Would God Divorce His People?

Hosea 1-5

Focus: Hosea 2:2-4, Plead earnestly with your mother (for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband), so that she might put an end to her adulterous lifestyle, and turn away from her sexually immoral behavior. Otherwise, I will strip her naked, and expose her like she was when she was born. I will turn her land into a wilderness and make her country a parched land, so that I might kill her with thirst. I will have no pity on her children, because they are children conceived in adultery.

Would God really divorce His people? Yes, actually he would. When God declared, “for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband,” it was a formal announcement of divorce. While this is shocking, we must remember a couple things. God’s primary concern is for His glory, but he also would like to share it with his people. God created mankind to walk in relationship with him, and specifically, he gathered Israel to himself as part of a special Covenant relationship. Israel had a unique relationship with God, and it would be through her that the Savior would come.

The problem is that Israel made light of her relationship with God. Even as God pursued her as a nation, she forsook his love for her. Her idolatry led her to adultery. She admired man made objects instead of her creator and pursuer, and while God is incredibly gracious, there came a time when he announced that his marriage relationship with Israel ended. God declared, “for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” God rejected his people because of their persistent love affairs with pagan deities. Not only that but God would shame his ex-wife by stripping her naked and exposing her before others. For the sake of God’s Holy name, it was necessary for God to separate himself from His people who dishonored Him.

Why would God do this? Divorcing Israel was not something the Lord wanted as an end in itself. It was a means to an end. Hosea’s wife Gomar’s children were named “No pity” and “Not my people.” They were children born from a pagan love affair, and God used them as part of Hosea’s ministry to represent the children of Israel. God was rejecting His people, but even in His rejection of Israel, he still pursued her. He instructed “No Pity” and “Not my people” to plead with their mother Gomar (who represented Israel) to turn away from her adulterous lifestyle. Otherwise, Israel, represented by Gomar, would be shamed.

God divorced Israel and threatened to shame her because of her habitual love affairs. It seems that after a period of time Israel became incapable of turning away from the enticement of sin, and it cost her dearly. My grandmother once told me that sin will take you farther than you want to go, leave you longer than you want to stay, and will cost you more than you want to pay. The incredible pain of divorce and shame was a part of God’s grace as an effort to tear Israel out of her sin so that he could once again pour his love out on her (2:16-18). She would not break free on her own strength.

Through the pain of divorce, Israel would be stripped of all her protection and security that was provided by Yahweh. Assyria would eventually rape and pillage the land, and God’s people would be led into bondage. But it was only then that Israel would learn to appreciate the strength and majesty of her Lover. It would be then where she would learn to call the Lord her husband and lean on Him for her provision and protection. She never knew what she had until he was gone…kinda like that 70’s song Big Yellow Taxi.

We can all learn from this by examining our hearts to see if there are areas where we are unfaithful to the Lord. What will God have to do in order to get our attention in these areas? What must God strip us of in order to get us to appreciate Him?

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