Summary: This is the first of a two part message concerning the message of the book of Hosea. This deals with the marriage between Hosea and Gomer and how it parallels God’s relationship with Israel and in fact, all Christian believers.
To begin a study on Hosea, we must first understand the meaning of the word “minor prophet” which is how Hosea was classified. A minor prophet was only assigned that classification based on the length of his book. It had nothing to do with the weight of his message or the length of time that he prophesied. Hosea says at the beginning of his book (1:1) that he prophesied during the reigns of Jeroboam,Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This means that his prophesies were uttered during a time of no less than 138 years.
Secondly, we must understand that period in which Hosea was living. This was the darkest period in the history of Israel. Kings were ascending to the throne by murder and overthrow. Idolatry was running rampant…especially the worship of nature. There was pollution, robbery, oppression, adultery, murder.
One thing you can always see through history (and even in America today) is that God always sends people to warn the nation of their sins.
So he sent Hosea.
But unlike the rest of the prophets…God did more than just give Hosea a message. He made Hosea a living illustration.
Hosea was told by God (Hosea 1:2).. “….Go take a wife of whoredom….”
There are four different schools of thought on what this actually means:
(1) Hosea deliberately married Gomer, a cult prostitute, and deliberately used his marriage and even his children as a symbol to preach to Israel concerning their faithlessness to God. This would mean that Gomer was a prostitute in the Baal temple. She slept with men and gave most of the money to the Baal priests. So she was an adulterer and an idolater. She was not the type of girl your folks dream that you marry.
(2) Hosea made up a story about a marriage to use as an allegory in his preaching. The husband would be God. The unfaithful wife would be Israel.
(3) Hosea married two women…Gomer, a respectable woman (chapter 1) and an unnamed prostitute that he brought out of slavery (chapter 3).
(4) Hosea married Gomer, a respectable woman who had tendencies toward promiscuity which were repressed at the time of the wedding but which later became overt. Things got so bad that Hosea eventually turned her out of the house. Things went from bad to worse and she ended up in slavery.
It doesn’t matter to me which proposal you accept. Being a literalist more often than not, I take this to mean exactly what it says. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute.
“Now, hold on, Brother Rick. So it’s okay for my child to marry or date a prostitute? I mean, God told Hosea to so it must be okay, right?”
We have to be real careful of what conclusions we draw from such passages. God also authorized at one time murders and other activity, but that does not give us license to go out and murder people This was a special dispensation, in my opinion, at a time when we did not have the completed Scripture to teach a very important lesson concerning God and His love not only for Israel but all of mankind.
This was not the first time that God spoke by putting prophets in unusual circumstances. In Isaiah 20, God asked the prophet Isaiah to go naked and barefoot for three years as a sign to Egypt and Ethiopia. I was going to ask you to picture a pastor coming in naked to church and saying, "God told me to do this as a sign, and the good news is it’s only for three years." But really, I don’t want you to picture this. Maybe try to imagine it, but please don’t picture it in your mind.
Then there is Hosea. “Go marry a prostitute.” That’s what God said. Can you even begin to imagine?
But God used this to communicate how He felt about His people. As I look at it, I see a lot of modern day Christians, including myself, in the story of Hosea. But mind you, I don’t see us in the person of Hosea. I see us rather in the person of Gomer.
God uses the marriage relationship to describe His relationship with Israel and ultimately with us. Think about it. This is the most intimate type of relationship on Earth. It’s a relationship of love and trust.
And Gomer violated that trust. She took other lovers. She broke her marriage promise.
Was Hosea angry? Sure he was! His most trusted partner had violated that trust. He was hurt and upset and yes, angry.
How do you feel when someone betrays your trust? That is the worse possible thing that one can feel in my opinion. The idea that you were counting on someone and they let you down is a hard thing to bare. Especially when you would have given them anything, done anything for them, were always there for them. Never failed them.