Bringing a future spouse home to meet the family can be nerve-wracking. My experience was made even more traumatizing when my two brothers met Dave for the first time and shared with him that they were shocked when someone in high school actually asked me out on a date. Not stopping there, they showed him a picture of me from my junior high days—right after I had cut my bangs to resemble a crew cut to complement a face full of freckles.
Brothers can be like that, you know.
Still, that event doesn’t come close to what the Biblical prophet Hosea must have encountered when he introduced his bride-to-be to his family. After all, God had instructed him to marry a prostitute. Actually, the word “whore” is used in many translations. I doubt this escaped the relatives’ notice, and even though this had been a directive from God, I’m thinking that this didn’t go over well with family members. Let the rumblings begin.
“I’m not sure what god you’re hearing from, but it sure isn’t the Jehovah we serve.”
“With all the sweet, Jewish virgins in town, this is what you choose?”
“Let’s give this relationship a little time—like a few years—and see if you still feel this way about this woman.”
Scripture tells us nothing about how Hosea really felt when he obeyed God and married Gomer (seriously, that’s her name), had three children, and then had her leave him to return to her former lifestyle. Let the rumblings magnify:
“Too bad somebody didn’t listen!”
“Talk about disgrace! This is disgrace times 100! I’ll never be able to show my face in the marketplace again.”
“Now, explain to us again who told you to marry this harlot?”
If we read only this part of the story, it makes no sense, but when we realize that we are all Gomers, we can better understand God’s plan. Judges 2:17 tells us that the Israelites had refused to be obedient to God’s instruction and “prostituted themselves to other gods and worshiped them,” clearly violating the first commandment: “You shall have no other gods besides me.” God used Hosea to demonstrate the pain He felt when Israel no longer was faithful to Him. Hosea’s obedience proves how desperately he wanted his people to get the message.
After having three children and returning to her former lifestyle of prostitution, Gomer ultimately ending up a slave, and just like God continues to forgive us and woo us back to Him when we sin, so did Hosea with his adulterous wife. He found her and bought her back for fifteen shekels of silver and thirteen bushels of barley.
Then he said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.” Hosea was able to forgive his wife for bringing him incredible shame and hurt…just like God does for us when we choose anything before Him (prosperity, money, success, comfort, safety, recognition, pleasure, etc.).
God used Hosea to model His undying love for His people, the Israelites, a message that is equally relevant to us Christians. It’s easy to berate Gomer for her infidelity, but that’s not the lesson intended for me. I just need to look in a mirror, be convicted of whatever it is I place before God…and then be eternally grateful that He hasn’t given up on me.