Old Testament Lesson 46 (Hosea 1–6, 10-14; Joel)
The Book of Hosea
Hosea is one of the 12 prophets of the Old Testament with shorter books referred to as “minor prophets” (by no means meaning their messages were of lesser import). Hosea prophesied in the Northern Kingdom of Israel between 752–721 BC until the destruction and captivity of Israel at the hands of the Assyrians—a span of about 25 years. This would place him during the latter reign of Jeroboam II and just prior to the ministry of Isaiah.
The message of Hosea is that God is holy and supreme, and happiness and joy can flow to mankind only through obedience to His laws and commandments.
The Context of Hosea’s Ministry
Hosea’s name means “deliverance” or “salvation” and, at its root, has the same meaning as the names Joshua and Jesus.
We do not know as much as we would like about him. Of his parents and birth, we know nothing except the name of his father, Beeri (Hosea 1:1). Numerous allusions in his prophecies to the Northern Kingdom cause many to suppose that Hosea was a native of that land.
Hosea was a prophet in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. He was, therefore, a contemporary of three other great prophets, Isaiah, Amos, and Micah.”
When Hosea began his prophetic activity (ca. 752–721 BC), Israel was experiencing one of its most prosperous times. However, these conditions masked the underlying moral and social evils that Hosea condemned in vivid language and imagery.
The Marriage Metaphor in Scripture
The marriage metaphor demonstrates the sacredness with which the Lord considers His covenant relationship with each of us. To Him, the covenants we make are as sacred and personal as the marriage vow is to those who are married. He loves us with the same steadfast love, and will not easily give up on us. Even when we let Him down, he still seeks to restore our relationship to what it was in the beginning.
● Hosea 1–3 Hosea was the first Old Testament prophet to correlate the marriage covenant with the Lord’s covenant with Israel.
● Jeremiah 3:6–9, 14 Jeremiah used the same metaphor later with regard to Judah.
● Isaiah 54:1 Isaiah also used it, calling latter-day Israel “the married wife.”
Hosea’s Symbolic Marriage and Family
The story of the prophet’s own marriage consists of three parts:
(1) Chapter 1 An account of the marriage written in the third person (by somebody else).
(2) Chapter 2 The words of the Lord drawing an analogy between Israel & Hosea’s wife.
(3) Chapter 3 A second report of Hosea’s marriage written in first person (by Hosea himself).
● Hosea 12:10 The marriage and family of Hosea was a “similitude” (symbol) of the covenant relationship of wayward Israel with the Lord.
● Hosea 1:1–3 The Lord commanded Hosea to marry “a wife of whoredoms” named Gomer. The name Gomer does not have special significance for the story or its meaning.
● Hosea 1:2; 3:1
— The prophet knew beforehand that the woman was a harlot.
— The Lord was directing all of Hosea’s actions.
● Hosea 1:4–9 Gomer bore three children, whose names symbolized Israel’s condition and future:
1. A son Jezreel: “God will destroy Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
2. A daughter Lo-ruhamah: “I will no more have mercy upon . . . Israel.”
3. A son Lo-ammi: “Ye are not my people and I will not be your God.”
● Hosea 2:1–5 Hosea compares Israel to a woman who has been unfaithful to her husband, a harlot.
● Hosea 3:1–5 The Lord instructs Hosea to purchase Gomer’s freedom and give her another chance.
● Question: Is this story of Hosea marrying a harlot true? Does it matter?
Professor S. Kent Brown said: “The Lord commanded Hosea to marry a woman with an evil past. The first child born to their union was Hosea’s (Hosea 1:3); the other two apparently were not (Hosea 1:6, 8). Even so, at the Lord’s behest, all three were given symbolic names. After later abandoning Hosea, Gomer recognized her mistakes and wanted to return; but by then—one must infer—she had become a slave. The Lord directed Hosea to buy her back, a course which he pursued willingly, for he still loved her despite all. The prophet next disciplined Gomer by severely restricting her movements and associations with others before restoring her fully to her former status . . . Hosea’s marital troubles [also] fits a wider pattern . . . in the Lord’s dealings with his [prophets]: he leads them through experiences that make them effective messengers for their time and place.”
● The story of Hosea’s marriage is clearly metaphorical, whether it is literally true or not.
— Hosea (Jesus), the writer, represents the Lord.
— Gomer, the unfaithful wife, symbolizes Israel.
— Her adultery represents Israel’s turning from its covenant with God.
— Hosea (the Lord) divorced Gomer (Israel) because she broke her covenants.
— As with Hosea and Gomer’s marriage, the book of Hosea foretells the restoration of Israel’s covenant and her return to a chosen status (in the latter days).
