Hosea 1:2 2When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, "Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the LORD."
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.
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One might also ask how such a God could have stayed "married" to any portion of the house of Israel as His chosen people, despite the Israelites' persistent and repeated unfaithfulness to Him, as well as other sins that they had committed in connection with the worship of other gods, when He would have been fully justified in casting them off. It was exactly for the purpose of providing a dramatic "real-life" illustration of that relationship, including the flagrant nature of the infidelity of the northern kingdom of Israel, as well as of God's amazing love, mercy, and patience toward the southern kingdom of Judah, that God commanded Hosea to marry Gomer the harlot, to have children with her (to whom God instructed Hosea to give names meaning "Not my people" and "Not loved", as well as the name "Jezreel" (denoting His justified anger for a massacre committed by the northern kingdom of Israel), and yet to then plead with her (as a representation of the southern kingdom of Judah) to return to him after she had committed adultery with other men, as God did not only through Hosea, but through other prophets, as well.
God often used the lives of his prophets to illustrate spiritual truth by allergorical stories. The relationship of husband and wife - love and unfaithfulness. The relationship of parents and children - right living and rebellion. Hosea’s life is a beautiful illustration of God’s love and faithfulness. God used Hosea to save Gomer from her life as a harlot by commanding Hosea to marry her. Just like God sent Jesus to save us; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. God blessed their union with children to show his love to Gomer. But she stumbled into sin again, having an adulterous affair with another man. Just like us, when we fall into sin, even after coming to faith in Jesus and becoming his bride. But God demonstrated his love and faithfulness again. He told Hosea to love his wife again and he paid the price to set her free. Just like Jesus paid the price to set us free. Then Hosea made a covenant with his wife. She was to stop her intimate relationships with other men and Hosea promised to remain faithful to her. Just like the new covenant of grace that God has made with us because Jesus has paid the penalty for our sin and his righteousness has been given to us. We are righteous in God’s sight because we are “in Christ” and “Christ is in us”. By faith in Jesus we are saved and even when we fall into sin, all we have to do is confess our sin and turn away from it and God is faithful to forgive us and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Our holy God will one day judge all evil and wickedness with his perfect justice. But today is the day is salvation. Today God is always, always, always calling all people, everywhere to repent and come to faith in Jesus. Why, because God is not willing that any should perish but everyone would come to repentance and salvation. The entire book of Hosea shows us God’s heart of love and compassion and his continual call to repentance and reconciliation to himself. Gomer’s life is a good reminder of that.
The marriage of Hosea is problematic and is difficult to understand why God would tell His prophet to marry a prostitute. Hosea ministered primarily to the northern kingdom. During this time Baal, the god of fertility, became Israel's god. At the center of worship were two golden calves, a substitute for the cherubs on the ark of the covenant in the Jerusalem temple. Under these circumstance God told Hosea to marry an adulterous wife (Hosea 1:2). Most Bible scholars agree that the story is not symbolic, but most likely a real event in the life of the prophet. The deep pain in God’s heart due to the spiritual adultery of His people, as well as to the moral depravity and idolatry was to be acted out in the marital life of Hosea. God was in pain and He wanted His people to know it. After ordering Hosea to take back his adulterous wife, God added, “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” (Hosea 3:1). God portrays Himself here as a loving, rejected husband in emotional pain. Hosea's marriage with Gomer is an illustration of God’s endless love for His people, willing to take His beloved back no matter how much and deep it hurts.
My understanding of the story is that after Gomer's beauty had faded her second husband did not want her and wished to sell her off to the highest bidder. That is when Hosea bought her back even though she was old and battered and had betrayed him. Thus teaching us that when the devil has used us he will cast us away as cheap and useless but God is always willing to take us back no matter our condition.
In the Old Testament, prophets frequently lived out the message God had to give through them. Isaiah walked naked for three years to tell the people that Egypt and Cush would become captives (Isaiah 20:3), Ezekiel lost his wife (Ezek 24:16) and did not mourn for her, as a prophecy that the people of Judah would lose the Temple that they loved, yet not mourn for it. Jeremiah walked around wearing a yoke (Jer 27) to symbolize the captivity of Judah under Nebuchadnezzar. All these were graphic examples to their audiences so that they would learn the hard lesson God was giving, and Hosea's wife Gomer was another example for them to learn. It emphasizes how forgiving God is and how despite man's sin, God's grace is greater.
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