Hosea 3

The votes are in on “catch-up Friday”, and the majority still wants five days a week. But (in the spirit of compromise) they’ll often be a little shorter.

This week we’ve looked at the real-life object lesson Hosea acted out at God’s command: to marry a promiscuous woman, only for her to cheat on him, and then be the one to go and win her back. Just like God had done – and would do – for Israel. But there’s still a postscript to this story. Because there was quite a long wait for Israel in the 8th century before Jesus turned up. So Hosea’s little object lesson needed another chapter, to give Israel some hope:

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Hosea 2:14-23

Yesterday, through the metaphor of Hosea’s marriage to unfaithful Gomer, God accused Israel of sleeping with other lovers: thinking that the Canaanite fertility gods and goddesses were the ones who were providing for her, rather than recognising that it all came from God, her husband. So he decided to withhold his providential care – leaving Israel to the mercy of her Canaanite “gods,” to let her find out how well that goes. Having experienced drought and famine, she might decide she was “better off” with God after all.

A hot date in the desert

But God isn’t leaving things to chance. Just as in chapter one we saw judgement followed by restoration, things abruptly change here in chapter two. You could be forgiven for thinking that Israel’s adultery means the marriage is over. Well, it is (see verse 2 from yesterday). But God’s not going to let it end that way.

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Hosea 2:2-13

In our series in Hosea thus far, God has told Hosea to act out a prophetic sign against unfaithful Israel (the northern kingdom). In chapter one he was told to take a promiscuous woman as his wife, and to give his children names that symbolised the coming judgement on Israel, and the revoking of God’s covenant with (soon-to-be-not) his people. Yet there was also a message of hope that one day he would reunite his people under one leader, and again be their God.

In chapter two we see the same two-scene structure: judgement (verses 2-13, which we’ll look at today), followed by restoration (verses 14-23, tomorrow).

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Hosea 1:10-2:1

Yesterday, we began a series in the Old Testament book of Hosea. You’ll need to read yesterday’s post for this one to make sense.

Quick recap of the story so far: in the 8th century BC, Israel (that is, the northern kingdom) has been persistently unfaithful to God, worshipping fertility gods/goddesses and making alliances with foreign nations, rather than trusting in God for their security. God has had enough. So he gets Hosea to act out a real-life object lesson. He tells him:

Find a promiscuous woman and marry her. Call the first kid “Jezreel” (referring to the place of slaughter where the previous ruling dynasty came to an end, and also meaning “scattered”) as a sign the kingdom of Israel is coming to an end, and about to be slaughtered and scattered. Call the second one “Lo-Ruhamah” (meaning not loved, or not shown mercy) as a sign I’m not going to be merciful to Israel any longer. And call the third one “Lo-Ammi” (meaning not my people), since I’m reversing the covenant I made back when I brought Israel out of Egypt – I’m not going to be their God any longer, and they won’t be my people.

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