Many prospective parents comb through lists of baby names, considering the meaning of each possibility. They know that names matter. In today’s passage, Gomer gave birth to her first child, a baby belonging to Hosea, and God named the child Jezreel. This name was full of intentional meaning.
Hosea’s audience would have made the connection to a valley that had been the site of violent events from Israel’s history. The name means “may God sow,” highlighting both God’s nature as true provider and Israel’s wayward pursuit of the Baal fertility cults. Then God issued this warning: He would “punish” the house of Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezreel and end the kingdom of Israel (v. 4). This statement has troubled commentators because God previously praised Jehu for his obedience (2 Kings 10:30). A better translation for “punish” might be “visit upon.” In other words, God would bring the same violent destruction to the house of Jehu that had been brought upon Ahab in 2 Kings 9 and 10. Second Kings 10:31 explains that, despite following God’s command and receiving His commendation, “Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart.”
In Hosea 1:6, Gomer had a girl named Lo-Ruhamah, who was likely a child of prostitution. The text does not connect her to Hosea. “Lo-Ruhamah” communicates that God’s affection toward Israel would end. He would no longer demonstrate compassion or forgive. By contrast, God recommitted His affection and protection to Judah (v. 7). Would this stir longing in the listeners’ hearts? Lastly, God calls Gomer’s third child “Lo-Ammi . . . not my people” (v. 9). And the identity shift is complete.
>> Our decision to disobey God’s commands has long-lasting consequences. The choices we make affect not only our own lives, but can have ripple effects for generations. Today’s reading is a reminder to make careful God-honoring choices.
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Rom. 6:1–2). Holy God, correct us and open our eyes to Your warnings against our sins. Help us choose righteousness every time.