Hosea is a prophet for the northern Kingdom. Hosea means "the Lord saves." Only one Northern King is mentioned and 4 southern Kingdom kings are mentioned. This gives a reference point. While Hosea's ministry was to the northern kingdom, some believe the mention of the souther kingdom was to legitimize the Davidic kingdom? Its worth noting that the Southern kingdom included all tribes – the people who worshiped Yahweh went south. The idol worshipers went north.
The ministry of Hosea started towards the end of the forty-year reign of Jereboam II. These were good times politically and economically. People would say they were better off at the end of his reign than they were at the beginning. However, it was a time of moral and spiritual decay. The affects of this would be felt by the six kings that followed Jereboam.
Hosea married Gomer as directed by the Lord. The name Gomer means 'complete' as in a complete measure of idolatry. It is possible that God foretold that she would be unfaithful, not that she was immoral prior to marriage. It is possible the way it reads that she was a prostitute already. Either way she was the model God would use to teach about the Israelites. Here unfaithfulness was the perfect model for the unfaithfulness of Israel towards their God.
Hosea and Gomer had a son named Jezreel because God would break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel and take vengeance against Jehu. In 2 Kings 10:30-31 we see God deal with Jehu. His zeal was great and the Lord used him greatly but he didn't walk with the Lord. God promised him four generations on the throne. Jereboam II was the third, his son Zechariah was on the throne only six months before being assassinated.
As God brings His word to the nation, he named Hosea's children. Jezreel means scatter or sow. This could be taken as sown into the land as a good thing, or scattered to the wind as a bad thing. Obviously, in this original context it was scattered. Every time this child was called it was a reminder of God's message to Israel. Every time someone used his name they were reminded of God.
(See Deuteronomy 32 and Isaiah 54:5 for more on harlotry, idol worship, etc. See also Isaiah 5.)
Gomer gave birth to a daughter and she was named Lo-ruhamah: God would no longer show mercy to Israel. His patience had run out; they had rejected Him so much that he would now reject them. God would utterly take them away. By the end of Hosea's prophetic ministry, the Northern kingdom will have fallen to Assyria. Judah, however, would be saved by the Lord their God, but not by mighty army with war.
Then Hosea and Gomer have Lo-ammi to declare they are not His people and He will not be their God. What it really says is he is not "I AM" to you. The original covenant was that He would be their God and they would be His people. This isn't God's punishment; this was the decision of the people. God is simply acknowledging what was already done. This was the heart of the people; it was far from God.
Meet Hosea's family; Gomer, complete in her idolatry and harlotry. Jezreel, Lo-ruhamah, Lo-ammi meaning scattered, merciless and not my people. When they called their kids names it was a call to Israel and a reminder of their own rejection of God.
In spite of this rejection and end of mercy, God would not wipe out His people. In spite of all they had done, God says there will come a time when they would be numbered beyond measure and will be reunited under one head. It's worth noting that the valley of Jezreel is also Megiddo or Armageddon.
(See also Jeremiah 29:11-14; 31:31-40; Ezekiel 11:16-21. This is a specific promise that Israel will be restored.)
Say to your brethren, 'My people,' And to your sisters, 'Mercy is shown.' This is the future of Israel when their redemption is complete. The children will be His people and mercy will be shown. They will receive a new name in their redemption.
Hosea experienced firsthand the unfaithfulness of an adulterous wife. There was at least some idea that she was married to Hosea, but she was unfaithful in her harlotries. She had her lovers and when she bore children she wasn't sure who the father was. For whatever reason she didn't part from that life after he marriage. In her mind she may have justified it; convinced herself that she had no choice but to return to this life and that Hosea either wouldn't care or wasn't paying attention. She enjoyed or felt like she deserved the gifts and provision from her lovers. We look at this unfaithful wife who shamed her self, her children and her husband. It was a self destructive life with no good outcome. We might well conclude that whatever happens to her, she deserves; and that isn't far from the truth.
Gomer is the perfect picture of Israel. They had committed spiritual harlotry in being completely unfaithful to God. By covenant they were His people, but they determined themselves to 'not be His people'. They acted as if God wouldn't notice or not care. They justified their harlotry in many ways so they could enjoy the gifts and provisions of her lovers. Israels spiritual offspring, the people themselves, had no known heritage with God.
Israel is punished as an adulterous wife. The sins of the nation are held against the people who make up the nation. They were children of harlotry. Before we draw a conclusion about Gomer and Israel, we should look at our nation. Has not our nation parted from God? Have we not declared that we are no longer God's people? Have we not chased after other Gods; all the while enjoying the gifts and provisions that come from the harlotry; and all the while justifying our departure from God in various ways. And if the judgment of an adulterous nation falls to the children of her harlotry, are we not standing before a jealous God. Imagine our land, our country stripped bare, parched and barren.
We see the pride of the adulterous wife. She wants to rely on here lovers to give her the things that keep her comfortable. God said He would wall her in so she can't find them. As she desperately tries to fight her way through the wall of thorns to her lovers, she fails to notice God had multiplied the grain, new wine, oil, gold and silver. She never acknowledged that God had given her all that she had. When she decides to return, God then returns and removes the blessings. She couldn't just be a wife when convenient or just for the benefits that come with it; she couldn't run home because there was no better deal that day. That's not faithfulness.
We see this same thing today. There is a general lack of faithfulness; willingness to grow close to God in a thriving and abiding relationship. It seems so prevalalent for us to pursue the things that are pleasing to our eyes and flesh and only run to God when the bottom drops out or when we are in trouble. So many times through history we see that each man did what was right in his own eyes. Does that describe us? It seems we justify our ways and have a firm grasp on the things of the world. It seems we've forgotten God. What made this nation great? Was it business, money, affluence, jobs, politics, American inginuity? Democracy? Or were all things thing part of One nation under God?
As God promises to take back the gifts he gave Israel, we can see that the gifts this nation once enjoyed are being slowly stripped away. Judgment is coming soon.
God will allure her. This is God, in His way, persuading this harlot of a nation to return to Him. It's amazing that God bothers. It's a picture of God's perfect love. It never fails. In spite of all we've done and what we really deserve, God continues to persuade us to return to him. He doesn't wan simply our attentions. He doesn't need us to just acknowledge Him as God. He doesn't want our religious practices. He wants our heart! He wants a relationship that happens in every part of every day.
In that day they won't call him master but will call him husband. I can't help but believe this is a reference to the church being the bride of Christ? When Christ rules, it will be a perfect reign and justice and truth. The betrothel will be one of faithfullness. The redemption will be complete in that day. The faithful will be sown in Jezreel instead of scattered; instead of 'no mercy' God will have mercy. Those who were not His people will return and He will say, "You are My people!" Their response is their expression of love for God the Father; in faithfulness, loyalty and devotion they declare that He is their God.
See Romans 9:25-26.
Hosea is told to reunite with his wife just like God will reunite with Israel. He is told to love her. This love is an act of will, not feelings or emotions. She certainly wasn't deserving of love; not would Hosea feel like extending this love. This is agape' love of God towards his childrend that we can hardley understand.
Hosea bought her with 15 shekels of silver and some barley. It will be a long time Israel will have no king but the day will come when they will seek the Lord. In the last days they will come trembling to the Lord and to His blessings. The first time they were removed from the land was 430 years in Egypt and then again 70 years in Babylon. The many days is not determined.
©2016 Doug Ford