Hosea, the minor prophet, ministered in a time when the Northern kingdom was enjoying peace and prosperity. Unfortunately with this prosperity came great moral decay and as a result, Israel forsook their God and worshiped idols. So God instructed Hosea to marry Gomer, a “wife of whoredom” (1:2), to be an example to Israel of their great unfaithfulness. Despite their great unfaithfulness, the book of Hosea shows the depths of God’s love for his people, a love that tolerates no rivals.
At the start of Hosea’s ministry, God commanded him to take a wife of whoredoms (1:2). It is important to briefly note here that God did not command Hosea to marry a prostitute. The word ‘whoredom’ is a broad term which refers to various kinds of sexual misconduct. In this context, it generally refers to a married woman being unfaithful to her husband. The tragedy of Hosea is the tragedy of a marriage that began well but went bad. And so it was with the Lord and Israel: a good beginning went awry.
The significance of this command from God was to show His true nature of love, mercy, and forgiveness, despite their unfaithfulness in chasing after other ‘loves’. This is significant because Israel’s relationship was not based on who they were, or what they had achieved, but entirely on God’s choice. Israel, like Gomer, was unfaithful to God (2:5); forgot that God was the source of blessing (2:8); became immoral (4:1, 2); lacked knowledge of God (4:6); and they sought counsel from other places and help elsewhere other than from God (4:7, 5:13).
In chapter 2 God chooses to judge with Israel and her unfaithfulness. This gave Israel the opportunity to see and focus on the one whom they had betrayed. The amazing thing is that in judgement, God remembered mercy:
““Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt. “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.” (Hosea 2:14-20)
What a beautiful expression of righteousness, justice, love and mercy! Despite their great sinfulness God gives them a new song, a new name, and a new covenant. We see this restoration played out in chapter 3. Here, we see Hosea purchasing his bride from the traders. The low price, 15shekels of silver and lethech of barley, is a very low price for a slave, therefore, showing the desperate conditions into which Gomer had fallen.
Isn’t it true for us? We have found ourselves the target and victims of God’s perfect love, forgiveness, mercy, and cleansing. We have been washed clean and have been bought with a price. The price was so costly because our need was so great! And now that we have entered this relationship with God in Christ we have been blessed with all spiritual blessings. Yet, in our own self-deception we find ourselves straying from our first love. So many times we lean on our own understanding to find the answer and neglect the One who knows all; So many times we trust in the might of ‘horses and chariots’ instead of trusting in the One who made all things by His spoken Word; So many times we try to hide our sin and yet forget the One who is ever present even in our darkest times. And despite all our changeableness He never changes.
Despite all our wickedness and sin He lovingly disciplines us like a father. He feeds and cares for us like a mother. He lovingly wounds us to show us our futility and show us His sufficiency. What a great God! Oh for grace to revel in the knowledge of our God. My friends have you been unfaithful to God in the minuteness of ways today or even in this moment by passing thoughts or long meditations? Run to the Lord for He is more than enough to forgive, He is more than enough to satisfy. And if you doubt, remind yourself on what He has already accomplished while you were yet a sinner and bask in the glorious forgiveness and standing we have in Christ, for in this relationship we will find fulfillment and contentment.