Hosea  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  38:19
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Hosea is a profoundly heart impacting book. Of the many truths that the book of Hosea proclaims, none of them is perhaps more transformative for the heart than the unveiling of the unimaginable grace of God. God truly is as far above our comprehension as the heaven is above the earth, and yet through the message of the prophet Hosea God enables us to experience His grace in an unprecedented manner.
It also is a book that jolts the reader; it refuses to be domesticated and made conventional. It does comfort the afflicted, but it most surely afflicts the comfortable. It is as startling in its presentation of sin as it is surprising in its stubborn certainty of grace. It is as blunt as it is enigmatic. It is a book to be experienced, and the experience is with God.[1]
God’s grace can only be more fully understood if one understands it in terms of His faithfulness in covenant keeping. So that mere human minds might have a reference point as to what the grace of God is like, God uses another relationship that is based upon a covenant- the marriage relationship. It is within the comparison of the covenant relationship of Hosea and Gomer to the covenant relationship of God with Israel that one begins to understand the profound grace of God. And this grace is immeasurably applicable for modern day readers. Hosea is applicable for unbelievers who have yet to understand or experience the grace of God. It is applicable for believers who have not yet deeply fathomed the grace of God displayed toward them. It is especially applicable to husbands and wives as they see the grace of God in such intricate detail and are themselves invited to model that same kind of grace in their marriage relationship. The vital question is what key truths does the book of Hosea present to its readers that enables them to experience the grace of God? What does Hosea want modern day readers to understand in order to come to a fuller comprehension of the overwhelming grace of God? There are three truths that are central to the book, and those truths center around three of Hosea’s children. “The account of Hosea 1 is dominated by the births of three children, and these children are symbols of Israel’s future for both woe and weal.[2]”

I. The Truth Concerning Jezreel

Before Hosea lists the incredible truths related to God’s grace by means of the naming of his children, we are given three verses that set the stage for the prophetic instruction of the book.

A. The Historical Setting

From the historical information given in v. 1 about the prophet Hosea one discovers that Hosea’s ministry was late in the history of the Northern Kingdom of Israel.
Hosea 1:1 KJV 1900
1 The word of the Lord that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Israel had rebelled and rebelled until it is was almost time for God to allow the Northern Kingdom to be conquered by the nation of Assyria. “It is not clear from the book when Hosea’s prophetic activity ceased. From the evidence in the book, one cannot discern whether Hosea actually witnessed the downfall of Samaria. Broadly speaking, therefore, the prophet’s public work appears set in a fifty-year period, from 760 to 710 b.c., with the years 750–725 being the most likely setting.”[3]
The very first instruction given to Hosea by the Lord is found in v. 2.
Hosea 1:2 KJV 1900
2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.
Here Hosea is commanded to “Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” Hosea, who is most likely a young man when God first gave him this command, was to go and marry a “wife of whoredoms.” That is, God commanded Hosea to marry an immoral promiscuous woman. Why would God do that? The reason given in the latter part of v. 2 is “for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.” In other words, God wants His people to understand what their spiritual unfaithfulness actually looks like and feels like to God. And the closest way for God to communicate the gravity of Israel’s sin was to compare His relationship with Israel to the relationship of a man taking a promiscuous woman as his wife.
It is very important to understand the similarities in these two relationships. What makes God’s relationship to Israel like a husband’s relationship to his wife is the idea of covenant. To understand this one must understand what a biblical marriage actual means. John Piper defines marriage this way, “Marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman in which they promise to be a faithful husband and a faithful wife in a new one-flesh union as long as they both shall live. This covenant, sealed with solemn vows, is designed to showcase the covenant-keeping grace of God.”[4] This means that the closest earthly reference to the sin of Israel committing great whoredom in the land is the reference of a wife committing whoredom in the marriage relationship. The key similarities is that both Israel and Gomer were guilty of breaking their covenants. “Hosea was to be bound to this immoral woman in covenant union. For better or for worse, the path of his life would join hers. He would be like Yahweh, who also bound himself in covenant with a willful and wayward people (Deut 9:6).”[5]
It is for this reason that Hosea, obeying the commandment of God, took Gomer to be his wife. And out of this union Gomer conceived and bore Hosea a son. Back in v. 2 God told Hosea that he would have “children of whoredoms.” It is unclear exactly what this means. This could imply that at least some of Hosea’s children were born out of wedlock, that is, Hosea was not the father of these children. Or it could mean as Garret argues, “in this context it seems to mean “children who bear the disgrace of their mother’s behavior.” That is, this phrase anticipates that Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi would bear the reproach of their mother’s conduct (see 2:4–5 [Hb. 2:6–7]).”[6]

