Our reading this week is in Hosea 1-5. It is a sad book about a husband named Hosea, and an unfaithful wife named Gomer. It is an allegory of sorts for the unfaithful relationship of this couple is reflective of the relationship Jehovah had with His Bride – Israel. We know that God ‘birthed” Israel from an old couple in Abraham and Sarah. From their old age, God brought forth a great nation, which He declared to be His people. He cared for them, provided, and loved them with a jealous love.
The time of Hosea’s writing is before the fall of Israel, the Northern Kingdom. The divided kingdom has split the 12 tribes of Israel after Solomon’s reign into 10 northern tribes and 2 southern tribes. Jeroboam, in effort to keep the tribes of the north from returning to Jerusalem because of the Temple, built another place of worship at Mt. Gerizim. Quickly however, Israel [Northern kingdom] fell into apostasy, they may have had a “form” of Temple worship, but they lacked the heart for worship. Soon the Canaanite people and their immoral pagan deities worship led Israel into severe idolatry. We know of Ahab and Jezebel with the Baal prophets on Mt. Carmel and Elijah. I find it interesting, that even though Israel worshiped Jehovah, the one true God, they sought after other gods. Of course the other gods were more exciting that Jehovah. Ritualistic worship of Baal was anything but boring with temple prostitutes!
Baal appeases the sensual side of mankind. Now God tells Hosea to take a bride of harlotry – a blemished, tainted woman. Also to have children with her. This was reflective of what Israel [Northern Kingdom] was doing. In the naming of the three children, God identifies what He will do to the Northern Tribes. There is even some commentaries that hold that the name of the second and third children reflect the possibility that they were not even Hosea’s kids. It is obvious that the harlotry of Gomer is deeply ingrained, for Hosea in chapter 2 has to go and buy her back off a trade block – the price 15 shekels of silver, half the price for a slave.
Hosea and God have a deep love for their wives [Gomer and Israel]. The unfaithfulness of Gomer is directly reflected back to what Israel has been doing to God. God is a jealous God, but here we find that God is so compassionate and long-suffering, to go and bring Israel back to himself, and call the adulteress his wife.
Jehovah in chapter two lays out the conditions for returning for Israel. Hosea uses a very intimate description of physical attributes for what Israel must do – reflecting the body of a woman, giving herself to another lover. Obviously, God has had enough of the harlotry of Israel and her strange lovers. Israel has given herself to another [Baal] who uses her for sensual pleasures and intimacy that was meant only for God. There have been times where I have had to counsel with a couple over adultery or infidelity. The trust and hurt factors are over the top. Forgiveness can hardly be mentioned because of the gross sin of betrayal by the spouse [man or woman]. In chapter three, the symbolic marriage of Israel and God is expressed clearly. “Hosea is told to go and love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods. Israel and mankind in general has had consistent failure in obeying the first two commandments. 1st have no other gods, besides ME; and 2nd, make no idols/images. In Exodus 32-34 shortly after being delivered from Egypt and slavery, out in the wilderness of Sinai, while Moses received the Tablets of stone, Israel “rose up to play” – Adultery and idolatry have always been with us since the fall of mankind. We are never satisfied with God. We live today in such a physically sensual culture. Sex is the theme for most advertisements, movies and TV programs. There is always the slant of risqué questionable talk and innuendo. God loves us, I don’t know why, it seems that we only love Him when we need or want something from Him. The Church is an idolatrous people, we are not much different from the Pharisees and Sadducees of Jesus’ day. The Church is not faithful – it has in recent times embraced “many lovers” of the world. Israel will be judged by God, even so the Church will too. When I think of the Church as the Bride of Jesus, who loved the church and gave himself up for her, so that He could present her in purity and white raiment, I cannot but help think how we have loved the gods of convenience, comfort, individualism and hedonism all the while saying we are the Bride of Christ. Judgment day came for Israel, it will for the Church as well. I know I have been sort of doom and gloom in this post, but we the church must face reality of our condition. While there are many local bodies that are still faithfully serving and loving the Lord, many are dying everyday because the Life has been blown out. [Revelation 2-3] It is Christ’s church and He will extinguish the light of the unfaithful.