Faithful as Hosea

Hosea 2

Every once in a while, I will be reading along in my Bible and something will stop me dead in my tracks. I’m always surprised when I recognize something new even though I know I’ve read a passage before. Here’s my most recent from Hosea 2:14-23:

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.

And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.

And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.

“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.

“And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,

and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel,
and I will sow her for myself in the land.

And I will have mercy on No Mercy,
and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”

Whenever I hear the word “Baal” I think of idolatry and associate it as bad or negative. Verse 16 shocked me and made no sense. I’ve got to figure that out! “Baal” means “master or lord” and definitely can refer negatively to anything other than God that holds that place in our lives. In this case I couldn’t figure out why Israel would say this about God so more digging was required. I went online and found a commentary on www.biblestudytools.com. The explanation that made sense to me was from John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the- bible/hosea-2-16.html):

Hosea 2:16

And it shall be at that day, saith the Lord

The Gospel day, the times of the Gospel dispensation, the latter part of them; at the time of the conversion of the Jews, and the bringing in of the fullness of the Gentiles; at the time when God will allure and persuade them to seek the Messiah, and they shall turn to him; when he shall speak comfortably to them, and give them a door of hope, and all spiritual blessings, and cause them to sing as when they came out of Egypt: that thou shalt call me Ishi; or, “my husband”; returning to Christ their first husband, and being received by him, shall have faith and interest in him, and full assurance of it; and shall not only be allowed to call him their husband, but in the strength of faith, and with great freedom of soul, shall call him so, and say as the church did, “my beloved is mine, and I am his”, (Song of Solomon 20:16): or, “my man”; the man the Lord, the man Jehovah’s fellow, Immanuel God with us, God in human nature; and so more manifestly points at Christ, who, most properly speaking, stands in the relation of a husband to his people: or, “my strength”, as some interpret it; the husband being the strength, protection, and defense of the wife, the weaker vessel; so Christ is the strength of his saints, in whom they have righteousness and strength, and through whose strength they can do all things: and shalt call me no more Baali; which signifies my husband too, and is used of God and Christ; he is called Baal, and the church is called Beulah, because married together, (Isaiah 45:5) (Isaiah 42:4 Isaiah 42:5) (Jeremiah 31:32) but it signifies a lordly and imperious husband; and the other word, “Ishi”, a loving one: so Jarchi observes that the sense is, that they should serve the Lord from love, and not fear; “Ishi” being a word expressive of marriage and love, and “Baali” of lordship and fear: hence some have thought this to be the reason why the one should be used, and the other not, under the Gospel dispensation; because saints now have not the spirit of bondage to fear, but the spirit of adoption, whereby they call God their Father, and Christ their husband: though rather the reason is, because the word “Baal”, as R. Marinns observes, is of doubtful signification, an ambiguous word, used for the idol Baal, as well as signifies lord and husband; and therefore to be laid aside, lest, when they mentioned it, it should be thought they spoke of Baal, and not of the Lord; or should be led to think of that idol, and remember him.

Ahhhhh… light bulb!! There is comparison and contrast between the two titles/types of relationships between God and Israel as well as husbands and wives. I find it amazing that God would even want an “Ishi”-relationship with me! Don’t you feel loved?!

I will freely admit that Hosea is a difficult book. God asking Hosea to marry a prostitute, who will run after other lovers and abandon him, is a huge sacrifice. Add to that the children that he will bear with her: Jezreel (a son to represent the punishment of the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel), Lo- ruhama = No Mercy (Literally translated “she has not received mercy”) and Lo-ammi = Not My People. How would you like to introduce yourself to someone using that name and watch their painful reaction? Egad! After she has taken off with other men, God tells Hosea to go after her and love her again. He actually had to “pay” for her and beg her to stay. There is no mention that he ever had a moment of happiness with her. I can only imagine heartache, brokenness and pain. But that was the whole point

God had in mind in the first place. Hosea was a living example of God’s relationship with Israel and His heart was broken and filled with pain. This cuts straight across our thinking that if we love God and try to please Him that all will be well or that we will have a “blessed, happy” life. Forget the “Pinterest- perfect” Christian life. Sometimes He calls us to walk a painful road and be faithful. Maybe we are a picture to someone else in the midst of our suffering. Hosea’s suffering was not wasted. He was faithful and pleasing to God despite what would appear to others as foolishness to the point of embarrassment.

May we all be as faithful as Hosea.