This week we dove straight into Hosea. Just like diving into a cold pool on a hot summer day, it was both shocking and refreshing.
Hosea was instructed by God to marry a “wife of whoredom” to illustrate to Israel (and Judah) in shocking fashion the depth of their national depravity and the abomination of their spiritual adultery. If his marriage wasn’t enough, the names God had him give to his children would provide repeated opportunities to reiterate the message God had for his wayward people.
“Hosea! Long time no see. Are these your children?”
“Why yes, they are. Allow me to introduce Bloodshed, No Mercy (we call her Unloved, for short), and Not My People (nicknamed, Not Mine).”
Though these first three chapters are shocking, we also found the blessed refreshment of the gospel in at least three places, and that’s what I want to focus on for our summary today.
After telling Hosea that he will punish the house of Jehu—the royal line and present occupiers of the throne—and put an end to the house of Israel, breaking their bow (a term of utter defeat in battle) in the Valley of Jezreel; and then saying that he will no more have mercy on the house of Israel or forgive them at all; finally declaring that they are not his people and he is not their God; God gives us a peek at the Gospel when in his very next breath he says:
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel. — Hosea 1:10-11
With these words, God is reminding his people of his covenant promises. Even in the face of their sin, for which God will be faithful to keep his end of the Covenant by visiting upon them the curses promised for disobedience and idolatry, God declares that his faithfulness reaches back to his promise to Abraham. In spite of their sin, God will still give Abraham descendants “like the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered or measured” (see Genesis 15:1-5).
Next God reminds his people of his covenant with them made through Moses. “In the place where it was said to them,” indicates the desert—the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness—a place where they had to rely fully upon God for the basic necessities of survival: manna from heaven, water from a rock, the cloud to lead and shade them by day and fire to light the way and protect them by night, and shoes and clothing which didn’t wear out. By citing the desert wanderings of their forefathers, God is reminding them of their deliverance from Egypt by Moses, a deliverance which was entirely of his doing. Because of his great love for them he mercifully brought them out of slavery and made a covenant with them that they would be his people and he would be their God (Deut. 4:20; 7:6-11). He has done it before, and he will again.
Looking forward, God says, “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head.” The 12 tribes of Israel had been fractious throughout their history, from the day the older sons of Jacob sold their annoying brother Joseph into slavery, to the day the Northern Tribes rejected the selfish son of Solomon and separated from Judah, appointing their own king. Israel and Judah could not have peace among themselves because they did not have peace with God. But here, in verse 11, God is telling them that peace will come and they will be united under one head, and that head will be none other than Jesus Christ.
…remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father. — Ephesians 2:12-18
Without peace with God we cannot have peace with one another. This is the tragedy of life outside of Christ. This is the tragedy of Hosea’s Israel. But God has planned to send a Deliverer greater than Moses who will be their peace. How will he accomplish this?
“Great will be the day of Jezreel.” We learned in class that the name of Jezreel meant to the Israelites: bloodshed, pitiless murder, consequences of sin, and swift and certain judgment. It was an ugly, awful name that ought to have sent chills down the spines of all who heard it. It was the name Hosea gave his firstborn son as a means of warning Israel to turn from her wicked ways. And it would be the means by which God would accomplish peace and reconciliation with his wayward Bride when, some 780-ish years later, he would turn his back on his Firstborn Son as Jesus bore our sins on the cross and died. The great day of Bloodshed lay in the future for Hosea as he preached, but it is the means by which all God’s people—from the beginning of time until God stops the clocks—are reconciled to God and one another.
We saw the Gospel again when God told of the tenderness with which he will speak to his people “on that day” when he will make the Valley of Achor (trouble) a door of hope (2:14-15). This looks to the day when Christ took our troubles upon himself at the cross in order to give us the hope of the gospel. The rest of chapter 2 continues with the results of Christ’s atonement, as God promises to make all things new, from our renewed relationship with him, to our worship, to the new creation. He will betroth us to himself forever in righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy and faithfulness.
And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’” — Hosea 2:23
Spoken in the future tense by Hosea, we see this promise fulfilled and written in the past tense by Peter:
Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. — 1 Peter 2:10
Finally, in chapter 3, God instructs Hosea to enact the promises of chapter 2:14-23. Gomer, Hosea’s wife of whoredom, has run so far in her sin and adultery that she is being sold into slavery. In the slave markets of the time, the slaves being sold at auction were stripped naked in order to give “full disclosure” to those bidding on them. The promised curse of 2:3 & 9 have fallen on Gomer and she stands before the leering crowd clothed only in her shame.
The husband who had every right not only to divorce her, but to have her stoned to death. How humiliating it must have been when, instead of denouncing her in righteous fury, he pulls out his wallet and outbids the rest in order to purchase her back to himself. And he did it in love.
And here we see clearly portrayed our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ, who ransomed us from our futile ways, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, but with his own precious blood (1 Peter 1:18-19). Our redemption cost us not a cent, but it cost our Savior everything. “Jesus entered the marketplace of sin and at the cost of his own life purchased us for himself so that we might be brought into that glorious liberty that is ours as children of God.”
There is so much more to the first 3 chapters of Hosea, but, as promised, I’m keeping this brief. It’s hard to contain the glory of these chapters. In his great mercy and love for his people, God withdraws his blessings and sends judgment in order to shock them out of their sin. And in the fullness of time, he sent his Son, full of grace and truth. At the cross the Father withdrew his blessings from his beloved Son and sent his judgment for our sins crashing down upon him in order to open wide for us the door of the hope of the Gospel.
Therefore, [sisters], since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. — Hebrews 10:19-25
 James Montgomery Boice, The Minor Prophets, Vol. 1, An Expositional Commentary: Hosea – Jonah, (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 1983) 34.