The book of Hosea is a picture of God’s relationship with Israel. As I was reading through the book this week I was struck especially with the first half of chapter two. I realized that we, as New Testament believers, have been grafted into Israel(Romans 11), which means that much of Hosea’s allegory pertains to us today.
Verses 1-5—Gomer had not been faithful to her husband. She had many lovers…many idols. Idolatry comes straight from the heart and it’s revealed in a number of unique ways. Basically, an idol is anything that is more important to you than Jesus Christ—the church’s Bridegroom. People can be idols…so can ideas, talents, passions….anything. It’s not that these things are bad, per se. God gives us people for relationships, ideas to use in ministry, etc. It’s when these things take first place in our heart that idolatry takes root. God’s purpose for all things is to be used for His Glory—as something complementary to our relationship with Him, not competing for a relationship.
Verses 6-13—Hosea begins making Gomer’s idolatry difficult. He, as any good husband, wants his wife wholly devoted to him, but in order to do so he has to destroy her idols. He hedges her way with thorns, takes away corn and wine, ceases her feast days, and destroys her vines. There is never enough room in our hearts for both our idols and God. If we permit the idols, we push God out. When we push God out of our hearts, God’s blessings will be removed from our lives as well. The absence of God’s blessings is cursing—our mirth will cease, our path will be overgrown with thorns.
Verse 14—Hosea wins Gomer’s heart by bringing her into the wilderness. Yep, the wilderness, where Gomer’s idols won’t come (idols thrive only when life is going well; they forsake anyone in wilderness conditions). Wildernesses in life have always driven me closer to God. It’s because the idols do forsake us when things aren’t going well—they can’t help us anymore; our help can only come from God.
Verse 15—As Hosea allured his wife he gave her vineyards in replacement for the measly vines she once owned in verse 12. He gives a door of hope in the valley of Achor. She can sing in the valley a song of deliverance from the sinful pleasures of Egypt. In the wilderness God fills our hearts with such Heavenly Love that our idolatrous love looks like the measly lust that it is. He gives us a door of hope in the valley of trouble (Joshua 7)! He fills our hearts with the joyful song of freedom from the slavery of sin. When our hearts are fully fixed on Him, he restores and blesses in abundance.