The prophet Hosea provides us with a snapshot of Christ the Redeemer of Israel.
He was told by God to marry a harlot (Hosea 1:2). It is unclear whether she was harlot before Hosea married her, or if she became a harlot later. Either way, she fit the type, because the sin of Israel did not suddenly appear after God married the nation at Mount Sinai.
The harlot was named “Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:3). She soon left Hosea and followed others that she thought would provide for her and protect her. We know little about this, as Hosea’s love prevented him from writing about it in detail. All we know for sure is that she finally found herself in slavery and that the prophet purchased her for 15 shekels of silver (Hosea 3:1, 2).
Gomer is Israel
There were two Gomers in the Bible. The first was the son of Japheth (Gen. 10:2), who has almost nothing to do with Hosea’s Gomer. Bible teachers often fail to recognize this distinction, especially when they expound on Ezek. 38 and 39, where Gomer is one of the invaders of the land of Israel (Ezek. 38:6).
Israel itself was called Gomer (or Ghomri, Gimirra) by the Assyrians a generation before they conquered Samaria and resettled the Israelites in the land of Gamir. This is according to their own records at the great library of Nineveh, which was unearthed by archeologists a century ago.
How the Assyrians came to call Israel by the name Ghomri or Bit-Humri is explained in Merrill Unger’s book, Archeology and the Old Testament, p. 243, says,
“…The initial contact between Israel and Assyria evidently occurred during Omri’s day, for from that time on Israel appears in cuneiform records as Bit-Humri (‘House of Omri’). This official appellation was applied to Samaria, the capital city. Moreover, the designation of an Israelite King became Mar Humri (‘son,’ i.e., ‘royal successor of Omri’). Tiglath Pileser III’s reference to the land of Israel over a century later by its official name Bit Humria evidences the significance of Omri as a ruler in the history of Israel.”
Omri, or Humri, was originally pronounced Ghomri, or Gomer. It is the same as the name of Hosea’s wife, Gomer, who prophetically represented the House of Israel. This is shown in The Old Testament in the Light of the Historical Records and Legends of Assyria and Babylonia, by Theophilus G. Pinches (1902),
“It is noteworthy that the Assyrian form of the name Yaua (‘Jehu’) shows that the unpronounced aleph at the end was at that time sounded, so that the Hebrews must have called him Yahua (‘Hehua’). Omri was likewise pronounced in accordance with the older system, before the ghain became ayin. Humri shows that they said at the time Ghomri.”
The name is also found on the Moabite Stone, which tells us that the Moabites also began to call Israel by the name Omri (or Ghomri) after King Omri conquered Moab. The New Standard Jewish Encyclopedia says on page 1471,
“According to the Moabite Stone, he [Omri] subdued Moab. The Assyrians called the kingdom of Israel by his name for the rest of its existence.”
There can be no doubt, then, that Hosea knew that the surrounding nations called Israel Gomer. It is clear that Japheth’s son, Gomer, was not the same person as Hosea’s wife by the same name. In fact, the entire prophecy in the book of Hosea is built upon the fact that the official Assyrian name for Israel was Gomer.
Therefore, we can say definitively that the harlot wife of Hosea was a prophetic type of the harlot wife of God—Israel.
Moses commanded Israel in Exodus 34:14, 15,
14 For you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God; 15 otherwise, you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods…
God portrays Himself as a jealous Husband, because, as the book of Hosea shows, God had married Israel at Mount Sinai. It was a bad marriage from the start, for Israel committed its first act of spiritual adultery while they were still at the Mount when they worshipped the golden calf.
God endured this bad marriage for centuries, sending many prophets to turn the heart of Israel. One of the final prophets to Israel was Hosea himself, who was called to be a type of Christ and walk out God’s own experience with His harlot wife.
The Salvation of Israel
Remarkably, Hosea himself was named prophetically. The last king of Israel was Hoshea (2 Kings 18:9, 10). So the prophet was not only a type of Christ but also a type of the last king of Israel.
As a type of Christ, Hosea’s name carries the same meaning as Isaiah and Yeshua, all of which are derived from the same root word yasha, “to save.” Yeshua, Isaiah, and Hosea are nouns that mean “Salvation.” Hence, Hosea was Gomer’s savior on one level, just as Yeshua-Jesus was to “save His people from their sins” (Matt. 1:21).
In the Old Testament context, the nation of Israel wanted deliverance from captivity. They wanted to be a great nation but were unwilling to do what it takes to be great. The law prophesied that if they were obedient to God, they would be great among the nations. Deut. 28:9-13,
9 The Lord will establish you as a holy people to Himself, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the Lord your God and walk in His ways. 10 So all the peoples of the earth will see that you are called by the name of the Lord, and they will be afraid of you [i.e., respect and reverence you]…. 13 The Lord will make you the head and not the tail, and you only will be above, and you will not be underneath, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I charge you today, to observe them carefully.
Under the Old Covenant, Israel was to be great by deciding to follow God and by obeying His law by the power of their own will. Under the New Covenant, God vowed to make it happen by the power of His own will.
