Hosea and Jesus the Bridegroom

The story of Hosea and Gomer sounds like an episode right out of the Jerry Springer show. “The Vicar Who Married a Prostitute.” The sub-text could have been: “Clergyman’s wife cheats on him. Her children are fathered by three different men. Sold as a sex-slave, her long suffering husband buys her back.”  With Gomer looking down at the floor in shame, Jerry asks “Why did you do it Hosea?” as the studio audience jeers. “I knew she would be unfaithful but God told me to marry her anyway, love her enough to let her go, buy her back, forgive her and show how much I love her.” If it happened today it would make the Sunday front pages, wouldn’t it?   Hosea was a young preacher in the nation of Israel, the northern kingdom. He was a contemporary of the prophets Isaiah and Amos. He lived, as we are told in the first verse, during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (kings of Judah), and during the reign of Jeroboam, the king of Israel. But where Hosea stands out is that instead of delivering his message verbally, he was to deliver it visibly, quite dramatically through his marriage, through his wife and even through the choice of names for his children.

You know the book of Hosea is probably the most shocking book in the whole of the Old Testament. Not because of what Hosea went through, but because it reveals what God has gone through, for us. And here’s the clue for how Hosea fits in this series ‘Christ in all the Scriptures’.  The name Hosea is related to Joshua or Yeshua, which means “salvation.” The parallels between Hosea and Jesus – are remarkable. There are in fact multiple parallels between the lives of Hosea and Jesus.

1. The Childhood of Jesus the Refugee

In Hosea 11:1, God says, “out of Egypt I called my son” referring to the Exodus from Egypt. But Matthew tells us this was fulfilled after Joseph and Mary fled to Egypt with their baby:

“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” (Hosea 11:1) “So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” (Matthew 2:14-15)

Matthew tells us God sent an angel to call His Son, Jesus, out of Egypt (Matthew 2:19-20).
So the childhood rescue of the Son of God is compared to the rescue of the  children of God.  Hosea speaks of the childhood of Jesus the refugee.

2. The Royalty of Jesus the King

Hosea 3:5 says that the children of Israel, will “return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king.”  But King David had been dead for at least 200 years, so this is clearly a reference to a future king, of whom it was promised would be in the line of David and that He will reign forever (2 Samuel 7:12-13). The Jews recognised Jesus as the Son of David their king on Palm Sunday.

“Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.” (Hosea 3:5) “Hosanna to the Son of David… Blessed is the king who comes in the name of the Lord!” “Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!” (Matthew 21:9; Luke 19:38)

Jesus in Hosea: The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king.

3. The Cross of Jesus the Redeemer

God promises that he will personally save his people,

“Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.” (Hosea 1:7)

How would he do that? He ransomed and redeemed us by his blood.

“For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your ancestors, but with the precious blood of Christ, a lamb without blemish or defect.” (1 Peter 1:18-19)

The 19th Century scholar E.B. Pusey writes, ”The word rendered ransom, signifies rescue by the payment of a price; the word rendered redeem, relates to one who, as the nearest of kin, had the right to acquire anything as his own, by paying the price. Both words in their most exact sense describe what Jesus did for us.”

Jesus in Hosea:  The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king. The cross of Jesus the redeemer.

4. The Resurrection of Jesus the Victor

There is a hint of the resurrection of Jesus in Hosea.

“After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will restore us, that we may live in his presence.” (Hosea 6:2) “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms.”Then he opened their minds so they could understand the Scriptures. He told them, “This is what is written: The Messiah will suffer and rise from the dead on the third day.” (Luke 24:44-46)

Hodgkin says, “The resurrection of Christ, and our resurrection in Him, could not be more plainly foretold. The prophet expressly mentions two days, after which life should be given, and a third day, on which the resurrection should take place.” The Apostle Paul understood that Jesus fulfilled the promise made by Hosea to redeem his people from sin and death by his own death and resurrection.

“I will deliver this people from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction? (Hosea 13:14) “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting? The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Corinthians 15:55-57)

Jesus in Hosea: The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king. The cross of Jesus the redeemer. The resurrection of Jesus the victor.

5. The Blessings of Jesus the Messiah

Messianic allusions in this book are clear and beautiful.

“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” (Hosea 1:10) “Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10)“After this I saw a vast crowd, too great to count, from every nation and tribe and people and language, standing in front of the throne and before the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9)

The Apostles Peter, Paul and John show us how the prophecy of Hosea 1:10 has been fulfilled in Christ (1 Peter 2:10; Romans 11:25,26; Hebrews 11:12). Jesus in Hosea: The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king. The cross of Jesus the redeemer.  The resurrection of Jesus the victor. The blessings of Jesus the messiah.

6. The Betrothal of Jesus the Bridegroom

The parallels between Hosea and Jesus are most obvious when you consider what the Lord God asked Hosea to do.

The Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods…” (Hosea 1:2, 3:1) “Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.” (Ephesians 5:25-27)

As Hosea was called to marry an unfaithful wife (Hosea 1:2), so was Jesus (Ephesians 5:25-33; James 4:4). As Hosea paid the price demanded to redeem a slave to buy back his unfaithful bride (Hosea 3:2), so did Jesus (Ephesians 1:7, 14, 4:30; Colossians 1:14).  Along with the Apostle Paul, John the Baptist certainly understood the term Messiah and Bridegroom as synonymous,

“You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him. The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.” (John 3:28-29)

Jesus himself uses the same analogy unambiguously when his disciples are criticised by the Pharisees, he replies,

“How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot, so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast.” (Mark 2:19-20)

And in the Book of Revelation, in the closing scenes, the Church is once again likened to the Bride of Christ,

“I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.” (Revelation 21:2-3)

Jesus in Hosea: The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king. The cross of Jesus the redeemer.  The resurrection of Jesus the victor. The blessings of Jesus the messiah.  The betrothal of Jesus the bridegroom.

7. The Challenge of Jesus the Lord

If all that we have discovered so far from Hosea is true – about the extent of his love in sending his son, the Lord Jesus then we have no choice but to receive him.

“But I have been the Lord your God ever since you came out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Saviour except me.” (Hosea 13:4) “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

Just as the amazing, forgiving, redeeming, love of God portrayed in Hosea was available to Gomer only if she turned away from her adultery and returned to Hosea (Hosea 3:3), so it is that the amazing, forgiving, redeeming love of God is available to us too, but only if we turn away from our spiritual adultery and turn to Jesus (John 3:16).  But perhaps the ultimate message of Hosea is not the controversy surrounding his marriage but the way in which the Lord Jesus remembered Hosea and quotes from Hosea. When Jesus was asked by the Pharisees why he ate with tax collectors and sinners, he answered,

“For I desire mercy, not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:6) “But go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice.’ For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” (Matthew 9:13)

Jesus was telling the Pharisees to go do their homework. Go study the words of Hosea, find God’s will for your life. That’s how Jesus remembered Hosea. Then, three chapters later, in Matthew 12, Jesus and his disciples are plucking and eating grain on the Sabbath. That is clearly unlawful, and the Pharisees say so. Jesus, however, explains to them the story of David eating unlawfully; and then Jesus says:

“If you had known what these words mean, ‘I desire mercy, not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the innocent. For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath.” (Matthew 12:7-8).

Jesus is saying that if the Pharisees had done what he had told them to do earlier, to go and study those words from Hosea, then they would not have condemned the innocent!
“I desire mercy and not sacrifice.” What about you? Can you identify with Gomer? Yes Gomer? Because we are more sinful than we ever imagined but more loved than we ever dreamed. That is why we should remember Hosea, for all he reveals of the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The childhood of Jesus the refugee. The royalty of Jesus the king. The cross of Jesus the redeemer.  The resurrection of Jesus the victor. The blessings of Jesus the messiah.  The betrothal of Jesus the bridegroom. The challenge of Jesus our Lord.  God is looking for sacrificial love and mercy from his children today, just like Hosea – because that is the kind of love he has shown us, because we are just like Gomer. Christ is indeed in all the Scriptures. The question is, is he in your heart too? Lets pray.

Christ in all the Scriptures

Hosea: Jesus the Bridegroom (Hosea 1)
Daniel: Jesus the Son of Man
(Daniel 7)
Ezekiel: Jesus the Good Shepherd (Ezekiel 34)
Jeremiah: Jesus and the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31)
Isaiah: Jesus is the Suffering Servant (Isaiah 53)
Psalms: The Cross of Christ (Psalm 22)
Esther: The Providence of God (Esther 4)
Kings: Solomon, Elijah and Elisha (2 Kings 4)
Samuel: The Son and Lord of David (2 Samuel 9)
Judges and the Angel of the Lord (Judges 6)
Joshua: Joshua and the Commander of the Lord’s Army (Joshua 5)
Deuteronomy: Moses and the Prophet (Deuteronomy 18)
Numbers: The Bronze Serpent (Numbers 21)
Leviticus: The Day of Atonement (Leviticus 16)
Exodus: The Passover Lamb (Exodus 12)
Genesis: The Sacrifice of Isaac (Genesis 22)


With grateful thanks to Derek Kidner, “The Message of Hosea (IVP), to Rodney Buchanan for his sermon, “Inescapable Love”; to William Wilmore for his sermon, “The Preacher and the Prostitute”; to Samuel Candler for his sermon, “Why Remember Hosea?” [all on www.sermoncentral.com ] and to the Blog “Eyes that See” for the article, “Jesus in Hosea”