God's Love for Israel
Around 920 B.C. Solomon dies and God fulfills His pledge to discipline Israel severely because of Solomon's sin. Solomon has officially sanctioned the worship of idols in Israel. Up to this point in time individual Israelites may have dabbled in idolatry; however, with Solomon idolatry now takes on an official aspect. God pledges to discipline Israel by dividing her into 2 kingdoms, the northern kingdom called "Israel" which will be composed of 10 tribes and the southern kingdom called "Judah" which will be composed of the 2 tribes of Judah and Benjamin.
God selects Jeroboam to lead the northern kingdom of Israel in place of Solomon's son, Rehoboam. Moreover, God promises Jeroboam that He will establish his kingdom permanently if he will follow the Lord. Jeroboam though does not want the people to go to Jerusalem to worship the Lord God since Jerusalem lies in the realm of Judah, the southern kingdom. He fears that if the people return continually to Jerusalem to worship God, then they will eventually give their political allegiance to the southern kingdom of Judah. As a result Jeroboam introduces idol worship into the northern kingdom. From then on Israel will be steeped in idolatry.
God has had it. For the next 200 years God will send prophet after prophet to warn the northern kingdom of disaster if she does not repent and return to the Lord. It is during these 200 years that God sends Elijah who does turn the hearts of the people back to God, but only temporarily.
One of the last prophets God sends to Israel is the prophet Hosea. It is approximately 730 BC, only nine years before God destroys the northern nation of Israel. He once more is extending the hand of grace to Israel; once more she will bite the hand that feeds her.
HOSEA MARRIES GOMER (Hosea 1:1-3a)
In order to communicate to Israel His great love for her, God speaks to a young priest named Hosea. He wants to use Hosea and his marriage as a type of allegory or object lesson of the relationship He has with Israel. God wants Israel to know that He loves her the way a young man loves his bride. For all intents and purposes Israel is the bride of God.
So far this love of God for us does not startle us. What does startle us is the person God chooses to be Hosea's wife, Gomer. The problem with Gomer is that she is a prostitute. God is commanding Hosea to marry a prostitute. Why? Because He knows that even after Gomer marries Hosea, she will sleep around on him with other men.
Why does God use Hosea and Gomer's marriage as an allegory or object lesson? Because God sees Israel His brides as nothing more than a prostitute, an adulteress. Although she gave herself to God at Mount Sinai, she has steadfastly refused to follow the Lord only. Instead she went after the idols of Egypt, of Midian, of Canaan, and of the Amorites. If Israel could go after another god, she usually did. God views this as a violation of the commitment Israel made to Him at Mt. Sinai. For all practical purposes she is a spiritual adulteress, a spiritual prostitute.
In order to understand the way God deals with us, we need to realize that what holds true for God, Hosea, and Gomer applies to us also. God loves us so much that He views us as His bride. When we follow after other gods--popularity, beauty, financial success, possessions, security, comfort, etc., we are spiritual adulteresses. Hosea's actions and attitude towards Gomer will reflect the actions and attitude of God towards Israel, and towards us as well.
Hosea obeys the Lord and takes Gomer to be his wife. Disaster will strike.
GOMER'S UNFAITHFULNESS IN MARRIAGE (1:3b-9)
The First Child (1:3b-5)
Gomer is a prostitute whenever Hosea marries her. She does not change simply because he married her. She is a prostitute at heart and continues to cat around, even after she marries Hosea. In quick successions children are born to Gomer and Hosea. The names of these children are very telling. The couple name the first child "Jezreel" because of the blood that was shed in the valley of Jezreel (the place we call Armageddon). It was in Jezreel that the family of Ahab was slaughtered by Jehu. Although Ahab was to be punished because he led Israel into the abyss spiritually with the worship of Baal and Asherah, Jehu had gone overboard. God was not pleased with the overzealousness on the part of Jehu.
God may use you to discipline somebody. Be careful though in getting carried away. For example God will use the Babylonians to punish the southern kingdom of Judah; however, she will go overboard. As a result, God will destroy the Babylonian empire. Be very careful in the way you judge others. It may come back to bite you.
God is going to punish Israel because of Jehu's great sin.
The Second Child (1:6-7)
The marriage relationship continues to be fruitful. A second child is born to Gomer and Hosea. This time they are to call the child "Lo-ruhamah" meaning "No compassion." In other words, because Israel persisted in idolatry even though God had sent prophet after prophet to her, God was going to punish Israel. It will look as if He has no more compassion for her.
If God loved Israel so much that He thought of her as His wife, then why did He cop this attitude? Many of us would think that this showed that God did not really love Israel as much as He needed to. The truth is that God loved Israel and loves us a whole lot more than we bargained for. Up until the 50's and 60's people had a much different attitude towards marriage than we have today. In the 20's if a man walked into a room where his wife was making out with another man and then shot them both, the courts would have let him off scot free. The court would have treated the woman similarly if she came upon her husband making love to another woman and shot them both. In fact society since the beginning of time vindicated that husband or wife. We now come down on the wronged husband or wronged wife.
Well, God does not have the attitude towards marriage our current society has. He has the attitude people in the 20's and 30's had; the attitude nearly all people had up until the 1950's. Because of Israel's spiritual adultery, God is a wronged husband. He is going to act out of righteous jealousy.
