Friday, May 11, 2012

Hosea 1-3: God and Gomer

LINK: Hosea 1-3 

Please read INTRODUCTION TO THE PROPHETICAL BOOKS if you have not already done so. 

BACKGROUND 


Book of Hosea


2 Chr. 27-32:  750-697 (2 Kings 16-20)


                        755-714: HOSEA 1-14 (Northern)
                        739-681: ISAIAH 
                        733-701: MICAH 

 -----------------722 - ASSYRIAN CAPTIVITY OF ISRAEL (NORTHERN KINGDOM) --------------------

The time frame mentioned in Hosea 1:1 corresponds to 2 Chronicles 26-32 and 2 Kings 14-18. While his prophecies go to the reign of Hezekiah, I chose to put this at the end of the reigns of the kings of Israel we just covered since he was a prophet to the northern kingdom. He prophesied from 755- 714 B.C. from the end of the reign of Jeroboam II and through Kings Zechariah, Shallum, Menahem, Pekahiah, Pekah, and Hoshea.


Even though he was a prophet to the northern kingdom, the kings of Judah during that time were mentioned in Hosea 1:1 instead. Perhaps this was because they were the God-ordained kings, and Israel was an apostate kingdom.  


During this time Israel was prospering and enjoying great military success and the Assyrian influence had declined. Hosea foresaw a time when Tiglath-Pilesar III, who is also called King Pul (745-727 B.C.), would expand Assyria, and Israel would be in his path! We already saw in 2 Kings 15:29 that the northern kingdom of Israel was made a vassal state by the Assyrians. In 722 B.C. Israel was deported to Assyria (2 Kings 17:1-16; 18:10-12). Thus ending the kingdom of Israel forever. Judah was also made a vassal state by the Assyrians during Hosea's time (2 Kings 16:5-10). 


But at the time of Hosea's prophecy, Israel was prospering, but they were  oppressing the poor and practicing idolatry. Therefore God likens their idolatry to the adultery happening in Hosea's own marriage to Gomer, the prostitute. God's faithfulness (loyal love) is illustrated in Hosea's faithfulness to his wife. 


In this book God is pictured not only as a husband but also as a father, lion, leopard, bear, dew, rain, moth, etc. Israel is pictured as a wife, sick person, vine, grapes, early fruit, olive tree, woman in childbirth, oven, morning mist, chaff, smoke, etc. 


The message of the whole book of Hosea go back and forth from judgment to salvation. In the context of Hosea own marital drama, God is telling the story of Israel's unfaithfulness, the judgment that will surely come, and God's promise that He will restore them to Himself because He loves them. 


Hosea 1-3

Hosea name means "salvation." He is instructed by God to marry the prostitute, Gomer. She is promiscuous and adulterous, and his children are unfaithful, but Hosea is faithful to her and shows loyal love. When she becomes a slave, God commands Hosea to buy her back since she is his wife. In the same way, God has made a covenant with Israel, even though they would be enslaved by the Assyrians; He still loved them with his everlasting (loyal) love! Eventually, they would be restored to God through Jesus the Messiah. 


REFLECTION


We have an engaged couple in our kingdom community that wanted to know if we had any ideas for a Bible passage for their wedding ceremony. I turned to the one shared in ours:

I will betroth you to Me forever;Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, In lovingkindness and in compassion, And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness. Then you will know the Lord. (Hosea 2:19-20) 
"Betroth" is a somewhat archaic word in our day and age, but I am glad to see that most translations have retained it. It marks "a new beginning, with all the freshness of first love, rather than the weary patching up of differences" (The Message of Hosea by Derek Kidner). 

That is what our relationship with God is like; full of new beginnings. He is our faithful, loyal, loving husband who welcomes us back when we turn away from our sin and run back to Him. We can always have a new beginning as we "confess and press" on knowing that He is "faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness" (1 John 1:9).


APPLICATION 

Search your heart and see if there are any areas of unfaithfulness to God in your life. Let this lead you into a time of confession and reconnection with Your husband (I know that may be difficult for the men reading this). 


PRAYER


Faithful, loyal, loving God, we come to You and confess that we have wandered away from You to pursue things that do not satisfy. Restore us back to You in confession and repentance. We ask this in Jesus' name who restores us to You. Amen. 
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