B. The Meaning of the Name

Hosea 1:3–4 KJV 1900
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son. 4 And the Lord said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.
In v. 4 God commands Hosea to name his son “Jezreel.” The reason is given the latter part of the verse, “for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.” The name “Jezreel” has little meaning to the modern day reader unless placed in its proper context with the rest of Scripture. Hearing the names “Jezreel” and “Jehu” together would have immediately brought up the context of 2 Kings 9 and 10. This passage is the account of Jehu putting to death the descendants of King Ahab. In 2 Kings 9 Elisha anoints Jehu as king over Israel. And in 2 Kings 9:7 Jehu is given instruction from the Lord to “smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.” And Jehu did so in a very violent and bloody manner. “According to 2 Kgs. 9:1–10, Jehu’s bloody purge of the house of Ahab fulfilled a prophetic command from the Lord.”[7] In fact Jehu executed both the king of Israel and the king of Judah, he executed Jezebel, he executed Ahab’s seventy sons in Samaria, executed 42 relatives of the king of Juda, and he executed an entire temple’s worth of the worshipers of Baal (2 Kings 9-10). It truly was a bloody purge. So much so, that the name of the place “Jezreel” came to signify bloodshed in the mind of an Israelite. “In the mind of an Israelite, Jezreel may have signified bloodshed in the same way that Chernobyl signifies nuclear disaster to a modern person.”[8] Thus when Hosea named his son Jezreel it would have signified bloodshed or perhaps the idea of God’s wrath in the minds of the people.

C. The Application of the Name

A problem presents itself in the latter part of v. 4. God says “for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.” The problem is that elsewhere in Scripture God commends Jehu for his zeal in finishing off the dynasty of Ahab. In 2 Kings 10:30 God says to Jehu, “Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.” If in fact Jehu obeyed the word of the Lord, why is God going to avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu? The answer is found in the Hebrew word for “avenge” or “punish.” As Garrett states, “The word translated “punish” pāqad has a wide variety of meanings (“attend to,” “appoint,” “visit,” “muster,” etc.), and its specific meaning in any verse is dependent on context.”[9] This means the idea of Hosea 1:4 is not that God will avenge or punish the house of Jehu, but that God will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu. Why will God do this? Because the House of Jehu failed to learn the lesson of Jezreel. God destroyed the house of Ahab because of its spiritual adultery with Baal. Now Israel and the House of Jehu are doing the exact same thing
Hosea 2:13 KJV 1900
13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, And she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, And she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord.
Jehu himself had been the agent of God’s fury and personally had seen how terribly it fell upon an apostate dynasty. But he and his household went on to repeat the apostasy of the Omrides and their predecessors (2 Kgs 10:31; 13:1). God visited the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu because, in the final analysis, his dynasty’s rule was little better than that of Jeroboam I or of Ahab and Jezebel. Jehu’s actions at Jezreel were, if anything, the main reason God did not eliminate his dynasty sooner (2 Kgs 10:30).[10]

