Let me be the first to say, I never quite knew the whole story about Hosea, Gomer, Israel, and Jehovah. There must have been some omission in Sunday School when we learned this part, or I was just absent that day. All I really grasped was that Hosea had a scandalous wife.
The Christian band Third Day has a Fan Club whose members are called Gomers. They are always encouraged to wear orange to every Third Day show to let the band know who they are. Again, I never grasped just what the goal or aim of this was, but simply thought it some cool Biblical reference-club-thing.
I read Donald Miller's "Searching for God Knows What," and a quote he listed in there from St. Augustine really sparked my curiosity about the story of Hosea. He said that, "The church is a whore, and she is my mother." I was floored. So, I dived in and read the book of Hosea.
Now my first glance at the book scared me, because there is so much expressed of God's disappointment, frustration, and anger for His people because of how they disobeyed Him. It is a very chilling thought for God to say that you are no longer His people and no longer loved by Him. I would have to say that would get my attention.
Yet, there is a glimmer of hope offered in Hosea, and it is that of love, redemption, and celebration. The Lord offers a vision of renewal and restoration for Israel, but it is not immediate--they must put their past behind them. When they have done this, God can resume His DJ/Host/VIP role in the party which is their life.
This is illustrated in the direct marriage of Hosea to Gomer, a prostitute. The Bible says she bore him 3 children (2 sons, 1 daughter), and it's not clear who the father is. Yet Hosea buys her back with the specific intent of loving her in a way she has never been loved. In fact, in Chapter 3 he instructs her to leave old life behind by not having sex anymore with strange men. He also takes it one step further stating that even he as her husband will not have sex with her for those "many days."
This is so symbolic and glorious about God's love for us. Here it represents Israel's period of time it must endure without God's blessing, basically until she cleans up her ways. For a person today, it is a parallel with forgiveness and new life. Each of us is that Gomer, that Israel, that prostitute who have sought so many different lovers than our one true love. We have bore many consequences from our actions, and we all need a Hosea to love us like we've never been loved before.
Yes, the church is a whore, and she's my mother. And the church so desperately needs the love of a Hosea God. But don't just accuse the masses...I am that same promiscuous sinner--and I am in good company with the Gomers of yesterday and today.