A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
Welcome to our new Bible study in the book of Hosea! As we begin, we’ll do a week of overview, getting to know the purpose, overall content, and main application of this book of prophecy.
Nowhere in Scripture is a more vivid, beautiful analogy of God’s loving relationship with His people found than in Hosea. Filled with poignancy, love, and heartbreak, it powerfully conveys the LORD’s deep sorrow over the unfaithfulness and sin of His chosen ones. A book containing the story of unconditional love, holy justice, and unmerited mercy, Hosea is truly one of the greatest among the books of the Minor Prophets.
Written before even the books of Isaiah and Jeremiah, Hosea ranks first in the chronological order of all Major and Minor Prophet books. Penned in the latter years of the eighth century B.C., this book is primarily directed towards the people of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, warning them of their blatant idolatry and God’s impending judgment. But as in all of God’s declarations of coming wrath, there is mixed in messages of hope and reminders of His unconditional love.
Probably the most notable and well-known aspect of Hosea is the Lord’s one and only assignment for the Minor Prophet: His command to marry a woman of tainted background.
“When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.’”
We will focus on Hosea and his role in this analogy next week, but today let’s stay focused on why God commanded Hosea to carry out this very unusual assignment.
Hosea was to enter into covenant marriage with a former harlot or prostitute and unconditionally love her to clearly demonstrate for all God’s covenant relationships with unfaithful Israel. This is the greatest analogy of God’s spiritual marriage relationship with His people. In the New Testament, we sporadically find the church being referred to as Christ’s bride, but nowhere is it so clearly and blatantly stated as in Hosea.
According to God’s words through Hosea, we are in a covenant marriage relationship with Him, and He, like every other husband, expects faithfulness and fidelity. He is not willing to share us with other lovers or gods, but wants all of us for Himself only.
So the question is…are we keeping our end of the relationship? Are we being faithful and chaste, not running off after other interests and gods? Or are we guilty of being like Israel who committed repeated adultery against their Redeemer and LORD?
Idolatry is equal to spiritual adultery. It breaks our covenant with the LORD and grieves His heart. For God doesn’t just want a fear relationship with His people. He wants intimacy, companionship, love, and faithfulness. Just as young men and women often long for the stability that a marriage relationship brings, so also God longs for a committed relationship with us—His people, His church, His chosen bride.
So are you ready and willing to enter into a lasting relationship with the God of Israel? Are you prepared to remain faithful to Him always? Have you accepted His most gracious and loving proposal?
I hope so. And in the coming weeks, as we journey deeper into Hosea, we’ll discover what a covenant marriage to the Lord really means and hopefully learn from the mistakes of Israel so as not to repeat sins of the past.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ … And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.”
~Hosea 2:16, 19-20