Hosea 1:1–2:1 (NKJV)
1 The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
The Lord speaks through the prophet Hosea with a very visible message. This prophecy is a story told in the pictures of a life lived in parallel to the nation of Israel.
2 When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the Lord.”
3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the Lord said to him:
“Call his name Jezreel,
For in a little while
I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu,
And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
5 It shall come to pass in that day
That I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him:
“Call her name Lo-Ruhamah,
For I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel,
But I will utterly take them away.
7 Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah,
Will save them by the Lord their God,
And will not save them by bow,
Nor by sword or battle,
By horses or horsemen.”
8 Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. 9 Then God said:
“Call his name Lo-Ammi,
For you are not My people,
And I will not be your God.
God–through Hosea–pronounces three levels of judgment against Israel and Judah for their adultarous actions. God tells Hosea to take a wife of prostitution, and by extension children of prostitution. The Lord then shows the types of trouble that will come upon His people through the names given to those children. First, judgement will come upon upon Israel in the form of war. The name of their first son, Jezreel, signified a place where God’s people had shed innocent blood, and retribution is on the way. Lo-Ruhamah, a daughter born next, signified that mercy would be withdrawn from Israel. Literally, “No Campassion” is the translation, and means that the former compassion of God is withdrawn. The third child, Lo-Ammi, demonstrates that the covenant of God with Israel and Judah is broken, for their identification as His people is removed (“Not My People”).
10 “Yet the number of the children of Israel
Shall be as the sand of the sea,
Which cannot be measured or numbered.
And it shall come to pass
In the place where it was said to them,
‘You are not My people,’
There it shall be said to them,
‘You are sons of the living God.’
11 Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel
Shall be gathered together,
And appoint for themselves one head;
And they shall come up out of the land,
For great will be the day of Jezreel!
2 Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’
The Lord then changes direction abruptly, restoring (or establishing a new) covenant with Israel, promising that they will outnumber the sands of the sea. This promise hearkens back to the promise to Abraham that his descendents would do the same. He declares that they will be His people again, “sons of the living God.” He also promises that they will once again be one nation, under one divinely appointed leader, and will be God’s people again. Mercy will return to Israel, and covenant will be established. The numbers represent a reversal of the pronouncement of destruction through war. The gathering together and reestablishment of Israel brings mercy back to the nation. The calling out of Israel as the people of God establishes the covenant lost. God is showing us that, although judgment will come when we sin, mercy will be extended when we repent! Covenant may suffer in our sin, but covenant will be extended through God’s mercy.