Bible: What Does Hosea 1-4 Teach Us About Unfaithfulness and Redemption?
Hosea the Prophet
Hosea's Wife (Gomer) and Children
THE BOOK OF HOSEA
Hosea begins his prophecy by mentioning the period of kingdom history during which he received revelation (v. 1); his ministry as a "man of God," nabi (prophet), spanned the reigns of four Judean kings and one Israelite king.
At the outset of Hosea’s service, Yahweh planned that His messenger's marriage to Gomer should testify against Judah's rebellion against Him.
To mirror the LORD's relationship to Israel, Hosea must marry a prostitute; the subsequent behavior of Gomer will demonstrate the people’s unfaithfulness to God (v. 2).
Not only would the prophet’s marriage witness to the faithlessness of Judah, but his wife’s children would also point to the nation’s future disgrace.
Jezreel, Gomer’s first-born, is also the name of a valley where Yahweh "will break the bow of Israel" (vv. 3-5).
At God’s direction, Hosea calls the second child, a girl, "No-Mercy (English)," thus informing Israel of the LORD’s decision against them (v. 6).
However, in the next breath, Yahweh promises to save Judah personally (v. 7).
"Not-My-People (English)," Hosea and Gomer's second son, also manifests the LORD’s displeasure (vv. 8-9).
Nevertheless, despite God's temporary rejection, He vows to fulfill His promise to Jacob by one day causing Judah and Israel to unite under the Messiah ("one head'') [vv. 10-11; cf. Gen. 32:12].
Portrayal of Israel
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The subject of reconciliation (begun in 1:10) briefly continues here (v. 1).
At the time of Messiah, family members in Israel will restore fellowship with one another.
However, in Hosea's day, Yahweh calls for an indictment of His people because of their disloyalty to Him.
He characterizes her (Israel) as an unfaithful harlot, and not His wife, and exhorts her to repent lest He judge her (v. 2).
Upon conviction of her sin, Israel can expect the humiliating treatment an adulterous wife receives (v. 3).
Her children also suffer for their mother's sin, for God withholds His mercy from them (v. 4).
Israel's apostasy will cost future generations their freedom (v. 5).
God guides Israel through a painful process to bring her to nothing (vv. 6-13).
First, He prevents her rendezvous with her lovers (vv. 6-7a).
Second, when she tries to return to Him (the continual Supplier of all her good things which she in turn offers to a foreign god), He chastises her.
Not only does He not supply her sustenance any longer, He also "exposes" her to her lovers, disallows her special celebrations, and destroys the gifts her paramours give to her (vv. 7b-13).
Time of Restoration
After allowing enough time for punishment, Yahweh responds again with mercy and favor toward Israel.
[The phrase "in that day" (vv. 16, 18, 21) indicates the time of restoration, and cannot refer to any other historical period except the Messianic kingdom].
As though He were her Husband once again, the LORD speaks to Israel with terms of endearment: allure (v. 14), comfort (v. 14), and betroth (vv. 19-20).
He blesses her with peace (v. 18); vineyards (v. 15), grain, new wine, and oil again abound (v. 22).
Israel sings a song of the good days of old (v. 15), for her relationship with God prospers.
She becomes faithful to Him (vv. 16-17), and He pledges both His everlasting loyalty to her (vv. 19-20) and His mercy upon her (v. 23).
Hosea and His Wife
Hosea Redeems Gomer
Time passes and, in an action paralleling the deed of Israel toward God, Gomer leaves Hosea for another man.
Yahweh desires His prophet to mirror His love for the nation, so He sends Hosea to redeem his wayward wife (vv. 1-2).
After the humiliating ordeal, the prophet pledges faithfulness to his wife, and demands the same from her (v. 3).
Drawing a comparison, Hosea states that Israel will be leaderless and without means to worship God or to know His will until the latter days, when Yahweh will restore the nation spiritually in Messiah and "David's" reign (vv. 4-5).
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Punishment of People and Priests Alike
Next, Hosea calls upon Israel to heed God's charge against her (v. 1a).
What is the indictment in question?
The nation lacks three vital spiritual attributes (namely, truth, mercy, and knowledge of God), and consequently commits abominable acts.
Yahweh will therefore punish every living thing in Israel: the land, human beings, beasts, birds and fish (vv. 1b-3).
People who reject authority and continually stumble into error saturate the Land (vv. 4-5).
Their anti-knowledge stance will destroy them as a unique people of God, and cause Him to ''forget" the next generation (v. 6).
As responsible vessels to teach Israel about Yahweh and His law, the priests stand guilty of disobedience; consequently, they will suffer shame.
By taking their sinning seriously, they bring down an entire generation (vv. 7-8).
God will not allow them to escape appropriate retribution; their sensuality will not satisfy them (vv. 9-10).
The worldly lifestyles of both the priests and the people enslave them (v. 11), as idolatry and harlotry replace true worship (vv. 12-13).
Not only do the women apostatize, but so do the men as well.
Apparently, God allows them to bring about their own ruin (v. 14; cf. Deut. 23:18); "although Israel has gone astray, Judah must not follow," warns Yahweh (v. 15).
Having delivered them over to their harlotry, He allows the former to go off on their own ("let them forage like a lamb in open country," "let them alone") [vv. 16-17].
One day their rebellion will lead to their ruin; "they shall be ashamed because of their sacrifices" (vv. 18-19).
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