In the story of Hosea, God wanted to give a live illustration of His relationship with the people of Israel who backslid and worshiped pagan gods (ch. 1 &2). So, God asked the prophet, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom’” (ch. 1:2). And the Lord gave the reason for this strange command, “For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord” (v. 2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness reflected Israel’s spiritual infidelity. The Bible often uses allegories of adultery to describe unfaithfulness to God (Ezekiel 16:32; Jeremiah 13:27; Isaiah 1:21; Revelation 17:2).
The dominant theme of this book is the love of God for His stumbling children. God chose Israel to be His special people but instead of honoring His love, they followed their own ways and worshiped Baal and Ashtaroth. The experiences through which the prophet passed in his own family life, and the feelings of his own broken heart toward his unfaithful wife gave him a faint idea about the infinite depths of the Father’s love for His people and His desire to heal them (Hosea 14:4–7).
God called the prophet to raise his voice and speak against the iniquities of the northern kingdom. Hosea was God’s messenger during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah in Judah and the last six kings in Israel.
In Chapter 3, after bearing three children, Gomer leaves Hosea to pursue her lovers and evidently she falls into some type of debt or slavery (ch. 2:7). And the Lord commands Hosea to “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery” (ch. 3:1). Hosea goes and buys Gomer back and sets her free. Hosea writes, “So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley” (Hosea 3:2). Fifteen pieces are about half the price of a manservant (Exodus 21:32). An homer is 220 liters; thus the total barley paid was 330 liters. The price paid by Hosea, was about that of a common maidservant.
The Lord wanted to further illustrate the fact that as Hosea redeemed his unfaithful wife, God promised to redeem Israel back to him saying, “I will betroth you to me forever; / I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, / in love and compassion. / I will betroth you in faithfulness, / and you will acknowledge the Lord” (Hosea 2:19–20).
The prophet also paints in sad descriptions the awful retributions that will fall upon Israel if they continue in their wicked ways. These warnings are not threats, but are statements of fact, showing that punishment will follow sin. However, through all his message, Hosea shows the deep longing of God to his fallen people.
At the end, the appeals of Hosea were rejected by the backslidden people. Unrepentant, the evil nation held to its rebellious deeds, and reaped the consequences of their sins. The people were taken into the cruel captivity of Assyrian bondage. Thus, Hosea gave God’s last message to the northern kingdom prior to its fall in 723/722 b.c.
In His service,