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There is no Old Testament story more fascinating than that of the prophet Hosea, who at commands of the Lord, acted out a parallel of God’s love, yet severe warnings for his unfaithful people, the kingdom of Israel. Contrary to every healthy instinct and cautionary impulse, Hosea was directed to take a prostitute for his wife with the virtual certainty that she would be adulterous, as indeed she was. Yet in an exquisitely beautiful echo of God’s own nature, Hosea loved the unworthy woman. Three children—two sons and a daughter—were born to this incongruous union. The Lord even gave their children names that prophetically symbolized God’s anger and punishment on the rebellious kingdom. The first son was named Jezreel, which means “God will scatter.” Their daughter was named Lo-Ruhamah. Her name meant “no pity.” After Lo-Ruhamah another son was born, Lo-Ammi. His name said, “Not My People,” for the Lord said, “You are not my people, and I am not your God.”

The Lord’s punishment would scatter his stubborn people. Because of their persistence in sin, there would be no pity for them, and he would no longer be their God, for they had chosen other gods. God finally did bring his wrath upon the disobedient kingdom as they were often warned by Hosea and other prophets. They were crushed by the Assyrians--perhaps even to the present day the cruelest fighting force that has ever existed--and deported to Assyria. Conjecture is plentiful about what happened to the banished people of this one-time kingdom, but there is no historical record. They never returned to their homeland, as the southern kingdom in Judah later did. They were scattered. The children’s names faithfully spelled out the kingdom’s future demise.

“No Pity.” How pitiful it seems that a little girl should be burdened with such a gloomy name! But even though she wore an unlovely name, she had the high honor of bearing a message in the very words given just to her by the Almighty God, warning her people that they—not she—would be “not pitied,” should they continue in unfaithfulness.

Lo-Ruhamah’s name will be remembered in every generation. We cannot know, but there may have been some, even in that decadent northern kingdom, who heeded the warning her name bespoke. Perhaps instead of pitying the girl with the unenviable name, we should honor the memory of her part in the prophet’s work, and hope she grew up to love God and win many by the grim message conveyed by her name, leading souls to repentance, obedience and everlasting life.

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