Hosea is the first of the so called “Minor Prophets.” He lived in the 8th century BC, so was a contemporary of Isaiah. It was during the time of the northern kingdom Israel’s downfall and capture by the Assyrians. We read in this first chapter the purpose of his prophetic life is a metaphor for Israel’s unfaithfulness to the Lord:
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.”
As we’ve seen, being a prophet in ancient Israel was a tough job. Hosea marries a woman named Gomer who bears three children. each named for some message the Lord wants to send to Israel. There is some question whether the children are Hosea’s given Gomer is a “promiscuous woman” (ESV calls her a “woman of whoredom”), but that’s speculation. Here are the names and what the Lord is conveying through each:
- A son, Jezreel, because the Lord punished the house of Jehu for a massacre at Jezreel, and he will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.
- A daughter called Lo-Ruhamah, for the Lord will not show love to the house of Israel, that he should at all forgive them.
- And another son, Lo-Ammi, which means not my people, and the Lord says he is not their God.
I was reminded of something from the most recent White Horse Inn. Some people think “the God of the Old Testament” is harsh, mean, judgmental, etc. But when you think about it, God’s covenant of works, and the promises of blessings and curses associated with it, was maybe 700 years prior to the time of Hosea and Isaiah. I think in most people’s book that would be considered patient. That’s not exactly how a “petulant God” would act.
Even in the midst of God commanding these names upon Hosea’s children, and thus the rebellion of his people, we read these words of promised blessing from the Lord:
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.”
10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will come together; they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
The promise of “sand on the seashore” points back to Abraham, and specifically this in Genesis 22:
“I swear by myself, declares the Lord, that because you have done this and have not withheld your son, your only son, 17 I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies, 18 and through your offspring all nations on earth will be blessed, because you have obeyed me.”
The words given to Hosea are the same Messianic promise given to Adam and Eve, Noah, the Patriarchs, Moses, and David. It is only through that “one leader” that we can become “children of the living God.” Jesus was the only way that the Lord our God could save us. He had to judge sin to remain just, but how then not to kill us all? He would ingeniously and mercifully pour out his wrath and judgment against our sin on Jesus. As Paul tells us, “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” Good news, good news indeed!