Hosea’s Experience with His Bride
Hosea lived twenty years before the Northern kingdom of Israel fell to the Assyrians. So as a preacher, he had a poignant message to give Israel. But God wanted Hosea to feel what He feels towards Israel. Therefore, God had some good and bad news for Hosea. The good news was that God was letting Hosea marry the most beautiful woman in all Israel. The name Gomer in Hebrew means, “perfect.” The bad news was Gomer was a prostitute. After all, when did God tell a prophet or preacher to marry an unfaithful woman, ever? The metaphor that God wanted Hosea to experience was what God Himself was experiencing; even though God was married to a beautiful bride (the Jewish Nation/Church), she was unfaithful.
When Hosea married Gomer, he knew his new wife, and she bore him children. You would think that you would want God to name your children, would you not? But for Hosea it was a different story. God named their first son, Jezreel, meaning, “castaway.” He named their second child, a daughter, LoRuhamah, meaning, “not loved.” And He named their last son, LoAmmi, meaning, “not my people.” God was using the names of Hosea’s children to describe His relationship with His own children, Israel.
After the children were born, rumors were going around that Gomer went back to her trade. Hosea even got the children to pray for their mother (Hosea 2:2). I imagine that Gomer probably left a note, saying that she is leaving Hosea and the children, maybe even stating that she had found another man. Because of this betrayal, I am confident that Hosea’s message to Israel changed from one of a thunderous warning of an Assyrian invasion to a message of pleading with tears. Not only did Hosea feel his own tears of his estranged wife, as God did toward Israel, but Hosea’s message toward Israel came to display God’s love for them. However, Israel’s bitter lesson would be learned from rejecting Hosea’s plea, destruction would come before restoration. And so it was with Gomer as well, being stripped naked and on an auction block (Hosea 3:2), no doubt feeling wretched, poor, and miserable (Rev 3:17).
But Hosea’s motivation of love toward Gomer reveals what God desires for Israel (and Gomer as well) (Hosea 3:1), and that ends in redemption (Hosea 2:19). As God is betrothed forever to Israel (Hosea 2:19) and will redeem her (Hosea 2:23), so Hosea outbids everyone else and purchases Gomer back for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley (Hosea 3:2), which equated to another fifteen shekels, thus equaling the amount of thirty shekels of silver, which according to Leviticus 27:4 was the amount paid for a female (bride) vowed to God. As Hosea redeemed Gomer for thirty shekels of silver, so did God in Christ redeem us, the seed of Israel! It was a humiliating act for Hosea to redeem Gomer, in light of the fact that everyone knew that Gomer was a prostitute. But Hosea loved Gomer, and so does God Israel. Philippians 2:8 says that “And being found in fashion [appearance] as a man, he humbled [humiliated] himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” For His bride, I might add. Did Gomer deserve redemption? Not really. Do we deserve it? Not really. But then, who can explain the motives of love? Love does not act according to reason. “God so loved the world that He gave…” (John 3:16).
As Hosea married an unfaithful wife, the question we each need to ask ourselves is, “How have we prostituted ourselves from God toward the world?” As Gomer fell to nakedness, poor and destitute, have we recognized our own true condition before God? And have we heeded the message and counsel to the Laodicean church found in Revelation 3:17-19? As Gomer felt that her redemption price, paid by Hosea, was proof that he loved her, have we appreciated the worth of Christ’s sacrifice (betrayed for thirty pieces of silver) to redeem us, His bride? Let it not be said that God’s love was lost and thrown away to an ungrateful people (His bride).
When we receive Christ in our hearts, we betroth ourselves to Him and Him to us forever (Hosea 2:19). The word betroth in Hebrew is “aras” or “erusin” meaning, “bind.” God said He is bound to us forever; the question then is, “Do we daily desire to be bound to Him?” Only by entering into the new covenant vow daily will we, God’s bride, realize, as did Gomer, how far we has fallen, that He may raise us up to partake in the future wedding feast. “I will make you my wife because of my faithfulness, and you will know the Lord” (Hosea 2:20 ISV). “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely…” (Hosea 14:4).
And remember, as with Hosea’s illustration, God desires a deep covenant relationship with us, not a legal contract. God Bless.
Unless noted otherwise, scripture taken from the King James Version