I WAS GOMER

THE PROPHET WHO MARRIED A PROSTITUTE

When a person reads the Prophet Hosea for the very first time, he is appalled by the fact that God could ask a prophet to marry a prostitute. However, what should really be shocking is not the fact that the prophet was asked to marry a prostitute, but to see ourselves in the place of the prostitute; Hosea viewed by any other lens other than viewing ourselves as “Gomer the prostitute” is making a mockery of the Word of God.

Hosea 1:2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.

There is a constant juxtapositioning  of characters in Hosea, God as the prophet, Gomer as Israel, especially in chapters 1 to through 3, and one must see this to understand the narrative. Hosea – chapters 1 through 3 – gives us a glimpse of the life of the prophet who married a prostitute, it would be catracts of some kind to miss seeing the prophet representing God, and the prostitute, Israel.  Chapters 4 to 14 picks the lead from the life of the Prophet Hosea and transitions in to the relationship between God and Israel.

PLAYING THE HARLOT WITH MANY LOVERS

“Playing the harlot with many lovers” is Biblical language that touches a very raw nerve: infidelity. The act of expressing our affections to someone else other than our spouse has always been the epitome of unfaithfulness; and when God decides to address an issue, he always grabs it by its horns, the most dangerous place, for to avoid it and pay attention to other less sensitive areas is to delve into political correctness. As a matter of fact, the Bible is no polemic on political correctness, it is blunt, as blunt as it gets, for its purpose is not to entertain but to reform. And its is not just Hosea alone who used supposedly offensive language, unpalatable to the modern chic reader, but other prophets too, especially Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel whose writings are replete with the same phrase offensive to many.

Jeremiah 3:1 – They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.

WHO ARE YOUR LOVERS?

The only lover you ought to have is God, plain and simple it is. It is not acceptable to Him that you make Him one among many lovers, for when you do that, have other lovers apart from Him , he terms it “playing the harlot with many lovers.”

Who are your lovers, your idols: is it yourself (self obsession), is it money, is it your wife, your children, your lust for power, your ambitions, your occupation, your friends, your gadgets, your hobbies, what is it?

None, but me, says God, just you and me, and nobody else!  And as much as it my bring you discomfort, the truth is that you are either faithfully married to God or you are a harlot. You cannot be married to Him and be married to others, that is a breach of covenant, agreement. Read what the Prophet Ezekiel has to say.

Ezk 16: 32, 35 through 38

32 – But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!

35 to 38 Wherefore, O harlot, hear the word of the Lord: Thus saith the Lord God; Because thy filthiness was poured out, and thy nakedness discovered through thy whoredoms with thy lovers, and with all the idols of thy abominations, and by the blood of thy children, which thou didst give unto them; Behold, therefore I will gather all thy lovers, with whom thou hast taken pleasure, and all them that thou hast loved, with all them that thou hast hated; I will even gather them round about against thee, and will discover thy nakedness unto them, that they may see all thy nakedness. And I will judge thee, as women that break wedlock and shed blood are judged; and I will give thee blood in fury and jealousy.

The Gospel in the old testament: God’s invitation to the harlots

Hosea 1:2 The beginning of the word of the Lord by Hosea. And the Lord said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord.

Hosea 14:4 I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely: for mine anger is turned away from him.

Jeremiah 3:1 – They say, If a man put away his wife, and she go from him, and become another man’s, shall he return unto her again? shall not that land be greatly polluted? but thou hast played the harlot with many lovers; yet return again to me, saith the Lord.

Jer 3:14 Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you: and I will take you one of a city, and two of a family, and I will bring you to Zion:

Jer 3:22 Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the Lord our God.

We have all had lovers other than God, and therefore we are all guilty of harlotry. And yet, despite our harlotry God takes us as His wife, His bride.   If in  Jeremiah, chapter 3 verse 14 & 22, He is asking backslidden children to turn to Him so that He could could heal their backsliding, He does the same thing in the New Testament, In Ephesians 5:26, we see Him sanctifying and cleansing the church which was dead in sins.

So wether we see Him as Husband in the Old Testament or as the Bridegroom in the New Testament, the message is the same; it is a message of acceptance, and  a message of healing. God doesn’t leave us in our backslidden condition. We may run away, but he relentlessly follows us, for He is the good shepherd. The sheep may do dumb things, but it is the character of the Good Shepherd to go looking for His lost sheep. And when He finds it, He heals it. He heals our backsliding. Our backsliding cannot be changed by making new commitments enforced by human will, but has to be healed by God.

When God calls us in our backslidden condition, to be His beloved, we may hear many voices; the voice of Satan to begin with, which will tell us how defiled we are. He, Satan, would tell you that it is preposterous to think that a person like us in the pit of rottenness would be accepted by the creator of the universe to be His spouse. We might hear the voice of the world which has written us off. We may hear the voices of our loved ones who have nothing but cynicism towards us. But, amidst all these voices, God’s voice whispers: I have loved you with an everlasting love, I will heal your backsliding. This is the Gospel in the old testament, this is Grace as graceful as it gets, right in the pages of the Old Testament.

