When 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.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (Hosea 1:2-3 NIV).
Next, let’s turn our attention to the plot of Hosea. The opening story has upset many people. Hosea was commanded to marry a sexually immoral woman. Although the old covenant priests were required to marry virgins, the prophets were not so restricted. Nothing in the law prohibited such a union, though she deserved to die (Leviticus 20:10), just like David and Bathsheba.
The language of the original language is rough, racy and blunt. Go, marry a whore, and get children with a whore, for the country itself has become nothing but a whore by abandoning Yahweh (Jerusalem Bible). In spite of the arguments of some, the Hebrew word zenunim, while referring basically to illicit sex, can refer to prostitution.
Hosea’s life became complicated and sorrowful. He pledged himself to be faithful to an unfaithful woman, and he became the father of children who resembled their mother in their behavior. Before you complain about your lot in life, you would do well to look at others and consider what God has called them to endure for his name’s sake. We need to get our eyes off ourselves and fix them on the Lord Jesus. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).
Hosea’s broken marriage would illustrate the relationship between the living God and his covenant people Israel. God is like Hosea, the faithful husband and loving father. But Israel was like Gomer, the unfaithful wife. In every area of life, Israel was an adulterous.
- In religion, she committed adultery by loving other gods—many other gods.
- In politics, she committed adultery by selling herself to other countries for military protection.
- In morals, she committed adultery by engaging in literal sexual immorality, and indulging in greed and violence.
In this disgusting picture, the Lord reveals his way of ruling over the world and his people. In Hosea we do not see One who rules by using brute power, nor do we see One who helplessly wrings his hands. But we see God acting in various ways to make known his manifold glory.
- Sometimes he is sovereignly cool, letting his people walk in their own way.
- Sometimes he is powerfully tough, bringing well-deserved judgment on them.
- Sometimes he is patiently tender, refusing to give them up. Isn’t it great that God doesn’t give up?
- Above all, he is amazingly gracious, forgiving the vilest adulteries when people ask for mercy.
God is not the magician of our childhood fantasies, who solves all problems with the wave of his magic wand. No, the living, personal God works through the complexities of personal relationships to show his glory. For God that meant sending his Son to death on a cross. We see also that God loves the unlovely; in fact, he even loves those who despise him and walk away from him. We should only say, “Amazing love, how can it be?”
Grace and peace, David