D. The Truth Applied

God said to Hosea, call his name “Jezreel” or “bloodshed” or “wrath.” Why should he do this? Because God is going to bring the bloodshed / wrath of Jezreel upon the nation of Israel because of their spiritual unfaithfulness. And God will not spare the nation of Israel from experiencing the full fury of His wrath
Hosea 5:10 KJV 1900
10 The princes of Judah were like them that remove the bound: Therefore I will pour out my wrath upon them like water.
Hosea 5:14 KJV 1900
14 For I will be unto Ephraim as a lion, And as a young lion to the house of Judah: I, even I, will tear and go away; I will take away, and none shall rescue him.
As Jehu carried out God’s command with a bloody purge, so God would bring that same kind of wrath upon the rest of the nation of Israel. Some might be tempted to think, “That is pretty harsh.” And herein lies the first vital truth that one must understand, if one is to see, in a fuller sense, the unfathomable grace of God. And this truth is that Jezreel or bloodshed or wrath is exactly what the nation of Israel deserved. It was not harsh, it was not excessive, it was not over the top. It was in fact just, and righteous, and necessary. God’s wrath for their sin was RIGHT! And this truth is not just applicable to rebellious Israel. This truth must be understood by everyone who reads Hosea, because everyone is Jezreel. Everyone deserves bloodshed, everyone deserves God’s wrath. And one cannot fully understand and apply God’s grace to one’s life until this truth is grasped.
Revelation 21:8 lists the kinds of people that will experience God’s ultimate wrath, the Lake of Fire. “These whose names are missing from the Book of Life (20:15) will join Satan, the beast, and the false prophet in the lake of fire and brimstone (19:20; 20:10, 14–15), that is, the second death (2:11; 20:6, 14; cf. 14:10).”[11] These people are “the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars.” One might be tempted to say, “that is harsh.” But that one has not yet understood a key truth to God’s grace. No one is exempt from this list. Everyone is deserving of the very worst of God’s wrath. Everyone is Jezreel. Understanding this truth is the difference between saying, “how can a loving God send people to the lake of fire,” to saying, “how great is God’s grace for not giving me the wrath I deserve.”
How was it possible for Hosea to love a wife like Gomer, a wife of whoredoms? How was it possible for Hosea to not condemn Gomer for her heinous sin? Because Hosea knew that he too was Jezreel. He too was deserving of God’s wrath, just as much as Gomer was. We are all of us Jezreel. “Without a biblical view of God’s wrath, you will be tempted to think that your wrath—your anger—against your spouse is simply too big to overcome, because you have never really tasted what it is like to see an infinitely greater wrath overcome by grace, namely, God’s wrath against you.”[12] What did it look like for God to overcome His wrath against me with His grace?
Colossians 2:13-14 says this, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.”
This is what God did to overcome His wrath against us! “God took the record of all your sins that made you a debtor to wrath (sins are offense against God that bring down his wrath), and instead of holding them up in front of your face and using them as the warrant to send you to hell, God put them in the palm of his Son’s hand and drove a spike through them into the cross.”[13]

II. The Truth Concerning Lo-Ruhamah

After the birth and proclamation of Jezreel, Hosea moves on to his second child, this time a daughter, and in Hosea 1:6 he is commanded to name her “Lo-ruhamah.”
Hosea 1:6 KJV 1900
6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.

A. The Meaning of the Name

Hosea gave his daughter the name of lōʾ ruḥāmâ, which means No Mercy, or Not Pitied or Not Loved.[14] This is perhaps the most hurtful name that could be given to a little child. Every time her name was called it communicated rejection and abandonment. “For a culture as child-centered as Israel was, it is difficult to imagine a name more scandalous and offensive. Whenever her name was spoken, it commanded the attention of the people around and invited the question, Why would anyone call his daughter that”?[15] Textually it is possible here that Lo-ruhama was not really Hosea’s daughter. All the text states in v. 6 is she “gave birth to a daughter.” Earlier in v. 3 the text states she, “bare him a son” (emphasis mine). Thus the impact of the name, No Love, would be even more sharp. Whether Lo-ruhama was actually Hosea’s daughter or not, the symbolism for Israel is clear. The Israelites were children of a nation that had forsaken their true God, and had gone after Baal. They were truly No Love because there was nothing about them to love. And Hosea’s daughter was a constant object lesson for them.
The little girl was the text of Hosea’s sermons. The people heard that terrible name and no doubt whispered to one another, “Hosea’s wife is unfaithful; he must doubt that this child is his. He has rejected the poor thing!” and Hosea could respond something like: “Do you trouble yourself over Lo-Ruhamah? I tell you, you are Lo-Ruhamah! Yahweh has turned his back on you!” He would be like Nathan with David: “You are the man!” (2 Sam 12:7).[16]

