Hosea Redeems His Wife
“I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God’” (2:23).- Hosea 2:14–3:5
We concluded our study yesterday with Hosea’s promise that though Israel’s immediate future would be marked by violence and death, the Lord would one day restore the nation to Himself and bless it greatly. That theme continues in today’s passage, where God speaks of bringing Israel into the wilderness (Hos. 2:14–15).
Hosea alludes to the original exodus from Egypt in these verses, a time when Israel served the Lord gladly. Appealing to an idealized Israel of the first exodus was not unusual for the prophets even if the wilderness generation also had its share of disobedience (Jer. 2:2–3; Micah 7:15; see Ex. 32; Num. 11). Still, Hosea’s appeal to this period as one of covenant faithfulness is fully appropriate. Measured against the rampant idolatry of Hosea’s day, the Israelites who left Egypt were saints. Moreover, despite the wilderness generation’s sins, the people of Israel made steady, if slow, progress toward Canaan. Yet during Hosea’s ministry, Israel was rapidly regressing into paganism.
As in the days of the first exodus, Hosea foresaw that Israel would answer when the Lord called during the restoration period. A new covenant would follow in which Israel would be safe from wild animals and foreign adversaries (Hos. 2:18). Instead of idolatry and disobedience, Israel would be true to her husband, Yahweh, in faithfulness, righteousness, justice, steadfast love, and mercy (v. 19). The people would no longer worship the Lord falsely; they would no longer associate the worship of the false god Baal with the worship of the covenant lord of Israel, the only true God (vv. 16–17).
Hosea acted out the hope of a new exodus by redeeming Gomer from her illegitimate lover. In like manner, the Lord would fulfill this new exodus by loving and rescuing Israel out of its bondage to foreign deities and false worship, symbolized here by the cakes of raisins offered to other gods (3:1). Yet though this restoration would come, the relationship between God and Israel would for a time not be all that it could be. Upon redeeming Gomer, Hosea would live with her “for many days” without enjoying all the benefits of marriage, including sexual intimacy (vv. 2–3). This foresaw the time in which Israel would be in exile and have a distant relationship with the Lord, one in which the people would not enjoy the benefits of sacrifice, temple, and more (v. 4). Exile and life outside of Canaan was coming, but it would not last forever (v. 5).
Matthew Henry comments on today’s passage: “All who are sincerely devoted to God are betrothed to him; God will love them, protect them, and provide for them. The covenant itself shall be inviolable: God will not break it on his part, and you shall not on yours; and the blessings of it shall be everlasting.” The Lord’s promise of a new exodus meant that there was still a remnant whom God loved. Even when things seem their darkest, God always has His people.
Passages for Further Study