A Tale of Holy Love, Unfaithfulness, Justice, Mercy, and Grace
Names. Sometimes they’re traditional like Samuel, Ruth, David, Mary, Joshua, and Sarah. Other times they’re old-fashioned sounding like Hazel, Albert, and Eleanor. But more recently, names are new, odd sounding, or gender neutral like Taylor, Xavier, and Punkin.
Nevertheless, names hold significance. Parents don’t generally name their children randomly and without forethought. They typically select names that contain significance and meaning, either in the definition of the name itself, remembrance of a person who bore that name, historical or biblical history behind the name, or simply because they like the way it sounds. But whatever the case, there is generally a reason behind the names they choose.
For example, my name, Kristin, means follower of Christ and was a definition and adjective my parents wanted me to grow into. But Kristin is also a spin-off of my great-grandfather’s name, Christopher, who was the spiritual patriarch and multi-generational visionary of my father’s family and was the one family member whom my parents wanted to name their eldest after. So my parents gave me the name Kristin for two reasons: the definition and the legacy of a godly grandfather.
What about you? Do you know the reasoning behind the name(s) you have been given? If not, ask your parents and see what you learn!
So what does all this have to do with our study of Hosea? How does understanding the significance behind names have to do with this unique prophet and his God-given message?
Well, after God called Hosea to marry a woman of shameful background, He blessed them with children—two boys and one girl—and commanded Hosea to give those children unusual names.
“And the LORD said to him, ‘Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.’ She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, ‘Call her name No Mercy [Loruhamah], for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the LORD their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.’ When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the LORD said, ‘Call his name Not My People [Loammi], for you are not my people, and I am not your God.’”
Jezreel, Loruhamah, and Loammi. These names are kind of a mouthful, not to mention very strange! The eldest was named after a place while the younger two may have developed a complex and struggled with identity with names like No Mercy and Not My People! I wonder if others ever made fun of Hosea’s children for their strange and unusual names. Did Jezreel, Loruhamah, and Loammi ever question why they were named as they were? Whether or not they did, we should. We should question and ponder the names Hosea’s children bore and their significance, because God was telling a story through them.
All three of Hosea’s children were given names of doom and gloom. However, they were part of God’s story and analogy that He was revealing through the life of Hosea. Even Hosea and Gomer’s names hold great significance as Hosea means “salvation and savior” and Gomer means “to complete or finish.” God is all about bringing restoration and finishing the work that He starts. And Hosea was a tool God was using to bring about that restoration and completion.
So while Hosea may not have wanted his children to forever bear the names God gave, he was to live and breath the message God gave him. It was to impact every part of his life; from the woman he was bound in marriage to the names his children would bear for the rest of their lives. Everything spoke and pointed to the powerful message Hosea was called to deliver.
So what about us? How does the truth of the gospel permeate our lives? Does it invade and influence every corner or is it confined and relegated to one area of our lives, like our time in church?
We live in a similar spiritual climate that Hosea and his family lived in. And like them, we have been given a name and a message that brings both hope and conviction—the name of Christian and the message of the gospel. However, unless we let the meaning of our name and the power of the message entrusted to us permeate and impact every aspect of our lives, the world and those watching will not be able to connect the meaning of our name with the hope of our message. So may we become like Hosea who not only delivered his message but also lived it. And because of the way we live our lives, may the world around us hold synonymous the name Christian with the hope of the gospel.
“For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised.”
~II Corinthians 5:14-15