When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son.

Hosea 1:2-3

The “wife of prostitution” described in Hosea 1:2 has been widely discussed among Bible scholars as many have questioned whether or not such a command would have been a feasible one for a prophet to receive and obey. While the LORD certainly asks uncomfortable things of us, going into a whorehouse in order to find a wife would seem beyond strange.

While it is certainly possible that the LORD prepared Hosea’s heart by revealing to the prophet the kind of woman he was marrying (in other words, Hosea understood that promiscuity would be the direction her life would take, not necessarily the activity she participated in at the time of their marriage), this understanding can easily obscure the fact that the LORD saw Himself as already fulfilling Hosea’s soon-to-be role as a faithful husband to a faithless wife.

We can quickly hide from the implications of what’s taking place in this prophecy.

Given that the LORD calls us to love our enemies (to love those who reject us), the idea that Gomer may not have been an active prostitute can quickly lead us to disobey the command to love our enemies. We can easily trick ourselves into thinking that the sordid corners of our world contain people not worth reaching out to, people unworthy of our love.

One of the premises of Hosea’s prophesy, however, is that the people of Israel fell into the group of people “unlovely” and “unworthy.” Even so, the LORD loved them with a reckless abandon. Hosea models that love, obeying the LORD’s command by cherishing a life that, due to her constant betrayal of his affection, did not deserve it.

Right from the outset of Hosea’s book, we ought to recognize that the command given to the prophet to love the unlovely has been given to us all. Ultimately, such a radical command has been given to us because we are ourselves the unlovely who have been redeemed by an extraordinary love.

And so, may we rush to love.

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