Hosea: His Marriage and His Message -- By: Michael P. V. Barrett

Journal: Puritan Reformed Journal
Volume: PRJ 03:2 (Jul 2011)
Article: Hosea: His Marriage and His Message
Author: Michael P. V. Barrett

Hosea: His Marriage
and His Message

Michael P. V. Barrett

God has made marriage the choice symbol of His own relationship with His people. This spiritual parallel lifts family life to a high and significant plane. The love of Christ for His people regulates and defines the love the husband should show to his wife, and the loyalty of the church to Christ indicates the faithful loyalty the wife should show to her husband. Christian husbands and wives owe to Christ the purification of their relations and the sanctification of their homes. God ordained marriage for the lifelong companionship, help, and comfort a husband and wife ought to have for each other. In this covenant of marriage, both husband and wife must commit themselves to each other completely in compassion and understanding. It is a covenant of faith and trust between a man and a woman, a covenant of hope that endures all things, a covenant of love in which both husband and wife empty themselves of self and their own concerns and esteem each other more highly than themselves. It is not surprising that God so often uses marriage to communicate spiritual truths to His people. Indeed, a good marriage that fulfills all the requirements of love and loyalty becomes a never-ending living sermon of the gospel itself. However, a marriage that fails is tragic, contrary to expectation, but nonetheless spiritually instructive. One way or another, there is always a message in marriage.

The message of marriage is an integral part of the prophecy of Hosea. Whereas most prophecies begin with some command for the prophet to prophesy, Hosea begins with the Lord’s instruction for him to marry. God intended for Hosea’s family life to be a symbol—a visible picture or object lesson—of the message he was to preach to Israel. Hosea 3:1, the key verse of the prophecy, explicitly links Hosea’s marriage to Gomer with God’s marriage to Israel: “love a woman...

according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel.” It was not unusual for the Lord to instruct His prophets to use some symbolic act to accompany a part of the message. Sometimes those symbolic acts would cause embarrassment, such as Isaiah’s walking around naked and barefoot or Jeremiah’s walking around with a yoke around his neck. Sometimes the symbolic act would cause significant inconvenience, such as Jeremiah’s traveling back and forth to the Euphrates with the linen girdle. Sometimes the symbolic act might even cause some temporary discomfort, such as Ezekiel’s lying on his sides for prolonged periods. But Hosea was unique in that his whole life was symbolic—an object lesson of his message. Any who saw or knew about Hosea’s ordeal cou...

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