“God turned up” Meditations: 26 : To Hosea
Hos 1:2 When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.”
The life of a prophet in Old Testament times was often not a comfortable one. They were first and foremost a messenger from God to the nation of Israel. Often they were under the nose of the king in Jerusalem and so when they brought a word it soon came to the ears of the king. Gossip travels fast in any society. Often what they said clashed with the lifestyle of the king and the prophet found himself arrested and imprisoned. Some even were put to death. Isaiah at one point, even went naked .
We know virtually nothing about Hosea. He lived in the northern kingdom of Israel in the tumultuous last years of that kingdom before it was swept away in 772-721BC. Israel, the northern kingdom had been unfaithful from the start. So here was a kingdom that has given itself over to idolatry instead of following the Lord. Yet, there is at least one man, Hosea, who is open to the Lord.
The Lord turns up and starts speaking to him: “When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him……” Again we don’t know how the Lord spoke but the assurance of it being the Lord comes through the very nature of the word to him. In a recent meditation we commented how when the Lord speaks we know it is Him because it cuts right across our own desires or wishes or expectations. That can be no more true than in this word of instruction to Hosea.
In fact we might wonder exactly what Hosea felt and thought about what he believed he was hearing from God? Go and take a wife who is likely to be morally unfaithful? How do you do that? Why should you do that? Well I suppose you look around the local community for a girl who has a dubious reputation, one who is likely to continue in the way she has gone to have gained such a reputation. What a terrible thing to have to do, to win a wife who you know is morally dubious and who is almost certainly going to continue that way after you are married. The outlook is only hurtful!
In passing, I cannot help but note that this is the dilemma of so many young people today. Only recently I was talking to a man in his early forties who was bewailing the fact that he wanted to settle down after a ‘morally flexible life’, but who feared taking a wife from a population that is so often promiscuous. He knew exactly this thing: why should a girl who has jumped from one bed to another settle down and be faithful to him? The ‘free society’ has brought this folly on itself.
So Hosea was obedient and married Gomer: “So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.” (v.3) Not only did she bear him a son but she also bore him a daughter and then another son. Each one of these children Hosea named according to the Lord’s instructions. Now Hebrew names tended to have a secondary meaning and the meaning of these three names pointed to Israel’s unfaithfulness and the Lord’s condemnation. Thus they would be living signposts to the Lord and a reminder to the people of their unfaithfulness.
After this, Gomer clearly commits adultery for later we find, “The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes. “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” (Hos 3:1-3) It appears from this that Gomer had not only committed adultery, but had fallen so low as to become a slave, for Hosea has to buy her back. The Lord explains the significance of this: “For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hos 3:4,5)
Hosea’s actions are to reveal the depth of God’s love that is still there reaching out to wanton Israel. Indeed there is coming a time when the Israelites (?the northern kingdom) will be without a nation or sacrifices but there will come a time when they will return to the Lord – and He will receive them and bless them. This northern kingdom will be dispersed yet there will be those who will return to the Lord who will be waiting for them. This is an amazing picture that Hosea conveys at God’s instigation, and as we consider what he must have been feeling about being abandoned by his wantond wife, and then having to rescue her from slavery, we might catch something of the pain that the Lord feels when His people abandon Him. Yet in His love He still waits, like the father of the prodigal, to receive His wayward child back. Amazing love!