October 17, 2016

Holy Prophet Hosea

Holy Prophet Hosea (Feast Day - October 17)


Having joined together with a prostitute, now you behold O Prophet, 
An earthly type of God as a suitor to a prostitute.
On the seventeenth the body of Hosea was buried.

The Holy Prophet Hosea, the son of Beeri, was of the tribe of Isaachar, and lived in the eighth century before Christ.

In his life, Hosea showed forth the mysterious purposes of God. According to the Book of Hosea, he married the prostitute Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, at God's command, and she was unfaithful to him. Their adulterous relationship reflected the relationship Israel had built with polytheistic gods, being unfaithful to their covenant with God. Even though Gomer ran away from Hosea and slept with another man, he loved her anyway and forgave her. Likewise, even though the people of Israel worshiped false gods, God continued to love them and did not abandon His covenant with them.

Similarly, his children's names made them like walking prophecies of the fall of the ruling dynasty and the severed covenant with God – much like the Prophet Isaiah a generation later. The name of Hosea's daughter, Lo-ruhamah, which translates as "not pitied," is chosen by God as a sign of displeasure with the people of Israel for following false gods (in Hosea 2:23 she is redeemed, shown mercy with the term Ruhamah). The name of Hosea's son, Lo-ammi, which translates as "not my people," is chosen by the Lord as a sign of the Lord's displeasure with the people of Israel for following those false gods (see Hos. 1:8-9).

Hosea, whose name in Hebrew means "salvation," is often seen as a "prophet of doom," but underneath his message of destruction is a promise of restoration. God chastens only to save; His love for the people He has chosen to Himself is too great to "exercise the fierceness of His anger" (Hos. 11:9). God will again lead His people into exile in the wilderness, and like a wife who has strayed, He will "allure her and speak tenderly to her" (Hos. 2:16), so that, in repentance and tears, she may return forever to her divine Bridegroom and eternally rejoice in His peace, His tenderness and His love. In those days God will say to His people: "You are My People," and they will reply, "You are my God" (Hos. 2:20). This reconciliation between God and His people will take place through the victory of the incarnate Christ, as we cry out with paschal joy: "Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?" (Hos. 13:14; I Cor. 15:55).

The Book of Hosea was a severe warning to the northern kingdom against the growing idolatry being practiced there; the book was a dramatic call to repentance. Christians extend the analogy of Hosea to Christ and the Church: Christ the husband, His Church the bride. Christians see in this book a comparable call to the Church not to forsake the Lord Jesus Christ. Christians also take the buying back of Gomer as the redemptive qualities of Christ's sacrifice on the cross.

According to the book On the Death of the Prophets, which is quoted by the Synaxarion of Constantinople, Hosea also "prophesied about our Lord Jesus Christ who was to come; saying that when He will be born, the oak in Siloam will be divided into twelve parts; and that He will take twelve disciples of Israel."

Having fulfilled his mission entrusted to him by God, the Prophet Hosea reposed in peace and was buried in the land of his fathers. The tomb of Hosea is a structure located in the Jewish cemetery of Safed, believed to be his final resting place.

Apolytikion in the Third Tone
Thou wast a mirror of the Comforter, O Prophet Hosea, and hast received the light of grace. Thou dost shine on the world with the knowledge of things to come. Intercede with Christ our God, to grant us His great mercy.

Kontakion in Plagal of the Fourth Tone
O Seer enlightened by God, thou wast found worthy of the gift of prophecy, and didst proclaim the promise of grace. Thou art a dwelling-place of glory; save from all misfortune those who cry to thee: Rejoice, Hosea, vessel of prophecy.