Isaiah 54: 5 to 8 – For thy Maker is thine husband; the Lord of hosts is his name;and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit,and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.For a small moment have I forsaken thee;but with great mercies will I gather thee. In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee,saith the Lord thy Redeemer.

Back to the book of Hosea

Hosea chapter one begins with Hosea taking Gomer as his wife and culminates with children born to him out of this union. All the children born to him are symbolic of what harlotry begets: Jezreel the first born is a picture of violence and treachery, Lo-ruhamah means God will no more have mercy, and Lo-ammi, not my people. However, towards the end of the chapter, we see God having mercy on his people. Though the first born, Jezreel, is a picture of defeat according to chapter 1 and verse 5, we see God turning that into victory in verse 11. Lo-ruhamah becomes Ruhamah, which mean God has mercy, and Lo-ammi is now Ammi, which means my people.

When God sings a love song

Hosea chapter 2 is one of the most poignant love songs found in the pages of the Bible; God sings it, and this is what it says:

Verse 14, Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her.

God brings us to the wilderness, a place of loneliness and pain, so that we might give undivided attention to what He says. The wilderness is where God’s voice comes out clearly, not that He cannot speak elsewhere, He does, however, we are far too busy with our lives: families, jobs, hobbies and eccentricities to name a few pre-occupations to pay attention to Him. Therefore He must get us there, to the wilderness, and He does get us there by alluring us. The word “allure” has the same meaning as the word “entice” or “attract”, just as a child is drawn to a pack of candies, so does God draw us into the wilderness to comfort, encourage, sanctify and to transform us.

And there in the wilderness He speaks comfortably

In your wilderness, your valley of despair, God speaks tenderly. For in the wilderness when you cry your heart out like the Psalmist because of the wounds in your soul, you seek no advice but to be spoken with tenderness. Psalm 6:6 “I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed wet with tears; I water my couch with my tears.”

Verse 15, And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt.

The valley of Achor is where Israel experienced defeat, for the very first time as they entered Canan, because of Achan’s sin. And therefore the “valley of Achor” a picture of defeat seems to be the right place to be victorious. We might want to run away from those giants that intimidate us in the “valley of Achor”, but God say, nay! The very same place in which you faced defeat, faced humiliation, faced hostility, is the place of victory, a door of hope. God is going to turn it around, turn your defeats into victory.

Verse 16, And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord, that thou shalt call me Ishi; and shalt call me no more Baali.

God wants you to know Him not just as Baali, master, but Ishi, husband.

Verse 19 & 20 And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the Lord.

Thrice God says: I will betroth thee.

  1. Betrothed for ever, the new covenant, Jer 31: 31 to 33.
  2. Betrothed in righteousness, and in judgement, and in lovingkindness, all of the benefits accorded to the believer in the new covenant, Ephesians 1: 7 to 12, Ephesians 2: 4 to 10, Micah 7: 18 to 20, Isa 53:5.
  3. Betrothed in faithfulness: Jer 3:22

There cannot be a  message of greater assurance, that despite our harlotry God loves us and is wanting to make us His own. This is love at its purest. This is love like we have never known love. This is the Gospel.

 

Vinod Joy,

The House, Friday, July 13, 2018

 

P.S

A GOD WHO IS MARRIED TO HIS CHILDREN?

Jeremiah 3:14: Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you:

The Bible uses words at different levels in different contexts, at times it is just the plain literal meaning of a word that is intended as part of the narrative, and yet at other times, the same words are used in a way that it transcends familiar lexical knowledge. The Bible says God is Holy, His moralistic standards are an infinite cut above the rest, and therefore when man views God from the human vantage point, anthropomorphically, he finds an acute lack of literary expressions to adequately express God as He is.

Literally, the sentence in Jeremiah, “Turn, O backsliding children, saith the Lord; for I am married unto you:” is the equivalent  of saying, if one were to paraphrase in plainer human language,  that “God is married to His Children.” However, “marrying children” according to human-standards is a violation of morals, it therefore doesn’t go well with earthly fathers. Interestengly, the heavenly father, God, chooses human language, word combinations, in ways like this to reveal the excellence of His nature, which otherwise would be “derogatory” to “human fathers.

MARRIED TO HIS CHILDREN

Marriage: marriage is the great revealer, it is impossible for two people to know each other, deeply, except than in wedlock.

Children: A child is the apple of the father’s eye, a father child relationship is one that is symbolic of the deepest love that can be there between two people.

Simply put, He wants to know us as a husband knows his wife, and to eliminate the minutest trace of sexual undertones that can creep into depraved human minds he makes us His children.