Allegory is a form of extended metaphor, in which objects, persons, and actions in a narrative, are equated with the meanings that lie outside the narrative itself. The underlying meaning has moral, social, religious, or political significance, and characters are often personifications of abstract ideas as charity, greed, or envy.
Thus an allegory is an event or events with two or more applications including the literal event(s) and an applied meaning to another time period. For example, in Galatians 4:21-31, the Lord points to the events that occurred in Isaac’s early years and applies the conclusions and principles of those events to Paul’s present experiences with the Jews and the Old Testament Law of Moses.
Hosea 1:1 tells us who the kings were when Hosea prophesied. He prophesied during the reigns of these kings of Judah:
- Uzziah (or Azariah)
Consider the times that Hosea lived during in light of the kings who ruled over Israel. God says that Uzziah “…did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that his father Amaziah had done…” (2 Kings 15:3; 2 Chr. 26:4). Jotham “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord: he did according to all that his father Uzziah had done” (2 Kings 15:34; 2 Chr. 27:2). Ahaz was one of the most wicked kings that Judah ever had. God says that Ahaz “did not that which was right in the sight of the Lord his God, like David his father. But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel” (2 Kings 16:2-3; 2 Chr. 28:1‑2). And “the Lord brought Judah low because of Ahaz king of Israel; for he made Judah naked, and transgressed sore against the Lord” (2 Chr. 28:12), “and in the time of his distress did he trespass yet more against the Lord: this is that king Ahaz” (2 Chr. 28:22). But Hezekiah was one of the most righteous kings that Judah ever had. God says that Hezekiah “did that which was right in the sight of the Lord, according to all that David his father did” (2 Kings 18:3; 2 Chr. 29:2). In fact, God says that Hezekiah “trusted in the Lord God of Israel; so that after him was none like him among all the kingsof Judah, nor any that were before him. For he clave to the Lord, and departed not from following him, but kept his commandments, which the Lord commanded Moses” (2 Kings 18:5‑6).
Hosea also prophesied during the reign of Jeroboam 2nd, king of Israel. Like all the kings of Israel beginning with Jeroboam 1st, God says that Jeroboam 2nd “…did that which was evil in the sight of the Lord: he departed not from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 14:24). Hosea prophesied during the reigns of 4 kings of Judah and one king of Israel.
What kind of wife did Hosea marry and why? God wanted to show Israel what their hearts were like in his sight so He commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute. Hosea’s marriage was a picture of the problem God had with Israel. Israel had committed “great whoredom, departing from the Lord” (Hos. 1:2). God also commanded Hosea to love an adulteress. Hosea understood that the ‘love’ he was to have, was to be in the sense of a marriage to an adulteress. Gomer’s friend loved her and so Gomer was an adulteress (Hos 3:1). In the same way, God loved Israel even though their hearts were not toward Him, but toward false gods and wine. So Hosea bought Gomer for 15 pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley (Hos 3:2) and married her (Hos 1:3). When Gomer left Hosea and became the slave of one of her lovers, Hosea bought her again at God’s command for the price of a slave. Gomer’s unfaithfulness and Hosea’s buying her back to be his wife again was a picture of God’s willingness to receive Israel again even though Israel had played the harlot.
Notice the names of Hosea’s children and the meaning of those names.
- Hosea had a son which God told him to name Jezreel as a token of God’s prophecy that He was going to avenge the blood of Jezreel on the house of Jehu (Hos 1:3-5). Many years before, God had commanded Jehu to kill all of Ahab’s family (2 Kings 9:5-10). But Jehu had gone beyond God’s instructions and shed innocent blood in Jezreel, including Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 9:27), Ahab’s great men and priests (2 Kings 10:11), and 42 servants of Ahaziah, king of Judah (2 Kings 10:12-14). Now God determined to avenge this blood on the house of Jehu.
- Hosea had a daughter which God told him to name Loruhamah, which literally means “not pitied” in Hebrew, because God determined not to have mercy on Israel. He was going to utterly take Israel away (Hos. 1:6) because of their wickedness.
- Hosea had another son which God told him to name Loammi, which literally means “not my people” in Hebrew, because God was no longer going to be the God of physical Israel and they were not going to be his people anymore (Hos. 1:8-9).
Several New Testament prophecies are found in Hosea. The Lord then gave a prophecy concerning spiritual Israel (the church) of the New Testament which was to include the Gentiles who had not been God’s people but now would be included with God’s people (Hos. 1:10-11; Rom. 9:24-26). Again inHos. 2:23, God prophesied that He would become the God of the Gentiles and show them mercy who previously had not been His people and did not have mercy. This is quoted in I Peter 2:10 and Romans 9:24-26. This prophecy is in the midst of a general prophecy of the New Testament church in which God was going to make a new covenant and His people would know Him and be betrothed to God in righteousness, judgment, lovingkindness, mercy and faithfulness (Hos. 2:18-23). The Gentiles would be a part of those betrothed to God under this covenant. The church, which is Christ’s bride (Rom. 7:4), included the Gentiles. Then again inHosea 3:5 He gives another prophecy of the church under Christ, the son of David in the “latter days.” Hosea 6:6 is not necessarily a prophecy of the New Testament, where God says He would rather have mercy than sacrifices and the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings., but Jesus quoted this verse in his teachings (Matt. 9:13; 12:7). God also foretold by Hosea that Jesus, as a child, would go down to Egypt and then return to Israel (Hos. 11: 1). This was fulfilled in Matthew 2:13-15. Also, in Hosea 14, God said that He would heal Israel’s backsliding and Israel would grow like a tree. This is likely a prophecy of the New Testament church in addition to a foretelling of the return of the captivity of Judah.
