“Go marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her,” God commanded.
It was not what Hosea expected—or wanted. But as God’s chosen prophet, he obeyed anyway. Gomer was the one Hosea chose, a wanton woman who pledged fidelity but failed to keep it at almost every turn. Despite her faithlessness, Hosea remained loyal, forgiving her and fathering her children whose very names depicted Israel’s own failure. It became clear to everyone around that this was no ordinary marriage. It was a graphic illustration of God’s relationship with His people, and the corrupt wickedness of her behavior toward the One to whom they belonged.
Israel, also called the Northern kingdom, had abandoned God. Enticed by the ease and tangible nature of other nations’ religions, Israel’s kings and her people began to worship idols. Indulging their lust, they compromised every unique quality that had set her apart as God’s people.
God, pictured as the pure and faithful husband, burned with holy jealousy for His bride. Again and again He pursued her, brought her back into intimate fellowship and His protective care, only to have her bolt back to all the unhallowed places she had been. Through vivid imagery and analogy, Hosea’s life and actions helped Israel—and all God’s people afterward—to see the depth of our depravity against the glory of God’s grace.
Though He could have divorced her and left her for good to find one who wouldn’t take His love for granted, neither Hosea nor God did. Instead, Hosea prophesied and God later fulfilled that He would one day bring back His people who would realize His goodness. Once the Savior came, God’s own spirit would write His laws inside their hearts, internally guiding them toward His righteousness. God had plans to create a union with His people so intimate and powerful that nothing in heaven or earth could separate them again.
And then Jesus came and became that binding force that we, the unfaithful, so desperately need. Through Jesus, God not only has forgiven our failures, but He has also renewed and empowered us to be the beautiful, loyal bride we were always meant to be.