Prophets sometimes do some strange things, but no prophet preached a more painful message than Hosea. He was instructed by God to marry a prostitute. His wife gave birth to three children and Hosea wasn’t even sure he was the father of the last two.
So what was that all about? It was a vivid picture to the nation of Israel of how they had prostituted themselves to other gods. It is a message of “spiritual adultry.” But that was then. What does that have to do with now? It has a lot to do with now! We face the same temptation that Israel faced and we need to heed Hosea’s warnings (James 4:4).
1. The Times of Hosea (v.1)
There are five kinds mentioned by Hosea (4 in Judah and 1 in Israel). The kinds of Judah belonged to the dynasty of David (the only dynasty that the Lord accepted). The kinds of Israel were all wicked and followed in the footsteps of the first of their line — Jeroboam I, and refused to repent and turn to God (2 Kings 13:6).
After Jeroboam II dies, his son Zechariah reigned 6 months before he was assassinated by his successor Shallum who was assassinated 1 month after he reigned as king. Menahem reigned for 10 years; his son Pekahiah ruled for 2 years before he was murdered by Pekah who was able to keep the throne for 20 years.
He was slain by Hoshea, who reigned for 10 years. He was the last of the kings of Israel. It was during his evil reign that the nation was brought into captivity by the Assyrians. It was during their captivity that a mixed race was born who became known as the Samaritains.
What a time to be serving the Lord! Murder, idolatry, and immorality were rampant and nobody seemed to be interested in hearing the Word of the Lord.
2. The Marriage of Hosea (v.2)
There is some controversy as to whether Hosea’s wife was a prostitute before or after they were married, but the text seems to fit better that she was involved in this before they were married not after. Either way, the picture is the same. She represented the nation of Israel in their state of spiritual adultery.
3. The Names of Hosea’s Children (v.3-9)
Jezreel (v.4-5) means “God sows” or “God scatters.” There are three areas in which this name has prophetic significance.
First, there was the political application to the house of Jehu for the massacre of Jezreel.
Second, there is the fuller application in the meaning of the name itself … “scattered.” This happened with the fall of the nation to Assyria in 722 B.C. and they have continued being scattered from that time. Today the people of Israel are scattered all the way from Samaria to San Francisco, and Narareth to New York.
Third, this is an application to other people as well. When we read it we tend to apply it to others when we should apply it to ourselves. The principle is this: when you reject God you get into trouble.
Loruhamah (v.6-7) means “unpitied” or “not loved.” Why is it that we presume upon God’s love and grace? We live as though it will always be there and never restrained from us, but that is just not the case. The expression of God’s love is unconditional, but the enjoyment of that love is conditional and depends on our faith and obedience (2 Cor.6:14-7:1). Is this a contradiction? Doesn’t the Bible say that God’s love endures forever? (Ps.100:5) Yes, but when we insist on our own way and continue in our sin, the time will come when God will withdraw His hand of mercy from us and abandon us to our sin that we might learn to repent (Rom.1:24-32).
Loammi (v.8-9) means “not My people.” Not only would God remove His love from the people, but He would renounce the covenant that He made with them. It was like a man divorcing his wife and turning his back on her, or like a father rejecting his own son.
Here is a strange thought. Israel is an everlasting nation, they are a chosen people, but they are not God’s people right now! God has a future plan for them … it will take them through the tribulation period, but God’s people now are in the church. God’s hand of blessing and mercy is at the present upon His church, but what if His mercy were withdrawn … what if God one day said, “I’ve had enough.” Is that possible? (Rom.11:17,18,20,21).
Yes, it is. Our lack of repentance as a church is wearing on God’s patience and one day it will run out and His hand of mercy will depart.
You might be thinking, “Well, I thought we were going to talk about the graciousness of God?” We are. Here is where the grace of God comes in (1:10-2:1).
Did you notice the name change? From “not pitied” to “pitied.” From “not my people” to “my people.”
There are so many lessons here for the Christian. You may not have run as far away from God as Gomer did, but have there been times you have denied Him? Have there been times that you have been unfaithful to Him? You know the answer is yes!
He deserves better, but we only give Him half-hearted service.
We say, “Oh yes, I’m a Christian” – while actually living a self-serving lifestyle. We have been given opportunities to show our love for Him … to show what He really means to us, but we have disgraced Him in little ways and in large ones.
(1 Pet.2:10) That is the story of all of us that have been saved: scattered! Not-pitied! Not my people! But now: planted! Pitied! The People of God.
Shouldn’t we stop our wandering and come back to God? Yes we should, but no one can make you do what you are not willing to do. But Hosea’s message is a warning to all of us who are straying from God … one day the mercy will run out. Turn to God while in grace. He urges you to come home.