Hosea, prophet of mercy—Chapter 7: Whose Children Are They?
Nov 23, 2016
The hope that Hosea gives to Israel continues into the second chapter. Hosea 2:1 says,
1 Say to your brothers, “Ammi,” and to your sisters, “Ruhamah.”
The prophet probably is not speaking to his children, but to Israel in general. We know of only two brothers and one sister among his children. Yet he prophesies of their name change, which he explains further twenty-two verses later. By dropping the Lo from their names, he removed the “no” and “not” and shows the positive side of the prophecies. Hence, this verse reinforces the two previous verses, where we see that God’s New Covenant vow will not fail.
Having established this, Hosea then begins to prophesy of judgment which the Israelites were to endure until the fulfillment of God’s vow. Hosea 2:2, 3 says,
2 Contend with your mother, contend, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband; and let her put away her harlotry from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts, 3 lest I strip her naked and expose her as on the day when she was born. I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land, and slay her with thirst.
He does not say, “contend with my wife,” but rather “contend with your mother.” The reason is given: “She is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” This is a written record of divorce, a “writ of divorcement,” and the statement was probably a direct quotation normally written on such divorce papers. The purpose of a writ of divorcement was to make it clear that the husband had given up all legal rights over her and could no longer claim her as his wife. This was important, so that a divorced woman could remarry without fear of a jealous former husband taking legal action against her and her new husband (Deuteronomy 24:2 KJV).
Hosea’s contention was that she was an adulterer. No doubt this was set forth in the writ of divorcement as the reason for the divorce. Since Hosea was an intercessor for the House of Israel, he was playing the role of God and His failed marriage with Israel. The prophet was required to experience what God was experiencing and to feel what God was feeling. Yet the tears of intercessors end with joy when their intercession is complete. No intercession is complete until victory is achieved and when joy is restored.
The reward of intercession is spiritual authority, which is always given as part of the Law of Victims Rights. Victims have the right to receive justice and restitution, but they also are granted the right to forgive—a right that even the judge does not have. Hosea was the victim in this case. The penalty for adultery was death (Deuteronomy 22:22), but Hosea merely divorced her. Did he have this right? Yes, he did, for he was the victim. If he had decided to put her to death, the law of God would have supported his decision. But he chose to reduce her sentence to divorce, perhaps knowing that if he put her to death, the same sentence would fall upon all the Israelites who were guilty of idolatry, i.e., spiritual adultery.
The prophet tells the people of Israel to contend with their “mother,” that is the religious and political leaders of the nation. Gomer represented the nation. If these leaders would not listen to God (the Husband of Israel), then perhaps they might listen to the children. Hosea tells the children of Israel to contend with their leaders, “lest I strip her naked, and expose her as on the day when she was born.”
The Hebrew metaphor of nakedness means that she would be exposed fully, having no excuse or justification for her actions (Hebrews 4:13 KJV).
The prophet reinforces his statement with other metaphors in Hosea 2:3. He says, “I will also make her like a wilderness, make her like desert land.” Such land is bare, and with no trees to cover it, the land is “naked” for as far as the eye can see.
She was also to be slain with thirst. This is a reference to the Law of Tribulation in Deuteronomy 28:47, 48, which says,
47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and a glad heart, for the abundance of all things, 48 Therefore you shall serve your enemies whom the Lord shall send against you, in hunger, in thirst, in nakedness, and in the lack of all things; and He will put an iron yoke on your neck until He has destroyed you.
We do not know if Gomer herself was deprived of water during her time of slavery as a harlot (after her divorce). The important thing is that the law stated that if Israel continually violated the vow of her covenant with God, she would be taken into captivity and placed under “an iron yoke.” During this time of bondage, Israel was to suffer “thirst.” Amos 8:11, 12 tells us the nature of that thirst:
11 “Behold, days are coming,” declares the Lord God, “when I will send a famine on the land, not a famine for bread or a thirst for water, but rather for hearing the words of the Lord. 12 And people will stagger from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they will go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”
Just as Gomer was deprived of the word of the Lord when she was sent out of Hosea’s house, so also Israel was deprived of the word when she was sent to Assyria. The biblical prophets were in Israel and Judah, so those who were afar off could only receive trickles of information now and then as travelers passed through the area.
