Hosea 1:2 and God and Prostitutes

Hosea's wife leaving him

Hosea’s wife leaving him

In the Bible God shows his love for his people over and over again. In the Old Testament especially, they return that love over and over again by running after other gods and goddesses. In fact, it could be said that the entirety of the Old Testament is the story of the people of Israel failing to return the love they receive from God.

No where is this seen more clearly than in Hosea. God gives Hosea a very direct commission at the beginning of his prophetic ministry:

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to him,“Go, marry a prostitute and have children of prostitution, for the people of the land commit great prostitution by deserting the Lord.”

God had Hosea’s marriage become a parable, or sign-act, for how the people of Israel related to the Lord. Hosea stood in the place of God and his wife stood in the place of Israel. The Israelites worshiped other gods when they were in bondage in Egypt, yet God brought them to himself to marry. Then they went after other gods after they were settled in the Promised Land, just as Hosea’s wife continues to be a prostitute.

This kind of rejection of the covenant love from God must have been heart-breaking. The caution for us today is that our relationship with God is still described in similar terms. One of the images of the Church in the New Testament is the Bride of Christ. We must make sure we are not prostituting ourselves to any other god–whether it is a literal false god, such as Ebenezer Lutheran Church in San Francisco, or a god of success, growth, a certain ministry activity, a tradition, or whatever–or we will be in the same position that Israel was in during the days of Hosea.

The Triune God has infinite love, grace, and mercy, but he is also a jealous God who does not make room for more than one divine spouse for his people. As Christians, we ought to periodically take inventory of what is most important to us to ensure we have not replaced the Living God with a cheap false god. Are we committed to God, or to an opinion? Are we committed to God, or to a ministry? Are we committed to God, or to a new idea?

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