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AN UNFAITHFUL BRIDE
(Our unfaithfulness interrupts our relationship with GOD)
The book of Hosea is divided into two sections, the first, chapters 1-3, focuses on Hosea’s personal life, while the second section, chapters 4-14, focuses on his divinely acquired messages. Hosea prophesied to the people in the northern kingdom of Israel prior to its fall into the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Two contrasting things clearly stand out during this period in Israel’s history; the love of GOD for Israel, and Israel’s reckless disregard for, and unfaithfulness to, the GOD of their fathers.
The prophet Hosea’s ministry spanned several decades, as it began in 750 B.C., near the conclusion of the ministry of the prophet Amos. It was also near the end of a prosperous period that had been enjoyed by both northern Israel and Judah, during the reigns of King Jeroboam II of Israel, and King Uzziah of Judah. His lengthy ministry concluded circa 715 B.C., during the early years of King Hezekiah’s reign in Judah (Hosea 1:1).
Hosea was the son of a man named Beeri, and is one of the most unique prophets in the annals of Old Testament history by way of his being ordered by GOD to marry a prostitute named Gomer, who was the daughter of a man named Diblaim. She bore Hosea a son, and the LORD instructed them to name him “Jezreel”, as a sign that GOD was about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty and avenge the murders committed in the Valley of Jezreel (Vs. 3-5).
Later she bore him a daughter whom the LORD named “Lo-ruhamah”, which means “not loved”. This signified that the LORD would no longer show love to the people of Israel, nor, would HE forgive them. After Gomer weaned Lo-ruhamah, she again conceived and bore another son, whom the LORD instructed the couple to name “Lo-ammi”, which means, “not MY people”. It signified that Israel was not GOD’s people anymore, and, that HE was no longer their GOD (Vs. 6-9).
Chapter 1, however, ends on a bright note, with a promise from GOD, that, in time, HE would again allow Israel to prosper and become a great nation. They would return from exile in Assyria on the “Day of Jezreel”. On that day, they would call their brothers “Ammi” (my people), and they would call their sisters “Ruhamah” (the ones I love).
In chapter 2, verses 2-5, GOD calls Israel into account for alienating itself away from HIM and behaving as a prostitute, worshipping other gods (v.1). In verses 2 & 4, the “mother” is Israel, and the children are each individual Israelites. Both the nation as a whole, and, each contemporary individual, was guilty of “spiritual adultery” by way of their forsaking of the GOD of their ancestors.
Israel had done a shameful thing by hooking up with the idol gods of the world, instead of clinging to its “covenant relationship” that she had once enjoyed with the Almighty GOD of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Now, they were rearing up a “spiritually illegitimate generation of people”, who could only be considered as “worldly” in, both, their behavior, and, their lifestyle. They physically resembled their earthly parents, but they were far from resembling GOD, WHO created them in HIS OWN spiritual image.
In chapter 3, GOD tells Hosea to go and buy his wife back out of the slavery that she had sold herself into, and to love her despite her continued propensity to do wrong by him. It would serve as a sign of how GOD would purchase Israel back out of the bondage of sin, through the sacrifice of HIS only begotten SON, JESUS CHRIST, at a future date.
Hosea purchased his wayward wife out of bondage for fifteen pieces of silver, five bushels of barley, and a measure of wine (v.2). Then, he told her that she must live in his house for many days without having sexual intercourse with anyone, including himself. This was to illustrate that the nation of Israel would be a long time without a king, or a prince, and, without sacrifices, a temple, priests, or idols (Vs. 3-4). The people would then repent and once again fear and reverence GOD, and HE would restore them back into a relationship of friendship and obedience with HIM in the last days (v.5).
Not much is known of Hosea, or Gomer, beyond the biblical account of their strange marriage. However, strange as it was, their marriage presented a perfect picture and demonstration of the relationship that man has with GOD. GOD has been constantly faithful to us, just as Hosea was faithful to his wife Gomer. However, just as Gomer was continuously unfaithful to Hosea, so man has been continuously unfaithful to GOD.
Gomer abandoned her marriage to Hosea, over and over again, taking on several other lovers in the process. Yet, Hosea’s love for his wife was so great that he could not give her up. When her profligate ways led her into slavery, Hosea bought her back and returned with her to his home to give her yet another chance to live a GODly life. By doing this, with his own life, Hosea shared GOD’s own experiences with his people, Israel.
Though bound to the LORD in a covenant relationship, Israel abandoned GOD over and over again by pursuing idols, and an adulterous lifestyle that linked them to paganism. This action by Israel also led it into slavery at the hands of the Assyrians in 722 B.C. Still, GOD would not stop loving Israel, and would later buy her back, and restore her to her homeland, just as Hosea restored Gomer back to her home.
Hosea’s experiences make for a deeply moving story, as the reader can easily sense the pain of his “dysfunctional relationship” with his wayward wife. From this story, we, as Christians, should also be able to sense the pain of the ALMIGHTY GOD as we waver back and forward in our relationship with HIM. Hosea’s unhappy family experiences becomes one of the all-time great “object lessons” in Scripture, concerning the sin and dysfunction, which we engage in, whenever we disobey and reject GOD’s will and kindness, over and over again.
A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander
LARRY D. ALEXANDER- Official Website