The overriding theme of the book of Hosea is God’s love for an unfaithful, sinful people. The author of the book is Hosea and his name means salvation. He is a type of Christ, who is instructed by God to marry an adulterous wife (Hosea 1:2). The book was written between 753-715 BC. At the beginning of Hosea’s ministry, King Jeroboam II ruled Israel, and the nation was at its prosperous peak though its morality had fast deteriorated. While some dwelt in plenty, the poor were highly oppressed (NIV Commentary).
I have utmost respect for prophet Hosea. His ministry mandate was uniquely difficult and yet he obeyed. God asked Hosea as follows, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” Please note that God revealed to Hosea the kind of woman that he was about to marry- an adulterous wife. Yet Hosea went ahead and married Gomer despite his foreknowledge of the kind of wife she was going to be! This is true obedience.
Hosea, an Old Testament picture of Jesus, reaches out and chooses to marry a woman whom he knew very well would not keep the marriage vows. Isn’t it humbling to know that Christ chose us and destined us to Himself in our filthy state. As He bore the skin-wrenching strokes, one after another till they were thirty nine, He was doing it for a bride that did not know Him nor revere Him as God. As Christ listened to the slander of the false witnesses before Pilate and as He endured the mockery of the crowd on the way to Golgotha, He was doing it for a people whose hearts were far from Him.
Those He loved and came to save, did not recognize Him. They only afforded Him a crown of thorns and a notice of charge that read, “JESUS OF NAZARETH. THE KING OF THE JEWS”. The shame of being undressed in public and his clothes being divided by lot by those who crucified him; and the jeers and insults hurled to Him, were all borne for a sinful people. Not even the excruciating pain of nails piercing His hands and feet could diminish His Love for mankind. His foreknowledge that His very own Bride would at sometimes break covenant did not deter His willingness to be the Sacrificial Lamb of God.
John 10:18- No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.
Hosea was appointed a prophet to Israel to demonstrate God’s love and justice (through His marriage) and urge Israel to return to God. Jesus Christ, willfully became the Passover Lamb and lay His life on the cross to demonstrate the love and justice of God. He chose not to open His mouth, though oppressed and afflicted. He was led like a lamb to the slaughter, but remained silent as a sheep before her shearers. He was assigned a grave with the wicked yet He had done no violence and no deceit was in his mouth (Isaiah 53:7-9).
The price Christ paid for the penalty of mankind’s sin was enough! Christ’s death was enough! He cancelled the written code and its regulations that was against us and stood opposed to us (the penalty of the law for offenses committed). He took away the charge that stood against us, nailing it to the cross. He disarmed powers and authorities and triumphed over them by the cross (Colossians 2:13-15). His blood shed on the cross is enough to take away our sin and reconcile us to the Father.
Christ, paid the price for His Bride, once and for all. By reason of the Cross, you and I can be saved. Salvation is by faith in Christ Jesus through incomprehensibly abundant grace that the Father has provided to mankind. When you give your life to Christ, you are immediately reconciled to God and become a child of God. Your status changes from “God’s creation” to “God’s child”; you join the family of God (John 1:12)! You enter into covenant relationship with Christ. You are betrothed to Christ!
It is important to understand the Jewish culture on marriage to understand the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25:1-3. In that culture, a young man would betroth a girl by payment of dowry and legally the girl would become his wife. However, he would not immediately take his wife with him. He would first go to build a house for his wife (to prepare a place for her- John 14:3). Once the house was ready, the groom would request the father to check and ascertain if everything was okay. With the permission of the father, the groom would return to take his bride home.
All this while, the bride was preparing herself for her groom. She would for example be put into a beautification regime and her activities restrained (a form of separation). She would not know the exact day of her groom’s return and thus she would wait in anticipation. When she heard the sounds of celebration and jubilation from afar, she then knew that her groom had come to take her home.
You and I, betrothed to Christ, are the virgins that Apostle Matthew talks about. We are to be ready for our Groom, Jesus Christ. Not only must we have our lamps with us (salvation) but we must also have our lamps trimmed and oils ready (full of the Spirit). We must keep watching and prayerfully waiting for our Groom!
Revelation 22:17a The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!”
The bride betrothed to a groom was supposed to keep herself in sexual purity. On the day that the groom would take her home, she would enter the groom’s house and there they would know each other and stay indoors for seven days. A cloth stained with blood upon consummation would not only be proof that the bride was a virgin (Deuteronomy 22:17) but would also be a symbol of the covenant entered into and sealed with blood.
If during consummation the groom discovered that the bride was not a virgin, he was to bring a charge against his wife to the elders and the penalty for the sin of fornication was stoning to death (Deuteronomy 22:20-21). In addition, once the two were married, if adultery was committed, both the man and woman who committed the adultery were to die (Deuteronomy 22:22). This is how serious sexual unfaithfulness is to God, and for this reason He prescribed very harsh punishment to deter Israel from that sin.
Unfortunately, Israel at the time of prophet Hosea was accused of and judged for adultery (Hosea 2). In wrath, God swore to make Israel like a desert; a parched land; and to slay her with thirst. A desert speaks of barrenness. It is a place with little life. It is a hostile place. Because of adultery, Israel would become a desert spiritually. Nothing would flourish. It would bear no fruit. It would become a parched land, its ground gaping with cracks from the sun’s ruthless heat.
