What Is Love?

by Bethany

Today’s Readings: Hosea 1, Psalm 119:73-96 (see full text below)


Sophocles said that it “frees us of all the weight and pain of life.” Oliver Wendell Holmes said it is “the master key that opens the gates of happiness.” Thomas Mann said that it “is stronger than death.” God, however, says that love is marriage to a hooker. To symbolize His love for His people, He called the prophet Hosea to marry “a wife of harlotry” [1] in order to mirror the “flagrant harlotry” of His people against Him [2].

Israel and God

Hosea was unique among the Minor Prophets [3] – not only did he prophesy before the kingdom split [4], he also focused on the north, Israel [5]. His ministry followed “a golden age in the northern kingdom” [6]. Unfortunately, with peace and prosperity, they experienced moral decay. Since Assyria – the great empire to the north – was always threatening attack [7], tiny Israel was tempted to find refuge in Assyria and idols rather than God.

Their seeking after idols was more than mere disobedience. In loving His people, the Lord had given them His name and called them His own [8]. Thus, when they found refuge in false gods and broke their covenant, He was heart-broken – like a husband whose wife had gone after other men.

Hosea and Gomer

Thus, God called Hosea to be a symbolic picture so that His people could understand the gravity of their disobedience and the immeasurable hope of His restorative love. After Hosea took Gomer as his wife, she bore her first son, “Jezreel,” a name that symbolized the punishment God would bring His people [9]. Next, she had a daughter, “Lo-ruhamah,” a name that meant, “she has not received mercy” [10]. Then, their next son was named, “Lo-ammi,” which meant, “not my people,” a name that symbolized that Gomer’s adultery had gone so far that the father of her son was not her husband [11].

Hope and Healing

Yet, even at the outset of Hosea’s ministry, God offered hope of redemption for His people and their adulterous idol worship: “ … in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ it will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God’” [12].


Lord, You love your people. Yet, I forget how my disobedience breaks your heart. Give me eyes to see my sin as you do. Forgive me and pull me close to you as your child. Amen.


[1] Hosea 1:2 NASB  |  [2] Id. |  [3]  The prophets are divided into two categories – Major and Minor. The Major Prophets are Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel. The Minor Prophets are Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. The distinction between Major and Minor prophets is not related to importance or significane, as one might think based on their reference categories – “Major” and “Minor.” Rather, the Major Prophets are longer and all prophesied concerning the same events. The Minor Prophets, generally speaking, are shorter. Hosea is unique among the Minor Prophets, however, because it is longer than most of the others and it is one of the earliest (along with Amos and Micah).  |  [4]  Hosea prophesied in the period 780 – 725 BC and the kingdom split in 722 BC.  |  [5]  Hosea lived in and focused on the northern kingdom of Israel. The prophet Amos did so, too. In fact, at the same time that Amos and Hosea were prophesying in the northern kingdom of Israel, Isaiah and Micah were prophesying in the southern kingdom of Judah.  |  [6]  “Introduction to Hosea.” ESV Bible, Crossway (2007)  |  [7]  To see how tiny Israel was compared to the encroaching Assyrian Empire, see Map |  [8]  See, e.g., Isaiah 43:1 (“But now, this is what the LORD says – he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.’”)  |  [9] Hosea 1:4 NASB  |  [10] Hosea 1:6 NASB  |   [11]  Hosea 1:9 NASB  |  [12] Hosea 1:10 NASB

2 Comments to “What Is Love?”

  1. Good stuff here Bethany. I like your prayers at the end. Be well!

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