The reality that Christians are the bride of Christ is illustrated in the Old Testament through the explicit story of Hosea and Gomer. Hosea was a prophet who ministered during a very rebellious period in Israel’s history. God chose an interesting way to get the attention of His people.
When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. (Hosea 1:2–3 NIV)
Yes, you read the verses correctly. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. He did so with a purpose because the people in Israel were guilty of spiritual adultery. They were chasing other lovers, other gods (little “g”). They turned away from God and were worshipping idols.
So for one huge object lesson, God asks Hosea to marry a prostitute.
Can you imagine Hosea bringing Gomer home to meet his parents? Meeting your future in-laws for the first time is stressful enough without having a prostitute fiancée.
Hosea marries Gomer despite his knowledge that she would be unfaithful. And as expected, Gomer is unfaithful to Hosea. The first child they have is Hosea’s. We don’t know if the other ones are his or not. Hosea probably did not know either.
Eventually she left him to pursue others.
Hosea was humiliated. His bride left him for others, and everyone knew it. People in town told jokes about Hosea. As he walked down the streets, he looked into the eyes of other men wondering if they were with his wife. He tucked his children into bed at night and wondered where his wife was sleeping.
Amazingly, Hosea does not wait for Gomer to return home. Instead he pursues her.
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” (Hosea 3:1–3 NIV)
God told Hosea to find Gomer, to show love . . . again. God instructed Hosea to pursue Gomer to illustrate how God pursues His people, His bride. God does not wait in a rocking chair for us to come to Him. He is not a passive God. He actively seeks us.
Not only did Hosea pursue Gomer, but he also bought her.
Evidently Gomer’s sinful life caught up with her. She was poor and destitute and selling herself into slavery. Hosea found her at the local slave auction. The normal price of a slave was thirty shekels. Hosea did not have thirty so he gave all his money and paid the balance with barley. Hosea, at a public slave auction, pays with all he has for his own wife.
God’s love for us is like Hosea’s love for Gomer. We were slaves to sin, and Christ was humiliated in order to buy us back. Publicly He was mocked and abused. He paid not with money or with barley but with His own life. To give you the identity of His bride, Christ purchased you.
Hosea told Gomer to forsake other lovers, to live with him. And as Hosea instructed Gomer to be faithful to him, God has instructed you to forsake others and to live out your identity as His bride.
So how should you live as His bride?
Adapted from Identity (2008, B&H Publishing Group)