So what were the major causes of God being displeased with the children of Israel and how does that apply to us today?
- Israel had committed spiritual adultery by departing from God to serve idols and love the world (Hos. 1:2; 2:2-13; 3:1-3; 4:12-19; 5:1-4; 6:10; 7:8-9; 14-16; 8:1-11; 9:1,10; 10:1-8; 11:2; 13:14; 14:3, 8). God also warns us that to serve any other master besides Him, is to commit spiritual adultery. This includes loving the world and being a friend of this world (James 4:4-5). We must live only for God and serve no other master (Matt. 4:10; 6:24; Luke 14:26-33; 2 Cor. 5:14-15; 1 Pet 4:1-2). We must come out from the world and be separate for God (John 7:7; 15:18-21; 17:11-19; 2 Cor. 6:14-18; James 1:27).
- Israel was living in immorality. They were swearing, lying, killing, stealing, committing adultery, getting drunk, etc. (Hos. 4:1-2, 11; 6:8-9; 7:1-5; 9:9-10; 11:12-12:7). We also must put away these works of the flesh, the old man, and be in Christ’s image, the new man (Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:17-5:12; Col. 3:5-15). Anyone who commits these sins will not enter heaven (1 Cor. 6:9-10; Gal. 5:19-21).
- Israel was destroyed for lack of knowledge. God had given them the law to teach them, but they had forsaken and forgotten it (Hos. 4:6, 10; 5:4; 6:6; 8:12-14; 9:17). If we are ignorant of God’s word, then we also will be destroyed (John 8:31-36; Acts 17:30; Eph. 4:18; 5:17).
- Israel’s faith was in man, not God (Hos. 10:13). Ephraim willingly walked after the commandments of men (Hos. 5:11). When God punished them for their iniquities, they sought help from the nations around them instead of repenting and seeking God (Hos. 5:13; 7:7-16; 8:8-10; 12:1; 13:4-11).
In Hosea 2:15, God said He was giving the Valley of Achor to them for a door of hope. The valley of Achor is the place where Achan and his family were killed for taking of the accursed thing when Jericho fell (Joshua 7). The lesson of the valley of Achor teaches God’s children not to disobey God, not to love material things, but to be holy to God and live only for Him. Learning and living by that lesson becomes a refuge for God’s children, protecting them from spiritual ruin such as Achan received.
When the people cried to God, why didn’t He hear them? The people had rejected God’s law and would not frame their doings and turn to the Lord (Hos. 4:6; 5:4). Therefore, God was going to punish them. When they were being punished, they would cry out to God, but God would not hear them (Hos. 5:6). God had withdrawn from them and would not return to them until they acknowledged their offenses (Hos. 5:6, 15). God draws near to those who draw near to Him (James 4:8), but He will forsake those who forsake Him (2 Chr. 15:2). If someone forsakes God, they must sincerely repent in order for God to forgive them and return to them. Israel was not sincere in their repentance (Hos. 7:10). They were not crying to God with their heart, they were crying for the things of the world that they loved (the food and drink) which God had taken away (Hos. 7:14-16).
In Hosea 7:16 God says His people were like a “deceitful bow.” A “deceitful bow” tells you the arrow is going to go in a particular direction, but when the arrow is shot, it goes in a different direction than what the bow said. Israel was like this. Their mouths cried out to God, as if they were going to turn and do His will (Hos 7:14, 16), but in truth, they were going in a different direction. They missed the food and drink which God had taken away, and that’s what they were crying for. But when they said they were returning to God, they were not turning sincerely. They were not returning to the Most High to give their time and lives to God to fulfill His purpose in forming their hearts to be like his. They planned to continue walking in their own ways, like a deceitful bow.
In Hosea 9, God compares Israel in that time to the people in the days of Gibeah and Baalpeor.
- This time period was in Judges 19:12-30, when a Levite who was journeying stopped in Gibeah of Benjamin to spend the night. There were men of Belial in that city who came to the house where he was lodging and desired to have the man. They took his concubine and abused her all night and she died. The man then divided her corpse and sent the pieces throughout Israel. In Judges 20, the tribes of Israel fought a war against Benjamin and burned Gibeah. In Hosea 9:9, God says that Israel had corrupted themselves like in the days of Gibeah. Their wickedness and immorality had reached that low a level (see also Hos. 10:9).
- In Numbers 22-24, the prophet Balaam tried to curse Israel for Balak the king of Moab, who was offering Balaam a lot of money if he would curse Israel so Moab would be saved from them. But God turned the curse into a blessing four times. So Balaam thought of another way to have Israel cursed by God so that he could receive his money (2 Pet. 2:14-16; Jude 11). Balaam taught Balak to entice Israel to eat things sacrificed to Baalpeor, god of the Moabites, and to commit fornication (Num. 31:15-16; Rev. 2:14). In Numbers 25, Israel did worship Baalpeor and committed fornication with the women of Moab. God responded by cursing them for this (Deut. 11:26-28) and killed 24,000 Israelites in a plague. In Hosea 9:10, God reminds Israel of this because they similarly had turned to idolatry and fornication.
The last verse in the book of Hosea tells us what the wise and prudent will know and understand from the book. We should know that: “the ways of the Lord are right, and the just shall walk in them: but the transgressors shall fall therein” (Hos. 14:9). God’s ways are the ways of love, kindness, purity, gentleness, faithfulness and holiness in which the righteous w