A lesson on Hosea that God gave me.
This is a work in progress.
Marriage to a Prostitute
What follows is my own imagination of what
it must've been like to be Hosea. Imagine a young man who
just got done being confirmed as a priest. He's serving
God day by day in the temple. The Bible doesn't say, but
it's completely possible that Hosea was single and
looking. Imagine as he goes to the well every day to draw
water, or as he shops at the market place. Surely he had
ran into and been introduced to young single women his age,
possibly by parents who were interested in making him their son
in law. Maybe he caught the eye of a beautiful young woman
at a restaurant. Or talked with some at the well when
drawing water. He's probably thinking, I'm young, and I
can't wait to get married. The law prescribed that priests
married virgins of the daughters of Israel, so he's probably
thinking some eligible young woman from an upstanding family,
And God tells him in Hosea 1:2 to go marry a prostitute. Now let's start off by saying that hygiene standards were not the same as they were today. Bathing was common, but not like our daily showers. They didn't have antiperspirant. They also didn't have condoms. So you can probably imagine that, by our standards of hygiene today, it was as if God asked him to marry a dirty, filthy woman. If she's a prostitute, she probably doesn't have a good family background, and she probably doesn't have any money. And unlike the young virgins his age, probably had emotional baggage. It was not, and still is not, uncommon for prostitutes to be physically and emotionally abused, and socially excluded. Also, 1 Kings 22:38, when the King of Aram was killed in battle, his memory was dishonored by washed his armor off in the pool where the prostitutes took baths. So Hosea marries Gomer, a prostitute, which in every way was contrary to what Hosea was expecting and everything God wanted for him, at least in the Torah.
But God used this as a metaphor for His love for Israel, and really for all of mankind. We are filthy by choice. We don't deserve forgiveness or love, but God has never stopped trying to rescue us. And some of us He has saved, adopted as sons and daughters. God loves us more than we could ever comprehend.
Calling the Prostitute
How does God then convince the prostitute to
become His wife? Hosea 2:14 (HCSB) says "I am going to ...
speak tenderly to her." And what does God want?
Relationship. Hosea 2:16 says God is waiting for the day
when we call Him "my husband."
Gomer apparently doesn't stay with Hosea long. In Hosea 3, God tells Hosea to go buy her back, which he does. It's as if God steps into the whore house to get her back. Can you imagine Hosea, dressed like a priest, walking down the road in the town where this type of sin was going on? As he's walking down the road, the area around him gets sketchier and sketchier. People start staring as he walks, whispering to one another, "what's he doing here?" Maybe one of them says, "he's going to get his wife, she's been sleeping around." Can you imagine how ashamed and out of place Hosea may have felt? But he obeys God.
Can you imagine how Gomer may have felt? Ashamed of what she's doing, but then surprised when he shows up, and even more ashamed? But he buys her back, and instead of judging or condemning her, he says (3:2) "be faithful to me, and I will be faithful to you."
It's Hard to Break a Habit
I think the first thing the story of Hosea
teaches about people like Gomer is it can be difficult to change
habits. Gomer went back to her old manner of life (Hosea
3). I wonder if that came out of shame. It's quite
possible their marriage caused a scandal. It's also
possible that the other women, her peers who should've been
accepting and believed because God is merciful and gracious
(Exodus 34:6), instead were judgmental and excluded her.
Gomer wouldn't have been the first prostitute God redeemed
(Matthew 1:5). We don't know from just the story.
This shame, as we know from modern Christian addiction recovery ministries, could have made Gomer felt like she was no good, could never change, and thus had no choice but to go back to her old lifestyle. Of course, that's not true. Shame tells lies. But it could've possibly made her feel that way.
Another thing people with addictions
sometimes do is relapse: they go back to their addictions and/or
sins. Sometimes a new life with promise just feels somehow
too good for them. Or they're not comfortable with
it. Or their cravings get the best of them. Or maybe
she ran into someone in the marketplace that is from the red
light district where she was enslaved. Maybe something
triggered a memory of being a prostitute. Maybe she felt
socially excluded due to her past, and loneliness got the best
of her. There are numerous reasons why people relapse.
But for whatever reason, she ended up right back in the red light district. It appears that she is once again in bondage, even if she initially went back of her own free will.
Now hear the love of God for us. God tells Hosea to go buy her back. So once again, Hosea goes down to the red light district. Again, he's in the clothes fit for a Levite. Surely people in the area were whispering to one another, "He's back? Why?" Maybe some replied "his wife left him." Or others, "once a hooker, always a hooker." Hosea could've been angry at her for leaving him. Hosea could've felt ashamed and emasculated, which is common for men who have been betrayed by women. Maybe someone whispered, "He must not be able to keep a woman," etc.
God doesn't tell Hosea to judge her or rebuke her. Or to have her stoned. Gomer deserved all of these things. She had been given a new and wonderful life, but she threw it all away again.
God tells Hosea to buy her back (Hosea 3). And God says the same to us. If you have messed up your life, if you have given up, if you have thrown away everything good God has given you, God still wants you back. God is pursuing you with love. God still wants to give you a better life. How could we not love a God like this?
There is something in the heart of every human being that wants to run away from love like this. That wants to give up. But just as human beings have an infinite need to feel loved, God has an infinite supply of love to give to us.
If you're reading this and you've messed up, stop beating yourself up. 1 John 1:9 says if we confess our sins, we will be forgiven. That's all it takes.