● Hosea’s life became a living drama of the Lord’s relationship with his people. He used many different symbols to teach a few simple truths.
Marriage (chapter 1) Covenant relationship between God and Israel
Constant husband The Lord
Unfaithful wife Israel
Adultery, whoredoms Departing from the Lord and the true way
Lovers Other gods
Ammi “my people”
Ruhamah “those who have obtained mercy”
Your mother The nation of Israel
Wilderness Their captivity
Lovers Other gods
Bread, corn, wool, jewels Worldly values & treasures
Her nakedness & lewdness Israel’s sins
Allure her Jehovah will try to win her back
Valley of Achor, a rich The Lord will restore her to great blessings
north of Jericho near Gilgal
Ishi (Heb: “my husband”) Eventually Israel will accept God as her Lord
Baah (Heb: “my master”) and husband.
Father (chapter 11) The Lord
Son of Ephraim Israel
Divided heart Trying to worship many gods
Sowing Deeds, actions
Reaping Reward or punishment for deeds
Israel and Judah’s Sins
● A List of Israel’s sins identified by Hosea:
— Idolatry (Hosea 4:12–13). “My people ask counsel at their stocks [of wood]”—idols.
— Priesthood corruption (Hosea 6:9). “Priests murder..by consent & commit lewdness.”
— Political Corruption (Hosea 7:3). “They make the king glad with their wickedness.”
— Assassinations in high places (2 Kings 15:8–31).
— Assassinations of judges and kings (Hosea 7:7).
— Unauthorized (un-anointed) kings and princes (Hosea 8:4).
— “All their princes are revolters” (Hosea 9:15).
Professor S. Kent Brown said: “The years following the death of Jeroboam II in 746 BC were chaotic. Disaster first struck Jeroboam’s son, Zechariah, who reigned six months and was then murdered by Shallum, who himself held the throne for one month. Menahem (745–737 BC) murdered Shallum and held onto power by brutally repressing those who opposed him. Although Menahem died in his bed, his son and successor, Pekahiah, after ruling two years, was assassinated by his army commander Pekah, who in turn held the throne for about five years (736–732 BC). Pekah’s reign was cut short by assassination. Hoshea, Pekah’s successor and murderer, ruled during Israel’s last few years before dying in Assyrian custody.”
— Hosea 4:1 No Mercy The Hebrew term is hesed, meaning “covenant love”—love based in a covenant relationship.
— Hosea 4:2 No Truth “[False] swearing, lying, killing, stealing, and . . . adultery; they break all bounds and murder follows murder.”
Severe Punishments for Israel and Judah
● Hosea 10:12 The Lord asks them to return to their covenants: “reap the fruit of steadfast love.”
● Hosea 6:1—7:10 Israel and Judah rejected all appeals from the Lord to repent and return to him.
— Hosea 6:2 The gathering of Israel and the Millennium. If a day is a thousand years (1 Peter 3:8), Israel is to be revived after 2,000 years, and be raised and live with the Savior during the third 1,000 years .
— Hosea 6:3 Christ’s coming is like “the latter and former rain unto the earth.”. To the farmer in ancient Israel, two “rains” were very critical. The former (or first) rains softened the earth so that he could plow and plant the seed; the latter (or second) rains gave the crop its growth. (Joel 2:23).
● Hosea 8:7–9 The law of the harvest—they have sown the wind, and will reap the whirlwind.
● Hosea 5:4 Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God.”
— We can reach a point of no return and forfeit promised blessings (Alma 34:33).
— Such people are “ripening for an everlasting destruction” (Helaman 6:40).
● Hosea 7:11–10:15 Because they forsook the Lord, Israel will be cast off and taken into captivity.
● Hosea 4:3 The devastation will affect all living things in Israel, not just people.
A Promise of Latter-day Reconciliation
● Hosea 11 The Lord expresses his love for Israel and his sorrow at having to punish them.
— v. 8 “How shall I give thee up, Ephraim? how shall I deliver thee, Israel?”
— v. 11 He vowed to restore their descendants to their ancestral home.
● Hosea 2:14–23 A symbolic prediction of reconciliation—Israel will again have a fulness of joy.
— vv. 19–20 Hosea says the Lord would yet “speak comfortably” to Israel.
— v. 23 Israel’s long dispersion will end . God will say to them, “Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”
Elder Henry B. Eyring said, “This was a love story. This was a story of a marriage covenant bound by love, by steadfast love. . . . 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.”
● Hosea 14:1–9 Hosea pleads with Latter-Day Israel to return to God, and predicts pleasant days when they do.
THE PROPHECIES OF JOEL
When Was the Book of Joel Written?
