And the LORD said to him, "Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.Hosea 1:4(NASB)
There are many stories in the Bible that God uses to paint a striking word-picture of His love for His people Israel, and the lives of various characters in scripture are used in different ways, to illustrate God’s message of redemption, and teaches us some important lessons.
One of the most touching illustration is seen in the true-life love-story of Hosea, his wife and his family. The Lord instructed His faithful prophet, Hosea, to marry an unfaithful woman. Despite the love Hosea had for her and the gracious care he showed toward her, his wife Gomer, prostituted herself with many lovers.
Hosea’s prophetic witness took place during the early days of the divided kingdom of Israel. His particular audience were the northern tribes, who lived under the rule of a succession of evil kings, including and wicked king Jehu. Hosea warned of the Assyrian invasion, the fall of Samaria and Israel’s horrifying dispersion into Assyrian slavery, if Israel did not repent of their sin.
Early in the first chapter we hear the word of the Lord coming to Hosea, the son of Beri, Who told him to take a wife of harlotry. She was to represent the nation of Israel, who had prostituted herself, and behaved like a harlot, with the many false god’s of the surrounding nations.
In obedience to God’s instruction Hosea married Gomer, a harlot.. and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel (which means God will scatter), for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.
The dynasty of the evil king, Jehu, who carried out a mighty massacre, at a place called Jezreel, was to be terminated, and the name of Hosea’s firstborn son was to mark that bloody occasion.
Jezreel was to be the first of three children, whose names would stand as a picture of the terrible consequences of Israel’s gross idolatry and shameful harlotry. Later children would be called “not loved” and “not My people”, and punishment for the sin of the nation was the serious warning about which Hosea prophesised, during his unhappy marriage.
Hosea’s long and difficult marriage, was the graphic picture of God’s heat-breaking union with Israel. However, it not only testifies to the nation’s certain punishment but also to their restoration, for in His wrath we find that God remembers mercy.
Hosea concludes his prophetic writing by proclaiming God’s gracious restoration and merciful reinstatement of Israel. His renewed love and blessing for His people and the reaffirmation of His vows and promises to His holy, covenant nation – is beautifully exemplified through the restoration of Hosea’s own marriage.
There is an unbiblical teaching today, that is pervading the Church and sweeping through Christendom – that God has finished with Israel and replaced her with the Christian Church. However, in the forceful words of the apostle Paul – God Forbid!
God has not finished with Israel and both the Abrahamic covenant and God’s promises to David will not fail. Paul made this position very clear in his epistle to the Romans which gives a literal, historical dispensational interpretation of the Bible, with Israel repenting and being restored.
Let us be careful not to be swept into an unbiblical mind-set by false teachings that are infiltrating the Church today, including “replacement theology” and “kingdom now” teachings, but rather, let us search the scripture daily to see if what Hosea, Paul and many other prophets of God have written, are true.
Heavenly Father, thank You for Your word and the truths that it contains. Thank You for using the life of the prophet Hosea to paint such a graphic picture of Your relationship with Israel and of Your grace towards her – as well as the Christian Church. Thank You that in Your wrath You remembered mercy – not only for Israel but for me, as well. Help me to understand the programme You have for Israel as well as the one You have for Your Church, and help me not to get the two dispensations confused – this I ask in Jesus name, AMEN.