I have been reading Ann Spangler’s “Praying the Names of God,” and was struck by this phrase, “Praise God because he is not power, knowledge, or wealth, but he is love.”
I have been struck by the revelation of Christ in the book of Hosea.
Contextually, Hosea is a prophet and God gives him a terribly difficult assignment to marry a prostitute who is adulterous and will bear children out of her unfaithfulness. Hosea is to deliver a prophetic judgment against Israel and Judah for their spiritual adultery in departing from the Lord.
2 When the LORD first spoke to Hosea, He told him, “Go, take a prostitute as your wife and have children of adultery, because this land is flagrantly prostituting itself by departing from the LORD.”
Most readers and commentators will make this book as historical regarding the judgment of Israel, of which it is, and yet they miss Christ in the text. I believe if we look a little closer, the text has very clear language about promises that are fulfilled in Christ. Charles Spurgeon once said “A sermon without Christ in it is like a loaf of bread without any flour in it.”
Let’s look at the meaning of the names of our cast and finish with words of redemptive fulfillment.
1) Gomer, the name of Hosea’s unfaithful wife comes from the Hebrew word ‘gamar’, meaning complete! What? I think many times people are given names which signify their calling in spite of how their lives seem to be anything but. For example, my name Timothy means Honoring of God. I’m still working on that one, lol! In the beginning of our story, Gomer is far from complete, looking for love in all the wrong places. Yet, with salvation offered to her through Christ (Hosea is a type), she can become complete through sacrifice, mercy (Hosea bought her back for fifteen shekels, the number of mercy), and everlasting love.
Aren’t we all like Gomer, continually running after the things that we think will make us complete, but leave us empty?
2) Jezreel, their first son’s name means “God sows.” I have been to the Jezreel valley which has become the breadbasket for modern day Israel. It’s now lush and fruitful. Yet, there’s more. God would sow a seed which would make the promises given to Abraham come to pass.
Hosea 2:22-23a (NASB)
And the earth will respond to the grain, to the new wine and to the oil, And they will respond to Jezreel.
I will sow her for Myself in the land.
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”
This first portion of Hosea 1:10 was a prophetic promise given to Abraham and fulfilled in Christ.
And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
3) Gomer’s second child is a daughter, named Lo-Ruhamah, meaning not loved or no mercy. We don’t know if the child was conceived out of unfaithfulness or not. What kind of name is that for a child? And yet, there’s something here for all of us who have felt like we weren’t loved or times where we received no mercy.
6 She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Call her name No Mercy,a for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. 7 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.”
Mercy did come through the house of Judah through Christ, and the salvation that has come did not come through military might but through Jesus as Lord and the one who offered himself up as a gift of love and the way to salvation.
In the day of Christ, we can assure our brothers and sisters in Chris that they have received mercy and they are no longer unloved, but fully accepted and loved (Eph 1:6).
Say to your brothers, “You are my people,”and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”
4) Lo-Ammi was the name Gomer was to give to her second son, meaning not my people. While slightly less egregious than Lo-Ruhamah, we all have a need to feel like we belong. People even join gangs out of this strong need to belong.
9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people, and I am not your God.
Wow, this is the language of disownment, and yet, God promises that this will be reversed.
10 Yet the number of the Israelites will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’
This is the language of covenant and the phrase ‘not my people’ is a phrase that prophetically points to the time of the Gentiles. Apostle Paul writes the following:
22 What if God, intending to show His wrath and make His power known, bore with great patience the vessels of His wrath, prepared for destruction? 23 What if He did this to make the riches of His glory known to the vessels of His mercy, whom He prepared in advance for glory— 24 including us, whom He has called not only from the Jews, but also from the Gentiles? 25 As He says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘My People’ who are not My people,
and I will call her ‘My Beloved’ who is not My beloved,”
“It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
they will be called
‘sons of the living God.’”
5) Hosea comes from Hoshea or Joshua and means salvation. In the story, Hosea’s marrying an unfaithful bride is a picture of Jesus offering the gift of love and redemption to those who accept this offer.
The Hebrew word will look at here is ‘Ish’ meaning husband. ‘Ishi’ is first person for ‘my’ husband. In the day of Christ, our relationship has gone from knowing God as master or Lord to one that’s much more personal, my husband.
Hosea 2:16-17, 19-20
16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.
19 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. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
Hosea still has to keep running after his wife, even after providing for her and giving her children.
1 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethecha of barley.
What kind of husband is this that goes after us in our adultery and unfaithfulness, and buys us back in love and out of his mercy? His name is Jesus.
If I look to the end of Hosea, I see language referring to a ‘He’, whereas Israel is always referred to as a woman in the scriptures.
1Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God,
for you have stumbled by your iniquity.
2Bring your confessions
and return to the LORD.
Say to Him: “Take away all our iniquity
and receive us graciously,
that we may present
the fruit of our lips.
3Assyria will not save us,
nor will we ride on horses.
We will never again say, ‘Our gods!’
to the work of our own hands.
For in You the orphan finds compassion.”
4I will heal their apostasy;
I will freely love them,
for My anger has turned away from them.
5I will be like the dew to Israel;
he will blossom like the lily
and take root like the cedars of Lebanon.
6His shoots will sprout,
and his splendor will be like the olive tree,
his fragrance like the cedars of Lebanon.
7They will return and dwell in his shade;
they will grow grain and blossom like the vine.
His renown will be
like the wine of Lebanon.
😯 Ephraim, what have I to do
anymore with idols?
It is I who answer and watch over him.
I am like a green cypress tree;
your fruit comes from Me.
9Whoever is wise, let him understand these things;
whoever is discerning, let him know them.
For the ways of the LORD are right,
and the righteous walk in them,
but the rebellious stumble in them.
The shoots of Christ have sprouted and have spread. His fragrance is the spirit of salvation available to all who take it in. It’s the gift of love.