Hosea 1:1-3:5; 1 John 5:1-21;
Psalm 124:1-8; Proverbs 29:5-8
More marriages might survive if the partners realized that sometimes the better comes after the worse. ~Doug Larson
This year our family was blessed to experience a marriage. My son married his high school sweetheart in a beautiful ceremony by the sea. Theirs was a picture perfect event with two soul mates committing to be faithful to one another for the rest of their lives. Today, we begin the book of Hosea. Hosea is about to get married, but the situation could not be any more different than my son's experience. You see, God is about to make Hosea's life a living illustration of Himself. Unfortunately, God is tied to an unfaithful wife at this time in the story, which means that in order for Hosea to be an accurate portrayal of God's experience, he has to marry a prostitute. You know it's a bad day when God tells you to marry a prostitute.
|My son and his bride|
Hosea lived about 100 years before the prophet Jeremiah. He was a prophet in the Northern Kingdom of Israel during the reign of Jeroboam. You may remember that the Northern Kingdom only had bad kings who promoted idol worship and brought Israel to the brink of captivity. Hosea is called by God to show Israel that their unfaithfulness is breaking God's heart. God is a spiritual husband, who is filled with shame and sorrow at Israel's betrayal. Hosea's name means "salvation"; in another form the name is Joshua and in Greek the name is Jesus. We will explore later how Hosea is also a picture of Jesus.
As the story begins, Hosea is commanded by God to marry a prostitute. The reasoning is that He wants Hosea to experience having children born to him that come from other men. This will illustrate to Israel how they have been unfaithful to God and have committed adultery by worshiping idols.
Let's take a moment to talk about the institution of marriage. In the Bible, marriage is introduced immediately in the Garden of Eden. When Eve is created in chapter 2 of Genesis she is presented to Adam as a companion to solve his problem of loneliness and to be a partner made from his own flesh. The idea of leaving one's father and mother and becoming one flesh is central to God's plan. Their intimacy in the marriage bed creates the union that pictures that they are one unit made from the same body. Marriage is the first and most fundamental unit on earth. Marriage is the anchor on which society is built.
When God gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He specifically stated that they were not to make idols to worship and within marriage, they were not to commit adultery (Deuteronomy 5). The punishment for adultery was death. We learn in the New Testament that marriage was instituted with a mystery connected to it. That mystery is that marriage represents Christ and His bride, the Church, as explained by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 5:32. So marriage is not only the fundamental unit of society, it has a deeper spiritual meaning in that it is a living illustration of God and His relationship to the nation of Israel and of Jesus Christ and His relationship to the Church.
Hosea marries Gomer, the prostitute, and not long afterwards Gomer is pregnant and gives birth to a son. God tells Hosea to name the boy Jezreel. Jezreel means "God will scatter." This boy's birth and naming symbolizes that God is going to scatter the Northern Kingdom of Israel as a punishment for their disloyalty to God. Part of the punishment will take place in the Jezreel Valley. This valley also plays prominently in the end times, as it is also called the Valley of Armageddon.
Next, Gomer gets pregnant and has a daughter and is told to name her Lo-ruhamah. This name means "never knew a father's pity" or "not loved." The implication here is that they are not sure who this girl's father is. It is scandalous to think that Hosea had the embarrassment of having an unfaithful wife who got pregnant by another man. Lu-ruhamah represents the Northern Kingdom of Israel, who is the child of an idol. God is not going to have pity on this child of questionable parentage and is going to send the Northern Kingdom into captivity.
Gomer is fertile. She has another son. He is to be named Lo-ammi. His name means "not my people." In the singular this would mean, "not my child." The father of the second child was in question, but there is no doubt about this child. He is a bastard child. God's anger is at a zenith and He declares that Israelites are not His people and He is not their God. If this were the end of the paragraph, we could believe that God was through with the nation of Israel because of their adultery, but God has more to say on the matter.
God says that a time will come when He will prosper Israel and make them a great nation. He will multiply them like the sands on the seashore and they will be the children of the living God. God's prediction of the future includes the Northern and the Southern Kingdoms uniting under one leader and be planted in the Promised Land. In that day, they will all be called "Ammi," which means "My people" and "Ruhamah," which means "The ones I love." Has this occurred yet? No. This is a description of Christ's millennial kingdom on earth. Israel will be God's people who are greatly loved in that day.