B. The Startling Contradiction

The end of v. 6 is notoriously difficult in the original Hebrew.
Hosea 1:6 KJV 1900
6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Lo-ruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away.
The phrase in question is, “but I will utterly take them away.” Thus Dearman comments, “The last phrase of 1:6 is difficult in the MT, and the versions do not agree in their renderings. The verb nāśāʾ has the basic meaning of “to lift up,” “to bear.” One of its senses is “forgive,” as in bear or take away sin and guilt.”[17] And Garret concurs, “The precise meaning of 1:6c–7 is much debated. The main difficulty is the end of v. 6, which the NIV renders “that I should at all forgive them.”[18]
The problem is the most natural way to understand the Hebrew is this, “But I will certainly forgive them.” This is problematic at first glance because it is a complete contradiction to what Hosea has just said. God just got done saying call her Lo-ruhamah, No Love, because I will no more have mercy, or I will no more have love toward the house of Israel. Then in the same breath God goes on and He says, “but I will certainly forgive them.” Interpreters have come up with many different ideas of what the text means here, and many have understood the negative in “I will no more” to carry over to the idea of “I will certainly forgive.” “Thus the rendering proposed assumes that the negative particle lōʾ in the previous phrase (“I will no longer be merciful”) does double duty and modifies this last clause as well.”[19] The problem is this interpretation unnecessarily stretches the grammar. “I will no more” of v.6a naturally only controls the single phrase “show mercy.”
What then is the solution? “We are thus left with the astonishing possibility that the text means exactly what it says: “I will completely forgive them.” How is it possible that Hosea (speaking for God) could in the same breath say, “I will no longer show love to the house of Israel” and “I shall completely forgive them”?”[20] What seems like a contradiction is in reality the exact truth that must be understood if one is to grasp the unfathomable grace of God. And indeed, if one continues to read the book of Hosea, this same kind of contradiction repeats itself (Hosea 1:9-10; 2:13-14; 13:14). So we could translate v. 6 in this manner,
Call her name Not-Loved
Thus I shall no longer let it happen
That I should love the house of Israel.
But I shall completely forgive them[21]
This leads naturally then into v. 7 where God also promises to have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them…
Hosea 1:7 KJV 1900
7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the Lord their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.

C. The Truth Applied

God gave Hosea a second command and told him to name his daughter Lo-ruhamah, Not-Loved. And in this text one discovers the second truth that unfolds the marvelous grace of God. We are all of us Lo-ruhamah, No-Love. In other words, there is nothing about us that makes us desirable or lovable to God. God did not love us because we possessed qualities that deserved His love. Exactly the opposite is true. We are all of us No-Love. Paul makes this point evidently clear for us in Romans 5:6-10,
For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die. But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life (emphasis mine).
This passage echoes the truth of Lo-ruhamah! “God did not wait until we had performed well enough to merit his love (which, of course, no one ever could) before he acted in love on our behalf. Christ died for us while we were still alienated from him and cared nothing for his attention or affection.”[22] This is exactly what one must understand to truly grasp the grace of God. Each one of us must personally say, “I am Lo-ruhamah!” I am No-Love. There is nothing about me that merits God’s love. And yet with no merit of our own, God without waiting to take a breath proclaims, “but I shall completely forgive them!” That is grace. And until one understands this truth, God’s grace will never seem truly amazing.
What this looks like for someone to miss out on this truth is displayed in Matthew 19:20. A rich man approaches Jesus and asks Him, “what good thing shall I do, that I may have eternal life?” And Jesus tells him to keep the commandments- do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as yourself. The response of the young man in v. 20 is astounding. “The young man saith unto him, All these things have I kept from my youth up: what lack I yet?” Any genuine believer who reads this statement is shocked. This man really thought that he had perfectly kept all the commandments since he was a youth. In other words, this man thought of himself as someone who merited God’s favor, as someone who earned eternal life based on his own “love-ableness.” Jesus straightened out his thinking very quickly however by saying, “If thou wilt be perfect, go and sell that thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come and follow me.” The man went way sorrowful because Jesus had revealed the true lack of love in his own heart and his inability to merit God’s favor on his own merit.
The truth is every single one of us is Lo-ruhamah. We are all of us No-Love. We all fall short of the glories of God. Sinful man is unable to even keep 10 of God commandments, let alone the 613 commands and prohibitions contained in the Mosaic Law, let alone measure up to the infinite standard of the very Glory of God
Romans 3:23 KJV 1900
23 For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;
One must come face to face with the truth that in and of themselves they have nothing to merit the love of God, and yet in his unfathomable grace God will completely forgive us. God has displayed His grace to us in His Son Jesus Christ, Who died for our sins and provided for us forgiveness, not on the basis of our own merit, but on the basis of His wonderful grace.
Romans 5:8–10 KJV 1900
8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. 10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
How is it that Hosea could love Gomer, a wife that was truly No-Love? A wife who was faithless at every possible opportunity? How was it that Hosea could, even though Gomer did not merit his love in a human sense, love her as God commanded him? Because Hosea understood that he himself also was Lo-ruhamah. He himself was the recipient of God’s forgiveness and love when he had no merit of his own. And the truth is we are all of us Lo-ruhamah.

