Summary: God loves us even though we mess around with other gods. It’s the message of love and forgiveness God taught Israel through the marriage of Hosea and Gomer.
2The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. 3So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim.
If it happened in today’s modern church, it would be the most scandalous scandal ever heard of. It would be front page of the News Journal: “Local Preacher Seen With Prostitute.” It would be the lead story of on the ten-o’clock news. It may even make the Jerry Springer Show. It’s outrageous, to say the least. But this is the story of a prophet/preacher named Hosea who married a woman named Gomer.
Hosea was the first of the "minor" prophets. His name, translated in English, means “Joe,” which even adds more insult to injury in these modern times for the headline would read “A Prostitute and Her Joe.” But if you research the name Hosea, you will also discover that Hosea’s name is also related to the name Joshua, which means “salvation.”
Hosea was a young preacher in the nation of Israel, the northern kingdom, and he was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Amos. He lived, as we are told in the first verse, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (kings of Judah, the Southern Kingdom), and during the reign of Jeroboam, the son of Joash, the king of Israel.
Jeroboam was one of the wicked kings of Israel and the nation was going through a difficult time when Hosea was preaching. People were "living it up," as we might say, and didn’t have much time for God. They wouldn’t have said that, of course, because nobody ever says that when it’s true! Instead they may have said something like we do: that it was just a case of not having quite enough time to meet the demands that God made upon them! They were so busy with so many other important things. The spirit was willing but the flesh was ready for the weekend.
So, as always, people didn’t pay much attention to Hosea. He spoke of judgment and of chastisement. He said that God was going to raise up the Assyrian nation to punish this people and that a fierce and ruthless army would sweep across the land like a scourge. But the people paid little attention to him, and they said that Hosea’s God must be a pretty vengeful sort to talk like that.
Hosea tried to tell them that wasn’t so. He said that God was a God of love and that his doing this was the very activity of love; that God wanted them to see what they were doing to themselves and that the only way he could get them to listen was to make things rough for them.
God sometimes works like that. Sometimes God will make things rough for you, just to get your attention! But they didn’t pay any more attention than people do today about things like that. Instead, they blamed God and said, "If God is really a God of love, then why does he let things get in such a mess? How could a God of love send a ruthless people like the Assyrians down upon our land?"
And so young Hosea found that his audience was diminishing. People were polite to his face, I suppose, but they sneered behind his back. He found that he was being given the nice-and-harmless treatment. That is what people usually do to preachers. Folk will often greet the man or woman of God with a great deal of respect, but as soon as the preacher’s back is turned they’ll say, “That boy is crazy!”
And I can imagine that their talk hurt Hosea. It’s a hurting thing when you are trying your best to preach and teach the word of God, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. And so Hosea is rather discouraged and in the opening chapter of this little book of prophecy we read a personal note about him. He went to God and God told him to do a strange thing. God said, "I want you to get married." I think Hosea brightened up at that, because he was a bachelor, and God said, "I have a girl picked out for you." When he mentioned her name, Hosea’s heart must have fluttered, because the name of this girl was Gomer, the most beautiful girl in Israel. Hosea was definitely interested.
But God said to him, "I want you to know the whole story about this girl. I want you to marry her, but she is going to be unfaithful to you; in fact, she will become nothing but a common street prostitute. But I want you to marry her anyway." Now undoubtedly Hosea was very puzzled by God’s strange command just as Abraham was puzzled by God’s command that he take his son out and kill him, put his own son to death. God does strange things at times, things we don’t always understand, things we can’t categorize, things that don’t fit into what we think we know of him. And this is one of those strange things.