Johnny Cash sang about a “Boy Named Sue.” How about a girl named Gomer? Here’s her story…
“The first time God spoke to Hosea he said: ‘Find a whore and marry her. Make this whore the mother of your children. And here’s why: This whole country has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me” (Hosea 1:2, The Message). Shocking! Obediently, and immediately, the young prophet “went and married Gomer” (Hosea 1:3) and their lives became a picture of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God.
Three children were born to the union of Hosea and Gomer. At the birth of each child, God spoke to Hosea commanding him to give the children prophetic names.
To the first-born, a son, God gave the name Jezreel, saying, “in a little while I will … put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in Jezreel Valley” (Hosea 1:4–5). About thirty years later, in 722 BC, the northern kingdom fell to the Assyrians. God “put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel!”
Their second child was a girl to whom God gave the name Lo-ruhamah. Prophetically, God said, “I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel. I will certainly take them away” (Hosea 1:6). After the Assyrians plundered and destroyed Israel, they drove the people into exile… God took “them away.”
To the third child, another boy, God gave the name Lo-ammi, which means “you are not my people” (Hosea 1:9). This was tantamount to a divorce decree. God said, “You aren’t mine anymore!” But notice, God went on to say, there was coming a time when those who “were not his people” would be called “Son of the Living God” (Hosea 1:10). Grace would follow judgment.
Interestingly, Paul quoted these verses in his letter to the Romans as he explained that under the New Covenant, Gentiles have equal access to the grace of God (Romans 9:25-27). Gentiles, those who were not the “chosen,” have been made equal to the Jews. I’m so glad that the ground at the foot of the cross is level … that Gentiles like me can be saved by God’s grace!
Sadly, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, left her husband and three children and resumed her life of harlotry. That’s when God spoke to Hosea again. “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods” (Hosea 3:1). Again, Hosea immediately obeyed. He redeemed Gomer. He “bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and nine bushels of barley” (Hosea 3:2).
Can we find a clearer and more accurate picture of God’s grace? Like Gomer, we chased after other gods, we prostituted ourselves, we were all living “in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath” (Ephesians 2:3). And just like Hosea, Jesus redeemed us. While we were “enemies of the cross” (Philippians 3:18), “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8, NKJV).
Grace! Grace! God’s grace!