God promises that one day He will restore Israel and make her holy – “‘And it shall be, in that day,’ says the Lord, ‘That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer call Me ‘My Master,’… I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.’”
The Lord desires a faith-based relationship built on love like that of a husband, rather than one built on fear and hard obedience like that of a master. To illustrate His love for His unfaithful people, the Lord tells Hosea to go and buy back his cheating wife, Gomer – “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
Taking back the cheating wife will be hard and humiliating for Hosea. However, he is able to obey the Lord for two reasons:
1) Hosea’s relationship with the Lord is more important to him than any other earthly relationship.
2) Hosea knows that it isn’t all about him. The Lord is doing something much bigger in and through him. God is using Hosea’s life to warn Israel, His bride, and to further reveal Himself to us by illustrating His love for His people, His grief over their unfaithfulness, and His relentless pursuit of them.
The Lord brings charges against disobedient Israel. He says, “There is no truth or mercy or knowledge of God in the land.” And since there is no knowledge of God, there is no true wisdom. Therefore, Israel continues in their rebellion – “They do not direct their deeds toward turning to their God, for the spirit of harlotry is in their midst, and they do not know the Lord.”
The Lord rebukes the leaders of Judah for being corrupt and the leaders of Israel for trusting in man, the Assyrians, instead of the Lord. The Lord says of the Assyrians, “Yet he cannot cure you, nor heal you of your wounds.” Hosea calls the people to repent and turn from their religious and political rebellion back to the One who can heal and restore them – “Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up. After two days He will revive us; on the third day He will raise us up, that we may live in His sight.” Hosea is prophesying of the coming Savior, Jesus Christ, who will be torn and stricken for us on the cross and rise from the grave three days later so that anyone who puts their trust in Him will be cleansed and restored to the Lord.
It is difficult to empathize with someone unless you have a similar experience. That is why God is asking Hosea to buy back his cheating wife, Gomer. It’s an illustration of the current situation with the Lord and Israel, but it is also an illustration of a future event. Later in the story, something similar will happen with God and His Son Jesus. The Lord will buy us, His undeserving, unfaithful people who are dead in sin, back to Him at the cost of His Son. Jesus will come into this world as a baby, both fully God and fully man. He will be tempted, slandered, betrayed, denied, humiliated, mocked, stripped naked, beaten, spat upon, hung on a cross and murdered. However, Jesus will ultimately defeat death and ascend to the right hand of His Father in heaven. But while on earth, Jesus will experience everything that you or I will ever experience in this world and then some. Therefore, we have a Savior who understands our pain and to whom we can run for comfort, healing, and strength.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:14-16).
Tomorrow we hear the last from Hosea, so keep reading. (Hosea 2:14-8:14)