"Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods." (Hosea 1:2 NLT)
The LORD's command to Hosea leads to a life which visually represents His relationship with Israel. Hosea's marriage to Gomer will reflect God's faithfulness to unfaithful Israel. Gomer became a harlot and continued in sin despite her husband's faithfulness. So too Israel prostituted herself time and again.
In Exodus 34:14-16, the Lord reveals a new name for Himself: Jealous, and He declares Himself to be a jealous God, not unlike a jealous husband. The LORD gave Himself that name while telling the Israelites not to intermarry with the current inhabitants of the promised land. He warns them if they intermarry with those outside Israel their children will whore after other gods.
In most of the major prophets, God uses marriage to describe His relationship with Israel. Isaiah 62:5 (NLT) says, "Your children will commit themselves to you, O Jerusalem, just as a young man commits himself to a bride. Then God will rejoice over you as a bridegroom rejoices over his bride." In Jeremiah 2:2 the LORD describes His relationship with Israel as, "I remember the devotion of your youth, your love as a bride, how you followed me in the wilderness." Ezekiel 16:8 (NLT) is an explicit declaration of marriage, "I saw that you were old enough for love. So I wrapped my cloak around you to cover your nakedness and declared my marriage vows. I made a covenant with you, says the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine."
The names of Gomer's three children depict God's current relationship with the northern ten tribes of Israel. Her first son is named Jezreel. In today's reading of 2 Kings 9, just as Jehu begins to destroy the descendants of Ahab, the LORD will begin the destruction of Israel. Gomer's daughter's name "No Mercy" describes God's attitude toward Israel. In Deuteronomy 11:26 the LORD told Israel "I am setting before you today blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments...the curse, if you do not obey the commandments...to go after other gods." He lists the curses in Deuteronomy 27 and begins in verse 15 with "Cursed be the man who makes a carved or cast metal image, an abomination to the LORD." After the division of the kingdom between Rehoboam and Jeroboam, the northern tribes worshiped the golden calves Jeroboam crafted, and all the other various god's in the region. God sent prophet after prophet warning the people to return to Him, but they refused. Their opportunity to receive His mercy had passed. The last child of Gomer's was named "Not My People." Israel's rejection of the LORD led to His rejection of them. He was sending them back into slavery, not to Egypt, but to Assyria.
If the story of God and His people ended with verse 9, He would be just. He had every right to put the people of Israel away because they had betrayed Him as an unfaithful wife. Fortunately, there is a verse ten in Hosea 1. He is the God of hope. He does fulfill His promises.
Isn't verse ten somewhat startling? After all, He has said about Israel, "Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered." This is the same promise He made to Abraham in Genesis 22:17, "I will surely multiply your offspring as the stars of the heaven and as the sand that is on the seashore." These descendants would be "Children of the living God" both from Judah and Israel as one tribe with one Leader.
The marriage of Hosea and Gomer demonstrates a loving husband whose pursuit of an unfaithful wife knows no limits; just as the LORD pursues His people.
Sovereign LORD, You are the faithful One. Your steadfast love endures forever. Thank You for the depiction of Your love for Your bride through Hosea. It is You alone who can present the Bride of Christ, the Church, in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.