Hosea was an Old Testament prophet of the northern kingdom; a preacher to Israel rather than Judah. The prophets taught by deeds as well as words. They dramatized and acted their messages. By their strange and arresting conduct they would attract popular attention to what they wished to convey and thus impress it deeply upon the public.

Hosea made his own marriage a parable of the nation's sin, and married a notoriously immoral woman named Gomer, buying her like a slave for a few pieces of silver and a few quarts of barley. As Hosea passed through the troubles of his house, his eyes were opened and in Gomer's unfaithfulness Hosea saw the symbol of Israel's unfaithfulness to God. Israel was no better than an adulteress who abandoned an honorable marriage for base intrigues with faithless lovers.

The experience of Hosea is a type of the way God deals with His people. The sufferings of Hosea brought him into closer fellowship with the Father by giving him a sympathetic insight into God's truth. Hosea comes out of this with a prophetic heart on fire to speak for God. He does not sooth us with peace but his words are strong and passionate, his heart ready to break with sorrow. His whole prophecy is a cry of agony.

He has five qualities which would equip the prophet that would save souls. 1. Devotion to God. The prophet loves God, is loyal to Him and deeply interested in the cause. 2. Empathy for the false religious system. He has a wondrous symphathy with Israel in her woes and a vicarious fellowship in her guilt. 3. Zeal for righteousness. He denounces formal religion as worthless, however coslty and elaborate. He denounces the lying, swearing, stealing, adultery and murder which pervaded the nation, in spite of its religious show, and declare that the Lord desires mercy and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God, rather than burnt offerings. 4. Fidelity to truth. He declares the whole counsel of God as he knows it. Even sympathy for Israel does not keep him from affirming that "Ephraim shall be desolate in the time of rebuke." 5. Hopefulness. With all the sorrow, reproof, and forecast of woe, there is a spirit of hope that rises above all he sees and forebodes.

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