Hosea was a type of Christ, the Mediator of the New Covenant (Heb. 12:24). This makes Hosea a New Covenant prophet, even though he lived within the historical context of the Old Covenant, which had been established at Sinai.
In other words, Israel’s salvation failed under the Old Covenant but will succeed under the New Covenant.
God divorced the House of Israel, for Hosea 2:2 says, “she is not my wife, and I am not her husband.” This is confirmed in Jer. 3:8,
8 And I saw that for all the adulteries of faithless Israel, I had sent her away and given her a writ of divorce, yet her treacherous sister Judah did not fear; but she went and was a harlot also.
The law of divorce says in Deut. 24:1 that if a man divorces his wife, he must first have lawful cause; then there is a procedure to be followed. He must give her a written bill of divorce and put it in her hand before sending her away. That bill of divorce, the law says, is proof of her divorce and thus gives her the right to remarry (Deut. 24:2).
God did this with the House of Israel. Before sending her out of the house (i.e., out of the land of Israel), He gave her a bill of divorce through the prophets and the written word.
Nonetheless, because Israel’s Husband (Christ) died and was raised up as a new creation (person), she was able to remarry, and He was able to marry her (Rom. 7:2, 3). This marriage (or remarriage) was delayed, however, because it was to be a New Covenant marriage this time. He will never again remarry a “bondwoman” such as the earthly Jerusalem (Gal. 4:24). He will only marry a free woman, a “Sarah” bride, who was a type of the heavenly Jerusalem.
It takes time to prepare for this wedding. That time of preparation overlays the time of tribulation, because the judgments of God are designed to bring correction, spiritual maturity, and, ultimately, restoration.
The gospel in Hosea speaks of Israel’s tribulation among the nations when they became “not My people” (Hosea 1:9). In other words, they joined all other nations who were not married to God. Being on an equal footing in her legal status, Christ then died for the sin of the world in order to reconcile all who were “not My people.”
God uses every bad situation for a good purpose. In this case, He leveled the playing field so that all would be reconciled, Israelites and non-Israelites alike. History shows how this is being accomplished in stages and how a few at a time are qualifying as the bride of Christ in each generation. The plan is to transform those qualified on three historic occasions: two resurrections and a final Jubilee. Ultimately, all will be reconciled to Him to fulfill God’s promise of full deliverance through the blood of Jesus.
Meanwhile, the people are learning obedience through tribulation in the wilderness. So Hosea 2:14, 15 says,
14 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, bring her into the wilderness, and speak kindly to her. 15 Then I will give her vineyards from there.
The prophet then tells us in Hosea 2:19, “I will betroth you to Me forever.” The betrothal is the scene of betrothal. Only the marriage itself brings Israel back to the house of God. That “house” is not the old land, however, for God says in Hosea 2:6,
6 Therefore, behold, I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her so that she cannot find her paths.
This is consistent with Heb. 11:15, 16,
15 And indeed if they had been thinking of that country from which they went out, they would have had opportunity to return. 16 But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one…
Abraham had sought a better country than the old land of Israel and also a better city than the earthly Jerusalem. His faith foreshadowed the exile of Israel, so that she might seek that better country and never return to the old land. That alone shows that the Jews today are not the Israelites of prophecy, for those Israelites have remained “lost” to most Bible teachers who are ignorant of history.
The (collective) bride cannot be taken into the “house” until the marriage has taken place. The marriage is yet future (except on an individual basis). Hence also, the Jewish “return” to the old land, without national repentance, is an unlawful attempt to live with the Messiah without the benefit of marriage—and, in fact, without even knowing Him. It is clear, then, that Zionism is not the fulfillment of the prophecies of the return of Israel.
We must remain in the wilderness outside of God’s house until we (the collective bride) are properly married to Him. Even so, we know that the time is near, for Jesus said that when we see the fruitless “fig tree” (Judah) put forth its leaves once again, then “recognize that He is near, right at the door” (Matt. 24:33).
Therefore, the establishment of the Israeli state in 1948 is a valid sign of Christ’s near return, even though that state itself will never bear fruit that so many anticipate. Jesus prophesied in Matt. 21:19, “No longer shall there ever be any fruit from you.”
No time frame is given to us as to how long the leaves will abound in this end-time “fig tree” before it is again cut down for fuel, as John the Baptist threatened (Matt. 3:10). But we know that the bride is yet betrothed and is still in the wilderness, making last-minute preparations for marriage.
Hosea Redeems His Former Wife
God told the prophet to redeem his ex-wife from slavery. Hosea 3:2 then says,
2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley.
What was her full price in silver? We are told in Lev. 27:16 that “a homer of barley seed at fifty shekels of silver.” Hence, a homer and a half was worth 75 shekels of silver. Hence, the total cost for Gomer’s redemption was 90 shekels of silver. It was the equivalent of 180 days’ wages for common labor. That is six months’ worth of labor.
The prophetic meaning of this redemption was that God was to purchase us with His blood in a sovereign, New Covenant act of love that would cause us to “return and seek the Lord their God” (Hosea 3:5). Further, “they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.”
