In Hosea 1:2 we  read, “The LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have  children of whoredom.’” Hosea obeyed, marrying a woman named Gomer, who was  unfaithful to him. Why did God tell Hosea to marry a prostitute?

To  begin with, it is important to realize this command could be understood two  different ways. First, and more likely, this command could be one of  anticipation. In other words, God may have instructed Hosea to marry a woman who  would later become unfaithful to him. The other possibility is that the  command was for Hosea to marry someone already known as a prostitute.

In  either case, the reason for this unusual directive is specified in the latter  half of the same verse: “For the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the  LORD.” God wanted to provide an illustration of His relationship with the people  of Israel, who had been unfaithful to Him by practicing idolatry. This theme is  carried through the remainder of the prophecies in chapter 1 and the discussion  of Israel’s unfaithfulness in chapter 2.

In Hosea 3:1,  after Gomer had left Hosea and was living in immorality, the Lord commanded  Hosea to find her and buy her back. God was continuing His illustration, except  now He wanted to show the greatness of His grace: “Even as the LORD loves the  children of Israel, though they turn to other gods.” Hosea’s faithful love of  Gomer was an illustration of God’s faithfulness to wayward Israel. Just as Gomer  had been unfaithful to her husband and had to be redeemed, Israel needed God’s  initiative to restore their relationship.

The prophet Hosea was  commanded to marry an unfaithful wife, and this set up a model of Israel’s  broken relationship with God. Israel had been chosen and loved by God yet had  been unfaithful to Him by way of idolatry. Just as Hosea redeemed his estranged  wife and sought to continue his relationship with her, God promised to redeem  Israel and renew their relationship with Him. The story of Hosea and Gomer is an  unforgettable picture of God’s strong, unending love for His covenant  people.