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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"Not My People" -- Hosea 1:1-9

Sermons on the Minor Prophets:  Hosea (2)

If anyone present desires to be a prophet, I would simply ask you to consider the prophetic call of Hosea: “Hosea, go and marry a prostitute, have a child with her, then willingly accept her back after she abandons you and becomes destitute, and then accept her other children who may not (likely) be yours.”  This should quickly disabuse you of the idea that it might be “cool” to be a prophet.  YHWH called Hosea to replicate YHWH’s own relationship to Israel so as to make a larger theological point illustrated by the life of Gomer.  YHWH’s covenant people (Israel) repeatedly abandoned him for other lovers, and bore spiritual children who were far more pagan than faithful members of YHWH’s covenant community.  Because YHWH is gracious and always keeps his covenant promises, he will restore Israel.  But not before the covenant curses fall upon the people and the nation in the form of an Assyrian invasion.

We are continuing our series on the Book of Hosea–one the most difficult books found among the Twelve (the Minor Prophets).  Last time, we asked and answered the four questions (“Who?” “When?” “Why?” and “What?”) which enable us to establish a context from which to properly interpret, and then apply the message of Hosea.  We will work our way through the opening section of Hosea’s prophecy–vv. 2-9, in which YHWH commands his prophet, Hosea, to marry Gomer, a woman of questionable reputation.  In this section, we also discover that Gomer bore three children, Jezreel, Lo-Ruhamah, and Lo-Ammi.  These children (especially the meaning of their names) will symbolically tell us the story of Israel’s fate throughout the balance of the prophecy.  While we begin by focusing upon the account of Hosea and Gomer–establishing Israel’s spiritual adultery as the main theme of the prophecy, we also discover that Gomer’s children play a major role in our interpretation of Hosea’s prophecy.

Keeping the big picture before us is important as we go through this book–especially chapters 4-14.  Hosea will marry Gomer as YHWH commands, but Gomer will leave Hosea for other lovers and even perhaps bear their children.  Gomer will become destitute and eventually become a slave.  Remarkably, Hosea will purchase her back–in effect, redeeming her.  In this enacted parable, we see the story behind the story–Israel has abandoned YHWH and for all intents and purposes has become the husband of Baal.  Failing to repent, Israel was facing the curses associated with the covenant YHWH made with them at Mount Sinai.  The final and ultimate covenant curse comes upon Israel shortly after Hosea completes his prophecy about 725 B.C. in the form of the Assyrian invasion, in which the last of Israel’s provinces (Samaria) finally falls to King Sargon II in 722 B.C.  Israel must die before YHWH will restore true Israel at the dawn of the messianic age.  But restoration will come.  YHWH always keeps his promises.  

Hosea presents us with a significant theological problem from the second verse.  Why would God command that his chosen prophet marry someone described as a whore?  Gomer is a promiscuous woman, who may even be a prostitute–this is certainly implied.  This raises the question, “is YHWH’s command to Hosea merely part of a parable–a fictional story designed to make a larger theological point?”  Or did YHWH actually command this of his prophet Hosea? And if so, why?

There have been many attempts to solve this supposed dilemma.  A number of commentators avoid the issues this passage presents by contending that YHWH’s command to Hosea is an allegory or fictional parable without any historical basis.  Critical scholars often have as their default setting the view that anything miraculous, or problematic in the text is dismissed out of hand as fiction or myth.  For these interpreters, this is merely a parable which makes the point that Israel was engaged in spiritual adultery.  But even John Calvin was so troubled by this comma prophetic office and end up a poor witness to Israel of YHWH’s righteousness.  Calvin thought YHWH would never ask such a thing of his servant, so the first three chapters of Hosea, he feels, must be a vision in which YHWH is speaking to Hosea in hypothetical terms; “suppose I had a wife named Gomer, and she did this to me.”  Calvin thought this was done by Hosea so as to make a graphic point about the gravity of Israel’s spiritual adultery.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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