Gomer. With a name like that, there’s bound to be a story. Her name meant “complete” or “completion”. How tragically ironic for a woman who found her sole purpose in the giving of her body. She was a woman broken to pieces, far from being complete.
Imagine her surprise when the man of God, Hosea, took her by the hand to enter into his life as his wife. Her very private life suddenly became very public. In fact God told Hosea that He would use their marriage to cry out against His own people, the unfaithful wife, Israel.
Prone to wander, Lord I feel it, prone to leave the God I love.
But did she love Hosea? Did she even love God?
She was prone to wander. Just like Israel, she would be unfaithful to her husband. Where did she go wrong? Where did Israel go wrong?
Prone to Wander
The northern kingdom, Israel, was in dire straits. God had sent Elijah and Elisha and then Amos after them to prophecy against His people. He was calling them to remember their covenant with Him and to say, if you don’t remember your promise, those curses I swore about will come to pass. I promised.
Hosea then comes on the scene as a prophet around 750 B.C. This is only 180 years after the nation split into two kingdoms. 180 years after Solomon.
If you take a look at the Kings, you’ll find that EVERY king in the northern kingdom was a BAD king.
You could say that Hosea had his work cut out for him.
To summarize the Israelite (northern kingdom) kings is rather easy. They were evil!
Jeroboam I – he set up his own worship centers to keep the north from going south to Jerusalem. He made calves to be the likeness of God and set up new priests to serve at the centers. (1 Kings 12) OMG.
Nadab – did evil in God’s sight
Baasha – killed the previous king to be king; caused the people to sin just like Jeroboam
Elah – evil
Zimri – killed the previous king to be king; burned himself in the king’s house to escape Omri
Omri – appointed king by the people at the same time as Zimri; went up against Zimri; did more evil than all before him
Ahab – even more evil than all the others; erected altars to Baal and Asherah; also sacrificed two of his own sons! (1 Kings 16)
Ahaziah – did evil, worshiped the baal
Joram – evil, killed by the next king
Jehu – kills Ahab’s evil son, Joram, also killed Jezebel (evil wife of Ahab) and 70 of Ahab’s family members; killed all the prophets of Baal, burned the pillars and house of Baal; YET he sinned by worshipping the golden calves at Bethel and Dan (which Jeroboam had set up) (2 Kings 10)
Jehoahaz – did evil (13)
Jehoash – did evil
Jeroboam II – though he did great things for Israel (restoring borders), he did evil in God’s sight (14)
All the rest of the kings reigned anywhere from one month to 10 years. Needless to say, their time as a nation was coming to a fast close. The kings were dropping like flies and they were about to be invaded by Assyria. (722 B.C.)
It is under these conditions that God calls Hosea in Hosea 1:1, but it was an unlikely, even appalling kind of call. Hosea 1:2 :
Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.
If I were Hosea, my answer might sound something like: Um, yes Sir. But do I have to?
But Hosea is obedient and in Hosea 1:3 it says,
So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
None of the other prophets ever had this kind of assignment. Wasn’t the man of God supposed to be, well, godly? Wasn’t it considered a major sin to sleep with a prostitute?
God wanted to make a statement to His people. I’d say His message came loud and clear.
Gomer’s first son is said to be by Hosea. His name? Jezreel. It meant “God scatters”. Hosea 1:4-5 says:
4 …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. 5 And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.
Where is this Valley of Jezreel?
Here is a map, showing that it is just south of Galilee, actually in the region of Samaria.
Here is an aerial view of the land:
Perhaps you have read what happened in the Valley of Jezreel. The evil King Ahab killed a righteous man in cold blood to be able to have that man’s land (which happened to be in the Jezreel Valley). But did you know that God judged Ahab several kings later when he appointed Jehu as king of Israel? Jehu murders MANY people, all of them connected to Ahab’s house. He sounds like a fairly terrible king. HOWEVER, God had appointed him to carry out the task of killing all of Ahab’s house.
The problem for Jehu was that, even though he had gotten rid of the evil Ahab and his family, he didn’t get rid of all the Baals. This judgment comes on him with the birth of Hosea’s son, Jezreel.
God would “break the bow” of Israel, indicating a military defeat in the region of Samaria. This prophecy comes true exactly as God said: Assyria would invade through the north, entering into Samaria and taking the city and the people of Israel. It came in two waves. First we read in 2 Kings 15:29,
In the days of Pekah king of Israel, Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria came and captured Ijon, Abel-beth-maacah, Janoah, Kedesh, Hazor, Gilead, and Galilee, all the land of Naphtali, and he carried the people captive to Assyria.
Then in 2 Kings 17:6
In the ninth year of Hoshea, the king of Assyria captured Samaria, and he carried the Israelites away to Assyria and placed them in Halah, and on the Habor, the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.
The next verse (17:7, 12) says,
7And this occurred because the people of Israel had sinned against the Lord their God,…12 and they served idols.
Hosea receives this prophecy around 750 B.C. and the captivity happens in 722, less than 30 years later.
Right in the midst of all of this lies Gomer. A heart prone to wander.
Prone to Leave the One She Loves
Hosea 1:6 says,
She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.”
Gomer conceives again but this time it does say not she bore him a daughter. This daughter’s name is Lo-Ruhamah. No mercy. Or Not loved.
