Broken Vows

Key Verse: “I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen.”
—Hosea 1:7

Selected Scripture:
Hosea 1:2-9; 2:1-4

THE WARNINGS GIVEN TO Israel, the ten-tribe kingdom of the north, by the Prophet Amos, was the subject of our last lesson. During this same period of time the Prophet Hosea gave similar warnings to this nation, using an unfaithful marriage relationship as an illustration.

There is much dispute and uncertainty as to Hosea’s role as a prophet. Was he born in the ten-tribe kingdom, or was he from Judah? The consensus is that he was a prophet born in Israel, and a prophet to that kingdom. But, as Amos did not recognize the split in the kingdom, so too, Hosea prophesied concerning Judah.

The introduction of his prophecy is rather peculiar. It appears that Jehovah advises him to take a wife of whoredom and children of whoredoms. The question arises, would God actually have the prophet marry a prostitute to impress a lesson on Israel? Or, did Hosea marry a virtuous woman who became promiscuous as a wife? The latter has been accepted as the true situation. Were all of Hosea’s children legitimately his, or were they the children of his wife, Gomer’s, promiscuous behavior? It is believed that the first son, named Jezreel, was a legitimate son, and God named him Jezreel because judgments were to be pronounced upon Jehu, king of Israel, by Hosea, because of his bloody reign.

His second child, a daughter, was believed to be illegitimate, and was named Loruhamah. Her name means, ‘She that never knew a father’s love.’ His second son, also believed to be illegitimate, was named Loammi, which means, ‘no kin of mine,’ or “not my people.”—Hos. 1:9

God used the life of the Prophet Hosea to illustrate his own relationship with Israel. As Israel was the only family known by God (Amos 3:2), so this relationship was also pictured as a marriage, with God as the merciful husband, and Israel as an unfaithful wife. The covenant made with Israel was broken in a similar manner to the marriage vow being broken. Hence the two latter children had names to show that Israel took other husbands, such as Baal and Asshur, and produced illegitimate children. The daughter never knew God’s love, and the son was not Jehovah’s kin or people.

Israel was given the Law at Mt. Sinai, and when the covenant was made with them, they said, “All that the Lord hath said will we do.” (Ex. 24:7) Yet, before Moses came down from Mt. Sinai, they were found worshiping the golden calf. Although all were not faithless on that occasion, as time went on they fell more and more into idol worship. The punishment for this is given in the second chapter of Hosea’s prophecy using the illustration of a faithless wife.

The last part of that chapter tells of bringing this faithless wife back into a faithful relationship, illustrating how the nation of Israel is to be restored into God’s favor, after receiving at “the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.”—Isa. 40:1,2

Likewise, Hosea says, “I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”—Hos. 2:23

Dawn Bible Students Association
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