The book gives us no information about when the book was written. Commentators have dated the book anywhere from the ninth to the fifth centuries BC. Linguistic clues suggest that the dialect of Hebrew preserved in Joel is consistent with that of other documents from early in the post-Exilic period: Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. Joel can then be dated to around 500 BC, making it one of the last of the prophetic books.
The book of Joel is completely removed from the context of the time and place in which it was written. Joel’s apocalyptic style makes his fundamental message very clear: God will bring judgment upon the world, destroying evil and blessing the righteous with millennial peace and happiness. Joel is also a major source of information on the battle of Armageddon.
The Book of Joel
The author of the book is Joel himself. He was one of the twelve prophets of the Old Testament with shorter books (though by no means reflecting messages of lesser import). Unlike Hosea, who prophesied in the norther kingdom of Israel, Joel was a prophet of Judah.
The time span of Joel’s ministry is unknown—as early as the ninth century or as late as the return from the Babylonian captivity following the decree of liberation of the Jews issued by Cyrus in 537 BC
Joel uses an occasion of dire famine and suffering to reflect on the perennial famine of truth among the unrighteous down through the generations of time. Such a famine will be relieved through the eventual restoration of the Lord’s Kingdom on earth—a day when vision and prophesy will again be made manifest among the faithful and penitent and the Lord will reign supreme.
Great Destruction of Judah in Joel’s Day
● Joel 1:1–4 The stages of development in the life of a locust portray Judah’s future:
— The palmerworm is the Hebrew gazam, which means “gnawer.”
— The locust is in Hebrew called arbeth, which means “many.”
— The cankerworm is the Hebrew yeleq, which means “licker.”
— The caterpillar is the Hebrew chasil, which means “consumer”
● Joel 1:5–7 The wine, the lion, the vine, and the fig tree:
— Judah had become drunken with the wine of iniquity and would weep and howl.
— The vine and the fig tree represent the finest that the Lord had given his people.
— The lion symbolizes the invaders who, like a lion, would devour them.
— A tree is barked by stripping the bark from the trunk, which kills the tree.
● Joel 1:8–30 More images of Judah’s coming destruction:
— vv. 10,12 Their field was wasted; they were no longer a fruitful people.
— v. 13 Girding is putting on sackcloth, mourning their great tragedy.
— v. 16 Judah’s destruction and scattering will end temple worship.
— v. 17 “The seed [being] rotten under their clods” refers to when sprouts are bitten off by the locusts and the seed simply rotted away.
● Joel 2:1–10 “The day of the Lord” will come—”a day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness” (vv. 1–2). Joel prophesies of the invading army as a “fire” that “devoureth before them.” He describes many horses and horsemen, and “chariots on the top of the mountains” (vv. 3–5). The invaders will “run to a fro in the city” and “on the wall;” they will “climb . . . upon the houses” and “enter in at the windows like a thief” (v. 9). “The earth shall quake before them; the heavens shall tremble: the sun and the moon shall be dark, and the stars shall withdraw their shining” (v. 10). “The day of the Lord is great and very terrible; and who can abide it?” (v. 11).
Sidney B. Sperry said: “In the mind of the writer no doubt remains that Joel foresaw the dispensation in which we live and God’s judgments upon the world. This he expressed in figures that would be easily understood by his people. So acutely and painfully were the judgments that Joel saw impressed upon his mind that he cried out in anguish—as if he were present—to the people of our day to repent and escape God’s wrath.”
Joel Promises Future Blessings to Israel
● Joel 2:12–17 Israel is called to repentance.
— v. 13 “Rend your heart, and not your garments” refers to tearing clothes during times of sorrow, grief, or despair. The Lord is telling men to come before him with broken hearts and contrite spirits
● Joel 2:18–23, 27 The Lord promises to bless Israel abundantly in the future.
● Joel 2:28–32 Latter-day blessings of the Lord’s people: “I will pour out my spirit upon on all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy
JS-History 1:41 your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (v. 28).
— Moroni quoted these verses to Joseph Smith on September 21, 1823, saying “this was not yet fulfilled, but was soon to be.”
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“Moroni has proclaimed that any honest seeker after truth who diligently asks of the Lord, will receive a manifestation of the truth through the Holy Ghost. But once the Holy Ghost has given that manifestation, then the person has no further claim for further manifestations, until he has complied with the law. Now, IF the world cannot receive this gift, then we must conclude that the enlightenment that comes to men in the world—and such enlightenment has come on many occasions—it must be from some other source. When, therefore the Lord said through Joel, that he would pour out his spirit on all flesh it was not the Holy Ghost that was to be given to ALL, only to a few, for, remember, the world cannot receive this Spirit.