III. The Truth Concerning Lo-Ammi

For the third and final time Hosea records for us the birth and naming of another child. In v. 8 Gomer bears another son (again it is uncertain if this son is Hosea’s actual child). And in v. 9 God commands Hosea to name his son Lo-ammi.
Hosea 1:8–9 KJV 1900
8 Now when she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Lo-ammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.

A. The Meaning of the Name

God told Hosea to name his third child Lo-ammi because Israel would no longer be God’s people. The name Lo-ammi literally means Not My People. “In the ancient covenant formula God declared, “I will walk among you and be your God, and you will be My people” (Lev. 26:12; cf. Ex. 6:7; Deut. 26:17–18). But now that relationship was to be severed. The last clause of Hosea 1:9 (I am not your God) is literally, “and I [am] not I AM (’ehyeh) to you.”[23]
This name would have an even greater significance if the son was literally not Hosea’s natural son. Israel had committed the sin of spiritual adultery too often and had forsaken and deserted her God too determinedly that finally God is forced to say, “you are not my people, and I will not be your God.”

B. The Reversal

Almost before the words are out of God’s mouth, before he takes another breath, God reverses the Lo-ammi declaration. In v. 10 God gracious declares,
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.
If our interpretation of the meaning of the Lo-Ruhamah name is correct, that in one breath God calls Israel No-Love and in the next says yet I will completely forgive. Then the Lo-Ammi name follows the same pattern. In one statement God declares, Not My People and in the next Yet I will make them like the sand of the sea!
Having stated that Israel has forfeited their status as the people of God, the text turns around without warning or transition and reaffirms the ancient covenant promise to Abraham (Gen 22:17). To recall this promise is to reaffirm their status as God’s people. It is pointless to resist Hosea’s style as incongruous or his text as in need of repair. The sin of the people and the faithfulness of God are two realities he simply treats as equally true.[24]
This incredible reversal continues in v. 11 where God promises to restore both Israel and Judah. Both will come together under one head- the Messiah. And Israel will once again posses the land on that great day!
Hosea 1:11 KJV 1900
11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
What follows in chapter 2 is a continuation of the Lo-ammi oracle. In 2:1-13 God lists all of the reasons that Israel is Lo-ammi. In 2:1-3 God compares Israel unfaithfulness to that of an adulterous wife.
Hosea 2:1–3 KJV 1900
1 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; And to your sisters, Ru-hamah. 2 Plead with your mother, plead: For she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, And make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst.
She has produced children deserving no mercy because they are children of whoredomes (2:4).
Hosea 2:4 KJV 1900
4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; For they be the children of whoredoms.
Israel had deserted God and gone after other lovers, lovers she thought would provided for her every need (2:5).
Hosea 2:5 KJV 1900
5 For their mother hath played the harlot: She that conceived them hath done shamefully: For she said, I will go after my lovers, That give me my bread and my water, My wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
God would judge her for this betrayal and set up a hedge of thorns in order to bring Israel back to Himself (2:6).
Hosea 2:6 KJV 1900
6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up thy way with thorns, And make a wall, that she shall not find her paths.
Because of this hedge of thorns Israel will one day return to her first husband realizing that it had been better for her in the first place (2:7).
