God’s call to Hosea is one of the more shocking even by prophetic standards. It starts with the call to marry a wife who will be unfaithful to Hosea, and to love and stand by her.
It’s hardly fair on anyone involved. Did Gomer know her role in this marriage and prophetic act? Did Hosea love her simply out of obedience, or was there more? And what about the children, not only born into such a distorted family but given names of judgement to cope with as well!
As with some of the more lurid passages of Ezekiel, we recoil from the human costs of adultery here. Even more than in Ezekiel, this is not just words and visions, but pain acted out in human lives.
But the shock value is surely a big part of the point of this prophetic act. We are so used to God’s love that we forget its passion and pain – he loves his people, and promises faithfulness to them even in the knowledge that they – we – will not give him the same passion and faithfulness in our turn.
If you feel for Hosea, feel for God too. He is betrayed by those he has chosen to make his own – by us. We can’t help Hosea’s pain, but we can deal with God’s pain by renewing our commitment to him and him alone. What more would it take to make us realise?