(Use the “Back” button or arrow on your device to return to the Study Index when finished)
Golden Nursing Center in Mannington, NJ –Evening Service on 1/16/2014
(edited May 2020)
Hosea was a full-fledged Old Covenant Prophet and a contemporary of the Prophet Isaiah. Today, we classify Hosea as a Minor Prophet and Isaiah, for example, as a Major Prophet. This has nothing to due to with their spiritual significance, however, but simply refers to the length of their written accounts in the Bible. The Book of Isaiah has 66 chapters, while Hosea has only 14.
Hosea prophesied in the north to the kingdom which was then called Israel. He warned his people of the judgement of God against them and their vulnerability, because of that judgement, to invading forces from Assyria. By contrast, Isaiah ministered in the southern kingdom which bore the name of Judah. He warned the people there of the coming invasion by Babylon. Eventually both of their prophesies were fulfilled and, in the northern and the southern kingdoms, God’s People were defeated and largely expelled from the Promised Land.
Like another Old Covenant prophet named Jeremiah, Hosea was called upon not just to preach his message verbally but also to act it out at times. Years after Hosea’s ministry, Jeremiah was told by the Lord to smash pottery and, another time, to wear dirty clothes before the people to emphasize a point God was trying to make about their situation. But nothing can match what Hosea was being commanded to do here. He had to not just speak about, but in a very real way, he had to live out what the Lord wanted to teach the His People about infidelity:
Verse 1: “Then said the Lord unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the Lord toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.”
Back in chapter 1 of the Book of Hosea you can read where the Lord had called this man to propose marriage to a woman named Gomer even though she was known at that time to be a prostitute. They wed and started a family. But indications are given that the lineage of at least some of their children fell under suspicion. That’s right. And Hosea endured all this to emphasize to Israel, in a way any adult could understand, that they had put God in a similar position to the one Hosea was in. After being specifically selected and betrothed to the Lord their God, they had continued to prostituted themselves as a nation to the gods of Egypt and Canaan. They also had defiled their spiritual lineage. And even with Hosea’s graphic illustrations playing out before them, they failed to take the message to heart!
As this third chapter of the Book of Hosea opens, Hosea is being instructed by the Lord to pursue his wife, Gomer, who has left home and moved in with another man. The pain, and the lessons of this family, are not over yet.
Verse 2: “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:”
Are you getting this, beloved? This REALLY is unthinkable. When Hosea goes to fetch his wife, he is not being led by God to woo her back. Nor, and probably wisely, does he attempt to intimidate her or to try to force her to come home. No, she is a prostitute and her attentions are for sale, so Hosea reaches in his pocket and simply pays the going rate to buy her back to him. Now look at the next verse:
Verse 3: “ And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.”
What a sham of a marriage this all has become. And, unfortunately for Hosea and his family, it was all intentional on God’s part. It was a desperate attempt to show Ancient Israel, before it was too late, that their worship, their religion, had become a sham, also.
How does that happen? What did their empty, unfaithful worship look like? Later in his prophesy, Hosea will go on to spell it out clearly. Let’s look at a sample of that from Hosea chapter 4. This is exactly how they had rejected God’s Love:
Hosea 4: 1-6
“Hear the word of the Lord, ye children of Israel: for the Lord hath a controversy with the inhabitants of the land, because there is no truth, nor mercy, nor knowledge of God in the land. By swearing, and lying, and killing, and stealing, and committing adultery, they break out, and blood toucheth blood. Therefore shall the land mourn, and every one that dwelleth therein shall languish, with the beasts of the field, and with the fowls of heaven; yea, the fishes of the sea also shall be taken away. Yet let no man strive, nor reprove another: for thy people are as they that strive with the priest. Therefore shalt thou fall in the day, and the prophet also shall fall with thee in the night, and I will destroy thy mother. My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.”
O, they still tried to be religious. But in a detached way. And the elephant in the room (their unacknowledged sins), just kept growing. Finally, in desperation, the Lord had raised up Hosea and sent them a gossipy news item about adultery to get their attention. But even then, they didn’t get the real point, or didn’t want to get it. They would not repent. And their Nation, and their Covenant with God, fell.
Verse 4: “ For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:”
In a short time, the Assyrian Army came in and devastated the Northern Kingdom of Israel, just as Hosea had said they would. And at a later time, the Babylonians did the same in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. The treasures, the leaders, the culture of Ancient Israel, all were removed from the land that God had promised to Abraham and miraculously provided for them to possess.
So, what might all this mean for us today? We are, if you trust in Christ, part of His Church and partakers of the NEW Covenant. I think that Hosea, in the final verse of this little chapter, actually refers to us, those of us who worship the Lord in these “latter” days. Also, remember as you hear this that Our King Jesus is a Son of King David. Here’s what Hosea says:
Verse 5: “ Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and shall fear the Lord and his goodness in the latter days.”
So, what kind of “Bride,” or People, does the Lord have today? Can we measure how are we doing at that? How am I doing? As we close tonight, let’s emphasize that the point of our lesson was not to demean any of these folks we’ve been talking about. It is sad what happened in Ancient Israel. It is tragic. And Hosea’s personal life, well, it is just about unthinkable. And, yes, Gomer was lacking some things as a wife. But if we could just take one more brief look at her and then, very carefully, a look in the mirror. What I mean is this: Do you ever ask God to “buy” back your affection? I have. Don’t we all do this? When our prayers degenerate into demands. Don’t we say to Him at times: “OK, You give me what I want, then I’ll worship You as I should, then I’ll love You again as I should.” Isn’t that offering Jesus only what Gomer offered Hosea? Let’s pray.