I always feel kind of bad for Hosea’s children.
I get the metaphor of the prophet marrying the whore and taking her back after she abandons him to return to whoring. It’s powerful. It’s all the more powerful for having been lived out.
God asked a man to live through that. God asked Hosea to dedicate his life that wholly to the demonstration. How many must have counseled him to leave her, to let her go, to completely divorce and disown her? How many must have been baffled by his not only accepting her return but his seeking her out, his covering of her debts?
What would you do if your friend’s spouse behaved that way? What advice would you give if they came to you discussing their efforts to bring the spouse home?
This was a real person. This was a real family. Bring it home. Imagine this was a man in your church. Imagine this was your pastor. Would you celebrate his compassion and mercy?
But the kids. I always feel bad for the kids. First you have the names. Jezreel isn’t so bad, it’s a significant name, but being name after a place isn’t so unusual, even today. But No Mercy (or Unloved) and Not My People? Can you imagine going through life with names like that? And I thought Deirdre, which means broken hearted, is harsh. Seriously, having your parents name you Unloved?
Yes, the prophecy has a happy ending, there will be Mercy for No Mercy and Not My People shall hear “You are my people,” but these are, again, real children that have to carry these names, and unlike their father, they weren’t given a choice. Because technically, Hosea could have said no, right? It wouldn’t have been a good idea, or the right choice, but he could have all the same. The kids have to carry the names they were given, the message attached to them, that weight, for their entire lives. As if having the mom they did wasn’t challenging enough.
Do you ever wonder what they thought about Hosea taking his wife back? Do you ever wonder if they wanted their mother to come home? She abandoned them. I wonder. I wonder about these kids a lot.
I wonder about God laying this on these kids. The Bible makes it pretty clear that God has a real soft spot for children. Children are, over and over and over again, cherished by the creator. Yes, to God, we are all children, but he tells us we must be children to enter the kingdom of Heaven. I just want to know how he provided for these kids after putting this on them at birth.
I want to know. Was Unloved a truly gentle and beautiful soul that was universally cherished by her community? Was Not My People popular? Or were they quiet and reserved? Did they suffer socially as the children of the prophet with the rather distasteful message of impending judgment?
So many questions without a single answer remotely possible.