive way. As you do, remember that Ephraim was one of the ten tribes that comprised the northern kingdom of Israel. After Pekah took the throne in Israel, Tiglath-pilese, king of Assyria, come against him and took all of the kingdom captive in 733 B.C. except Ephraim and western Manasseh. Ten years later the remainder of the northern kingdom was completely destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Thus Ephraim refers to what remained of Israel in those last ten years. Remember this as you read.
After you read a chapter and mark key words and the references to Judah, Israel, and Ephraim. compile your insights on a chart.
As you read through the remainder of Hosea, remember that this is a passionate discourse because of God's relationship to Israel, the relationship of a husband to his wife (Ezekiel 16; Jeremiah 3:6-8), and of a father to his children (Hosea 11:1-3; Jeremiah 31:20). Remember also that because it is passionate, there is quite a bit of repetition, but not without purpose.
As you finish reading each chapter, summarize the theme of each one and record it on Structure of Hosea and in your Bible. Also, when you finish the book, decide on its theme and record it on the chart. Then fill in the remainder of the chart Structure of Hosea.
Key Words in the NIV and KJV
Key doctrines in Hosea
God's unconditional love for His covenant people (6:1-3; 11:1-12; Deut 7:7; Job 7:17; Is 49:15, 16; John 3:16; Titus 3:4)