Hosea 2:7 KJV 1900
7 And she shall follow after her lovers, but she shall not overtake them; And she shall seek them, but shall not find them: Then shall she say, I will go and return to my first husband; For then was it better with me than now.
Israel mistakenly attributed the blessings of the land that God had given them to Baal instead, therefore God would take all of it away and curse Israel instead (vv. 8-11).
Hosea 2:8–11 KJV 1900
8 For she did not know that I gave her corn, and wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold, Which they prepared for Baal. 9 Therefore will I return, and take away my corn in the time thereof, And my wine in the season thereof, And will recover my wool and my flax given to cover her nakedness. 10 And now will I discover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, And none shall deliver her out of mine hand. 11 I will also cause all her mirth to cease, Her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.
God would bring destruction and sorrow to the land because she went after her lovers and forgot the Lord (vv. 12-13).
Hosea 2:12–13 KJV 1900
12 And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, Whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: And I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field shall eat them. 13 And I will visit upon her the days of Baalim, wherein she burned incense to them, And she decked herself with her earrings and her jewels, And she went after her lovers, and forgat me, saith the Lord.
In 2:14-23 God then highlights the reversal. Even though Israel is Lo-ammi, and rightfully so, God will bring about a reversal. Even though Israel forgot God and went after other lovers, yet God will allure her (v. 14)!
Hosea 2:14 KJV 1900
14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, And bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfortably unto her.
At the end of v. 14 God talks about bringing Israel back into the wilderness and speaking comfortably unto her. This is significant.
God tenderly reminisces about Israel’s first love after the betrothal in Egypt and in the early days of marriage in the wilderness (desert): ‘I remember the loving kindness of your youth, the love of your courtships, and your following Me in the desert’ (Jer. 2:2b)… [Compared with this statement]… Indeed, God Himself, in grace, took the initiative (as the book of Hosea indicates) to “…lure her and bring her into the wilderness” (c.f. Jer. 2:2b, quoted above. The wilderness (or desert) would remind her of the early, wonderful, pure days of courtship and marriage) “and speak to her heart…And at that day,” He declares, “…you shall call Me Husband” (Hos. 2:14, 16; cf. also Jer. 3:13, 14).[25]
Note too v. 15
Hosea 2:15 KJV 1900
15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, And the valley of Achor for a door of hope: And she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, And as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
I love that line, she shall sing! God will allure his bride back to Himself, He will win her back, He will reminder her of their love, and not only is the marriage restoration possible, but it will become a marriage that sings! That is grace!
Perhaps the most wondrous statement of reversal and of God’s grace is found in 2:23:
And I will sow her unto me in the earth;
And I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy;
And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people;
And they shall say, Thou art my God.
Even though Israel truly was Lo-ammi, No People, yet God would have mercy on them, God would show them grace and call them My People once again. And even more astounding is the statement that on that day, Israel will say, My God. Not only will God once again call Israel His people, but He will also do a work in their hearts so that they will fully and forever love Him as their God.

