If someone asked you to describe yourself in one word, what would it be?
Last month I wrote about the radical love Hosea had, first for God, and then for his adulterous wife. (You can read it here.)
Today I want to address Hosea’s children.
In Hosea 1:2 (TLB), God told him to take a prostitute to be his wife, “… so that some of her children will be born to you from other men.” God took the disgrace a step further by the names the babies were given. The first-born son’s name wasn’t bad – Jezreel, which means “God plants.” The second and third, however, were awful names to walk through life with. His daughter’s name was Lo-ruhamah, which means “not loved,” and his second son’s name was Lo-ammi, “not My people.”
And that’s all we know about the lives of these children. They were victims of a rebellious society and a wayward mother. Now, because the drama of Hosea’s life played out publicly — and in view of the significance of names in those days — I’m going to assume they had a rough go of it. But God, even in His just correction of a nation, still displayed His love, and His plan for redemption was never far from His mind. He loved those babies as much as He loves us all.
We don’t get very far beyond the naming before God speaks the promise like a soothing balm. In Hosea 1:10 (NLT), He says, “… at the place where they were told, ‘You are not my people,’ it will be said, ‘You are children of the living God.’” He continues in 2:1 with, “In that day you will call your brothers Ammi – ‘My people.’ And you will call your sisters Ruhamah – ‘The ones I love.’”
You see, these names and their sad meanings did not define who these children were as individuals. And what’s more, they knew a promise was coming. They had two choices – to see themselves before or after the promise.
This story begs the question: What names have you been given in life? Rejection, Shame, Guilt, Worthlessness, Addiction, Divorce, Loneliness, Victim?
Some of these names we take on ourselves. Sometimes life seems to force the undesirable upon us. Either way, it is a sad existence to wander along clutching a name that was never meant to define us.
Remember, God has made us a promise. We are meant to see ourselves not through the circumstances of life or our own distorted lens, but through the eyes of a loving Father.
Take another look at Hosea 1:10. Notice that God said, “… at the place where they were told …” In the very place the world spoke rejection to you, God spoke acceptance. The exact moment you picked up guilt and shame, God offered you forgiveness and freedom.
And He is still offering today.
Which name will you believe? The name given before the promise, or the true name God intended you to carry – the name that comes after the promise?
I led Israel along with My ropes of kindness and love. I lifted the yoke from his neck, and I myself stooped to feed him. Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? My heart is torn within Me, and My compassion overflows. –Hosea 11:4, 8 (NLT)
What a beautiful picture of God’s heart for His people. This was God’s desire for Israel all along, and this is His desire for us today. He will continue speaking your true identity to you until you begin to see yourself the way He sees you.
No matter how we came into this world, and despite all the mistakes and failures we experience in life, the names God gives us are the ones that matter. The labels the world has spoken over you are dead and buried in Christ, never to be heard from again. You have been raised with Him, bringing the nature and the names of God to you.
He is speaking beautiful things over you. You are lovely, strong, forgiven. You are provided for. You are worthy of love and surrounded by love. You are free.
God always has a plan and a promise. His plan and His promise begin and end with love. His love brings acceptance and hope. There are undoubtedly things in your heart that need to be dredged up and carted away. Let Him do so. Let the hard ground be plowed so that good things can be planted. Let God work. Let Him speak unshakable love to you. Let Him be the only One to name you.