Since many individuals have already come to Christ over the centuries, this can only refer to a national repentance as a collective body. When the ex-Israelites return—those who are “not My people”—others will come with them (Isaiah 56:8), for all nations are “not My people” until “the last days.” When they repent and turn to God, they all become “My people” on an equal basis and with equal status, for as Paul tells us, “there is no distinction, for all have sinned” (Rom. 3:22, 23). All are equal sinners, and all will be saved equally as well.
The Horrors of Tribulation
The laws of tribulation are set forth in Leviticus 26 and again in Deuteronomy 28. One judgment in particular is given in Lev. 26:29,
29 Further, you will eat the flesh of your sons, and the flesh of your daughters you will eat.
This is repeated with greater detail in Deut. 28:53-57,
53 Then you shall eat the offspring of your own body, the flesh of your sons and of your daughters whom the Lord your God has given you… 56 The refined and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground for delicateness and refinement, shall be hostile toward the husband she cherishes and toward her son and daughter, 57 and toward her afterbirth which issues from between her legs and toward her children whom she bears; for she will eat them secretly for lack of anything else, during the siege and the distress…
In Hebrew thought, “eating” is often a metaphor for conquering or killing. Hence, the ten spies reported that the land “devours its inhabitants” (Num. 13:32), perhaps a reference to the cannibalism inherent in their worship.
Joshua’s response was that “they are bread for us” (Num. 14:9 KJV). While the Canaanites may have consumed human flesh literally, Joshua was speaking only metaphorically. We use the same metaphor in competitive sports, where a team may say, “We will eat them alive” or “We will have them for breakfast” or even “We will kill them.” Obviously, they do not mean this literally.
Human sacrifice, as the Canaanites practiced it, meant that the priests of Baal were required to eat that which they were sacrificing. Hence, the English word cannibal is from canna-bal, “priest (cohen) of Baal.” The Israelites had been guilty of following such horrific practices, and this was why God had cast them out of the land. Deut. 28:64 says,
64 Moreover, the Lord will scatter you among all nations from one end of the earth to the other end of the earth; and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, which you or your fathers have not known.
Part of the curse is that they would continue to serve other gods, who ultimately require human sacrifice and even cannibalism. This is being exposed today, though the mainstream media is trying desperately to keep it secret.
Hosea explains this law of tribulation, saying in Hosea 13:1, 2,
1 When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, but through Baal he did wrong and died. 2 And now they sin more and more and make for themselves molten images…
The judgment of the law, which is rooted in the idea of equal justice and where the judgment fits the crime, says in Hosea 9:12, 13,
12 As for Ephraim, their glory will fly away like a bird—no birth, no pregnancy, and no conception! 13 Ephraim, as I have seen, is planted in a pleasant meadow like Tyre, but Ephraim will bring out his children for slaughter.
The prophet says again in Hosea 9:16,
16 Ephraim is stricken, their root is dried up, they will bear no fruit; even though they bear [yalad, “beget or bear”] children, I will slay the precious ones of their womb.
The prophet thus tells us that the ex-Israelites in the wilderness will reap what they have sown. In their spiritual blindness, they will kill their own children. The prophet uses the term yalad, which is the equivalent of the Greek word gennao, which, when applied to a man, means to beget, and when applied to a woman, means to give birth.
Hosea’s use of the term yalad, then, prophesied of the murder of children either before or after they are born. Of course, true believers have never consented or participated in such murder. Though abortion, infanticide, and child sacrifice was common among the pagans around them, the Christians forbade such practices. They wrote:
“The second commandment of the teaching: You shall not murder… You shall not practice magic. You shall not use potions. You shall not procure [an] abortion, nor destroy a newborn child” (Didache 2:1–2 [A.D. 65]).
“Thou shalt not destroy thy conceptions before they are brought forth; nor kill them after they are born” (Letter of Barnabas 14:11 [A.D. 115]).
“When we say that those women who use drugs to bring on abortion commit murder, and will have to give an account to God for the abortion, on what principle should we commit murder? For it does not belong to the same person to regard the very fetus in the womb as a created being, and therefore an object of God’s care, and when it has passed into life, to kill it; and not to expose an infant, because those who expose them are chargeable with child-murder, and on the other hand, when it has been reared to destroy it” (Athenagoras, A Plea for the Christians 35 [A.D. 177]).
In 1973 abortion was legalized in America in order to bring judgment upon us and, indeed, the entire world. Such a practice is not so much a cause for divine judgment as it is the result of divine judgment. Hence, in Hosea 9:16 God says, “I will slay the precious ones of their womb. My God will cast them away because they have not listened to Him.”
Thankfully, we are only under the wooden yoke, where we may choose whether or not to participate in this ritual murder. If we were under an iron yoke (Deut. 28:48), our masters would give us no choice.
In this way, God has spared His people from the worst of such judgment during the long tribulation.
This tribulation, with all of its horrors, runs alongside the positive work of building the Kingdom of God. The two are meant to provide a contrast between a life of lawlessness and a life of righteousness while we are in the wilderness. This is the snapshot of the Kingdom through Hosea.