Old Testament: Hosea 5:15-6:6 (Pentecost 2: Series A)

Reading Time: 5 mins

Hosea portrays God in a very intimate and husbandly way, reaching out to the one He loves when love is abused and lost.

Hosea is a great book to preach on as we are in the beginning of the season of Pentecost. It talks about our living and active relationship with God. Hosea sets a frame (chapters 1-3) for this book by telling the story of Hosea’s broken marriage to the adulteress Gomer. Things fell apart between them, but God told Hosea, that despite Gomer’s unfaithfulness, he was to find her and pay off her debts and take her back. Hosea was to commit his love and faithfulness to her once again, even in the midst of pain. These events of Hosea’s life were a prophetic symbol of God’s relationship with Israel. God committed Himself in love to Israel as a husband when He delivered them from Egypt. They then took the blessing of that relationship and adulterously offered it to idols like Baal. At this point, God could have ended His relationship with His idolatrous people, but He renews His love, compassion, and faithfulness to Israel (2:19-20) now and through the Messiah to come (3:4-5) as a Bridegroom to a Bride.

In our text for today, Hosea allows us to hear an imagining of the plan about what it means to go back in faithfulness (6:1–2). Now, we might ask if this is a sincere return to God? Is it cynical or a sort of desperate last resort? Hosea lets us overhear God’s response to their plan. “What shall I do with you, Ephraim?” (verse 4). God considers it, calling Israel by a term of endearment and intimacy. Using metaphoric language, God speaks about divine punishment, while at the same time choosing a response to Ephraim and Judah which comes from love and not simply obligation. This is the Law/Gospel dynamic of our text. Hosea also portrays God in a very intimate and husbandly way, reaching out to the one He loves when love is abused and lost. The great news is the Gospel predominates! Jesus, of course, is our Bridegroom (John 2:9; 3:29; Matthew 9:14-15; Mark 2:19; Luke 5:34-35; Revelation 19:7; 21:2; 22:17; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:25-27) who is greater than Hosea. Jesus is the promised Messiah of Hosea 3:4-5.

Here we do well to talk about a danger present constantly in preaching from the Old Testament. We need to avoid the trap of allegory. The solution to this is clearly typology, but how do you do typology and not just allegory. Allegory jumps at clues and finds small details to create “real” meaning. Sidney Greidanus says it this way:

“Rather than typology, which exploits a resemblance between two images, type and antitype. Typology also shows that relationship between these two images must be in the order of promise and fulfillment, so that the type is realized and actualized in the antitype through a process called escalation (Jesus is greater than Moses, or Joshua etc.). Finally, the transcendent reality of the antitype must actually participate in the type, so that in the process of transforming the historical event it becomes a vehicle for revelation.”[1]

Luther, in his work The Freedom of a Christian, references Hosea using language about the marriage of Christ and us to illustrate his understanding of justification by faith. Luther makes the point that what belongs to Christ (grace, life, and salvation) becomes ours, and what belongs to us (sin, death, and damnation) becomes Christ’s, all by the marriage of faith. This “joyous exchange” is an excellent way to mine the metaphor which helps us get at the Gospel in our preaching of this text.

“So it happens that the faithful soul, through the wedding ring of its faith in Christ her bridegroom, is free from all sins, secure against death, protected from hell, and given the eternal righteousness, life, and salvation of her bridegroom, Christ. Thus, “he takes to himself a glorious bride without spot or wrinkle... making her clean by washing... in the word of life,”[2] that is, through faith in the word, life, righteousness, and salvation [of Christ].

As Hosea 2:19 says, [the Lord] becomes engaged to her “in faith, in mercy and compassion, in righteousness, and judgment.”

Here, this rich, upstanding bridegroom, Christ, marries this poor, disloyal little prostitute, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all His goodness.

Who can even begin to appreciate this royal marriage? What can comprehend the riches of this glorious grace? Here, this rich, upstanding bridegroom, Christ, marries this poor, disloyal little prostitute, redeems her from all her evil, and adorns her with all His goodness. For now, it is impossible for her sins to destroy her, because they have been laid upon Christ and devoured by Him. In Christ, her Bridegroom, she has her righteousness, which she can enjoy as her very own property. And with confidence she can set this righteousness over against all of her sins and in opposition to death and Hell, and can say, “Sure, I have sinned, but my Christ, in whom I trust, has not sinned. All that is His is mine and all that is mine is His.” As it says in the Song of Solomon 2:16: “My beloved is mine, and I am his.” This is what Paul also says in 1 Corinthians 15:57: “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” But this “victory” is over sin and death, as he notes in the previous verse [verse 56]: “The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.”[3]

Since Hosea is dealing in metaphor, we will use the Metaphorical Movement Structure, based off the work of Justin Rossow:

“A metaphor enables us to “see one thing in terms of another.” The metaphorical movement sermon structure builds upon this experience by creating three different moments in the sermon: (1) experiencing the metaphorical world (in our text, the married life in the life of Israel through the prophet Hosea); (2) opening the eyes of faith to see the works of God in terms of that metaphorical world (for us, God is a faithful husband to His faithless people through the Bridegroom which is Christ); and (3) seeing the world anew as one looks at life through these eyes of faith now shaped by that metaphorical world (again, in our case, God’s people know the faithfulness of God which forgives our sin/idolatry and renews our faith through His promises given us in the “joyous exchange” of Jesus’ death and resurrection).

In the first section of the sermon, the preacher evokes an experience of the metaphorical world, paying attention to concrete descriptive details which not only create that world in the imagination of the hearers, but also prepare the hearers for a later discovery of teachings of the faith in light of the chosen metaphor.


In the second section of the sermon, the preacher uses the lens of the metaphor to clarify the faithful confession of the sermon. Here, the preacher works with the Scriptural text, the theological confession, and the evangelical proclamation in terms that flow from the metaphorical world. Here, the metaphor should clarify rather than obscure. That is, through the lens of the metaphor, the hearers should be brought to a deeper understanding and experience of the text, the confession of faith, and the proclamation of Christ.


In the third section of the sermon, the preacher now turns from the confession of faith to the lives of God’s people and helps them see their lives anew. In this section, the lives of God’s people will be interpreted in light of the theological teaching of the sermon that has been clarified by the use of the metaphor (typology and escalation). Although God’s people will look at something with which they are familiar in this section of the sermon, the metaphorical lens causes them to discover things they had not seen before or to see their lives in a new way.


When working with metaphors, the preacher will need to be attentive to the limits of the metaphor. Since any metaphor can be pushed too far, the preacher may need to alert the hearers to ways in which the metaphor is limited but still useful for faithful reflection.”[4]

Additional Resources:

Concordia Theology-Various helps from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, MO to assist you in preaching Hosea 5:15-6:6.

Text Weekf-A treasury of resources from various traditions to help you preach Hosea 5:15-6:6.

Lectionary Podcast- Dr. Walter A. Maier III Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN walks us through Hosea 5:15-6:6.

[1] Sidney Greidanus, Preaching Christ from the Old Testament: A Contemporary Hermeneutical Method (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1999), 94.

[2] Timothy J. Wengert, The Freedom of a Christian,” in The Roots of Reform, ed. Hans J. Hillerbrand, Kirsi I. Stjerna, and Timothy J. Wengert, vol. 1, The Annotated Luther (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2015), 501–502.

[3] Ibid.

[4] https://concordiatheology.org/sermon-structs/dynamic/metaphorical-movement/