|@October 25, 2023||ESV (2016)||ESV Prophets Plan 2023|
- Hosea Redeems His Wife
The chapter opens with the LORD speaking to Hosea that he is to love his adulterous wife “even as the LORD loves the children of Israel”. Even though Gomer, like Israel, had joined herself to another man (lit “a neighbor”; cp. Deut. 5:21; Jer. 3:1, 20) and so committed adultery, Hosea was told to take her back. Gomer had rejected Hosea’s genuine love for her for the selfish “love” of another man. In the same way, Israel preferred (”loved”) “cakes of raisins” (Hos. 3:1) to the faithful love the Lord had for her.
In Hos. 3:2-3, Hosea speaks to Gomer that she was to “dwell as mine for many days”, or an indeterminate period of time (Hos. 3:3). Gomer (Isreal) must remain faithful indefinitely in order to maintain the conditions necessary to fully restore the relationship. She was not to play the whore or belong to another man and Hosea would be reciprocally loyal to her.
The remaining verses (Hos. 3:4-5) relates this martial language directly to “the children of Israel” who shall dwell “without king or prince”. This prophecies the exile and restoration and even the last days when Israel is led by their Messiah. After this time, the children of Israel “shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king” (Hos. 3:5). This signals a reunification of the northern and southern kingdoms. They will “come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days” (Hos. 3:5), marking a messianic expectation (compare Ezek. 34:23; Jer. 23:5). The phrase “latter day” was often used by the prophets for a time that the world would be set right (see Isaiah 2:2)
Hosea was told to take back his adulterous wife in the same way God loves the children of Israel. Gomer was to return to Hosea and belong to him, turning away from any other man and from playing the whore. This restoration images the reinstatement of relationship between Israel and God, that they “shall return and seek the LORD their God”. (Hos. 3:5).
A couple of things stood out in this short chapter. First was the striking way in which marriage is used as an analog to our relationship with God. In appreciating the preciousness of a lifelong spousal covenant, we are meant to see Gomer’s adultery as abhorrent. We are meant to feel it and have it stir up within us a sense of deep disgust and sorrow. Only then can we begin to understand what we have done in our rejection of our Creator.
Second was the use of the present tense, “loves”, in reference to God’s relationship with the children of Israel (Hos. 3:1). The present tense seems to indicate a continuous, unending love for His people. Even in their adultery and rebellion (and in His corrective measures), there was never a point at which He did not love them. While they waned in their faithfulness, He remained steady and true. It is a wonderful reminder that nothing will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Scripture Journal Notes
Commentaries & Resources Used
- ESV Study Bible. (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008)
- Faithlife Study Bible (Lexham Press, 2016)
- Believer’s Bible Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 2016)
- CSB Study Bible Notes (Holman Bible Publishers, 2017)
- Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible (Guardian Press, 1976)
- The Bible: A Reader’s Guide (Sterling Publishing, 2011)
- The Infographic Bible (Zondervan, 2018)
- ESV Digital Scripture Journal (Crossway, 2019)