This is taken from material presented in our Sunday Evening Sermon Series. The audio sermon on Hosea 1:1-5 will be out later in the week, as well as another short article on Hosea 1:2-5. So check back with us in the near future, or scroll to the bottom of the page and subscribe to our blog to receive updates directly and conveniently to you email. May the Lord richly bless you.
Hosea’s ministry spanned approximately 50 years, and it is seated during the years in which the twelve tribes were divided into two Kingdoms, Israel in the north and Judah in the south. Sometimes you’ll see Israel be referred to as the “Northern Kingdom” and Judah referred to as the “Southern Kingdom”. Hosea’s ministry is set in the final 50 years of the Northern Kingdom’s existence. The Northern Kingdom would be taken into captivity by the Assyrians, either at the end, or right after Hosea’s life and ministry.
Right off the bat, in the first verse of Hosea’s writings, we encounter a bit of mystery. Hosea marks his ministry in time by linking it to the reign of four Kings in the Southern Kingdom, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. But he only links his ministry with one king in the Northern Kingdom, Jeraboam the son of Joash, better known as Jeraboam II. Why is this a mystery? Well Uzziah began to reign in 792 BC, with Jeraboam II ascending to the throne of Israel at roughly the same time, in 793 BC. Uzziah reigned for 52 yrs and Jeraboam reigned for 41 years. By now you should see it. Hosea’s ministry spans at least another 35 years, yet he doesn’t list any kings from Israel during that time period. Why does he omit the six ruling kings (Zechariah, Shallum, Menahum, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea) in the Northern Kingdom during that time period. This mystery is exacerbated by the fact that the Northern Kingdom is Hosea’s target audience. While Hosea will prophecy some about Judah, his target audience is definitely the Northern Kingdom.
I think, in God’s timetable the Kingdom of Israel came to an end with the death of Zechariah the son of Jeraboam II. Let me explain why. Assassinated after only ruling for 6 months, Zechariah’s death is the beginning of the end…… a generational march to obliteration when Israel would be wiped away. Zechariah is a link to our text today. His assassination is the fulfillment of a prophecy spoken long ago to his great grandfather, Jehu.
2 Kings 10:30
And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”
Zechariah was the 4th generation, his death, ended the last legitimate Dynasty to rule on the throne of the Northern Kingdom. It brought an end to Jehu’s Dynasty, which was the last one appointed and ordained by God. Let’s Take a peek at 2 Kings 9:1-10 and look at Jehu’s anointing and call
2 Kings 9:1-10
Then Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, “Tie up your garments, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead. And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. And go in and have him rise from among his fellows, and lead him to an inner chamber. Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”
So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. And when he came, behold, the commanders of the army were in council. And he said, “I have a word for you, O commander.” And Jehu said, “To which of us all?” And he said, “To you, O commander.” So he arose and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.
This is not an everyday occurrence in either the Northern or the Southern Kingdom. Whenever there is a dynastic change, and the kingdom is being transferred from one family to another, you normally have a special anointing event by a prophet to signify it, and to task the in coming king with his appointment. Think back to Saul’s anointing by Samuel, and then remember when Saul had the Kingdom stripped from him. Samuel, the prophet went to Jesse’s home, King David’ father, and had all Jesse’s sons come before him until ruddy little David finally came in from the field and was anointed King of Israel. This was a dynastic change. David was not charged to judge Saul’s house, and it was many years before he ascended the throne. Jehu however, is similar to David, as far as there being a dynastic change, but different in the sense that he is charged with judging the house of Ahab. Part of the dynastic change would be the wiping out of Ahab’s house. I’ll save any further comments on this to my next post on the subject, because Jehu and his activities in Jezreel will be the subject of Hosea 1:2-5.
So why the missing kings? They were illegitimate in the mind of God, and thus in the mind of Hosea. There was no anointing of them by a prophet to rule and judge Jehu’s house. These final kings, Zechariah excepted, were warlords who had enough momentary power to overcome the then ruling party. Zechariah’s death marked the end of the last anointed dynasty in the Northern Kingdom. God confirms this in Hosea 8:2-4,
“To me they cry, “My God, we—Israel—know you.” Israel has spurned the good; the enemy shall pursue him. They made kings, but not through me. They set up princes, but I knew it not. With their silver and gold they made idols for their own destruction.”
Israel’s destruction and captivity were merely confirmation and closure to something that came to pass approximately 40 years previous……. the end of the legitimate Kingdom of Israel.