Ouch. That girl must have had a complex!
We find out later in Hosea 2:4-5 that this daughter and the next son are both illegitimate children. They don’t belong to Hosea! He writes,
4 Upon her children also I will have no mercy,
because they are children of whoredom.
5 For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
Her mother was out playing the harlot, making love to any man who came by, but she, the daughter, receives no love. Her mother went out after her lovers, acting shamefully, but Lo-Ruhamah would be the one shamed.
A footnote (ESV study bible) for verse 5 says, “The Canaanite people believed that they owed all the products of the soil to the Baals…. All fertilization was a result of the power of the Baals. Having intercourse with sacred prostitutes was thought to contribute to the agricultural prosperity of the land. The harlot’s pay came from the harvest (v. 12).”
Gomer believes her lovers have paid her with the grains, oils, and drinks from the harvest. Israel believed their fruitful crops came from these gods. They played the harlot, going after these idols.
Hosea continues in 2:8,
And she did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished on her silver and gold,
which they used for Baal.
Does your heart break for Hosea? For God? She did not know it was I who gave these gifts to her. I gave her the silver and gold. But what does she do? Uses it for the idols.
Idols! You saw what happened with the kings of Israel. Idolatry. They were believing and worshipping a lie. These were counterfeit gods. Israel was whoring around with other “gods” or lovers.
The Old Testament speaks to the folly of idolatry. It is folly because they worshipped something that was not God, something they created with their own hands and which ultimately cannot do any good for them.
Isaiah 44:9-20 addresses the folly of idolatry. In v. 20 Isaiah writes,
He feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?”
As for Israel, how could they even stand if God removes His love from them? If He chooses not to extend His mercy to them any longer?
Perhaps they had taken the words of the Psalmist for granted:
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
O Lord, who could stand?
4 But with you there is forgiveness,
that you may be feared. (Ps. 130:3-4)
Their time had run out. He would no longer forgive them. Their sins would now be counted against them. They will not be able to stand up under this judgement. Assyria was coming.
Hosea writes in 1:7
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.
So even though God would not have mercy on Israel, God indicates that He will save Judah (southern kingdom) because they at least were still following in His ways. In 2 Kings 19:32-36 Isaiah the prophet, speaking to Hezekiah, king over Judah says,
32 Therefore thus says the Lord concerning the king of Assyria: “He shall not come into this city or shoot an arrow there, or come before it with a shield or cast up a siege mound against it. 33 By the way that he came, by the same he shall return, and he shall not come into this city, declares the Lord. 34 For I will defend this city to save it, for my own sake and for the sake of my servant David.” 35 And that night the angel of the Lord went out and struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians. And when people arose early in the morning, behold, these were all dead bodies. 36 Then Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went home and lived at Nineveh.
God didn’t use bow, sword, war, horse or horsemen. He used His great might and struck down Judah’s enemies.
Now back to Israel (the northern kingdom), the text continues in Hosea 1:8-9
8 When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. 9 And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
Gomer conceives a third time, possibly by another man, and this time it’s another son. The Lord tells Hosea to call him Lo-ammi. Was this son NOT Hosea’s? Not God’s people?
Can you reach into Hosea’s heart and take a peek at the agony he must have experienced because of this calling on his life? The man of God with the wayward wife. She was prone to leave the one who loved her.
This can be seen as a reversal of the Mosaic covenant. The I Am is no longer their I Am. God tells His people, you are not My people; I am not your God. He rejects the people He had chosen. I. Am. Not. Yours.
It’s like He’s telling them, you have acted in a way that reveals to Me that you care nothing for Me. You have shown Me that you want nothing to do with Me. If that’s how you want it, you’ve got it.
But then, God says in Hosea 1:10-11 and 2:1
10Yet 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.” 11 And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. 2:1 Say to your brothers, “You are my people,” and to your sisters, “You have received mercy.”
I love the redemption story we see unfolding in Hosea’s story. This is what Jamy Fisher calls the Godly Yet (Chains Falling). God always gives hope even in the midst of His judgment! He tells them though I’ve called you, Lo-ammi, you will be called Ammi. I’ve called you Lo-ruhamah, you will be called Ruhamah. He redeems their names. Those children received new identities.
You’ve determined in your heart to reject your calling as My people but I call you My people, I call you Loved. You belong to me, the Living God.
What name do you most often live under? Do you live under a lie? Not loved? Not chosen? Not belonging to God? What has God called you? Loved. Chosen. Holy. Belonging to Him.
He then prophecies that even though they will be exiled, both Judah and Israel will be gathered together and become one nation again. He even tells them that Jezreel will no longer be a place of judgement but one of great joy.
Four other prophets (Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Zechariah) also prophesy about God bringing both Judah and Israel back to their land. In fact Ezekiel 34:23 says
And I will set up over them one shepherd, my servant David, and he shall feed them: he shall feed them and be their shepherd.
Are you tired of hearing those hoof beats yet? I hope not. This is a very clear prophecy about Christ, the descendant of David, the Good Shepherd.
Perhaps Hosea bends down to speak to his wayward wife, I know you’re prone to wander, to leave me, but look what God says to His people. They have left Him, but still He pursues her because they belong to Him, just like you belong to me. Stay…Gomer…