Jeremiah 2:20 (KJV)
20 For of old time I have broken thy yoke, and burst thy bands; and thou saidst, I will not transgress; when upon every high hill and under every green tree thou wanderest, playing the harlot.
Many would view much of the Old Testament as harsh, rigid, and unreasonable in relation to the demands that God placed upon His people. However, God was clearly setting a precedent based upon His knowledge of the mindset of the Israelites. God knew that they had a propensity to embrace false gods, commit terrible idolatries, and practice despicable religious rituals. Above this, God knew the wickedness of the nations; how they sacrificed babes on the altars of mindless gods, built temples and groves on the high places, and practiced all sorts of debauchery and illicit perversions.
The covenantal conditions were nothing more than marriage vows which heard the affirmation of the bride declare, “all that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Ex. 19:8). Here was the solemn vow of “I do!” The bride had agreed to serve the Lord, maintain their purity, and abide within the scope of covenantal relationship.
Yet, as one knows, Israel consistently and with great passion “played the harlot” as they cavorted with other gods, intermarried with pagan nations, and embraced idolatry and perversion with gusto.
Jeremiah 2:23-25 (KJV)
23 How canst thou say, I am not polluted, I have not gone after Baalim? see thy way in the valley, know what thou hast done: thou art a swift dromedary traversing her ways;
24 A wild ass used to the wilderness, that snuffeth up the wind at her pleasure; in her occasion who can turn her away? all they that seek her will not weary themselves; in her month they shall find her.
25 Withhold thy foot from being unshod, and thy throat from thirst: but thou saidst, There is no hope: no; for I have loved strangers, and after them will I go.
Their lust for “the strangers” became evident as time progressed. Continually they went to the bed of the stranger’s gods; they sacrificed on the hills of the seducers altars; they embraced and danced in the night with seductive shadows and slippery spirits.
Proverbs 7:6-10 (KJV)
6 For at the window of my house I looked through my casement,
7 And beheld among the simple ones, I discerned among the youths, a young man void of understanding,
8 Passing through the street near her corner; and he went the way to her house,
9 In the twilight, in the evening, in the black and dark night:
10 And, behold, there met him a woman with the attire of an harlot, and subtil of heart.
They were a people that continually played in the night and yet attempted in desperate times to lure their Lover back to them, proclaiming forgiveness and seeking again the comfort of God’s chambers, constantly living between two opinions, two-lovers, and two allegiances.
1 Kings 18:21 (KJV)
21 And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be God, follow him: but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
The Great Harlotry
Finally, after the many centuries gone by that Israel had played the harlot, the eighth century came to a crashing halt, at least in way of lifestyle, as the husband could no longer tolerate the affairs of the bride. With Assyria flexing their muscles Israel, instead of seeking their husband, turned their seductive calls to Egypt:
Hosea 7:11 (KJV)
11 Ephraim also is like a silly dove without heart: they call to Egypt, they go to Assyria.
Instead of turning toward their true Lover, they sought everything and everyone but Him.
Hosea 7:10 (KJV)
10 And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: and they do not return to the LORD their God, nor seek him for all this.
How quickly they had forgotten the safety promised to a faithful bride in Deuteronomy 28:1-14. Now their sacrifices had become unattached ritualistic observations; Jehovah a God of the peripheral.
Hosea 8:13 (KJV)
13 They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not [….]
Hosea 14:8 (RSV)
8 O E’phraim, what have I to do with idols? It is I who answer and look after you. I am like an evergreen cypress, from me comes your fruit.
Israel was no longer playing the harlot but rather the Northern Kingdom had become a brothel.
The Prophet and the Prostitute
The introduction to the prophet known as Hosea comes almost as a shock as the instructions of God come to him.
Hosea 1:2 (KJV)
[….] Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.
Though the Targum and various writings of Jewish antiquity attempt to evade the awful reality of this command, it remains clear that Hosea’s ministry would be shaped by Israel’s whoredom and unfaithfulness and that he would live out before the nation the heartbreak of a husband married to an adulterous woman.Thus, God’s first command was that Hosea deliberately search and find a woman among the Israelites someone that will be unfaithful to him and produce through her womb children that may or may not be his own children! More than likely, the children borne to Gomer were not from Hosea; the allusion to this clearly shown in Hosea chapter five.