“On the other hand, the Spirit of Christ (sometimes called the Light of Christ, and Spirit of truth, or Spirit of Jesus Christ) is a spirit that is given to EVERY MAN, no matter who he is or what is his belief.”
● Joel 3:17 Jerusalem will become holy after the great battle—no strange god nor impure people will be permitted to enter or pass through the city.
● Joel 3:18 The fountain that comes forth “of the house of the Lord” is the same one discussed in detail in Ezekiel 47:1–12.
● Joel 3:19–21 “The hills shall flow with milk” means the riches of heaven: Judah will know her God, and he will own his people; they will build their Jerusalem and inhabit it in peace.
THE BATTLE OF ARMAGEDDON
Joel’s Prophecies of Great Destruction
● Joel 2:1–10 The great army of Gog will fight against the army of the Lord.
● Revelation 9:1–10
— v. 2 Like the locusts that devour the crops and cover the heavens with blackness because of their numbers, so “a great people and a strong” shall descend upon the land of Israel (see also Revelation 20).
— v. 3 The land of Israel will be beautiful—like the Garden of Eden.
— v. 4 The horses symbolize war.
— v. 5 The chariots symbolize a very powerful army.
— v. 10 “The earth shall quake before them”
President Joseph Fielding Smith said:
“Here we have a great, terrible army, marching with unbroken ranks and crushing everything before it, finding the garden like Eden before them, leaving the wilderness behind, causing mourning, causing suffering; and so the prophet raises the warning voice, and that voice is to us, . . . that we might turn unto the Lord and rend our hearts. . . . And then . . . the Lord says that He will take that great army in hand, that He also has an army. His army is terrible, just as terrible as the other army, and He will take things in hand.
“When I say the other army, the Lord’s army, do not get an idea He is thinking about England or the United States. He is not. He is not thinking about any earthly army. The Lord’s army is not an earthly army, but He has a terrible army; and when that army marches, it will put an end to other armies, no matter how terrible they may be; and so He says in these closing words I have read to you that He would do this thing. He would drive this terrible northern army into the wilderness, barren and desolate, with his face towards the east sea and his hinder part towards the utmost sea. He would do that, and then He would bless His people—having references, of course, to Israel.”
— These events will strike fear into the hearts of Jerusalem’s inhabitants.
— The siege against the city will be very severe.
— The relentless army will overrun the land of Israel.
— The city walls will be breached and the houses plundered (v. 9).
— The armaments used against the invaders will be ineffectual (v. 8).
● Joel 3:1–2 The battle will end at the Valley of Jehoshaphat (Decision)—the Kidron Valley.
— This refers to the last days. The last clause could be translated “when I will bring again the exiles of Judah and Jerusalem.”
— Israel will receive a change in her fortunes, and retribution will come upon her enemies in the Valley of Jehoshaphat—the “Valley of Decision”. Most likely this is the Kidron Valley, a narrow valley between Jerusalem and the Mount of Olives (D&C 45:47–49; 133:19–21)
President Joseph Fielding Smith said, “We find Joel, Zephaniah, Zechariah, all proclaiming that in this last day, the day when the sun shall be darkened and the moon turned to blood and the stars fall from heaven, that the nations of the earth would gather against Jerusalem. All of them speak of it; and when that time comes, the Lord is going to come out of His hiding place.”
Elder Bruce R. McConkie said, “In the coming day—a dire, dread, damning day—woes without measure will fall upon men. Pestilence, plagues, and death will stalk the earth. The kings of the earth and of the whole world will gather to fight the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Their command center will be at Armageddon, overlooking the valley of Megiddo. All nations will be gathered against Jerusalem. Two hundred thousand warriors and more—two hundred million men of arms and more—shall come forth to conquer or die on the plains of Esdraelon and in all the nations of the earth. At the height of this war, the Lord Jesus will put his foot on the Mount of Olives and save his ancient covenant people. Of all this we are aware.”
● Joel 3:10 Plowshares will be beaten into swords—the opposite of Millennium conditions.
● Joel 3:15–16 The sun will be darkened and the moon turned to blood.
● D&C 43:17–20 The final warning before the great day.
● D&C 43:21–22 Thunder and lightening.
● D&C 43:23–26 What might have been, if only . . .
1: Sperry, The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, 274.
2: In Kent Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi .
3: In Kent Jackson, ed., Studies in Scripture, Vol. 4: 1 Kings to Malachi .
4: “Covenants and Sacrifice,” [address delivered at the Church Educational System Symposium, 15 Aug. 1995], 2.
5: The Voice of Israel’s Prophets, 297.
6: Answers to Gospel Questions, 5:134–135.
7: The Signs of the Times, 160–161.
8: The Signs of the Times, 170.
9: The Millennial Messiah, 476.