Hosea – A Harlot for a Wife
by John C. Westervelt
Hosea felt a warming of his heart as he looked across the room at the young woman who appeared so confident as she talked with those around her. Her eyes sparkled as part of an easy smile that seemed very natural. Hosea thought, “I must meet that girl.”
Hosea met Gomer, and they fell in love. It wasn’t long before Hosea’s father, Beeri, talked with Diblaim about a marriage of Hosea and Gomer. At the wedding, the radiant beauty of the bride held the attention of every guest. Hosea’s first love was his only love. This was not the case with Gomer.
Gomer seemed to relish using her beauty and charm to seduce other men. She bore a son, a daughter, then another son, and even Gomer wasn’t sure who the fathers of the children were. Hosea’s heart was heavy with the pain of rejection as his wife went in to other men. There was also the embarrassment that everyone knew that Gomer chose the affection of strangers over that of her husband. While Hosea had times of anger toward Gomer, through all the years he never stopped loving her.
God must have thought, “Here is a man who feels My pain, for My people have rejected My love and chosen to bow down before idols.” God chose Hosea as His prophet for Israel, beginning during the reign of Jeroboam II (793-753 B.C.) and continuing through the fall of Samaria, the capital of Israel, to the Assyrians in 722 B.C.
As a prophet, Hosea spoke the Lord’s words to the people. He said, “There is no faithfulness or kindness or knowledge of the Lord in the land. There is swearing, deception, murder, stealing, and adultery. Therefore the land mourns, and everyone who lives in it languishes.”
The words of the Lord from Hosea describe some sensual pleasures that led to a perverted people. “Harlotry, wine, and new wine take away understanding. You then consult your wooden idol. For now, O Ephraim (Israel), you have played the part of a harlot. You cannot return to your God, for a spirit of harlotry is within you.”
Just as Hosea had a wife who was a harlot, God had a nation that was a harlot. There was no loyalty among the people. Hosea, speaking for the Lord, said, “Your loyalty is like a morning cloud and like the dew which goes away early. I delight in loyalty rather than sacrifice.”
God is a loving God, but He hates sin so much that judgment follows for the unrepentant sinner. Through Hosea, the Lord said, “Woe to them, for they have strayed from Me. Destruction is theirs, for they have rebelled against Me. I would redeem them, but they speak lies against Me.”
Even as judgment rained down on the people, the Lord shared His feelings. “How can I give you up, O Ephraim? How can I surrender you, O Israel? My heart is turned over within Me; all My compassion is kindled. I will not execute My fierce anger; I will not destroy Ephraim again. For I am God and not man, the Holy One in your midst, and I will not come in wrath.”
As Hosea was prophesying for the Lord over the years, his youth gave way to his mature years, yet he never forgot his wife. Gomer had moved to a place of her own early in the marriage. By Jewish law, she was no longer Hosea’s wife.
Gomer’s bedroom was richly adorned with gifts men had brought her from neighboring lands. The sheets on her bed were colored linen from Egypt. Her house was well stocked with bread, wine, oil, wool, and flax. She wore earrings and bangles made of gold. The women of the community were envious of Gomer’s possessions and suspicious of her profession, so she had no true friends.
As the years slipped away, so did Gomer’s beauty. As fewer men came, she began selling her treasures to buy bread and wine. Finally none came to Gomer, and she borrowed money to buy food. Within the year, the lender prepared to sell Gomer as a slave to recover his loan.
Hosea purchased Gomer for fifteen shekels (six ounces) of silver and nine bushels of barley. After a few days in seclusion, Gomer returned to Hosea’s side as his wife, and he loved her just as he had on the day of their wedding.
Copyright 2003 by John C. Westervelt
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