Hosea 5:7 (KJV)
7 They have dealt treacherously against the LORD: for they have begotten strange children:.
A. Three children and Three Judgments
Hosea 1:3 (KJV)
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived…
Literally, Hosea (meaning salvation) took Gomer the “daughter of two-cakes of figs.” It is extremely interesting that God refers to Ephraim as a “cake not turned” (Hosea 7:8). If the imagery here builds on the previous simile, the flat cakes are those pressed upon the oven wall. Left unturned, the bread would be burned on the one side and doughy on the other. (Cornerstone Biblical Commentary – Cornerstone Biblical Commentary – Volume 10: Hosea-Malachi.)
It immediately causes one to think of the double-minded man that is unstable in all his ways (James 1:8). So also was Gomer, a type of the nation of Israel, attempting to pursue the rituals of Yahwistic religion and yet lying in the bed of idolatry and gross immorality.
Thus, she conceived…one cannot help but summon forth the progression of sinfulness…
James 1:15 (KJV)
15 Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death.
The Three Children:
- Hosea 1:4-5 (KJV)4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.
- Hosea 1:6-7 (KJV) 6 And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. 7 But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.
- Hosea 1:8-11 (KJV) 8 Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. 9 Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God. 10 Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered; and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God. 11 Then shall the children of Judah and the children of Israel be gathered together, and appoint themselves one head, and they shall come up out of the land: for great shall be the day of Jezreel.
The first name hints at the doom that will come upon the dynasty of Jehu and the Northern Kingdom as a whole. Jezreel was a place that would immediately summon up the notion of bloodshed.
The second name, the daughter born, reveals that unlike in times past God will show no mercy to them. God would shut his ears to their cries and allow them to be “utterly taken away.” It must be remembered that eventually the Northern Kingdom of Israel would disappear from scripture and today is referred to as the “Ten Lost Tribes.”
Finally, the third child signifies the most terrible of all judgments: no longer would they be called “His people.” In a sense, God was declaring a nullification of covenant. Marriage contract would be eradicated and they would become, in effect, a pagan people.
Hosea 1:8-9 (RSV)
8 When she had weaned Not pitied, 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.”
God’s Last Attempt at Mercy
Even after Israel had turned their center into a brothel, rejected the covenant relationship with God, played the harlot, committed gross immorality; God was still hoping for a repentant wife. In the crude reality of Gomer and Hosea, God was desperately attempting to affect a return of the bride; anything to cause Him to not carry through with the judgments signified in the birth of the three children.
Hosea 2:2-3 (KJV)
2 Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; 3 Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst.
God doesn’t plead with Israel, He pleads with her children. He doesn’t plead with the nation but he pleads to individuals! If the mother, the wife; Israel does not listen then God would have to judge more than just the nation, but he would have to judge the children (the individuals).
Hosea 2:4-5 (KJV)
4 And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. 5 For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
If the plea didn’t work than God would uncover her lewdness…strip her naked and reveal her sickness. He would destroy the fruitfulness of the vine and fig trees. He would hedge up the way to her loves with thorns and thistles so that she might not return to her filthy acts of vulgarity. Israel, much like the unfaithful bride that underwent the bitter test, would rot and fester. (Numbers 5:21-22)
The Alluring Husband
It must be known, that although judgment would indeed come to Israel and that vengeance would be dealt out and the three children would see fulfillment, it was not God’s ultimate objective to destroy. God, although Israel had forgotten Him, would become the Husband determined to be loved again by His bride.
Hosea 2:14-15 (KJV)
14Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. 15 And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.
The day will come that God would stir up the intensity of “first love.” After so long being separated from their Lover, having been lost as a casualty of harlotry; abused, neglected, and forlorn, they would once again sing, as in the days of her youth, when she was in love and close to the husband.
Hosea 2:16 (RSV)
16 “And in that day, says the LORD, you will call me, `My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, `My Ba’al.’
Then the beauty of marriage once again…
Hosea 2:19-20 (KJV)
19 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. 20 I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD.
One can only summon forth the glory of the “Jews [….] out of every nation and every tongue” (Acts 2:5) that were present on the Day of Pentecost when Christ poured out His spirit.
Isaiah 54:8 (KJV)
8 In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
Revelation 19:7-9 (RSV)
7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
8 it was granted her to be clothed with fine linen, bright and pure” — for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.
9 And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”