It's a good thing that God slips in those reminders about the future, because the nation of Israel is in for a very long time of punishment and indignation. Their zenith under the line of King David has passed. They are a divided people who have slumped into idolatry. God is going to teach them a lesson and it is going to be a long lesson realized over the course of human history. In the book of Daniel, we call it the "times of the Gentiles" or the "seventy sevens/weeks."
For now, Israel is portrayed as a common whore who should take off her makeup and suggestive clothing. God is going to strip Israel down and leave her naked and thirsty in the desert. Her children, born from other men, will not be loved by God. The product of her lust for other lovers and for the benefits of selling herself for more material things will not be embraced by God.
When Israel brings grain, wine, oil, gold, silver and even children to the false god Baal, the One True God of Israel is brokenhearted that the Israelites do not acknowledge that it was God, not Baal, who gave them the grain and wine with which to make a sacrifice to a false god. With righteous indignation, God intends to punish Israel.
Once again, God clarifies in verse 14 that He intends to win Israel back, one day. He is going to transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope. Israel will call God her husband, rather than her master in that day. God will cause Israel to forget the images of Baal. In the millennial kingdom of Christ on this earth, even the animals will not harm people. There will be no need for weapons, because everyone will live in peace and safety. Israel will finally know the Lord intimately. They will not have a need to sacrifice to Baal to cry for rain and good crops, because the Lord will make the produce abundant. People will cry out, "Jezreel," which means "God plants!" This time the scattering means scattering seeds to plant for a plentiful crop. Remember that Baal was a fertility god to which ancient people sacrificed and even had sex in front of Asherah poles in order to try to promote abundant crops and rain for the earth.
God will plant a crop of Israelites in that day and raise them up for Himself. This is a promise. God looks forward to fulfilling this promise. This is His Story. He is telling us the ending. The people that He called "Not my people," will now be called, "My people."
With this future in mind, God commands Hosea to get his adulterous wife and bring her back. Hosea must love her, in spite of her unfaithfulness. The Law in Deuteronomy would call for Gomer to be killed, but God is gracious and merciful. Hosea goes and buys back his wife, who has sold herself into prostitution. Hosea brings her back to his home and demands that she stop her prostitution. He sets forth a rule that she will not have sexual intercourse with anyone, including him.
What does this picture? It shows that Israel is going to go a long time without a king, or prince, or sacrifices, temples, priests and even idols. Israel is in this position in our modern day. The nation of Israel is still scattered throughout the earth. She is not unified in her worship of God. She does not have the Temple or daily sacrifices. She does not have her spiritual husband.
God promises that in the future, Israel will return to the Lord and to David's descendant, the King (Jesus), and in the last days, they will come trembling back to Him in awe and receive His good gifts.
The illustration of Hosea buying back Gomer beautifully shows how Jesus buys back Israel with his death and resurrection. Jesus death on the cross pays the debt for their sin and the sin of all of mankind. During the "times of the Gentiles," you and I are privileged to have Jesus buy us back and pay our debts for the sins we have committed. In the future, God will collectively do this for Israel as a nation. It will not be for every Israelite, but because it will be a remnant of the nation of Israel who will accept Christ in the end times, it is a proper picture. The millennial reign of Christ on earth will be for the number of Israelites and Gentiles who turn to their Messiah during the Great Tribulation. The Church will particpate by ruling and reigning with Christ, although some commentators feel that the Church is in heaven during the earthly reign of Christ.
Has Christ bought you back and brought you in to be His spotless Bride? Jesus is a loving husband, who provides and cares for his loved one. Are you His bride?
1 John 5:1-21
Today, Hosea named his children as a reflection of whether or not Israel was truly God's spiritual children. Now, John deals with how the Church can know if they are truly God's legitimate children. According to John, if you believe in Jesus Christ, you are a true child of God.
Jesus is the legitimate child of God and we are adopted into God's family through belief in Christ. If you have the Son, you have eternal life because the Son is eternal life.
The only sin that leads to eternal death is the sin of not believing in Jesus Christ. John reminds believers to keep away from anything that might take the place of God in your heart. Whatever takes His place is an idol and makes you unfaithful to your spiritual husband.
Do you see how the Bible ties these themes together? God is your spiritual husband who cares for you and loves you. He is also your spiritual Father in heaven. Be true to Him.
God protects Israel and all who love Him. Our help is from the Lord.
Evil people get trapped by sin. God provides a way out of sin for those who seek Him and love Him. Do you have an addiction to some sin? Seek God's help to conquer it.
What are you learning? Please share.