The prophet Hosea began to speak the words of the Lord about the same time as Jonah and Amos were speaking their prophesies. Baal worship was a wicked alternative to the worship of the Lord God. Many times in Scripture, God’s people are referred to as his bride or wife. As the people worshipped the so-called fertility god Baal, they committed spiritual adultery against their “Husband,” God.
Whether Hosea was speaking of his personal relationship with his own wife, Gomer and his children or figuratively is immaterial in the context of his prophecy of God’s dealing with His people. As wives and husbands are required to be faithful to their spouses, God expects His chosen people to respect Him as their Husband.
Israel was so steeped in idolatry that they attributed all of their harvests to their various idols instead of the true source, God. He sent Hosea to reveal His message to Israel warning of destruction if they would not return to Him from their adulterous actions of following Baal.
The Lord is a merciful God. He also sent a message of hope and redemption that would be theirs in the future after their release from captivity. Israel and Judah would be reunited under a new King (the Messiah) of the house of David.
“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge…” It is the responsibility of each person to know God. However, many need teaching and encouragement in order to accept that responsibility. The religious leaders of Israel had failed to properly provide the teaching necessary for the people to know and appreciate God for who He is and what He required from them.
Under the kings of Israel, the people were guilty of swearing, lying, killing, stealing and adultery. The ultimate sin of Israel was spiritual harlotry or adultery. They had left their “Husband” and were worshipping the idols of Baal. (Many who claim to be the bride/church of Christ today are committing spiritual adultery by following man-made rules instead of obeying the commands of Christ.) As Hosea warned Israel because of their failure to follow God, He also warned Judah that they should not allow the same sins of idolatry to corrupt them.