Lent 2022 Day 27
Fri 1 Apr
Hosea 1:1-6 Hosea – a demonstrative prophet
1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel:
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.’ 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.’
6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. 7 Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them – not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.’
Poor Hosea! God tells him to marry a loose woman and give their children names that they will carry all their lives, as a mark and reminder of God’s anger with the people of Israel. They have had it, as far as God is concerned, and he will concentrate his love upon Judah, the other kingdom.
Hosea’s wife, Gomer, would have been ostracised by the community she lived in, marked as a bad ‘un, an adulterer, a marriage-breaker, a sinner and a sinful woman. She was probably divorced already, if not unmarriable, and no self-respecting man would take on such a liability as his wife. Under God’s call, Hosea became no self-respecting man, for he was chosen by God as a prophet.
The firstborn is named after a place associated with the reigning dynasty. In that name is carried the history and fate of Israel. “What’s your name?”, said the boy from across the way to Hosea’s firstborn as they kicked a football around. “The Destruction of Israel”, replies Jezreel. He wasn;t picked for the five-a-side. The next sibling was similarly doomed – Unloved would have not found it easy forming relationships with girls in the neighbourhood, never mind the boys. As for “You are not my people (and I am not your God)”, he may have had to look elsewhere for friends. We can’t even be sure that they were all Hosea’s children, though he does name them.
Israel has had it. Will God’s plan by thwarted by his unruly, ungodly, unfaithful, unashamed, and now unloved people? Judah is allowed to continue, but even that small part of the once great nation will not survive.
Throughout the book of Hosea you will read again and again of God’s love for his people, his reminders to them that he is their God, and how he had looked after them in the past. He calls for repentance, which he will reward with forgiveness. He calls Hosea to love his wife, who has continued in her adulterous behaviour and gone off, once more and woo her with gifts. Our God is a God of love, and he continues to seek us. If you think Hosea and his children had a hard time, it was nothing to the heartache experienced by a loving God.
Chapter 11 is a precious extract from the book – a beautiful love-song to Israel (also named as Ephraim).
Does God ever challenge your self-respect?
Was God unkind to Hosea’s children?
Did Gomer stay faithful to Hosea?
Did God expect Hosea to stay faithful to his wife forever?
Father God, you used Hosea to express your breaking heart to your people. They still did not listen. Open my ears, my eyes and my heart to the wonders of your love. Amen.