Take a moment to think about a memorable scene from your favourite movie or play. As you visualize it in your mind, take note that there are some inanimate objects that were used to compliment the actors and actresses. The objects may be moving or parked cars, costumes, houses/buildings, etc. each carefully placed to enhance the visual message so the audience would believe that the setup is real. Sometimes these objects, known as props, are destroyed, thrown away or abandoned after the movie or play is completed.
In the book of Hosea, the opening verses set the scene for us to understand the environment at that time. “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea the son of Beeri in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash king of Israel. When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take for yourself a wife of prostitution and have children of [her] prostitution; for the land commits great acts of prostitution by not following the Lord.”
The list of kings helps us to understand the timeframe of Hosea’s prophetic ministry. Sort of like how many of us have lived through the terms of multiple presidents. If we were to examine the leadership of each of the listed kings, we would discover that the nation of Israel (northern kingdom) and the tribe of Judah (southern kingdom) were influenced by toxic leadership.
Uzziah and Jothan did right in the sight of the Lord except they allowed idolatrous sacrifices to be offered in the high places. 2 Kings 15:3,33. Ahaz was remembered for not following the Lord at all. 2 Kings 16. Hezekiah did right and removed the idolatrous high places and broke the sa-cred pillars. 2 Kings 18:2. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern kingdom. 1 Kings 11:26.
The above description of the leaders who lived during Hosea’s time is brief but it shows that the people were under shaky influence which set the atmosphere for idolatry. By this time, Hosea received the word from the Lord to make a decision that would raise the eyebrows of many of us today; the command to marry a prostitute. Their marriage was to illustrate the marriage of God, who is habitually faithful, and His adulterous people. If we’re not careful, we could read this account and gloss over the character of the prostitute whose name was Gomer. Verse 3. We tend to do this unintentionally. After all, the bible does not tell us much about the history or character of the prostitute. We do not know how long she has been in this un-healthy lifestyle, nor do we know what led her there.
Gomer could’ve been the woman who was sexually abused as a little girl and found acceptance through engaging in sexual intercourse with whoever would pay attention to her. It’s even possible that she was a faithful wife who became a widow and chose to turn prostitution for the sake of surviving in a time and place where women did not experience the same economic liberties known to many today. Regarding the details of her true story, not much is told about Gomer except that she was a woman known for getting around if the price was right. Interestingly the name Gomer has a unique meaning; to complete. This leads me to wonder about the mindset of Gomer’s parents when she was born. To bestow a name with such a rich meaning makes me wonder if her parents felt complete after giving birth to her. Maybe she was the first daughter after the birth of one or two sons which gave her parents a sense of having a complete family. Perhaps she was the only child who brought a sense of completeness to her mother. Again, the details of her story remain a mystery.
Yet the God of creation instructed his servant Hosea to marry such a woman to illustrate His union with the northern and southern kingdom at this time. Gomer bore three children to Hosea and stepped out on him more times than we may ever know. In chapter three verse three says: “So I bought her for myself for [c]fifteen pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley [the price of a common slave].” By now it should be clear that Gomer was not just a prop in God’s illustration but a real person. A person who in need of the ministry of love which is the true medicine for the soul.
In this book we see agape love demonstrated for a people who were, by the standard of many, undeserving. They were drunk with prosperity and up to their necks in idolatry; you and I can relate cause we have our own idols that we need to turn away from. Let us repent while the tome is at hand and let us remember that we are not just props in this grand theater but people whom Christ came to save (heal).