Hosea prophesies God's end-time restoration of the lost tribes of Israel. Though they follow a false god, he will show his love to them once again, reclaiming them as his bride and his people. Israel will be restored and accept Jesus as their Davidic king.
Despite her unfaithfulness, in the last days God will redeem Israel, and the nation will return to seek him. By Israel, Hosea is primarily referring to the tribes of the northern kingdom that were exiled by Assyria in 722 BC.

In verse 1, God tells Hosea to go and show love to his wife again, even though she loves another man. This is a prophetic action, portraying how God will one day show his love to Israel again, even though she worships a false God.

According to 2 Kings 17:5-6 and 1 Chronicles 5:26, when the northern tribes were exiled to Assyria, they were settled along the River Habor, and among the cities of the Medes. The River Habor is known today as the Al-Khabour River and is a tributary of the River Euphrates, in north-eastern Syria. The Medes were an ancient Iranian people group located on the east side of the River Tigris. So today the descendants of the lost tribes of Israel are most likely concentrated around Syria, Iraq, Iran and Turkey. Others will have spread out around the world. But demographically, it is likely that the majority are Muslims today. Even though they worship Allah, the false god of Islam, God has plans to restore them to himself in the end times.

Verse 4 describes a long period of time during which the Israelites would live 'without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred fertility pillar, without ephod or idols'. So far, this has been about 2,700 for the northern tribes of Israel, and about 2,600 years since the fall of Judah to the Babylonians in 586 BC. Judah had about 100 years of independence after the Maccabean revolt in 164 BC, but has never had a Davidic king on the throne since 586 BC. Scholars equate the period of time described in this verse, and in the visions of Daniel 2 and 7, with 'the times of the gentiles' referred to by Jesus in Luke 21:24.

Verse 5 looks forward to a time after this when Israel will return to seek the Lord and their Davidic king (Jesus). This will occur towards the end of the Great Tribulation, when God will reveal himself to the northern tribes in a wilderness location in the north (Hosea 2:14 and Jeremiah 31) and to the tribe of Judah in their safe-place in the wilderness (Zechariah 14 and Revelation 12:6). Their repentance and acceptance of Jesus as their king is portrayed in Zechariah 12.
Places: Israel
Symbols: Bride
Tags: Restoration of Israel and Judah, Israel repents, End-time bride, Lost tribes of Israel, Times of the Gentiles
An Illustration of God’s Love for Idolatrous Israel
3 The Lord said to me, “Go, show love to your wife again, even though she loves another man and continually commits adultery. Likewise, the Lord loves the Israelites although they turn to other gods and love to offer raisin cakes to idols.”
2 So I paid fifteen shekels of silver and about seven bushels of barley to purchase her.
3 Then I told her, “You must live with me many days; you must not commit adultery or become joined to another man, and I also will wait for you.”
4 For the Israelites must live many days without a king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred fertility pillar, without ephod or idols.
5 Afterward, the Israelites will turn and seek the Lord their God and their Davidic king. Then they will submit to the Lord in fear and receive his blessings in the future.