Why Did God Command Hosea To Marry A Prostitution
BIBLE TEXT: HOSEA 1-3
Hosea was a prophet who preached in the northern kingdom of Israel during the reign of King Jeroboam. He was very much concerned about the unfaithfulness of the people of Israel towards God, which led them to idolatry.
Hosea illustrated this unfaithful relationship between God and the people of Israel using his own marital relationship. It is this marital relationship of Prophet Hosea that we will be examining in this article.
God asked the prophet to marry a prostitute, an unfaithful woman. When God told Hosea to marry a prostitute, he must have doubted God’s voice and intentions. Yet, Hosea obeyed without hesitation. He therefore married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim. Marrying Gomer broke every cultural norm of that time, especially for a prophet like Hosea. It just didn’t make sense. She later gave birth to three children, who were all given symbolic names. They were Jezreel, Loruhamah and Loammi.
The preaching of Hosea was dominant on God’s love and compassion for Israel, despite their idolatry and playing the harlot with Canaanite religion and practices. The house of Israel would be punished by God for their infidelity, just like a cheated man would punish his unfaithful wife, by driving her out of her home. This means that God will send the people into exile.
However, God’s love for Israel will never cease, and He will eventually bring them back from exile and welcome them again with an open arm. This is the same way a forgiving husband takes back his unfaithful wife, just like in the case of Hosea and his wife Gomer.
When God tells us to do something we’re uncomfortable with, do we tend to brush it off or make excuses like, “Did God really mean that?” “Maybe He doesn’t see all the problems that I can see,” “What will others think?”, “This sounds like the worst idea ever”. etc.
HOSEA’S MARRIAGE: A METAPHOR OF GOD’S LOVE TO THE ISRAELITES
Hosea married Gomer, a prostitute according to the command of God to him. Even though Hosea loved Gomer, she still went ahead to love another man. She committed adultery with another lover, therefore hurting the feelings of Hosea in the process.
God’s command to Prophet Hosea was metaphorical of His love for the children of Israel. But despite this undying love, the people did not reciprocate the love; but rather they forsook God and went seeking after other gods. The LORD is the husband of Israel, and their passionate and chronic attraction to idols was like the lust of an adulterer. His people were as unfaithful as a prostitute. When we decide that something else is more important than God, it hurts Him like unfaithfulness hurts the victim. We hurt God by our acts of idolatry. We have never been the faithful wife to God. It is only by the abounding grace of God that we can be holy, pure and faithful to God, our husband.
The pertinent question here is: Why did God command Hosea to marry a prostitute? To begin with, it is important to realize this command could be understood two different ways. First, and more likely, this command could be one of anticipation. In other words, God may have instructed Hosea to marry Gomer who would later become unfaithful to him. The other way is that the command was for Hosea to marry someone already known as a prostitute. Either way, God wanted to give an illustration of the whoredom practiced by the Israelites by way of idolatry. God wanted Hosea to have a firsthand feeling of what He feels whenever His beloved people, the Israelites stray after other gods, and thereby forsaking Him. Hosea shared a part of the great bitterness that God feels because of the diversion of Israel, through his relationship with his wife.
Hosea and Gomer’s marriage was not an easy one. Gomer became dissatisfied, and the promiscuousness of Gomer before marrying Hosea consumed her even more after the marriage. Hosea was really hurt by Gomer’s promiscuousness and unfaithfulness to him. This is a story about unending love, in which we find a story about unending grace.
Despite the fact that Hosea was badly hurt by his wife, Gomer’s attitude, Hosea dealt tenderly with his wife because of his relationship with the Lord. He sought for Gomer in the midst of her sin, saying, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you (Hosea 3:3).” Just like Hosea showed grace to his wife, God shows grace to us even when we sin. God loves us in spite of our sins. His love never fails, His mercies are new every morning and He will never change. Even though Israel sinned against God and hurt Him terribly, they were still His people. God said concerning the house of Israel, “I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’ (Hosea 2:23).” Oh, such height and depth of love God has for His people!
The love Hosea had for Gomer did not depend on what she did or did not do. In this way, Hosea is a picture of God, while Gomer represents you and me. Similarly, God loves us even if we run and we choose not to love Him back. God runs after us in our sinful state, trying to bring us back to Himself, because He hurts when we hurt. God continues to love us regardless of where or how long we run. He comes to the darkest and messiest places to find us and rescue us, again and again and again because He loves us much dearly.
HOSEA AND GOMER’S CHILDREN: SYMBOLISM OF THEIR NAMES
The marriage of Hosea and Gomer produced three children, who were given symbolic names. The first was named Jezreel, meaning that God will avenge the death of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu and cease the kingdom of Israel. The second was named Loruhamah meaning ‘I will no longer have mercy upon the house of Israel’. While the third child was named Loammi, which means ‘You are not my people and I will not be your God.’
These names were used as symbols of God’s punishment for the people of Israel. God withdrew His mercy from the house of Israel, and ceased to be their God.
However, later God forgave them and showed them mercy again, thereby calling them His people once more. This shows that God’s anger is for a short moment, He is quick to show mercy to repentant people.
The basic reason why God asked Hosea to marry a prostitute is to depict how much Israel has sinned by departing from God and serving idols. Furthermore, God wanted to show how great the love he has for His people, the Israelites.
We are the Israelites of today (God’s people). How far have we gone from God? What idols are we serving? How have we been playing the harlotry against our Maker and Lover? God is calling us today; He wants to be intimate with us again, just like He used to in the Garden of Eden!