She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen.”
When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.” – Hosea 1:6-10
The “She” referenced at the top of this passage is Gomer, the “wife of whoredom” God commanded Hosea to marry.
There is a lot packed into these five verses. The names, for instance: “No Mercy” and “Not My People”. Implied in those names is some astounding obedience by Hosea – he actually had to name his kids these horrible names. See, some of the prophets got to just prophesy, but certain lucky ones were commanded to do some gut-wrenchingly difficult street theater for the people. Among this latter category are people like Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea. Hosea’s obedience to the street-theater commands of the Lord involved marrying an unfaithful woman and naming his children horrific names of abandonment.
God enacts in this real life familial story what seems to me to be one of the major themes of the Old Testament: terrible judgement for unfaithfulness followed by amazing restoration by God’s grace. In a way, and I’m not trying to trivialize this, God’s dealings with Israel in the Old Testament are a form of street theater for us, and also for the host of principalities and powers watching in amazement. He repeats over and over in this long history of his people the story of sin leading to rejection and judgement leading to amazing, uncalled for, unexpected grace, restoration, and belonging.
It’s real, but it’s also a picture in many dimensions of what was coming, soon.
Enter the Word made flesh, living mercy, coming to his own people. You see, in Christ the sin is absorbed, the rejection he takes as his own, and the divine wrath falls on his shoulders, his head, his hands, his feet, his back, his side. The amazing, uncalled for, unexpected restoration and grace that flows from this is delivered to us, forever restored to the Father.
And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not my people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”