Wednesday, December 4, 2019

Hosea and His Wife

"When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2).

God instructed Hosea to marry a woman named Gomer. There is no reason to think that Gomer was a woman of ill repute at the time of her marriage to Hosea, but God told Hosea from the start that she would be unfaithful to him. She would prove to be an adulterous wife, and her children would be of questionable parentage. God was calling Hosea to experience a little taste of what He Himself had experienced with Israel. God had married Israel in her youth, knowing in advance that she would prove unfaithful to Him.

How painful this must have been for Hosea. Yet, because of his love for her, and God’s command, he married her anyway, and put up with her unfaithfulness for years while she bore three children. Finally, in language reminiscent of a legal divorce, Hosea left Gomer. True to her character she sold herself into prostitution (Hosea 2:2; 3:1–2). Yet, because of his love for her, at God’s command, Hosea bought her out of her life of shame, restoring her as his wife (Hosea 3).

These tragic events were a prophetic allegory for Israel. Israel had repeatedly been unfaithful to God, and eventually would sell herself into Assyrian bondage. Yet, because of His love, God would eventually buy His people back from bondage and restore them to Himself.

God told Hosea to give symbolic names to each of Gomer’s children (Hosea 1:4–11). The first son was to be named Jezreel, meaning “God scatters.” Years before, God had raised up Jehu to destroy the wicked dynasty of Ahab, and Jehu had properly done so at the battle of Jezreel. Unhappily, Jehu did not turn the nation back to the Lord, but reestablished Ahab’s Baal cult. Because of this, Israel as a whole would receive the same judgment Ahab had received at Jezreel.

Gomer’s second child, a girl, was to be named Lo-Ruhamah, which means “no pity,” or “not loved.” Her name meant that God would no longer love and pity the ten northern tribes of Israel, though He would continue to love the two southern tribes of Judah. Those in Israel who wanted to be saved needed to ally with Judah.

Gomer’s third child, was a boy named Lo-Ammi, which means “not My people.” God was rejecting Israel as His people, though eventually He would return to them and join them to Judah.

In later Jewish history, more children would be born and named in advance by God. As we prepare for Christmas, think of how the birth of Christ concludes the story of Hosea. Jesus, whose Hebrew name Yeshua means “Savior,” would be the One through whom and by whom God would return His people unto Himself.