Today’s readings: Hosea 1:1-3:5, 1 John 5:1-21, Psalm 124:1-8, Proverbs 29:5-8
I still remember the first time I taught from the book of Hosea at Packard Road Baptist Church in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I may have read through the book before that time, but I never really studied it. What a story! God called the prophet Hosea to marry a prostitute as a representation of how Israel had treated Him. What a gut wrenching life for Hosea.
I also remember seeing the names that God asked him to name his daughter “Not Loved” (Lo-ruhamah) and his son “Not My People” (Lo-ammi). At that time I was not married and did not have children of my own, so I did not understand how that would have felt on a personal level. However, I understood enough about the covenant between God and Israel to know that this was covenant language. I also note that God did not ask Hosea to name a child “Not Your God” and am grateful for that.
Fortunately this was not God’s permanent disposition toward Israel and as early as the start of chapter 2, Hosea starts prophesying about Israel returning to its status as God’s people who are loved by Him.
In that day you will call your brothers Ammi—‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah—‘The ones I love.’
However, it still gets to me that God felt strongly enough about this to call a faithful servant to live what had to be a terrible life. After his wife provided him with two children, she returned to prostitution and he had to go find her and buy her back!
This horrifying story helps me to understand how serious sin is. As a Christian, I often take forgiveness for granted when I have sinned. I simply repent and act like it never happened. But sin always separates us from God and stands in the way of the fellowship we have with Him – the same fellowship He was seeking when He called out to Adam and Eve while He was walking in the Garden of Eden.