Hosea—A Man Whose Marriage Became a Prophecy
Hosea was a younger contemporary of the Prophet Amos and had likely been impacted in his youth by the message Amos brought. Whereas Amos came from the Southern Kingdom of Judah to proclaim God’s message in the Northern Kingdom of Israel, Hosea was brought up in the Northern Kingdom during the days of King Jeroboam II. This was the most prosperous period in their history. Yet, the more they prospered the more unfaithful they became toward the Lord. They increasingly turned toward the worship of idols, which the Lord likens to spiritual adultery or ‘whoredom’ through Hosea’s prophecy.
God uses the shocking story of Hosea’s marriage to reveal the depths of slavery such whoredom can bring and the depths of God’s love toward his unfaithful people. Here is that story in brief.
Hosea’s prophetic ministry began when God spoke to him and said, “Go find a girl and marry her and raise up a family with her. But she will not be faithful to you. She will be an adulteress, just like my people have become like an adulteress through their unfaithfulness to me, their God.” Hosea did it. He picked a girl named Gomer and married her. She got pregnant and they had a son together. God said, “Call him Jezreel because judgment is about to come on the people of Israel for the ruthless massacre that took place at Jezreel. Their power will be broken at the Valley of Jezreel.”
Once again Gomer got pregnant. This time she had a daughter. God spoke to Hosea and said, “Name this one ‘No-Mercy’. I will have no mercy on Israel to forgive her again for her unfaithfulness. After Gomer had weaned “No-Mercy” she got pregnant again and this time gave birth to a boy. God said to Hosea, “call him ‘Not-My-People’ because the people of Israel are not mine and I am not their God.”
But God went on to say, “down the road Israel’s population is going to explode past counting like the sand on the ocean beaches. Then instead of saying to them, ‘You are not my people’ I will tell them ‘You are my sons, children of the Living God’. They will all be assembled as one people. They’ll have only one leader. I’ll sow them like seed once again in fertile soil. Now Jezreel’s name takes on another meaning. Jezreel’s name actually means, ‘God sows’. No longer is his name a reminder of judgement but of God’s promise of fruitfulness.
There are also name changes for Jezreel’s two siblings and with it this prophecy from the Lord; “Go find your brothers that I called ‘Not-My-People’, tell them their name is ‘You-are-Mine’, go get your sisters ‘No-Mercy’, tell them their name is ‘My Beloved’.
The prophecy continues; “Go, plead with your mother, plead with her. She is no longer a wife to me. She’s left me and she’s living like a whore. She said, ‘I’m off to see my lovers. I’ll sell myself to them for tasty treats, lots of drinks and clothes.” She doesn’t even recognize that all she has come from me. Tell her she has got to stop this adultery or I’m going to bring judgment against her and it will not be a pretty sight! I’ll stop the flow of provision until nothing is left for her but her shame!”
But then the Lord says, “Here’s what I’m going to do, I’m going to start all over again. I want to take her out into the wilderness and I’ll court her again, I’ll transform the Valley of Trouble into a door of hope. She will respond to me there like she did when she was young, when I freed her from her captivity in Egypt.”
“Then you’ll call me ‘my dear husband.’ Never again will you call me ‘My old slave master, Baal’, you’ll never even whisper the names of all those false idols again. It will be a new world for us; you’ll be my wife forever. I’ll show you righteousness, justice, unfailing love and compassion.”
Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Go show your love to your wife again though she’s ‘loved’ by another man and is an adulteress. Love her the way I love my people who have been unfaithful to me and gone after other gods and ‘love’ the little sweets they offer.”
And Hosea did it, he went and found his wife, by this time she was a slave! He had to pay a price to buy her back. He paid half the cost in the cash that he had. The rest he paid out in several bushels of barley. Then He said to his wife, “From now on you’re living with me. There’s no more whoring, no more sleeping around. You’re living here with me and I’m living with you.” (Read the full story in Hosea chapters 1-3)
Many of the love stories we hear today are twisted. They are actually ‘self-gratification stories’ or ‘stories of manipulation and control’. The word ‘love’ has taken on many different meanings. When our minds are crippled about what love really is it is hard to grasp the central truth of all existence that GOD IS LOVE.
Hosea’s marriage was a painful one, but it is a lived-out prophecy that helps us truly see the love of God for us. For all of us who trust in Christ, our marriages are meant to be prophetic pictures of God’s redeeming love. (See Ephesians 5:21-33)
Listen to one of the final prophetic scenes in the Bible which points to that great consummation of God’s great love story:
“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Then he said, "Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true." Rev. 21:1-5 NIV