The theme of the prophecy of Hosea is the love of God for His espoused bride. Using the allegory of marriage, Hosea is a type of Christ as the expectant Bridegroom waiting for His bride to make herself ready. Gomer portrays rebellious sinners who repeatedly reject the loving wooing of her groom, but finally accepts Him. She is no longer divided about the identity of her husband.
“‘And it will come about in that day,’ declares the Lord, ‘that you will call Me Ishi [My husband] and will no longer call Me Baali” (Hosea 2:16, NAS).
Originally, God intended that He and His people should be one, but because of the acceptance of another lord by human rebellion in the Garden of Eden, the “Great Divorce” occurred. The Hebrew word in Genesis 3:24 that is translated “drove them out” is the word for divorce, similar to what Abraham was required to do with Hagar. Since Eden, God has stated and restated in various ways His promise to restore that most intimate relationship. It is no surprise that Satan has specially attacked all aspects of marriage so as to pervert our understanding of how God wants to relate to His people.
The command that Hosea take a wife from harlotry serves to illustrate the personal insult experienced by God each time humans elect to follow other gods. Whether she was a harlot when first married to Hosea is not certain, but we know he stayed with her even after she strayed. Gomer blindly attributed to her lovers all the blessings she enjoyed because of her marriage to Hosea. Like Laodicea, she needs to learn just how blind she is. To accomplish that, God did what He does for all His wayward children:
“‘Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths. And she will pursue her lovers, but she will not overtake them; and she will seek them, but will not find them. Then she will say “I will go back to my first husband”’” (Hosea 2:6, 7; see also 3:5).
God makes it hard to be lost by using all His resources to persuade His people to return to Him. This language echoes the Elijah message where God has turned their hearts back again (1 Kings 18:37, Mal. 4:6). God is grooming His bride to return to Him. Like the foundling in Ezekiel 16, who God took from nothing and made her a beautiful woman “at the time for love” (vs. 8), God asks Hosea to take Gomer from the lowest level of society. All he had to attract and keep her was his love and care. He doesn’t lock her up, or use other force to keep her. All he does is to patiently go after her when she decides to be unfaithful. He doesn’t drag her back, kicking and screaming in protest. He draws by lovingkindness. This is the true picture of our God, no force, just agape, which creates value in its object.
Later in the book of Hosea, God laments that they refused to return to Me, not recognizing that:
“Yet it is I who taught Ephraim to walk, I took them in My arms; but they did not know that I healed them. I led them with cords of a man, with bonds of love, and I became to them as one who lifts the yoke from their jaws; and I bent down and fed them” (Hosea 11:3, 4).
The message of Christ our righteousness given to our church in 1888 helps us understand the story of Hosea. God is not an exacting taskmaster asking us to keep His commands by gritting our teeth with reluctant will power. By revealing Who He really is, the One Who sent His only Son to die for the wayward Gomers that we all are, we are brought back to God. The Son reveals more of the character of God when we realize that He assumed our fallen nature (yet never sinned), and allowed Himself to be forever given to our rebellious race. Hosea’s identification with someone of such lowly estate echoes the condescension which Christ undertook when He came “in the likeness of sinful flesh.”
Sadly, even with the persistent teaching by the Holy Spirit, there are those who deliberately reject the gift of nothing but love. God ultimately honors the choice of the individual, but with anguish cries out:
“What shall I do with you, O Ephraim? What shall I do with you, O Judah?” (Hosea 6:4); “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel?” (11:8; cf. Matt. 23:37).
Yet, like the foundling-made-beautiful in Ezekiel 16, we reject the promises and blessings of God, preferring to depend on the righteousness we attempt to establish for ourselves by our works. We are so blind that we believe the benefits and blessings God has given to us and to our church are because of the “work” we do for the Lord. How long will we worship at the “Baal” of our works-righteousness, saying with Laodicea that we have been enriched and have need of nothing?
Spend some special time with the book of Hosea in preparation for this lesson. Compare Gomer’s harlotry to that of the foundling in Ezkiel 16. Is there anything that God did not do to win their loyalty? Ask God to give you the belief that He is capable of accomplishing what He says: “while you [are still] in your own blood, ‘Live!’” (vs. 6). Like Boaz and Ruth, accept the bethrothal skirt He spreads over your nakedness, and His promise that you are His (vs. 8). Believe that God includes you when He says:
“I will heal their apostasy, I will love them freely, ... Those who live in his shadow will again raise grain, and they will blossom like the vine. His renown will be like the wine of Lebanon” (Hosea 14:4-7).
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