Wedding Bells

Hosea 1:2-2:1

Is important to remember what the issues were in Israel during time of Minor Prophets, Hosea included. Jeroboam II only king of Israel identified in v.1, perhaps because 4 of 6 who followed after were assassinated! Number of political / cultural issues addressed, virtually all were symptoms of deeper problem. True not only of Israel 8th century BC, is universally true – all people, all cultures, all periods of history. Will continue to be true until end of this age.

Started with first parents in Garden, had perfect fellowship / relationship with God. Decided what was offered by Satan was more attractive than what God offered. Desire, affection, loyalty that all rightly belonged to God suddenly had different object. Problem started well before Eve touched the fruit: she listened (to the serpent), looked (at temptation), lusted (after what was promised), then acted in disobedient rebellion. Shift in love and loyalty that was not immediately reined in what led to awful consequences that plague entire human race.

Good exercise for Christian periodically: pick a problem, any problem that comes up in conversation, on the news – trace back to the root. Source is spiritual, not social or economic or political – failure to love God and keep his commands. Lots wrong with Israel, serious issues that God addressed eventually. Not where he started with Hosea – got right down to basics, dealing with root cause of problem and then working outward.

A. Hosea marries GomerHosea 1:2-3

the Lord began to speak through Hosea, he said to him…

much debate about nature of Hosea’s marriage to Gomer – was it real, only figurative, vision or parable to be told to the people

also debate about Gomer – was she a nice girl before marriage, then decided not to play house; or was she immoral single when Hosea proposed

weakest argument in favor of “not real” – consider how many years real marriage with real children would take, would be too long, God wouldn’t do that

people weren’t stupid, neither was God; he wasn’t in a hurry either – just as interested in showing patience as judgment

best way to take it: at face value, as it is presented – God speaking to his people by means of Hosea’s life just as much as by words, perhaps even more powerfully

Hosea’s family a living parable

first thing Hosea instructed to do: go to red-light district, find a likely individual, don’t patronize but propose, get married to her, have a family

imagine that, young fellow just starting out, dreams and aspirations, maybe even sweet on nice girl next door, hears from God

God’s explanation maybe took some of sting out – not being mean to Hosea, rather expecting him to be useful servant

God connects Hosea’s family life/circumstances with Israel’s spiritual life – real-time demo of events as God had planned

would require faithfulness and obedience over long haul – Hosea to be picture of loving God living out life in front of people

Gomer to be picture of unfaithful people living out their lives before God… and Hosea would have to do right thing toward wife, children, neighbors

here’s the astonishing thing: Hosea went and did as God told him

found himself a prostitute, married her, took her into his home and treated as his wife – probably against better judgment of parents and other counsellors

not sure what Hosea had to do to convince priest was a good idea but he managed it – perhaps priest understood Hosea was true prophet

besides, what Hosea did was not sinful, only appearing to be unwise ill-advised setup for heartache and disaster

B. Israel’s rejection is symbolized by the childrenHosea 1:4-9

wedding bells, now a happy put-together family – dad, mom, one-two-three children a couple years apart

has all external appearances of nice “Christian” family, witness, appropriate behavior, over period of 5+ years

things weren’t exactly as appeared… just like between God and his people – what should have been fine and much of time looked fine wasn’t really fine

just considering Israel, Hebrew children: miraculously redeemed from slavery in Egypt, given complete set of laws (moral, civil, ceremonial), all they needed to live contentedly as God’s people…. and what did they do?

repeatedly went back to previous slavery – not Egypt but still slavery, to idols, empty promises, sinful desires, human wisdom

much of time people had not left off observance of religious rituals – still sacrificing, enjoying festivals, going through motions

and just as often, God rescued them only to have them add more outrageous things to their god-shelf, forms to their idolatry

a possibility in their thinking that God was about to take away – that God acted the way he did because he could, had the power

perhaps tempted to think/say to God, “if you really loved us, wouldn’t treat us this way”; watch Hosea, now what think ye

yet given who they were, how they persisted in behaving, Hosea’s example wouldn’t be enough (kinda like Isaiah’s preaching)

