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Lesson 12: Hosea and Gomer: Forgiving the Unfaithful *

Introduction: My parents grew up in a situation in which it appeared to them they were not the favored child. Those married couples who have gone through a difficult time or divorce, because of adultery, have a close-up look at what it means to be considered "second-best." God felt that way in His relationship with His people, Israel. He was unhappy because they did not put Him in first place in their hearts. This week our study is on a couple who display this problem. Let's plunge into our study and find out more!

  1. The Marriage Instructions

    1. Read Hosea 1:1-3. What is Hosea and how long has he been on the job? (He is a new prophet. God has started to speak through him.)

      1. What is one of the first things that God reveals to Hosea? (Marry an adulterous wife and have illegitimate children.)

        1. As a new prophet, might this make you wonder about your gift?

        2. Those are certainly odd instructions from a God who condemns adultery! Why does God say that Hosea should do this? (God wants to illustrate the point about the way His people are treating Him.)

      2. Was Gomer (Hosea's wife to be) an "adulterous wife" before or after their marriage? (The Bible is not clear on this. How would you know your wife would commit adultery? My view is that Hosea wanted to marry Gomer (I think his first mistake was to marry someone with that name (I'm kidding) and it proved, as God predicted, that she would be unfaithful to Hosea.)

  2. Jezreel

    1. Who is the father of Gomer's first child? (Hosea.)

    2. Read Hosea 1:4-5. God tells Hosea to give this son a prophetic name. What future does the name Jezreel predict? (Think back to last week, where we studied what Ahab did at Jezreel - and God's punishment on Ahab's wife (Jezebel) and son (Joram).)

      1. Who was the "good guy" in executing God's judgment on Ahab's wife and son? (Jehu!)

      2. How could God punish Jehu for what God commanded that he do ( 2 Kings 9:6-9) and what God later commended Jehu for doing ( 2 Kings 10:30)? (Read 2 Kings 10:31. Jehu continued to worship idols. He did not keep God's law with all of his heart. Essentially, Jehu was involved in the same sins for which he punished Ahab's family.)

        1. What good is it to execute God's judgment on the House of Ahab when you are committing the same sin?

        2. Does this suggest that Jehu's motive for doing God's will was mostly self-aggrandizement?

      3. Imagine a spouse, who does most of what you ask, but is unfaithful?

        1. Would you be happy with a spouse like that?

        2. Are you a spouse like that?

        3. More importantly, are you a Christian like that? You generally obey God, but your motives are not pure and you do not give God first place in your heart. Is that you?

  3. Lo-Ruhmah

    1. Read Hosea 1:6. Is Hosea the father of Lo-Ruhmah? (When it comes to the first son, the Bible specifically says it is Hosea's. That statement is lacking here.)

      1. Lo-Ruhmah means "not loved." Husbands, would this be natural for a child who was conceived while you were married but is not yours?

        1. Why would you have unloving thoughts towards that child? It is not the child's fault. (The child is a reminder of your "second place" status.)

        2. What reminded God of His second place status? (The idols the people continued to worship.)

        3. Put yourself in the place of the people of Hosea's time. Why would they keep these idols? (They did not trust God. One commentary points out that Baal worship mixed religion with sex. Thus, it had a sensual appeal to the people.)

          1. What are your idols today? What do you do (or keep) that shows that you do not trust God?

          2. What sensual practice do you put above obedience to God?

      2. What about your marriage? What do you keep or do that shows that your spouse is "second best?"

        1. If you continue with these things, can you blame your spouse for having the same reaction as God: "I will no longer show love [or] ... forgive?"

  4. Lo-Ammi

    1. Read Hosea 1:8-9. Is this son the child of Hosea? (Again, the Bible does not positively say, thus suggesting that he is not.)

      1. Lo-Ammi means "not my people." This would be the obvious description of a child who was not yours - but is there a deeper meaning here? (This is the last stage of the breakdown of a relationship. You come to the point where you say "I don't care anymore" - and you mean it.)

    1. When you reach this point in your marriage is there any hope? When you reach this point in your relationship with God, is there any hope?

  1. The Way Back

    1. Hosea 2:1-15 tells how God will punish Israel for its unfaithfulness. Basically, these verses speak of all the things that God will take away from His people. Is this the course that will help your unfaithful spouse return to you?

      1. If your spouse returns does it mean that you were loved for your "stuff?" (This sounds like the "tough love" approach to me. God wants to bring His people to their senses by taking away the blessings He has given them. Presumably, every spouse brings something to the marriage. We all bring "stuff." If you take that away, the other spouse may stop taking your contribution for granted.)

    2. Read Hosea 2:14-15. What course change do we see here?

      1. Does this course change make any sense to you? If so, why? (The goal is to restore the relationship, not simply punish the spouse. Can you see the path of God's thinking? He first warns His "spouse." Then, when the behavior does not change, He withdraws His blessings from the spouse. Then, when He has the attention of the spouse, and (hopefully) common sense has returned, God woos the spouse back.)

      2. Are these the stages that we should use to repair our marriage?

      3. What, specifically, does God do to "woo" Israel?

        1. What is the symbolism of taking her to the desert? Is this like taking her to the beach? (It means being alone. Perhaps a fresh start.)

        2. What is the symbolism of speaking tenderly? (Not getting angry or sounding angry. Speaking caring, encouraging, sensitive, sensual words.)

        3. What is the symbolism of giving back vineyards? (For one thing, it means gifts. Vineyards, grapes, wine have special meaning in the Bible. I think it means a spiritual connection, physical health, pleasure, and joy.)

    3. Read Hosea 2:16. What change in attitude takes place in the marriage?

    4. At any point in this process has God stopped loving His people? (Read Hosea 3:1. God tells us that He continued to love His people through the time of their unfaithfulness. He is a great and steadfast God!)

    1. Friend, consider God's approach to sin. God desires to have a relationship with you. It may take a little "shaking" of your world. But God's goal is to come close to you and love you, not harm you. Will you come back to Him?

  1. Next week: Yahweh and Israel: Fulfillment Beyond Failure.

* Copr. 2007, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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