Hosea begins by expanding his thoughts from chapter 2:2 and from 2:3. Then in this chapter (v. 1), he mentions what God had said to him before, and in (v.2), what he did. Going on to (vs. 3-5) Hosea tells us what he said to his wife, the prediction about Israel’s captivity by a foreign power, the return to their own land, and their seeking after God.
We notice in verse one there is the adverb ‘od which means “yet,” or “again.” If we take the translation to be “again,” it would mean that Hosea took his wife back “a second time, once more.” This also means that Hosea’s wife forsook him and left him twice. The translation “yet,” means that God had said to Hosea, “Go yet, still not too late to take her back to yourself!” This was an illustration of Israel’s forsaking God and the hopeful return to her Husband. This means that act of God and the act of Hosea must be similar. But we need to keep in mind that the book of Hosea does not directly mention about Israel forsaking their God twice.
Going back to the time of Moses, he allowed the men of Israel to divorce their wives in the case of fornication and adultery (Deuteronomy 24:1; Matthew 19:9). However, even in the case of adultery and fornication, if Hosea still loved his wife, he was supposed to bring her back to himself and restore their husband-and-wife relationship. The Israelites forsook their God, but their Husband still loved Israel and wanted to restore His relationship with His wife Israel.
The God of Israel is the enduring God who appeared to Jacob at Penuel before he crossed the Jabbok River (Gen. 32:24-28). Jacob showed his endurance before God, and the Lord gave Jacob a new name: Israel, which means (“God contends,” also “God endures”). This was a promise to the people of Israel that God would be patient and show endurance in dealing with His people.
Israel loved a stimulating raisin cake of grapes (Song 2:5) provided by her lover. Israel was to love and trust God rather than trusting their neighboring nations. It was fornication in God’s sight for them to trust stronger foreign nations more than trusting Him—their Husband.
How thankful we can be that our God is a loving God who endures and shows patience in His dealing with us! He wants to continue His relationship with us in a matrimonial covenant relationship even now.
Yoshitaka Kobayashi, Ph.D.