Explore the Bible Study: The Unfaithful Bride

11:30 AM

One of the most difficult offenses for us to forgive is unfaithfulness. The difficulty is even greater when someone has been unfaithful for an extended amount of time. The Explore the Bible Study: The Unfaithful Bride, focuses on the book of Hosea where Hosea is directed by God to marry someone who will be unfaithful. It’s a narrative that includes unfaithfulness, betrayal, prostitution, promiscuity, and adultery. Yet, through the instructions given to Hosea, we see a picture of God’s love for His people, even when they act unfaithfully toward Him.

The first verse in the book of Hosea indicates God called Hosea to be His prophet during the reign of Uzziah, a king of Judah, and that his ministry continued through the reigns of Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, also kings of Judah. His ministry lasted for a period of at least thirty to forty years. Hosea’s ministry also occurred during the reign of Jeroboam II. 

The Lord’s first words to Hosea were unusual. God told Hosea to go and marry a “woman of promiscuity.” Let’s see how God uses Hosea’s life to help us understand more fully the grace extended to us, even when we are unfaithful to God.

Unfaithfulness Exposed—Hosea 1:2-9

How would you respond if God asked you to do what He asked Hosea to do?

In telling him to marry Gomer and to start a family with her, God was asking him to walk a difficult path. She was known to be unfaithful. Her reputation preceded her! We don’t know Hosea’s initial response, but he was obedient. He took her as his wife for a lifetime, even though she longed for the company of many men—possibly becoming a prostitute in the worship of Baal.

God was offering the entire nation of Israel a wake-up call. They were living in relative prosperity and felt pretty safe. They had also adopted many of the cultural beliefs and religious practices of their time. In God’s view, they were acting like prostitutes, refusing to stay faithful to their intimate relationship with Him.

What examples might reveal that believers are living promiscuous lives today? How has prosperity and success affected believers today? In what ways are we tempted to compromise God’s standards, even mixing in unbiblical cultural philosophy and practices into our belief system?

God also tells Hosea that he and Gomer will have children and tells him to give them specific names that would serve as living reminders of Israel’s unfaithfulness. 

  • Jezreel – Represented the judgment that would come upon the kingdom of Israel in general and specifically upon the house of Jehu, of which Israel’s present king, Jeroboam, was a part. 
  • Lo-ruhamah – meaning “not loved” or “no mercy.”  What an awful name for a little girl! What it meant for the people of Israel was just as ominous. God would show mercy to Israel no more. 
  • Lo-ammi – meaning “not my people.”

Consider God’s view of unfaithfulness of His people in the following passages: Jeremiah 3:8; Matthew 12:38-41; James 4:4. (hover over each passage and the verse will appear)

Have you ever considered the fact that acting unfaithful to God is spiritual adultery? How would understanding this change the way we view sin?

In chapter 2, Gomer’s behavior is exposed by Hosea just as God was always and is always exposing the sin of man, in this case Israel. But there was good news in this situation! God directed Hosea in chapter 3 to take Gomer back, even though she was now involved with another man. Hosea was to do this as an illustration of God’s love for Israel and, eventually, through Jesus Christ, God’s grace to all who would turn back to Him. 

Restoration Pursued—Hosea 3:1-5

We see in these passages a picture of undeserved grace and forgiveness. The Lord spoke to Hosea, telling him: Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress.  Somewhere along the way, Gomer had wandered so far away from Hosea’s faithful love—she had ended up being sold as a slave. God instructed Hosea to redeem her from slavery, to buy her back despite her unfaithfulness. The price he paid indicates that he had scraped together everything he had to pay for her.

Hosea’s love was to be patterned after God’s love, a love that is given to those who do not deserve to be loved. The raisin cake reference indicates they had even turned to other gods. Consuming raisin cakes was part of Israel’s idolatrous ceremonies. 

How does Hosea’s response to Gomer reflect what Jesus did for us as described Romans 5:8? 

God used Hosea’s marriage to illustrate the salvation offered to all sinners through the sacrifice of Jesus as described in Romans 5:8, “But God proves his own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. In the example of Hosea’s marriage, God exposed the unfaithfulness of Israel to Him. It equally exposes the unfaithfulness of all people, and it reveals the love Christ demonstrates to those who receive Him as Savior.

Christ, The Redeemer of the Unfaithful

Throughout the Bible, God continually points us to his plan to redeem the unfaithful and undeserving. That message began at the moment man chose to sin in the Garden. Then, in Genesis 15 and 17, God established a covenant with Abraham and his descendants that has been confirmed numerous times throughout Israel’s history. God promised Israel He would be faithful and would set the nation of Israel apart as His holy people (Leviticus 20:26; Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 26:18-19). They were also instructed to consecrate themselves to the Lord and serve Him alone (Exodus 20:2-6; Deuteronomy 6:13).

Despite God’s love and this special covenant relationship, we see throughout the Old Testament the constant unfaithful, adulterous actions of God’s people. This unfaithfulness takes us to the book of Hosea and how God was going to expose their unfaithfulness once again while demonstrating His love for them.

Christ was the living embodiment of the bridegroom and faithful husband when He came, lived, died, and arose from the grave. He willingly gave up everything to redeem and restore those He loved.  While God’s covenant relationship with the Israelites remained, through His son, He formed a new covenant with all who believed in Jesus Christ and surrendered to His lordship. Those who believe are called the church. When we are saved by Christ we are redeemed and restored into a relationship with Him. He becomes our Bridegroom and we become His bride (the church).

Christ gave everything to free us from the bondage of slavery to sin and the consequences of our actions and to redeem us as His own.

How can understanding Hosea’s actions help you understand Christ’s actions on your behalf?

Why is it important to understand that, as sinners, we are just like Gomer, unworthy to be redeemed but pursued by God through Jesus Christ to be redeemed and restored into a right relationship with Him?

Take some time this week to examine your life for areas in which you may be guilty of failing to be totally faithful to God. What actions do you need to take to demonstrate your faithfulness to God? For what do you need to ask for His forgiveness?

The downloadable teaching helps provide more details for this study, along with some tools you can use in guiding a group Bible study. Be sure to use this as a supplement to your study of the Explore the Bible Study resources provided by LifeWay.

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