Today we begin the book of Hosea, a book written by the prophet Hosea in approximately 8th century B.C. Today’s passage is Hosea 1:1-11. Let’s go!
Hosea 1:2-3 (NIV) 2 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.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
On verses 1-11: Why would God tell Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her? God was using Hosea’s relationship with Gomer as a real life picture of God’s relationship with the nation of Israel, and ultimately, with us.
In particular there are 4 big lessons I learn from this passage:
1. Before you can experience God’s power, sometimes you need to experience God’s pain. You and I are called to be representatives of God in this world. But it’s hard to represent someone well when you don’t understand what they’ve gone through or how they feel. In Hosea’s case, by marrying an adulterous wife, Hosea would learn first hand what God feels like when the one he loves most is unfaithful to him.
So when someone sins against you and hurts you badly, remember that God knows how you feel. If you would respond to the sin and to the pain the way God responds (as we’ll see below), you and those around you will experience God’s power.
2. As incredible as Hosea and Gomer’s story is, it’s actually foretelling our story.
Hosea and Gomer’s love story has 4 main parts to it: Hosea chooses Gomer as his wife, Gomer cheats on Hosea, Hosea divorces Gomer, but in a tremendous act of love and forgiveness Hosea takes Gomer back.
God’s love story with us has the same four parts: God chose us as His bride, we cheated and were unfaithful to God, God banished us from His presence (divorcing us, you might say), but then in love God takes us back.
Hosea and Gomer’s story is ultimately God’s and our story.
3. From the names that Hosea gives his three children, we learn that God is a just God. For example:
– why would God tell Hosea to name his firstborn son “Jezreel” (v3-5)? The name “Jezreel” was a real life reminder to those who met Hosea’s family that God remembered the murderous atrocities that King Jehu of Israel committed in the Valley of Jezreel (see 2 Kings 9), and that God would punish Jehu for his sins. The name “Jezreel” was a reminder that God is just, that He sees the sins we commit and is committed to making sure justice is served.
– The names of Hosea’s daughter and second son were, respectively, Lo-Ruhamah (meaning “Not my people”) and Lo-Ammi (meaning “Not loved”) (v6-9). Why give these two children such names? It was a real life reminder that because of Israel’s sins, Israel did not deserve to be called God’s people or to be loved by God.
Similarly, God had every right to call sinners like us Lo-Ruhamah (“Not my people”) and Lo-Ammi (“Not loved”). But there’s more to our story (keep reading)…
4. Through the way God still forgives and restores the Israelites, we see the way God forgives and restores you and me through Jesus Christ.
Notwithstanding how much Israel had cheated on God, God promises in verses 10-11 to make the Israelites “as numerous as the seashore”, fulfilling a promise God had originally given to their forefather Abraham (see Genesis 22:17). God also promises that “in the very place where it was said to them ‘you are not my people’, they will be called ‘children of the living God’ (v10)”.
In the same way, notwithstanding how holy God is and how much we deserved to be disowned by God for our sin, God chose to have mercy on us. In love He sent Jesus Christ to die on the cross for our sins. At the cross of Jesus Christ, Jesus was punished and disowned in our place. Yet in the very place where God disowned sinners and punished our sin, God would also extend the greatest forgiveness the world has ever seen and call us His own again.
So Jesus is that “one leader” that verse 11 speaks about who will rise up from the land to unite God’s people and restore their land. To those who did not deserve to be called His people, God gave His blessing and called us “children of the living God” (v10).
Heavenly Father, thank You that Hosea’s story with Gomer is ultimately a reflection of your story with us — how You loved us, forgave us, rescued us, and restored us in ways we do not deserve. Thank You that because of Jesus and what He did on the cross, we know that Your mercy triumphs over judgment. Praise You, God, for Your amazing love. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!