[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.]
So, first things first (I’m the realest) ((kidding)), who was Hosea and why would a God who so highly values purity command him to marry a prostitute?
Hosea existed as a prophet in Israel, specifically to the northern kingdom. At this time, the northern kingdom had been prospering materially but was decaying spiritually. The people were becoming very lost–worshipping false gods and idols, and growing to be very greedy as a result of their materialism.
So God calls in His prophet Hosea. His role is to demonstrate the unfaithfulness to God of the northern kingdom. God had been their “husband” and provider, and they had cheated and married themselves to Baal and the false gods of Canaan. Hosea was called to speak of God’s relentless love and fierce justice, and how the Israelite’s experiences with these qualities of God should lead them back to Him.
Hosea knows what he is getting himself into. He knows of his future wife’s adultery and prostitution. At the same time, though, he knows that his marriage would become a living lesson to the adulterous northern kingdom, as it illustrated God’s relationship with the nation of Israel.
It is difficult to imagine how Hosea must have felt about this call from God. He did not have the flowery experience of sitting in the soft glow of a dark room, eyes sweetly closed, arms outstretched, while an acoustic worship band played.
[Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.” Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them–not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.” After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”) for you are not my people, and I am not your God.]
God not only calls Hosea to marry an unfaithful prostitute; He calls him to get emotionally attached to her and have children with her, naming them “I Will Punish”, “No Mercy or Love”, and “Not My People.” The children of Hosea and Gomer were examples of the rebellion of the Israelites in human flesh. Just has Hosea would call his children to himself as their father, the Father was calling his rebellious people to Himself.
Hosea was given an incredible calling to physically live out the redemptive story of the Gospel and love like the Father.
If we take a step back and look at this story of Hosea with our knowledge of the coming of Jesus nearly 700 years later, and our knowledge of all that Jesus brought to this world, we can see exactly how this story relates to us. The Good News of the Gospel and God’s desire to for us to be saved is often very hard to accept because of the very bad news that accompanies it. In order to truly accept that we need Jesus as our Savior, we must accept that on our own, we have nothing but sin and it is wholly impossible to save ourselves. If we aren’t willing to accept and admit that we were once lost, being found isn’t as beautiful. Receiving sight wouldn’t be very miraculous if the person receiving it wasn’t once blind. The story of Hosea serves to show us that we were once not His people, but because of His grace and mercy, we now are. Just as Hosea willingly chose Gomer, the Lord looked upon us and saw us fit to make His people. When we take time to realize all the ways we were lost before we were found, and then take time to appreciate all that made us found, we are able to truly understand the beautiful story of redemption that is demonstrated throughout Hosea, as well as the entirety of the Bible.