The three theologies that Hosea deals with is the theology of covenant, theology of judgment and theology of restoration.
The covenant that God makes with his people is not the same as the ones we usually see, where two parties come together as equals to make an agreement. With God, His covenant is an agreement made by the stronger party for the weaker party, where the weaker party enjoys the benefits of the agreement, without which the benefits cannot be enjoyed by the weaker party in the first place.
The covenant that God made with His people is very much like the union between Christ and the church. Therefore, God’s instruction to Hosea to take a prostitute as his wife very picturesquely paints the main message of what’s going wrong – the covenant is compromised!
Contrary to the belief of some Bible scholars that Hosea’s wife (Gomer) became an adulteress only after her marriage to Hosea, there is more water under the bridge for us to contend that Gomer was already a prostitute before Hosea married her. The common objection is, God cannot ask Hosea to marry a prostitute because that is not morally correct. However, God’s instruction is not as incomprehensibly unacceptable as it seems.
God had to use “shock treatment” on His people. So great is the extent of Israel’s sin, that nothing short of a “shock” is needed to wake them up. God’s message to His people can only be accurately conveyed if Hosea married a real prostitute, not just some woman who became adulterous later on after marriage. Israel has been prostituting herself right before Yahweh’s eyes, and that is the picture that Israel deserved to get about herself.
The second theology is the theology of judgment. The message of judgment in Hosea follows a pattern that can be observed in every other prophetic message – Sin, punishment, judgment, restoration. Israel has sinned, God punished them, God pronounced judgment on them, and finally, God intends to restore them.
In every case of God’s judgment on His people, He always ends His message with a hint of restoration. In the last chapter of Hosea, God declares, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4). Interestingly enough, Hosea’s hints of restoration are reiterated in the New Testament. The same way God pronounced judgment on Israel in the Old Testament by calling them Lo-Ruhamah (no mercy) and Lo-Ammi (not my people), He restores them in the New Testament – “Once you were not a people (Lo-Ammi), but now you are the people of God (Ammi); once you had not received mercy (Lo-Ruhamah), but now you have received mercy (Ruhamah)” (1 Peter 2:10).
Julius Evanson will deal with the final segment of his three-part series next Sunday. The topic will be Hosea for Today.