“It will come about in that day,” declares the Lord, “That you will call Me Ishi and will no longer call Me Baali.” Hosea 2:16
I so wish that I had a strong knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. Why? Because there is so much I don’t want to be taking for granted and just passing over in Your word, Lord. I mean, if I read Hosea’s words and just read them as words and names and go on, I’ll miss so much. But if I take the time to search out what the words and names really mean and the magnitude of what You are saying through them, then these words impact my life so greatly. It’s not just a story. It’s not just Hosea and Gomer’s story. It’s not just Israel and Judah’s story. This is a living and continuing story. This is my story. And what I get from it can effect the outcome of my story and the next person’s story. And it’s not just any kind of story either. It’s a living love story. And ultimately it’s God’s story, Your story.
You start out with two of Hosea’s children, the ones named Loammi and Loruhamah, the one who was not your people and the one who would have no more mercy. You took these pictures of what was going on with Your people who should have been living like Your people and enjoying the blessings of that relationship and instead were receiving the consequences of their choice to abandon You and You showed what it looked like. I mean, here is Gomer, having relations with other men who don’t care as much as Hosea does about her. And these two children may even be by these other relationships. Yet Hosea remains faithful. Why? Because it’s a picture of You and how You God, remain ever faithful to Your bride.
But therefore, that also means that this Gomer is a picture of the bride. And who is the bride? The people of God. And who are the people of God, only Israel and Judah? No. The people of God are all those believers who not only believe with their heads but believe with their lives. They are the ones who once acted on their own, like they were not Your people, but now they are fully Yours.
And how do You treat them? I mean, after the way they treated You? After all that unfaithfulness? You call them Ammi and Ruhamah, Yours and Beloved! And that’s how we are to look at each other also. But the intensity of the love doesn’t stop there. Look at how God treats Gomer. Look at what the problem was in Gomer’s heart.
Hosea says, “Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband…” Really? Gomer wasn’t Hosea’s wife? Yes, she was. But she was not living as though she was. She was not thinking as though she was. Instead of running to the arms that provided for her, she ran to other arms. And as she ran to the other arms, she saw them as caring for her. She thought they were better than Hosea. She chose not to be Hosea’s girl. She chose to not receive Hosea’s goodness. She was that deceived.
Here’s the thing. Gomer is like us when we think things are better outside of God’s care. We attest all our blessings to some other cause when God is really the cause. And then it takes losing it all before we ever get our focus right and see that it was You all along. It takes losing everything before we see how faithful You have been when we were not, how righteous, and loving, and merciful You have been through it all and despite it all. And after all that shameful behavior, You would still redeem us back to Yourself and make us Your own glorious people, Your beautiful bride, and then we will not only be Yours but we will understand what it is for You to be our God.
And that brings us to verse 16. “And it shall be at that day, says the Lord, that you shall call me Ishi; and shall call me no more Baali.” Now, because I’m not a Hebrew scholar, I’m just wondering if this form of Ish is a really personal form, like when I change Dad to Daddy. I ask, because it just tells something deeper about the relationship. That maybe, at one point, that false god Baal was looked at as “daddy.” That Baal was the one who ruled her world. And it seems that Baal rules the world by force so we might as well get what we can how we can because who knows if we’ll get what we want. And that’s the thing. Like Gomer, we can treat You God, like Baal. We can treat You as though You rule the world by force. Then that influences every part of our thinking and our acting.
How does it influence my thinking and acting if I believe that God rules the world by force? I follow suit and rule my world by force. Husbands rule wives by force. Parents rule children by force. Nations rule people by force. Religion rules by force. Power determines relationship. But that’s not God’s picture. That’s not the picture You painted through Hosea and Gomer. The picture You paint is that love rules relationships. Mutual loyalty rules relationships.
That ish thing is so important because it takes us back to the first man and woman and Your original intent. Adam rejoiced in Eve because she was part of him, not because she was less then him. It wasn’t good for man to be alone, to be cut off from the tree. Eve is part of Adam. Together they were mankind. Adam without Eve was incomplete. Mankind would not continue. They were created for mutual love, mutual loyalty, mutual care, mutual respect, and mutual reflection of Your attitude, God.
Force did not come until after the fall and it was a byproduct of the fall, a result of sin. Our purpose is still to reflect God’s glory and we can only reflect God’s glory by relating in love. God is not just some ultimate power. He is “the ultimate person, the Other in whom I find myself.” (Jonathan Sacks) In other words, You are not a moral policeman. That’s a pagan idea. I mean, if I look at the evidence and I see how Jesus, Your Messiah “deliberately changes the perceived hierarchy of master-slave to teacher-friend (John 15:15)” (Skip Moen) that throws that idea out the door. I can see how Jesus treated women and Samaritans and Romans and see that power play go out the door. The more I read, the more I listen, the more I see, it’s about joy in the presence of another.
God’s relationship with us is based on this joy just as much as our marriage should be based on this kind of mutual joy. I find my joy in the other person because I find God’s joy in them and in me. See, I am who I am because of who she or he is, just as I am who I am because of who You are God. My marriage relationship reflects my relationship with You.
It wasn’t like You forced Adam to name Eve. Adam was so overjoyed, so excited, so exuberant that he took his name, Ish, and voluntarily changed it to give it to Eve as Ishshah. Paul got it. That’s why he reminded husbands and wives, “Submit yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Ephesians 5:21) Mutual submission and loyalty and love and enjoyment isn’t a bad thing. It’s rejoicing in each other and rejoicing in what You, God, have done together.
The truth is that God wanted to rejoice in Gomer and Jezreel and Loammi and Loruhamah. But sometimes He has to take us to a place where we can learn the reality of His feelings for us so that we can return them in the same joy that He gives them. I mean, what if You had just cut them off? But You didn’t. You were long-suffering. You kept calling and waiting and loving and placing situations in their lives.
I think of a friend of mine who is missing. I think of how he has lost sight of how much the people around him love him. I think he lost sight of the fact that You were still acting for his benefit even in the tough, the really tough and heart wrenching things going on in his life. And I think how I want to put letters and notes all over the world for him just to let him know how much he is loved so he will come back. But I don’t even know where to look. But You, on the other hand, know just where to place Your love notes. And You go to the uttermost extreme. As though it wasn’t enough when Christ paid the price on the cross for each and every one of us, You put situations in our lives and people in our lives to help our blinded eyes see. You are always loving us more than ever we could deserve.
If I weep over my friend being lost and somewhere where I can’t demonstrate my joy in him, then think of how much more our Heavenly Father must feel for us when we wander or when we don’t even get it. Lord, I was Gomer and You were ever faithful. I don’t want to be a Gomer again. But what I do want, is for You to give me a heart for all the Gomers out there. And I pray that You would help me to help the Gomers and the Loammis and the Loruhamas know the joy You really feel for them. And I pray that Your joy over us would so infect our lives and attitudes that we would be filled with that same joy for You and Your ways. Thank You for Hosea and Gomer and all their kids. Thank You for Israel and Judah. Thank You for being a God who reigns by love relationship and by the joy of Your being and presence. Thank You for inviting us into You and into Your joy.