Hosea 1 … Consider His Heart for the Harlot

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord,” (1:2).

There’s just something about this book. The feelings that come are a mixed bag; shame for my own transgressions against holy God; awe that He would want someone like me; gratitude that I am His; and absolute elation that His Love for me is not dependent on me. I hope you too can relate.

Before we dig in, let’s explore a bit of background for context.

From NIV Study Bible:
Judging from the kings mentioned in 1:1, Hosea must have prophesied for at least 38 years. He was the only one of the writing prophets to come from the northern kingdom (Israel), and his prophecy is primarily directed to that kingdom. But since his prophetic activity is dated by reference to kings of Judah, the book was probably written in Judah after the fall of the northern capitol in Samaria (722 – 721 B.C.)— an idea suggested by references to Judah throughout the book… Hosea lived in the tragic final days of the northern kingdom of Israel, during which six kings reigned within 25 years (2 Kings 15:8—17:6)… Samaria was captured and its people exiled, bringing the northern kingdom to an end.

The first part of the book (chs.1-3) narrates the family life of Hosea as a symbol (similar to the symbolism in the lives of Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel) to convey the message the prophet had from the Lord for his people… The second part of the book (chs.4-14)   gives the details of Israel’s involvement in Canaanite religion… Like other prophetic books, Hosea issued a call to repentance. Israel’s alternative to destruction was to forsake her idols and return to the Lord…

The intimacy of the covenant relationship between God and Israel, illustrated in the first part of the book by the husband-wife relationship, is later amplified by the father-child relationship (11:1-4). Disloyalty to God was spiritual adultery (4:13-14; 5:4; 9:1)… Israel had turned to Baal worship and had sacrificed at the pagan high places, which included associating with the sacred prostitutes at the sanctuaries (4:14) and worshiping the calf images at Samaria (8:5; 10:5-6; 13:2)…

Yet despite God’s condemnation and the harshness of language with which the unavoidable judgment was announced, the major purpose of the book is to proclaim God’s compassion and covenant love that cannot—finally—let Israel go.

And as this book opens, we hear the word of the Lord calling His prophet to marry a Harlot, symbolizing the condition of His own people who in their infidelity had prostituted themselves in their pursuit of other gods. And God’s judgment was declared, pronounced in the naming of each of the three children, with each warning becoming more severe, as though in keeping with the increasing severity of the harlotry of His people.

His judgment would put an end to the northern kingdom of Israel (1:4-5), would remove His compassion (1:6-7); and would sever relationship with Holy God (1:8-9).

But God would reveal His Heart for the Harlot through His faithful prophet, calling Hosea to a most demanding and incomprehensible assignment in an arranged marriage to a whore.

Like I said, incomprehensible. And Hosea answered the call to love like God and to become a living demonstration of His Heart for the Harlot.

Consider His Heart for the Harlot

When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord,” (1:2).

And though His judgment was pronounced, and though His judgment would come, His Heart for the Harlot would again accomplish His purpose.

  • His Heart for the Harlot will again bless His people beyond measure.Yet the number of the sons of Israel
    Will be like the sand of the sea,
    Which cannot be measured or numbered…
    (1:10).
  • His Heart for the Harlot will again call His people to Himself.And in the place
    Where it is said to them,
    “You are not My people,”
    It will be said to them,
    “You are the sons of the living God,”
    (1:10).
  • His Heart for the Harlot will again regather His people under one leader.And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together,
    And they will appoint for themselves one leader,
    And they will go up from the land,
    For great will be the day of Jezreel,
    (1:11).

How do we respond to His Heart for the Harlot?

I was struck with the thought of how very much God wanted His people to know truth; the truth of their unfaithful harlotry and the truth of His Heart for the Harlot.

And today, I am so grateful to know that even though we are so unworthy and so unfaithful that His Heart for the Harlot is faithful to Who He Is.

If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself, (2 Timothy 2:2).

His Heart for the Harlot really is too great to comprehend. So what better way to respond then to spend time meditating on the truths He has given us in His God-Breathed Word; because the truth is, He truly wants us to know His incomprehensible love demonstrated in His Heart for the Harlot.

I will rejoice and be glad in Your faithful love
because You have seen my affliction.
You have known the troubles of my life
and have not handed me over to the enemy.
You have set my feet in a spacious place,
(Psalm 31:7-8 HCSB).

How precious is Your lovingkindness, O God!
And the children of men take refuge in the shadow of Your wings.
They drink their fill of the abundance of Your house;
And You give them to drink of the river of Your delights.
For with You is the fountain of life;
In Your light we see light,
(Psalm 36:7-9).

This I recall to my mind,
Therefore I have hope.
22 The Lord’s lovingkindnesses indeed never cease,
For His compassions never fail.
23 They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness,
(Lamentations 3:21-23

“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life,” (John 3:16).

But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us, (Romans 5:8).

See how great a love the Father has bestowed on us, that we would be called children of God; and such we are… (1 John 3:1).

By this the love of God was manifested in us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, (1 John 4:9-10).

(A side note; if you have never had the pleasure of reading Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, I highly recommend that you take the time to do so. It is novel inspired by the story of Hosea that brilliantly captures His Heart for the Harlot and His redeeming love towards sinners.)

Let’s Grow Together!

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