June 17, 2020 – Wednesday
Hosea 1:2 ESV
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
Hosea 1:2 NKJV
2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord.”
Hosea was prophet of God from approximately 760-720 BC in the northern kingdom known as Israel while the southern kingdom was known as Judah. The united Israel had divided in a civil war after the death of Solomon. With a tax dispute between Rehoboam, Solomon’s son, and Jeroboam, a servant of Solomon, as the excuse the kingdom divided.
All of that to get us to verse two above in what has to be one of the strangest marriages in the Bible. The prophet Hosea has been told by God to marry a whore or prostitute or harlot depending on your Bible version. Why in the world would God tell one of His chosen prophets to marry such a woman? As strange as it may seem, God has a very real purpose in doing so. For some clarity I recommend The Bible Project video on Hosea for a summary of the book in seven minutes and thirty-five seconds.
The natural questions are, “What’s going on here? Why would God tell Hosea to marry such a woman?” Hosea’s wife represents the land, nation, people of Israel, the northern kingdom and their relationship with God. Hosea represents God in the story of his marriage to Gomer. You can imagine the way people looked at Hosea, a holy man, who marries Gomer, a whore, and has three children with her. You might think the marriage turned out well after all, but it did not. Gomer leaves Hosea to live a life of adultery.
Of course that’s the end of the marriage, right? No it’s not as God instructs Hosea in 3:1 to Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins. Hosea could not just take her back, he had to buy her freedom, pay her debt before he could take her back. But take her back he did saying in 3:3 You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.
This is truly about God’s love for His people, His adulteress people. We learn the nature of this in 3:4-5 when God has Hosea describe the return of Israel to Him, For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
Gomer may have returned to Hosea and thereafter remained true to him. But for Israel, it was another story as she remained in rebellion to the point that Hosea in the last chapter prophesies in 14:1-3 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to Him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” This is Hosea’s plea for Israel to return to God and trust Him, not Assyria.
The northern kingdom had too much pride and would not return to God until they had been utterly destroyed. But that is not the real story here. The real story is God’s willingness to forgiven and forgive completely so He and Israel could begin anew as Hosea and Gomer did. The incredible forgiveness of Hosea for Gomer is greater than most of us can imagine. That is the point though because God’s ability to forgive is infinite is there is repentance and a desire to return to Him.
Most failed marriages are the result of pride and the inability to forgive. Most, not all. Pastor Dave Elkins taught many times that almost all marriages could be saved if pride, the cause of most problems could be eliminated and repentance and forgiveness brought to the forefront. The book of Hosea demonstrates this.