As we read Hosea, it's clear that the behaviour of the people is a problem.
What have they been doing?
- no faithfulness, no knowledge of God, the priests and prophets have rejected knowledge. They have forsaken Lord to cherish whoredom and wine. (ch4)
- make sacrifices on mountains, inquire of pieces of wood, , men go to cult prostitutes (4)
- they have acted faithlessly (6)
- "ovens" - evil passions, half baked cake - not fit for eating, foolish, fickle dove - silly and without sense (7)
- mixed with peoples, devoured by strangers 7
- don't seek God 7, wail and gash themselves 7
- spurned God in favour of silver and gold idols and hired lovers (8)
- they have set up their own kings and priests (8), while they have rejected God as King (10)
- they were blessed but became idolators, they rejoiced over a calf 10
- they love to opress people 12
- they sin more and more, building metal images/idols, "those who offer human sacrifices kiss calves"! (13)
A big theme is that they have forgotten God
- forgotten God's law (ch4)
- forgotten their maker (8)
- God gave birth to them, brought them out of Egypt but the longer its been the more they have forgotten and worshipped idols (11)
- they have forgotten what God has done (13)
The major image used in the book to describe what the people are doing is adultery. Hosea is told in 1:2 to take an adulterous with for the land commits adultery by forsaking God.
The adultery image is used to bring home the seriousness of their broken relationship with God. Its not just the people deciding to opt for a different belief system. It is like cheating on a husband. It's not even like a wife cheating on a husband who she thinks has neglected her, failed to provide for her, and not loved her well. It's a wife who has a perfect husband, a husband who has provided for her, loved her and been constantly faithful and she has just forgotten about him, seen that there are some other blokes around and gone off with one of them. Its like a wife who has served her husband faithfully, raised his children, loved him and then seen her husband forget all that and use her stuff, her clothes, her house and her bed with someone else.
Our sin against God is not the breaking of some arbitrary rules, it's the betrayal of a relationship. It's adultery.