Israel was accused of going after lovers for food, water, wool, linen, oil and drink (Hosea 2:5). Sadly, the Bride of Christ has forsaken her first love and she has gone after other lovers for wealth, fame, power, recognition and lustful pleasure. God accuses us of spiritual adultery. Since sin separates us from God, we have become estranged to our Groom. We no longer hear His voice for the voices of lovers have dampened His still small voice.
Jeremiah 2:32 Can a virgin forget her ornaments, Or a bride her attire? Yet My people have forgotten Me Days without number.
Revelation 2:4-5 Yet I hold this against you: You have forsaken your first love. Remember the height from which you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.
Just like God’s judgement was upon Israel, His judgement is upon the Church today. His judgement comes not to destroy but to restore. God makes us a desert, a parched land and exposes our lewdness before our lovers, to lure us back to Him. He wants to remove our sin-stained clothes and clothe us with robes of righteousness. If only we would return to Him in repentance for our Groom awaits to receive us back with open arms and lavish us with His unconditional love.
Revelation 3:19 Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent.
Many preachers have labored much to teach believers on how to make wealth and prosper. For some, their efforts have borne little or no fruit. Please note that when sin is present, it corrupts and brings a curse to creation- the land; the skies; the waters; the livestock etc. The land vomits mankind because of sin (Leviticus 18:28). On the contrary, the skies and the earth responds to righteousness; the grain, the wine and the oil responds to righteousness (Hosea 2:21-22). Many believers, in foolishness, have sought prosperity apart from God. Sadly, mammon is their god.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
God was so angered by Israel that He called them, “Not my loved ones” and “Not my people”. This must have deeply pained God. Sin had separated God from the people He loved. Yet as a demonstration of His unfailing love, He instructed Hosea to go and love his adulterous wife and redeem her from her lovers. God’s unrelenting love keeps pursuing the Church to return to Him. In His anger, He remembers mercy. Children of God, let us forsake our lovers and return to our Father. His love is enough!
Hosea 3:1 Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.
Hosea bought back his wife Gomer for fifteen shekels (170 grams) of silver and about a homer and a lethek (about 330 litres) of barley. God’s redemptive price for the Church has already been paid. The Passover Lamb that was slain paid the entire penalty for sin committed in the past, present and future. All that God requires of us is to return to Him in repentance and He is Faithful to forgive our sins and to cleanse us of all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
A charge of prostitution stands against believers (Hosea 4). God requires that we submit ourselves to Him in brokenness and contriteness of spirit that He may circumcise the foreskin of our hearts and inwardly transform us. God requires that we rid ourselves of idols- things that we have exalted above God. For some of us, our idols have been career success. For some of us, it has been money; we have been willing to compromise our faith to gain wealth. For others, political leaders and tribal affiliations have become our idols. Whatever the idols, God requires us to forsake all and allow His Love to satisfy us.
Hosea was very forthright about Israel’s judgement (Hosea 5). Unfortunately, Israel did not heed to God’s warnings and call to repentance (Hosea 6-7). Consequently, Israel’s capital city, Samaria, was destroyed by Assyria and the people taken captive (Hosea 8-9) in 722 BC.
God gives a diagnosis for Israel’s rebellion. He says, “Israel was a spreading vine; he brought forth fruit for himself. As his fruit increased, he built more altars; as his land prospered, he adorned his sacred stones,” Hosea 10:1. Sadly, as Israel prospered, their hearts turned away from their God. They forgot God’s kindness: the Lord who had delivered them from slavery; and the God who had bent down to feed them for fourty years in the desert (Hosea 11:4).
The 21st century Church is a very rich church. It can be likened to the Laodicean church in Revelation 3:14-22. Though it is the richest in church history, it is wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked spiritually. Though its priests and members adorn in admirable clothes, spiritually they are naked. Though they have vast information at their disposal and are advanced in knowledge, they neither see the signs of the times nor understand the seasons in which they live. Though they excel in eloquence and exhibit glamour, they lack the oracles of God that are life and light. Instead, they have built altars to other gods.
Christ is coming back soon and He is coming for a blameless Bride. There is no debate about that. Scripture is very clear about the kind of bride that Christ is coming for. See the below scriptures.
Ephesians 5:25-27 …, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself up for her, so that He might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. Revelation 19:7-9 Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready.” It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, “Write, ‘Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb ‘” And he said to me, “These are true words of God.”
Indeed blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of God. Will you be there at the wedding feast prepared by the Groom when He takes us home? Be prepared, for behold He comes soon (Revelation 22:20). His coming for the Bride will be sudden; like the twinkling of an eye (1 Corinthians 15:51-55; Matthew 24:36-51; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 16:15). Children of God who are found not ready for the Groom, like the five foolish virgins, will go through the Great Tribulation and though they may be saved, it will be through their blood (Revelation 21:4).
The time is short. Put away your lovers/ idols child of God, and return to your Groom. Let His Love satisfy you for He is all that you need for life and godliness. I welcome you to take a minute and rededicate your life to God. Renew your vows to the Lord and ask Him to renew your love for Him. Enthrone Him as Lord in your heart and safeguard against all other idols. Amen.
Hosea 12:6 But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.