Unfaithful

The LORD said, “Hosea, Israel has betrayed me like an unfaithful wife. Marry such a woman and have children by her.” So I married Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and we had a son.

Then the LORD said, “Hosea, name your son Jezreel, because I will soon punish the descendants of King Jehu of Israel for the murders he committed in Jezreel Valley. I will destroy his kingdom, and in Jezreel Valley I will break the power of Israel.”

Later, Gomer had a daughter, and the LORD said, “Name her Lo-Ruhamah, because I will no longer have mercy and forgive Israel. But I am the LORD God of Judah, and I will have mercy and save Judah by my own power—not by wars and arrows or swords and cavalry.”

After Gomer had stopped nursing Lo-Ruhamah, she had another son. Then the LORD said, “Name him Lo-Ammi, because these people are not mine, and I am not their God.”

Someday it will be impossible to count the people of Israel, because there will be as many of them as there are grains of sand along the seashore. They are now called “Not My People,” but in the future they will be called “Children of the Living God.” Israel and Judah will unite and choose one leader. Then they will take back their land, and this will be a great day for Jezreel. (Hosea 1:2-11)

The worst job in the world is to be God’s prophet. In order to illustrate Israelite behavior, prophets became God’s performance art. The Israelites had betrayed God and chased after other gods. Therefore, God had Hosea purposely find a woman who would behave toward him just as the Israelites had behaved toward God. In marrying Gomer, Hosea had no illusions about what he was getting himself into. And from the very first day, she continued to live and act like the prostitute she was.

And the performance art extended to his children. The name Jezereel was given to his son as a symbol of God’s displeasure with what Jehu had done. The name “Lo-Ruhamah” means “unloved” while “Lo-Ammi” means “not my people,” standing for what Israel had become.

After repentance and restoration, however, the Israelites would be “as many as the grains of sand on the seashore.” The phrase is hyperbole, not literal. It simply means that there will be a lot of them. Hosea’s wife would one day become faithful to him, just as one day Israel would become faithful to God. Both Hosea and God get to have a happy ending.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm a deacon at Quartz Hill Community Church. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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