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Hosea was a prophet whose ministry lasted approximately 40 years. His focus was on the northern kingdom, Israel, and the judgment of God brought on by the Assyrians. The details of his message, however, are often eclipsed by his strange action in marrying an “adulterous wife.”

1. In Hosea, God command Hosea, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD” (Hosea 1:2). Hosea responded by marrying Gomer, who indeed was an adulterous wife.

* This instruction from God has posed a problem for many. Would God really ask someone to do such a thing? Some suggest that the apparent actions of Hosea should be understood, not as literal, but symbolic. What do you think?

* Are there other occasions in the Bible when prophets were instructed to “act out” their message?

2. In a sense, it seems that God instructs Hosea to do something that would be contrary to his will. Is it really God’s will that we seek a marriage partner who is (or who will be) habitually adulterous?

* Are there other instances in the Bible when God instructed his followers to do something that seemed contrary to his character as we understand it?

* How can we know it is God who is instructing us? Couldn’t someone use the Hosea story as a defense for their selection of an ungodly spouse? Could Samson, for example, have employed a similar defense for his relationships with Philistine women? What are the safeguards against such rationalizations?

3. The charge against Gomer (and Israel) was that both refused to acknowledge the source of the good things in their lives. Israel took the blessings of God and attributed those blessings to Baal.

* In what areas of life do we do the same thing? Instead of recognizing God as the source of blessings, who or what are we most likely to give credit to?

4. Often in the Bible, marriage is used to illustrate God’s relationship with his people. We tend to view this imagery from our cultural background.

* How does the biblical view of marriage differ from ours? Based on their beliefs about marriage, what did this imagery (of God as husband) mean for them?

5. In spite of Gomer’s adultery, God instructs Hosea to take her back again. We often focus on Hosea’s feelings in all of this, but we must not forget Gomer.

* Did she expect her husband to take her back–to “woo” her back, even?

* Do adulterers feel good about their actions? Do they feel worthy of love?

* What must it have felt like for Gomer to realize the Hosea was not rejecting her? Would his faithfulness embolden her to continue to sin, or would it bring her to repentance?

* Is this story of Hosea and Gomer intended to be a sort of model for how to deal with the issue of adultery?

* Are we ever spiritually faithful to God?

* Does God always take us back?

* In what ways should Hosea 3:1 bring us hope?

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