Thursday, December 21, 2017

A child is born 21: Gomer bears children to Hosea

“Go take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom.”

The prophet Hosea is commanded, according to the book that bears his name, to marry a woman who is a prostitute, as a message to the people of Israel. This seems extraordinary to us, but this sort of prophetic action was quite common in the Old Testament. Gomer bears Hosea three children whose names all in some way reflect what Hosea believes God is saying to his people. They are facing destruction at the hands of the Babylonians. According to the prophecy, their nation has been fatally weakened because they have made alliances with other nations and worshipped other gods.
The first child, a son, is named Jezreel, after the place where King Ahab, husband of Jezebel, was defeated and killed. It was a byword for savage punishment. The second child, a daughter, (one of just two girls whose births are recorded in the Bible) is called Lo-ruhamah, which means “not pitied”. Then finally there is another son, Lo-ammi, which means “I am not yours”. The people of Israel have forgotten God’s covenant with them “You will be my people and I will be your God.”

But all is not lost. After the destruction of Jerusalem and the exile in Babylon God promises he will bring his people home and repair the relationship they have with him. Hosea 2.22-23 promises a day when God will “sow” his people once again in the land (Jezreel literally means “God sows”). He will have pity on Lo-ruhamah, (“not-pitied) and will say to Lo-ammi “you are my people; and Lo-ammi will reply “you are my God.”

Hosea’s prophecies are full of the forgiveness of God, despite endless provocation. Perhaps Hosea learned this within his very difficult marriage.

·         What is your reaction to this story? What do you imagine family life in Hosea’s house was like?

·         Our names matter to us, whether we like them or not. Do you know why your parents chose your name?  Do you think it suits you, and if not, what would you like to change it to?

·         Pray for families living amid the destruction of war as Hosea's family did, who feel they are deserted and forgotten by God and the world.  

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