Hosea and Gomer’s relationship part of God’s message, so also their children – people who have no long-term hope for future don’t have children

and… God’s choice of names for children had profound significance, far beyond Hosea’s family into NT period (more later)

Jezreel – Israel’s destruction Hosea 1:4-5

name started out as place, then later given to person – reminder of what God had done in Jezreel and warning of future judgment

Jehu, king of Israel divinely commissioned to be God’s avenger on Ahab and Jezebel who lived in Jezreel; Jehu did so, commended by God for his actions; told four generations of offspring would succeed him on throne (2 Kings 10:30)

sounds like great promise! but… what about 5th generation? Jeroboam II was third, his son the 4th… and last – why?

Jehu did as God commanded, started out well but finished badly – eradicated Baal worship (2Ki 10:28) but golden calves remained in Dan and Bethel (2Ki 10:29) and Jehu “took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart” (2Ki 10:31)

in contrast to previous victories won over evil in Jezreel, God would bring judgment on Israel for their idolatry

Lo-Ruhamah – no mercy on Israel Hosea 1:6-7

daughter born to Gomer – Jezreel was Hosea’s son (v.3), but what about Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi… Hosea’s or someone else?

not required by text, context, or follow-on story; however, would be one way to explain what God told Hosea in v.2 – “children of harlotry”, “illegitimate children conceived through prostitution” NET

like Jezreel, name and its significance looks in both directions – God had showed great mercy, would in time of his choosing end

not all is gloom and doom – some of God’s people, a remnant at least, would be preserved from destruction; in this case, Judah

Lo-Ammi – Israel’s abandonment Hosea 1:8-9

another child, another name – Not My People – God saying “you are not my people because I am not your God, you have other gods in my place”

yet it goes further – God not passive in all this; he will actively abandon Israel because they have abandoned him

God will not continue to treat them as his covenant people any longer; they have reached end of his patience

C. Israel’s restoration is promisedHosea 1:10-2:1

Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered.

prolific prosperity promised – hearkening back to days in Egypt when Pharaoh’s best efforts could not diminish their numbers

restatement here of promise made to Abraham as part of God’s covenant with him (Gen. 22:17) and reaffirmed promise of future blessing

be careful with how you understand fulfillment – God would eventually restore people to land of Israel, but only temporarily… means we need to look for greater fulfillment, see rest of context

And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’

“restoration” here more than simply back to previous conditions – “sons of the living God” more significant intimate term / position than “my people”

God has more in mind than booting Jewish people off the land for a time, then bringing them back to same old way

Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, And [shall] appoint for themselves one head;

immediate significance – following captivity of Israel in 722 BC, then Judah in 586, time in exile, return in 538 to a unified nation

God’s restoring after captivity ended divided kingdom in Israel, prefigures future end of strict separation between Israel and neighbors

And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel! Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’

their flourishing will be explainable only by God’s mercy to those now called his people, will extend far beyond borders of Israel

D. Genesis pattern repeated

curse/punishment/judgment yet mercy – promised mercy made possible through Christ

in middle of punishment, promised one who would deal with Satan and, of course, sin; promise here of future mercy following harsh punishment

mercy extends beyond nation of Israel and Jews to encompass Gentiles – Romans 9:24-29

“the prophet Hosea shows he is free to call those who previously were not his people to be his people” Thielman – wall of partition coming down, grafting of wild olive into cultivated tree part of fulfillment of Hosea’s prophecy

God’s purpose in treatment of his covenant people has way more in view than just Jews and land of Israel – is worldwide in scope, embraces all cultures

His primary concern in using the Old Testament is …to show that redemption in Christ stands in direct continuity with the revelation in the Old Testament and is in fact the fulfillment of that revelation.” George Eldon Ladd

Thank God for his mercy, his patient persistence in coming after his people and making them “sons and daughters of the living God”!

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