A Purpose in Suffering – Hosea 3

Hos 3:1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”

Hos 3:1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”

YHWH spoke to Hosea with this command. This verse echoes the command given in Hos 1:2 for Hosea to marry a whore. Just as it was explained in the first chapter, this particular union was to be symbolic of God’s relationship with unfaithful Israel. From the collapse of the unified Kingdom of Israel when Solomon died, all of the kings of the Northern Kingdom (Israel) practiced idolatry until the nation was destroyed by Assyria. YHWH still loved his people even though they kept false gods among them and were greedy for personal gain. Hosea was to serve as an example of God’s plan. Some people use these first chapters of Hosea to justify requiring people to remain in marriages with unfaithful or abusive partners. Hosea provides a visible demonstration of God’s love, grace, and forgiveness. While divorce is hated by God, adultery and abuse are also hated. Hosea was used as an example of God’s character and His plan – not to say abuse, neglect or adultery are acceptable and not to say victims of such must remain in those conditions.


Hosea’s Obedience

Hos 3:2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.

Faith is called faith because we sometimes we just have to take God’s word for when He speaks. He gives us more than enough proof of His faithfulness in our lives, so when He says something we don’t understand we should trust Him to know what He’s doing. While we would not expect God to tell us marry someone we know is an adulterer, our faith should be strong enough to trust God when He asks us to do something that seems impossible, uncomfortable, or just plain silly. This does not mean blind faith – we are told to test the spirits and be certain what we are asked is from God. It does mean when we are satisfied a command has come from God that we are to obey it in faith.

Hosea not only provided an illustration of God’s plan for Israel’s redemption, he was also an example of obedience based on faith. Hosea trusted God to obey in a difficult thing because he already experienced a personal relationship with God and knew he could trust God completely. Regarding the particular details of this verse, it is interesting to note that the price, paid partly in silver and partly in produce, was roughly equivalent to the price of a slave (Ex 21:32). Christ paid the ultimate price in blood to free believers from slavery to sin.


Personal Sacrifice

Hos 3:3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”

The statement Hosea makes to his bride is also a prophecy to Israel. There is a directive to be faithful and a promise of faithfulness. There is also the prediction of an extended period free of idolatry. God’s people will not behave as old Israel has behaved. Instead they will remain in close relationship with God. God will have remained faithful for the duration of this period. We know without a doubt that this statement by Hosea to his bride is predictive prophecy because the next verse says so.


Corporate Sacrifice

Hos 3:4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.

The last king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel was Hoshea. Hoshea overthrew the previous king through treachery. Samaria was conquered and he was killed by the Assyrians for failing to deal honestly with them because he tried to give Egypt tribute instead of Assyria. Hoshea seemed to think he could get Egypt to support him against Assyria. After three years of fighting Samaria fell in 722 BC. 1 Ki 17 records the fall of Israel and the Assyrian exile. There we read of God’s reason for allowing Israel’s fall was idolatry – wicked unfaithfulness to YHWH who brought them out of slavery in Egypt to the promised land. Hosea tells us Israel shall be a long time without political or religious leadership. Even though Assyria fell in 612 BC, before Jerusalem fell in 586 BC, the northern tribes were never again united politically or religiously. Even when the second temple was rebuilt in the 5th century, Samarians were rejected from participating in its reconstruction and restoration of YHWH worship. Centuries passed without independence and self-rule.

Late in the 4th century the Greeks attempted to Hellenize the Jews and Samarians and to a significant degree succeeded. A long series of skirmishes and rebellions fill the inter-testament period with the region being under the control of one foreign power or another for all but a few years prior to the ministry of Jesus during the Roman era. During the Roman occupation there were kings appointed over Israel, but even so they were little more than puppet dictators propped up by Rome to manage Roman interests in the region. Herod the Great, for example, was a blood-thirsty tyrant who obeyed Rome for personal gain. There were Herods who ruled various geographic areas – including the areas of Samaria and “Gentile” areas such as Galilee. Symbolically, Pilate declared Jesus King of the Jews at the crucifixion. A few decades later the second temple would be utterly destroyed. Jerusalem all but cease to exist for nearly two millennia. Jews tried to rebel against Rome, but by the end of the second Roman rebellion in about 132 AD there was no formal religious or political organization to the Jews nor would it exist again until May of 1948.


Latter Days

Hos 3:5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.

This verse is often quoted as a prophecy of the restoration of Israel as a political power with a great king. The ruling authority is certainly seen as good in a manner consistent with the Godliness of David. The object of the action, however, is the people. The people will seek the Lord, they will see David, and they will come in fear to the Lord and His goodness. The people will behave differently from the people of Hosea’s time. In the period when Christ came, the people were certainly seeking a messianic figure to rise up against Rome and restore the whole of Israel to its former greatness as in the days of David. Note here that what the people seek and what they do are slightly different. They seek the Lord and they seek King David. They return to God and come to Him and His goodness in fear. Although Jesus did not claim political or religious rulership in the sense hoped for by the Jews, he is King of kings and Lord of lords. Jesus is high priest. As a result of his ministry and the mission carried out by his earliest believers through the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, children of Israel did begin to return to the Lord. They did seek goodness and they did so with earnest repentance and the healthy sort of fear of the Lord that Solomon wrote about. Salvation came first to the people of the tribes of Israel, beginning with Judah, but it also came to all the Gentiles who were “No Mercy” and “Not My People.” The period Hosea called “latter days,” at least in this context, appears to be the period following the resurrection and ascension of Jesus.