c. The Truth Applied

Just like Israel deserved to be call Lo-ammi, so we too deserve such a title. The truth is we all act as Lo-ammi- we all act as not God’s people. One might say, I can understand how God could call Israel that, but surely that does not apply to me.
James 4:4 says this, “Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.”
When a believer makes himself or herself a friend to the world James says it is as if they have committed the sin of spiritual adultery. God said of Israel in the book of Hosea, “Let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts” (Hosea 2:2). The offense is described in the exact same way. The offense is so great in God’s eyes that He used the analogy of the husband and wife relationship. Imagine finding out that your spouse had gone out and committed adultery this week. Imagine the shame and the hurt and the disgrace. God’s Word says this is exactly the way Christ feels about believers when the make themselves friends of the world. We make ourselves Lo-ammi. We act as if we are not Christians, and instead of loving our Savior with all our heart we give out our love to false gods of this world. And yet, Christ relentlessly pursues us (Eph. 5:25-27). Surely, this is grace!
Even when God has every right to abandon us because we act like Lo-ammi, yet He still relentlessly pursues His people. God is so relentless in His pursuit that in the day when He restores Israel, He will affect such a heart change, that they will no longer be able to call God “Baali,” (a name for the false god Baal), they will only call God “Ishi” (my husband)
Hosea 2:16 KJV 1900
16 And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; And shalt call me no more Baali.
Imagine that your spouse irreverently called you by the name of another. How deeply would that wound the soul, yet God says,
“Yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgement, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: And thou shalt know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20).
Christ does the same thing for the church. In Ephesians 5:23ff another comparison is made using the covenant relationship of the husband and the wife. This time the relationship of Christ and the church is in view. The idea is that the promises made between husband and wife picture the promises made between Christ and the church. And Christ is shown to purse His church with relentless grace and love.
“That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish” (Ephesians 5:26-27).
These are the promises that Christ makes to His bride the church. He will present His bride spotless and blameless, even though many times His bride is Lo-ammi. Still Christ will do what He promised. This speaks volumes for the way husbands and wives ought keep their own promises of love to each other. “Ephesians 5:22-33 argues indirectly for the lifelong permanence of the marriage union irrespective of violations that seem to destroy that relationship.”[26]
How could Hosea love Gomer when she so clearly violated in every way possible the marriage covenant? Because Hosea had a deep understanding of God’s unfathomable grace. Hosea knew that he was Lo-ammi, that he himself acted like No-People. And yet God still loved him and displayed grace despite his failures. Only this, only a clear understanding of God’s grace, and one’s own desperate need for such grace can enable the marriage to withstand such turmoil.

IV. The Truth Concerning Hosea and Gomer

One would miss out on the grand real-life application of God’s grace if one skipped over Hosea 3. In Hosea 3 one sees the display of God’s grace to his people impacting and transforming the way in which Hosea displays grace to his wife.

A. The Command Given

In Hosea 3:1 God tells the prophet this, “Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend (companion or husband), yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.”
Gomer had done the very worst things possible to destroy the marriage covenant. In fact, in the New Testament, the Bible gives two exception clauses for divorce. To be clear God hates divorce (Mal. 2:16). Yet Scripture allows it for two reason because of the hardness of men’s hearts. The two exceptions for divorce are fornication and desertion (Matt. 5:31-32; I Cor. 7:15). Believers would do well to note that Gomer possibly committed both offenses with her relationship with Hosea. That she committed fornication is clear from chapters 1-2 and here in 3:1 she is called an adulteress. In 3:2 Hosea obeys the command of the Lord and goes and buys Gomer back for fifteen pieces of silver and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.
Hosea 3:2 KJV 1900
2 So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
This implies (though we cannot be certain) that Gomer had abandoned Hosea and his family. She had run away and presumably fallen into slavery. And yet, even though Gomer had broken the marriage covenant by both fornication and desertion God told Hosea to lover her and to get her back. God still wanted restoration. Because this was the same kind of restoration that God desired with faithless Israel. Hosea restoration was possible because the measure of God’s grace toward Israel was the same measure of grace that Hosea had toward Gomer. “Just as Hosea with Gomer, God was not ready to divorce Israel, despite her constant adulteries committed against Him.”[27]