Now this makes most of us stop and pause. We think it is wrong for men to be possessive of their wives. Why? Because we feel it is bad for the woman; it smothers the woman and keeps her from finding fulfillment. Maybe that is true; however, it does not apply in the case of God and us. God made us for Him. We don't function properly apart from Him. Just like the car which is made for gas breaks down when you put water into it, so we break down when we put anything other than Jesus into our spiritual gas tanks. We were made for Jesus. Anything else just simply is not going to work. It is for our good that God disciplines us in order to bring us back to Him. Living for and with Him is the only way to find true joy and meaning in life.
The Third Child (1:8-9)
Hosea's relationship with Gomer is rapidly deteriorating. Gomer gets pregnant a third time, and whereas previously Hosea has been suspicious about Gomer and her activities, this time Hosea knows for sure that he did not father this child. She has been sleeping around on him; therefore, Hosea names this third child ""Lo-ammi," which translated means "not my child."
We need to look seriously at what is being produced in our lives. Are we following the Lord to such an extent that He is producing the things flowing out of our lives? Or are we basically living life apart from Jesus so that the things come from ourselves and not from Jesus? Our thoughts, our attitudes, our possessions, our agendas, our friends, our loves, our hates, etc.? If we are not following Jesus on a daily basis, then these things are not from Him. He looks at what we are producing and says, "Not MY child." These things did not come from Me.
GOMER LEAVES HOSEA (2:5-8)
A leopard can't change his spots. The same holds true for Gomer. She is used to the wild life. It's ingrained in her. She had not tasted domestic life until she married Gomer, and now that she's tasted it, she doesn't like it. As a result, Hosea returns home one day and discovers that Gomer has fled. Hosea searches for Gomer and finds her living with another man. What's sad is that the man she is living with can't really afford to feed her or clothe her.
Now what kind of response do you think Hosea had towards this? Does he head to divorce court and demand she be cut off immediately? Does he humiliate her at church and drag her name through the mud? Does he lick his chops in joy that the man doesn't have enough money to care for her?
What Hosea does next is startling. He gives the man she is living with enough money to care for Gomer. He does it though in such a way that Gomer does not know that Hosea is paying for her upkeep. Her response? She remains with her lover.
We defend Gomer: "But she didn't know that Hosea was paying for her upkeep; she shouldn't be expected to be grateful to Hosea." Then she was an idiot. Why? Because she knew that her lover couldn't afford her. Now all of a sudden they have enough money. She doesn't even bother to find out the source of this new income. She doesn't want to know because she probably in her heart realizes that it came from Hosea; however, she doesn't want to return to Hosea. As a result she is determined to remain blind.
We're just like Gomer. God provides us with all we have. Every good thing in our lives comes from Jesus; however, we don't want to acknowledge it. We will thank our lucky stars; we will think we're wealthy because we're so clever; we think we got that girl because we're so hot ourselves; etc. The truth though is that ALL things come from God; however, we don't want to acknowledge it so that we won't have to give our lives to Him in return. Anything but that.
How bad are we? God gives us this good earth. He blesses with lush vegetation and mighty forests; He enriches the earth with precious gems and metals. And how do we respond when He comes to earth? We cut down the tree; we mine the iron ore; we dig a hole into the earth; and then crucify Him on the tree with the iron nails. Gomer is not the only guilty culprit in this story.
THE CLIMAX (3:1-3)
News reaches Hosea that things are not going well for Gomer. She has fallen into the hands of a man who not only cannot afford her but also doesn't want her. (If you think Satan wants you, you're deluded; Satan wants to use you and then toss you on the dump heap of life.) The man doesn't simply throw Gomer out of the house. Rather he decides to sell her. Whereas at first she was a cheap prostitute, Hosea made her a bride of great love and value. She rejected that for the life of a lover. That life does not exist. It is only the beginning of a life of slavery. Gomer is to be auctioned off as a slave in front of all the people.
Surely the tongues must have been wagging. "Well, she's finally getting her come-uppance. She spat on Hosea and his love for her; now he's going to get the last revenge. He's going to get to see her humiliated and shamed in front of all the people. What a pleasure it will be to see her get what's coming to her!"
The day of the slave auction arrives. Everyone is there to see Gomer, stripped to the waist, exposed for all to see her shame, hands bound, head downcast. She has hit rock bottom. In the crowd is the young priest Hosea, innocent and pure. What a stark contrast. Hosea has been vindicated at last.
Next comes the most startling event. The bidding starts for Gomer. I don't know how high the bidding goes; however, when the bidding war is over, the lone bidder is Hosea. Instead of spitting on her, instead of enjoying her come-uppance, he has compassion on her and buys her back for himself. She is his, not only by virtue of marriage but also by virtue of the fact he has purchased her for himself. He has redeemed her from slavery so that from now on she belongs to him.
Hosea takes Gomer home and tells her: "It's over. There's to be no more catting around. You belong to me. You will stop the harloting. You will now stay home and be my wife."
We don't know the rest of the story. The implication is that she had finally learned her lesson. She had exchanged great love for tawdy lust. That great love though has freed her from slavery. If she had a lick of sense in her, she would now stay at home and be the wife she needs to be.
Whereas the story of Hosea and Gomer turns out good, the same cannot be said for the northern nation of Israel. Even though God time after time reached out to Israel, she refused to come home. Judgment will not come. The Assyrians (Iraqis) in 721 BC will come and destroy the northern nation of Israel. She refused to be the bride God wanted her to be; she will then cease to exist as a nation.