Reading Time: 8 Minutes
The Book of Hosea begins with this challenging command to the prophet.
“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, ‘Go, take for yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord'” (Hosea 1.2).
Hosea obeyed God’s command, married Gomer, and the couple produced three children.
— Jezreel – the oldest son, named after a fertile valley in Israel, but also a place of bloodshed and vengeance.
— Lo-ruhamah – A daughter, whose name literally means “no mercy.”
— Lo-ammi – A son, whose name literally means “not my people.”
You can imagine the outrage among the people of the Northern Kingdom to have a prophet who married a prostitute and produced three children.
God is willing to shock his people through prophets if their actions can rescue them from their stubborn resistance to his will.
He once told Isaiah, “‘Go, and loose the sackcloth from your loins and take your sandals off your feet,’ and he had done so, walking naked and barefoot” (Isaiah 20.2).
Isaiah walked like this for 3 1/2 years, attempting to get the attention of people of the Southern Kingdom.
Why did God need to shock the Northern Kingdom (Israel) by having his prophet marry a prostitute?
An Unfaithful Nation
When the people of God settled into Canaan, they lived for years side-by-side with the Canaanites. Slowly, they blended the religion of Canaan into what became acceptable and practiced.
They retained the outward forms of the worship of God, but they blended the ways of Canaan into their practices.
Baal was a fertility god in the region. People served Baal with the belief that he would give them good crops and fertile herds.
If the people were shocked at Hosea’s marriage, God used the marriage to show them that he was the faithful husband and they were the unfaithful wife.
For their mother has played the whore;
she who conceived them has acted shamefully.
For she said, “I will go after my lovers;
they give me my bread and my water,
my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.” (Hosea 2.5)
The service of Baal did not change the people’s behavior for the better. In fact, drunken orgies and temple prostitution were part of the rites of Baal worship.
What Baal supposedly did for the people was give them what they wanted – prosperity and fertility.
Like a loving husband, God complained that his people lavished their attention on Baal and were completely unaware that he was the true provider of all their needs.
“She did not know
that it was I who gave her
the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and who lavished upon her silver
and gold that they used for Baal.” (Hosea 2.8)
God’s Remedy for Unfaithfulness
In a few short lines Hosea described what would take place over the course of many years.
Judgment was to be first. In 721 B.C. they would be defeated by the Assyrians and exiled from their land.
“I will put an end to all her mirth,
her festivals, her new moons, her sabbaths,
and all her appointed festivals.
I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees,
of which she said,
‘These are my pay,
which my lovers have given me.'” (Hosea 2.11-12)
Once they were at rock bottom, God would speak loving words to them and restore their relationship with him.
“Therefore, I will now allure her,
and bring her into the wilderness,
and speak tenderly to her.” (Hosea 2.14)
The people’s response to God’s blessing and grace is described with tender, but tragic words.
“On that day, says the Lord, you will call me, ‘My husband,’ and no longer will you call me, ‘My Baal'” (Hosea 2.16).
The thinking of the people was so immersed in the customs and values of Canaan that when they used God’s name their mental image was that of Baal. This tragic error would be corrected after Baalism had been stripped from them.
It is ironic that Baal literally means “owner,” while the Hebrew name for God indicates enduring faithfulness to his people. The people of God had exchanged a faithful, loving and gracious God for an owner.
The children of whoredom were to receive new status with God’s restoration of the people.
The valley of Jezreel, along with Hosea’s son, would be known for fertility once again (Hosea 2.21-22).
And I will have pity on Lo-ruhamah (no mercy),
and I will say to Lo-ammi (not my people), “You are my people”;
and he shall say, “You are my God.” (Hosea 2.23)
A 2021 Message
Just as the eighth century Northern Kingdom blended their worship of God with the god of the land, we need to be sure that we don’t imitate their behavior.
(1) Worshipers of Baal did not love Baal; they used this god for their own purposes. They had what we call today a “quid pro quo” relationship with Baal.
They gave him something so that they might received something else. Their worship did not change them for the better, but was essentially a transaction.
“We will engage in the rites of Baal worship, so we can receive fertility among our herds, vineyards, and orchards,” they may have easily said.
Satan asked God a penetrating question about Job’s relation to God. He said, “Does Job fear God for nothing?” (Job 1.9).
That’s the question for Christians. Do we serve God so we can get something from him? If God didn’t give us what we want, would we take the temptation of Satan and curse God? (Job 1.11).
(2) Blending Nationalism with Christianity
The world is trending in the direction of autocracy. In 2021 we have less democratic nations and more autocratic nations to an alarming degree.
There are pictures of Russian Orthodox priests blessing missiles in that country. The Catholic Church in Poland has endorsed autocratic measures of the state.
What about America? Can we see how we have blended the god of the land, national pride and all that goes with it, with the worship of Jesus?
I believe a serious study of nationalism and Christianity in 2021 will reveal that we are entirely too much like the Northern Kingdom in the mid-700s B.C.
I am not a prophet and certainly not the Holy Spirit. I do encourage you to read the prophets and ask the Holy Spirit to reveal his thoughts to you.
(3) Blending Materialism to Christianity
You can go to YouTube or tune into a religious broadcast on any day of the week and hear a minister appeal to you for a “seed faith” offering. The minister will tell you that if you plant your seed in their ministry, God will reward you with financial blessing.
One Kansas City church located in the suburbs had buses bring urban core persons to their auditorium to hear a prophet who had flown into the city. At the end of the service people were invited to get in on of three lines for prophesies about their lives.
The lines cost $5, $10, and $20. The implied message was, “The more you give, the better the prophesy over your life.”
These are extreme examples that don’t usually reflect the Baptist world where I live. However, we Baptists are not exempt. We are just more subtle.
In fact, we may be among the worst offenders of blending two gods of America – nationalism and materialism – into the worship of Jesus.
In one church where I served, we had a building campaign and gave a 50th Anniversary plate to anyone who made a significant contribution. I objected to this in staff meeting and said that banks give away prizes for deposits, not churches.
When I moved from that church, they gave me one of the commemorative plates as a going-away gift. We all had a good laugh. I wonder if God laughed, too.
Someone might say, “Bob, you’ve quit preaching and gone to meddling.” I agree.
I can’t respond to these words for anyone but myself. I must read the prophets and ask how I am like the “bad guys.”
I have shared some thoughts that are my response to the message of Hosea. I hope they will spur you to investigate the depth of your relationship with God.
Do you serve him for what he will give you? Or, do you serve him because you love him?
Has your relationship with Jesus made you more loving toward God and other people?
About This Blog
Tomorrow, we will turn to Paul’s message to the Corinthians. Paul speaks to his “beloved children” about his desire to build up the church in 1 Corinthians 4.
If you have a prayer request, please email me at email@example.com or private message me on Facebook. The prayer team at Maywood Baptist will pray for you.