Yet even beyond this, when men reject any portion of the word of the Lord, they become blind and deaf in those areas of truth. Even those who thirst for truth remain under this curse as a whole, although for individuals this curse may be lifted by prayer and fasting. God always has His witnesses in every generation, but overall, when the Israelites were sent into captivity, they were to “go to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.”
Leviticus 26:18 said that their iron yoke captivity was to last 2,520 years, or “seven times” (360 x 7 years). Israel’s captivity came over a period of 24 years, beginning with the captivity of the three tribes on the east side of the Jordan River in 745 B.C. The captivity was completed when Samaria, the capital city, fell in 721 B.C.
The 2,520 years, then, ended from 1776-1800 A.D., and this coincided with the founding of the United States in 1776 and the construction of the nation’s capital in 1800. That ended the time of the iron yoke for the House of Israel. Unfortunately, that was not yet the end of the age. America found itself under a wooden yoke in 1914, which the book of Revelation calls Mystery Babylon. It came when WOODROW Wilson signed the Federal Reserve Act on December 23, 1913.
See my book, The Prophetic History of the United States.
The Children of Harlotry
Hosea 2:4, 5 says,
4 Also, I will have no compassion [lo racham] on her children, because they are children of harlotry. 5 For their mother has played the harlot; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
This fulfills the meaning of Lo-ruhamah, “no compassion.” God says, “I will not feel sorry for them.” The individual Israelites are the children of Gomer, and are “children of harlotry.” In other words, God repudiates them, saying, “they are not My children.”
This suggests that even Hosea himself may have had doubts that Lo-ruhamah was his own daughter. Perhaps the fatherhood of his other “children of harlotry” were also in question. Such is often the problem when a wife commits adultery and then bears children. If the children do not resemble her husband, then it is likely that the children had another father.
Hosea does not give us any description of his three children, but the entire situation suggests that he had some doubts that they were truly his children. Likewise, the Israelites were supposed to be the children of Yahweh, but instead, they resembled in their actions the golden calves that had been set up as gods for the nation.
The Hebrew concept of “children” and “sons” goes far beyond physical descent. We see this also in the New Testament, where the metaphor is used many times. There are “sons of thunder” (Mark 3:17), “sons of light” (Luke 16:8), “son of hell” (Matthew 23:15), children of the devil (John 8:44), “Abraham’s children” (John 8:39), and even wisdom has children of her own (Luke 7:35).
The principle behind the metaphor is expressed best in John 8:39, “If you are Abraham’s children, do the deeds of Abraham.”
To be a child of Abraham, it is not necessary to be his physical descendant. Those who do what Abraham did are His children. So also, Paul says in Galatians 3:7,
7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.
Abraham is known as “the father of all who believe” (Romans 4:11), that is, the father of those who have faith in Christ.
Hence, the children of Gomer-Israel were not fathered by Yahweh, the true God of Israel. And Hosea’s own children were also questionable.
The bottom line is that the sons of God are those who are in His image and likeness. In other words, they act like Him. One cannot claim to be a son of God solely on the grounds of being an Israelite. One cannot look back to Mount Sinai and claim that because God married Israel, the descendants of Israel are the sons of God. That is the message of Hosea, especially when he named his second son, Lo-ammi, “not My people.”
The only way for Israelites to be the sons of God is to come into His image and likeness. As long as they act like a golden calf, they are children of harlotry. And when those of any other ethnicity act like Jesus, they too are proven to be sons of God. These alone fulfill the prophecy of Ammi, “My people.” These alone are the chosen people.
This is proven in Paul’s discussion of the remnant of grace in Romans 11:1-7, where we learn that only 7,000 Israelites—a tiny minority—were “elect” or “chosen.” The rest were Lo-ammi, people that God had rejected, saying, “they are not My children, for if they were, they would be like Me.”
The way is open for any man to be a son of God. That way is open to all, whether they are of Israel, of Judah, or of any other ethnic group. When God cast off Israel and repudiated them as Lo-ammi, He established a path by which they (and all others) might be reinstated as Ammi. No biological Israelite can be called “Ammi” apart from faith in Jesus Christ and by adhering to the New Covenant. All people enjoy equal opportunity, as the law of God demands and as the prophets affirm.
This is part 8 of a series titled "Studies in the Book of Hosea." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones