Book of Hosea
Nice and short, Chapter 3, nevertheless, covers noteworthy items. If we take the end of the chapter first (v. 4, 5), we notice the kind of prophetic elements one would expect in a book like Hosea. Given through a human spokesperson, prophecy is commonly understood to be predictions about the future; as we have already seen in the first two chapters of Hosea, it is also special messages from God about His will for humanity, including, but not exclusively, His judgment for their wrongdoing and His love. For such a small chapter, we see both of these aspects of prophecy nicely compacted into five captivating verses.
In the final two verses of the chapter, we begin to see what consequences awaited the Northern Kingdom of Israel. The time would be coming when they would no longer have their own leader – they would be subject to another – and would not be able to worship in the way they wanted, whether that be the Lord – “sacrifice” and “ephod” – or other gods – “sacred stones” and “idol.”(4) The messages in the following chapters will further develop the details of this prophecy.
The last verse seems to underscore that, with a few exceptions, prophecy “declared God’s word for all time, that the time of fulfillment of a prophecy is rarely indicated in the Bible.”* The message of verse five speaks to the restoration of the Israelites in their relationship with God. When exactly that restoration would take place does not seem to be entirely clear in the passage. Since David had not been their king for a long time and was from Judah (the other, estranged kingdom), the reference to “David their king” may point back to a unified kingdom, Israel and Judah together again, and may also indicate the promise that a descendant of David would always sit on the throne of their kingdom, pointing to the Messiah and, a long way into the future, to Jesus. The chapter also ends with those multi-layered, prophetic words “… in the last days.”
These messages for the days to come, nonetheless, follow some very concrete instructions for Hosea to follow (verses 1 through 3). Apparently, Gomer had returned to her former lifestyle since Hosea needed to go and find her again. It would seem that she was enslaved seeing as he had to pay for her. In complete faithfulness to God, Hosea did all of this. I cannot even begin to imagine what his day-to-day life looked like. He had turned his life completely over to the Lord and made Him his first priority.
Because of Hosea’s faithfulness, God’s message was clearly depicted to the people. And what a message it was. “Go, show your love… again. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…” (1) God loves the Israelites no matter what they do. Again and again and again. Even when they turn their backs on him and go to others, He will not, He cannot, stop loving them. Yes, there would be consequences for their choices to seek after others. Even so, God was always there, pursuing them, waiting for them to come back.
“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’” ~ Hosea 3:1
Questions to ponder:
- What is your reaction to Hosea’s actions and words toward Gomer?
- In what areas of your life do you struggle to keep God your first priority?
- What are some examples – from the Bible and personal experience – of how God is pursuing you?
*Bibliography: Nelson’s New Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Ronald F. Youngblood, Thomas Nelson Publishers, 1995, 1034.