Every book in the Bible, to a greater or lesser extent, is reflective of the love of God for his children. It is no accident that the key verse of the entire Bible begins with "For God so love the world" (John 3:16), for the heart of God pulsates with undying love for each and every one of us. The human mind finds it almost impossible to grasp the fullness of divine love and the extent to which God will go to redeem and restore erring mankind to himself. Just look at some divine absolutes; his mercy is everlasting; his love is boundless: his grace is without limit and his compassion faileth not. What a mighty God we serve!!!
In our contemplation today we are dealing with a minor prophet called Hosea, whose name means 'salvation', who prophesied to Israel (Samaria) in the 8th century BC and was a contemporary of Amos. As we proceed in this meditation there are some things that worth pointing out here and now.
Many scholars and preachers think that this story or account dealing with Hosea and Gomer is not to be taken literally but is just a parable.
Many others think that although some things in the account are hard to fathom, nevertheless it has to be taken literally because it is consistent with other enacted prophesies found in Jeremiah and Ezekiel.
The main 'difficult bits' are, a) God commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute, a woman from the house of whoredom, b) Hosea a prophet obeying such an unusual command and c) Hosea's pain and anguish and utter devastation at Gomer's infidelity.
Taking into account everything said it is safe to go with the view that this account is to be taken literally, and this reflection is predicated on that concept, although if this account was purely symbolic the substance of the text will still be valid.
FIRST LET US CONSIDER THE DIFFICULT DUTY IMPOSED ON HOSEA
The Lord commanded Hosea to marry
Hosea was instructed to marry an unsavory woman who in all probability was a prostitute "Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms" (Hosea 1:2b) The implication of such an instruction was truly enormous for anyone but especially so for a prophet because:
He was to forfeit the normal marital happiness.
He was to face ridicule from friends and foes alike.
He was to put his reputation on the line.
He was to be subjected to scorn as regards his manhood.
He was to father unsavory children
Not only was Hosea to marry an unsavory woman, he was to father unsavory children and instructed to give them unflattering names symbolic of Israel.
The first child, a son, was to be called Jezreel, meaning "God sows" or "God scatters" (Hosea 1: 4-5)
His name was symbolic of God's judgment on Israel.
The second child, a girl, was to be called Lo-ruhamah, meaning "No mercy", "And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him call her name Lo-ruhamah, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel" (Hosea 1:6a)
Some suggested that this child, and the next to follow, were born out of wedlock because it did not say "she bore him" as before.
The third child, a son, was to be called Lo-ammi, meaning "not my people" (Hosea 1:8a -9)
His name was symbolic of God's rejection of Israel.
He was to renounce his adulterous wife
Gomer was to be regarded as departed and disowned "Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband" (Hosea 2: 2a)
This is symbolic of the state of apostate Israel.
A timely reminder to those in the church, those among God's people, that they need to be careful with their salvation.
NEXT LET US EXAMINE THE DERELICTION OF DUTY BY GOMER
She cared not for the marriage covenant
She was unfaithful and her third child, Lo-ammi, could have been born outside of marriage, (hence his name meaning "not my people").
She was adulterous, having many outside lovers, (let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts" (Hosea 2: 2b)
It is possible more than one of her children was born outside of the marriage "And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms" (Hosea 2: 4)
She cared not for Hosea
She chose her lovers over her husband "for she said, I will go after my lovers" (Hosea 2: 5b)
This is symbolic of Israel choosing false gods over Jehovah God.
This is typical of blasphemers the world over, not recognizing and giving due credit to Almighty God, "For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, and multiplied her silver and gold, which they prepared for Baal." (Hosea 2: 8a)
She cared not for God
To be married to a prophet, who some think might also have been a priest, and do what she did, shows that Gomer had no fear of nor respect for God.
This is tantamount to abusing her privileges just as Lot's wife did. Reference Gen 19: 1-29.
FINALLY WE OBSERVE DIVINE DUTY UPHELD BY GOD
God assists with his directions
God blocked Israel's wrong roads, to re-direct her paths, "Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns" (Hosea 2: 6a)
God also surrounded Israel with mighty walls to make her pause and consider, "and make a wall" (Hosea 2: 6b)
God made her quests unsuccessful, "that she shall not find her paths." (Hosea 2: 6c)
God demonstrates to his children the futility of living outside of his provisions, indeed the life of the transgressor is hard, "Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard" (Proverbs 13:15)
God affirms his faithfulness
He pursues Israel in love, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her." (Hosea 2: 14)
He attempts to cure her waywardness
Punishment and discipline were for the purpose of correction and restoration
Just as it presently exists, God's faithfulness towards us is demonstrated by his loving discipline towards correction, "Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty." (Job 5:17)
God amazes with his compassion
Though despised and rejected Hosea is commanded to go and be reconciled to his wife, "Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine." (Hosea 3: 1)
Hosea visits the market place and buys his wife for about 170 grams of silver and about 300 litres of barley, "So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley." (Hosea 3: 20)
Gomer is taken back, restoration is now completed and living together again has re-commenced, as originally intended, " And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days." (Hosea 3: 3-5)
This is symbolic of Israel's restoration at the end of time as prophesied throughout the Old Testament and affirmed again and again in the New Testament.
This contemplation is about God's amazing, enduring, almost unbelievable love for his children and the enormous length he would go to bring us back to himself. To backslidden brethren, God is calling in love for you to return, like the Prodigal Son, to the warmth of his embrace where you will find grace to help in your time of need. To the unconverted, God has made you in his own image and wants you to be part of his kingdom and is calling you to repent and accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. Accept Jesus now, while you still have time, for you know not what the future holds. To all who loves and serves the Lord in spirit and in truth, know that God loves you with an everlasting love and though at times you may stumble and fall be assured that underneath you are the everlasting arms and no one can pluck you out of his hand.
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Dr. Henderson Ward received his Doctor of Divinity in theology, with distinction, from Masters International School of Divinity, USA, where he is currently a post-doctoral fellow. Dr. Ward's career involved pastoring, evangelism, and teaching. Copyright 2013
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