This is God’s message to Hosea, son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah’s kings, Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam, son of Joash, was king of Israel. The first time God spoke to Hosea, He said, “Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children. And here’s why: This whole country has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.” Hosea did as he was told. He chose Gomer, daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and bore him a son.
Then God told Hosea, “Name him Jezreel. It won’t be long now before I’ll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel. I’m calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel.” Hosea 1:1-4, The MessageWhat powerful imagery, vivid enough to make every one of us slightly uncomfortable. The sad events of Jezreel were the direct result of the wife of God being a whore. Is that too blunt? There are parts of the Bible from which I’m sure we all seek to avert our gaze. But the message in the book of Hosea cannot be ignored. I’m pretty sure my “Inbox” is going to be filled to overflowing with responses to my thoughts this week but, forgive me, I’m concerned.
The Massacre at Jezreel was actually a response to another injustice. After all, Jezebel and Ahab had used God’s laws, intended to preserve life, and twisted them to their own gain of Naboth’s murder and the acquisition of his vineyard.
Injustice on top of injustice: This was Israel’s history. This was the history of God’s chosen. Her history is a steady progression from rebellion to full-on whoredom; and the result? People were hurt.
Recently, over dinner, the heated topic of divorce came up. Everyone looked and me—as though just because I’m a preacher, I’m also the expert—and asked, “What do you think, Herb?”
To be honest, I come from the wrong side of the tracks. I’ve seen both my parents go through multiple marriages. I’ve seen the abuse that takes place when the ideal doesn’t match up with the reality. I’ve heard pie-in-the-sky explanations of and positions on the subject. Then I’ve looked the subject straight in the eye, in the real word, as well.
Without creating argument, I simply said, “God Himself is divorced and even re-married.” Everyone at the table gasped. (I’ll never understand why pride, gossip, and false witness go so unnoticed in the church, but things like divorce and remarriage attract so much attention.) But the truth is, God made a marriage vow to Israel. He entered into a marriage covenant with her. And yet, today, He and she are no longer married; in fact, He’s moved on and is now married to Gentiles.
What does this mean for us today? Well, for me, it makes me look at the injustice I see from the hands of many who claim to be God’s people. It makes me look at their boastful claim that they are “God’s people” and always will be. It’s as if we take His name, yes, but today we take it for granted. It breaks my heart when I hear horror stories of how people I am trying to reach with God’s love are hurt by someone who claims to follow Him. I wonder how secure our claim to being God’s special people really is. However, I do have hope; for the same God who inspired Hosea also wrote:
Therefore say to the house of Israel, “Thus says the Lord GOD, ‘It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for My holy name, which you have profaned among the nations where you went. I will vindicate the holiness of My great name which has been profaned among the nations, which you have profaned in their midst. Then the nations will know that I am the LORD,’ declares the Lord GOD, ‘when I prove Myself holy among you in their sight. For I will take you from the nations, gather you from all the lands and bring you into your own land. Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes . . .’”
Something to think about.
I wish you God’s best this week.