1 I am Hosea son of Beeri. When Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were the kings of Judah, and when Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel, the Lord spoke this message to me.
2The Lord said, “Hosea, Israel has betrayed me like an unfaithful wife. Marry such a woman and have children by her.” 3So I married Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and we had a son.
4 Then the Lord said, “Hosea, name your son Jezreel, because I will soon punish the descendants of King Jehu of Israel for the murders he committed in Jezreel Valley. I will destroy his kingdom, 5and in Jezreel Valley I will break the power of Israel.”
6Later, Gomer had a daughter, and the Lord said, “Name her Lo-Ruhamah, because I will no longer have mercy and forgive Israel. 7But I am the Lord God of Judah, and I will have mercy and save Judah by my own power—not by wars and arrows or swords and cavalry.”
8After Gomer had stopped nursing Lo-Ruhamah, she had another son. 9Then the Lord said, “Name him Lo-Ammi, because these people are not mine, and I am not their God.”
Hope for Israel
10 Someday it will be impossible to count the people of Israel, because there will be as many of them as there are grains of sand along the seashore. They are now called “Not My People,” but in the future they will be called “Children of the Living God.” 11Israel and Judah will unite and choose one leader. Then they will take back their land, and this will be a great day for Jezreel.
1So let your brothers be called “My People” and your sisters be called “Shown Mercy.”
The prophet Hosea lived in a time of political turmoil, an era when the people of his nation were more concerned to serve the gods of power and material wealth than to walk in the ways of the God of Israel. They were, in a word, unfaithful.
Hosea is the unfortunate prophet called to deliver the unwelcome message that Israel’s unfaithfulness was a great grief to God. He exemplified it in the conduct of his personal life, finding a promiscuous woman to marry and remaining faithful to her even when she continually betrayed him. What a burden to bear.
In the naming of the couple’s three children, Hosea illustrated stages of distancing that occur in the wake of ongoing unfaithfulness. The first name recalls the history when trust was broken. The second, literally, “no mercy,” promises to withdraw pity. The third name implies God’s total rejection, yet manages to leave the door open a crack for a potential, though unlikely, restoration.
The sequence seen here is the flip side of a principle recorded in the New Testament, which states: “Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you” (James 4:8).
Repeated patterns of pride, unfaithfulness, and impurity inevitably create a distance between even the fondest of lovers. Hosea’s life illustrated love in the face of persistent betrayal in a way that helps us to feel God’s grief over our infidelity, his anger and withdrawal of mercy as it continues, and an eventual willingness to write us off.
And yet, that is not quite the end of the story. God actually desires that his people choose his ways. He offers countless opportunities for us to get it right. God is always capable of finding a way to span the distance that we in our waywardness so blithely create.
O God, how much it hurts when the people we love the most trample on our affections and pursue other desires. How much it grieves you when we reject the wisdom of your ways and wander far from your enfolding love. Recapture our attention and incline us to draw near. Amen.