B. The Truth Applied

Believers would do well to pattern their own view of the permanence of the marriage covenant on the permanence of God’s covenant with His people. The same idea goes for the permanence of Christ’s promise to His church. How can such a difficult thing begin to be possible, one might ask. “The way husbands and wives showcase it is by resting in the experience of God’s grace and bending it out from a vertical experience with their spouse. In other words, in marriage you live hour by hour in glad dependence on God’ forgiveness and justification and promised future grace, and you bend it out toward your spouse hour by hour—as an extension of God’s forgiveness and justification and promised help.”[28]
When one is able to do this, when one is so impacted themselves by the grace of God that they can translate that vertical grace they have received from God to a horizontal grace directed toward their spouse the results sing!
Take note of Hosea 3:2, “So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley.” The precise amount paid by Hosea is unknown, but it is not an insignificant sum. “That the payment is both in money and in kind is curious; it suggests that Hosea had difficulty in coming up with enough money to purchase her. This possibility receives further support from the fact that the Hebrew word translated “bought” includes the idea of haggling.”[29] Hosea didn’t hardheartedly and stubbornly get Gomer back. He had to scrape together all the money he had, and he had to batter and haggle on top of that. But he got what he wanted, and what he wanted was to be restored to his wife. What a powerful display of God’s grace! Then Hosea took home his wife and loving said this to her, almost reaffirming the covenant to each other,
Hosea 3: 3 “Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.”
Personally, this display of God’s grace means that one should never give up on the possibility of restoration in a marriage relationship. If God’s grace is the model, restoration is possible.[30] “Let the measure of God’s grace to you in the cross of Christ be the measure of your grace to your spouse.”[31]
One final note, some may be tempted to think, “It’s too late for me.” Either because of a past divorce where reconciliation is impossible, or because the current circumstances are seen to be unbearable, one might be tempted to think Hosea does not work for me. To that I say as did Paul, “But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound.” Think how deeply the nation of Israel sinned and wounded God, think how completely they violated His trust. And yet God says of his people, “ I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; And I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; And they shall say, Thou art my God.” No matter what sin you are struggling with in your life, that sin was nailed to the cross of Calvary. God’s grace is able to forgive, and God’s grace is able to overcome any hard heart. The call of Hosea is to understand more fully the overwhelming grace of God and model every part of your life based on his amazing grace.
How is this possible? Three truths- We are all Jezreel, We are all Lo-Ruhamah, We are all Lo-Ammi. If you can grasp that and reckon it to be true of you- then God’s grace will sing in your heart!
[1] Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19A, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1997), 22.
[2] Garrett, 34.
[3] J. Andrew Dearman, The Book of Hosea, The New International Commentary on the Old and New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010), 79.
[4] John Piper, This Momentary Marriage, A Parable of Permanence (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books, 2009), 43.
[5] Garrett, 51.
[6] Ibid, 53.
[7] Dearman, 93.
[8] Garrett, 55.
[9] Ibid, 57.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Robert L. Thomas, Revelation 8-22: An Exegetical Commentary (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1995), 452.
[12] Piper, 44-45.
[13] Ibid, 45.
[14] Dearman, 96.
[15] Garrett, 59–60.
[16] Ibid, 60.
[17] Dearman, 96.
[18] Garrett, 60.
[19] Dearman, 96.
[20] Garrett, 61.
[21] Ibid, 61–62.
[22] Robert H. Mounce, Romans, vol. 27, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1995), 136–137.
[23] Robert B. Chisholm, Jr., “Hosea,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 1 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 1381.
[24] Garrett, 71.
[25] Jay E. Adams, Marriage, Divorce, and Remarriage in the Bible, A Fresh Look at What Scripture Teaches (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1980), 71-72.
[26] William A. Heth, Divorce and Remarriage Four Christians Views, ed. H. Wayne House (Downers Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press, 1990), 120.
[27] John MacArthur, The Divorce Dilemma God’s last Word on Lasting Commitment (Ryelands Road, Leominster, England: Day One Publications, 2009), 44.
[28] Piper. 43.
[29] Garrett, 101.
[30] There are only two instances where restoration becomes impossible. One is the death of a spouse. The other is when one of the divorced spouses remarries. Either one of these events completely eliminates the possibility of restoration.
[31] Piper, 46.
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