Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Jul 12 2019 - Hosea 1:1-2:1 – Hosea's wife and children

Hosea, like Amos, was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel shortly before its destruction by the Assyrians. He was commanded by God to go and marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him. One can only imagine how this must have torn apart the heart of Hosea. He loved Gomer his wife, but she proved unfaithful in her love for him.

Sadly there are many men and women in our society today who do not have to imagine what this feels like, they have known the pain of such unfaithfulness in their own experience.

God called Hosea to be a living demonstration of the broken heart of God, telling 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" (1:2). The Lord God had loved the nation of Israel. These were a people whom he had rescued from slavery in Egypt and had brought to Sinai to meet with him. There, as it were, they were married; God had taken them to be his people and he was their God. In love he had provided for them in the wilderness and had given them the land in which they were now living. But they were an "adulterous" people, turning away from the God who had redeemed them to worship useless idols. Hosea's broken marriage was to act as a powerful visual aid making visible the unfaithfulness of Israel and the broken heart of God.

Hosea was told by God to give his first son, born to him by Gomer, the name "Jezreel" because, says God, "I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel" (1:4-5).

Cast your mind back to the days of King Ahab. Encouraged by his wife, Jezebel, he had led Israel into idolatry and rebellion against God. God had raised up a young tearaway called Jehu to take over the throne of Israel after Ahab's death in battle. Jehu had ruthlessly slaughtered all of Ahab's household along with his "chief men, his close friends and his priests, leaving no survivor" (see 2 Kings 10:1-11). This slaughter had happened in Jezreel. God is declaring that, as Jehu destroyed the dynasty of Ahab, he will now destroy the dynasty of Jehu, and along with it the nation of Israel.

Hosea and Gomer's second child was a girl. God told Hosea to name her, "Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel" (1:6). The third child, a son, was to be called, "Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God" (1:9). Imagine these children growing up with these terrible names. Imagine their parents calling to them to come in from play or from the fields, or other children asking them what their name was and then why they had been given such names. Day-by-day their names would be a reminder of Israel's unfaithfulness and of God's approaching judgment.

But today's reading ends on a brighter note. Judgment shall not have the last word. Beyond judgment there will be restoration and renewed blessing: "In the place where it was said to them, 'You are not my people', they will be called 'children of the living God'… Say of your brothers, 'My people', and of your sisters, 'My loved one'" (1:10, 2:1). God will own and love those who had previously been rebels against him and had suffered under his judgment.

And this is our hope also. We who have no natural right to be called children of God and who are by nature "children of wrath" have been redeemed through the shed blood of the Lord Jesus and have been adopted into his family (see Paul's application of these verses from Hosea to us Gentiles in Romans 9:23-26). Because of Christ, we know that we are loved by God – loved with a love that will never let us go. We are called to love him in return and to live in faithful union with him – a union giving birth to many more who are loved and welcomed into the family of God.

Father God, we praise you that your love in the Lord Jesus has overcome judgment and that there is now no condemnation for us. Thank you, Triune God, for your great love for us. Help us to remain faithful to you and not to grieve your Holy Spirit through our disobedience or half-hearted service.

Peter Misselbrook