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I. God’s Tenacious Love (Hosea 1:1–3:5)

1:1 The name Hosea comes from the Hebrew verb meaning “to save or deliver.” Hosea’s message is an offer of salvation and deliverance to those in Israel and Judah who would receive it. Unfortunately, that message fell on deaf ears in Hosea’s day.

2:1-4 Here the Lord tells the people of Israel to rebuke [their] mother—that is, their leadership. God declares, She is not my wife and I am not her husband. In other words, the marriage is over and divorce proceedings have begun. If Israel will not turn from their promiscuous and idolatrous ways, God will make them weak and desolate (2:2-3). All their people will suffer (2:4).

2:5-8 As a prostitute has lovers who meet her economic needs, Israel worshiped false gods that they assumed were meeting their own (2:5). But, God would prevent them from pursuing their idols so that they might return to him (2:6-7). They didn’t realize that God was the one meeting their needs all along. He lavished produce and wealth on his people, but they turned around and offered those blessings to Baal! (2:8).

2:9-13 By following after Baal, in fact, Israel had thanked and worshiped the wrong god. Thus, the Lord would end their plentiful harvests (2:9). No more celebrations; no more parties (2:11). Israel would beg their idols to turn the blessings back on, but there would be no answer (2:10, 12). They enjoyed an illicit affair and forgot the husband who provided them with every comfort, so the day of reckoning was coming (2:13).

2:14-17 Once again, though, God expresses love and compassion toward his people through Hosea. He stands ready to forgive. He will persuade her and speak tenderly to her (2:14). He’ll restore their fortunes and take them back to the days when they were first married—when they came out of the land of Egypt (2:15)—and rejoiced in the God who saved them. They will come to their senses, repent, and call the Lord, My husband (2:16). The names of false gods will no longer be remembered (2:17). You can’t outrun the tenacious love of God.

2:18-23 On that day, the Lord will protect his people and enable them to rest securely (2:18). I will take you to be my wife forever, he says (2:19). What a glorious promise! Then the land will again yield its harvest (2:21-22). God will have compassion on those named “No Compassion,” and he will say to those named “Not My People,” You are my people (2:23). Don’t ever think you can’t experience a reversal of fortune. God delights in welcoming back his wayward children (consider the parable of the Prodigal Son; Luke 15:11-32).

3:1-5 We don’t know how long Hosea and Gomer had been married, yet she had obviously forsaken her marriage vows by this point. God directs Hosea to go again and show love to this woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress. How could God expect Hosea to pursue the wife who had betrayed him? Because the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods (3:1). So, despite his humiliation and pain, Hosea played the obedient kingdom man and paid to restore Gomer from whatever bondage she had sold herself into (3:2). He then brought her home again on the condition of faithfulness (3:3).

Imagine the anguish of buying back your own wife who had willingly left you! Yet, in this action is a picture of the unfailing, persistent love of God. Moreover, it is what God does for us through Jesus Christ, who bought us—not with money—but with his own blood: “He gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to cleanse for himself a people for his own possession, eager to do good works” (Titus 2:14).

Hosea was telling Israel that God was pursuing his people—his bride. Through his chastisement, they would experience loss and realize the worthlessness of idols (3:4). Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king (3:5). God’s love wins.

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