The life of Hosea the prophet was an image of God’s relationship with his people and the outcome of turning away from God and toward themselves, self-sufficiency, and the ways of their neighbours. All the while, God desires for us to be his people again.
2 When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
10 “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’
4 I will not show my love to her children,
because they are the children of adultery.
5 Their mother has been unfaithful
and has conceived them in disgrace.
She said, ‘I will go after my lovers,
who give me my food and my water,
my wool and my linen, my olive oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes;
I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way.
19 I will betroth you to me forever;
I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,
in love and compassion.
20 I will betroth you in faithfulness,
and you will acknowledge the Lord.
21 “In that day I will respond,”
declares the Lord—
“I will respond to the skies,
and they will respond to the earth;
22 and the earth will respond to the grain,
the new wine and the olive oil,
and they will respond to Jezreel.
23 I will plant her for myself in the land;
I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’
I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’;
and they will say, ‘You are my God.’”
Hosea 1:2-3, 10, 2:4-6, 19-23
God spoke through the prophet Hosea, whose life paralleled his message. God determined that Hosea, as his prophet, would become an image of himself to the people, to get his point across. His point? That Israel, as the bride of the Lord, was unfaithful.
Like an unfaithful spouse who pursues love and lust wherever it can be found, Israel had turned her back on God.
In these situations, which we get into with God from time to time as his followers, God often teaches a lesson and then brings restoration. We know what God wants when we are unfaithful – he wants us back in restored relationship in which we understand our error and are completely devoted to him.
The path to get there can be rocky.
We see in Hosea 2:4-6 that Israel was pursuing the provisions of life from her ‘lovers’ instead of from God. Food, water, wool, linen, olive oil, and other drink – from depending on God, the people were now finding their supply in others.
What’s so bad about that? Go back and read Kings and Chronicles and see the outcome of the people turning away from God and toward themselves, self-sufficiency, and the ways of their neighbours. When the people stop relying on God, they turn to idols and stop worshiping God.
God will block our paths with thornbushes (2:6). Has that happened to you? Have you been walled in so you can’t find your way? That might have been God, helping you realize the end of yourself. You see, from the place need, God betrothes us to him (2:19-20). We see his love and compassion and we respond to his faithfulness by acknowledging him.
We go from being ‘not my people’ to being God’s people. That’s his plan for us. To be his people. To be the bride of Christ.
Where are you on the journey? Following God, pursuing your own way, or caught in the thorns? If we respond to God’s intervention, we can get out of the thorns – maybe even not end up there if we realize and embrace how much he loves us.