“And the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins." So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, "You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you." For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.”
The first three chapters of Hosea show God using Hosea’s life as an allegory of God’s relationship with Israel. Hosea is told to marry a woman who will turn to adultery, so he marries Gomer, who begins cheating on Hosea almost immediately (his third child’s name is “Not Mine”). This was to show the people how God felt about the nation turning from Him. By chapter three, Gomer has left Hosea for idolatry so completely that Hosea has to pay to get her back. By the way, while the price doesn’t jump off the page at us since it is mixed silver and grain, the value of that much grain was about 15 shekels of silver, so the total price paid was 30 pieces of silver. Hosea’s wife was now valued as much as a gored slave. (Ex. 21:32) Upon retrieving her, Hosea tells her she will have to live with him as a servant for a good while and remain faithful before he would consider re-establishing their marriage relationship.
God then says in the last two verses that His relationship with Israel would be much the same, due to their sins. They would remain without king, prince, ephod, or sacrifice for many days before He’d renew His relationship with those who would seek Him and the Messiah (“David their king” in a figure). We can actually track the fulfillment of this relationship prophecy by paying attention to tabernacle/temple dedications.
When Moses dedicated the original tabernacle, there was a seminal moment that showed God’s commitment to a relationship with Israel: Ex. 40:34-35 “Then the cloud covered the tent of meeting, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle. And Moses was not able to enter the tent of meeting because the cloud settled on it, and the glory of the LORD filled the tabernacle.” God’s glory so filled the tabernacle that Moses couldn’t even get into the tent. Symbolically, God came down to live among His people. When the Temple replaced the tabernacle in the time of Solomon, something very similar occurred at the dedication: 1 Kings 8:10-11 “And when the priests came out of the Holy Place, a cloud filled the house of the LORD, so that the priests could not stand to minister because of the cloud, for the glory of the LORD filled the house of the LORD.” Again, the glory of God filled the temple. He was among His people, ready for a close relationship with them. Then the people turned away from God and began to worship idols. He sent prophet after prophet to lead them back, but the people never changed. Finally, he came in judgment and sent them into exile in Babylon. At this time Ezekiel sees an interesting vision. In chapters 10 and 11 of his book, Ezekiel describes the vision of God’s glory leaving the temple and ultimately the land of Israel. God’s people had rebuffed Him, so He withdrew His presence and the close relationship was over.
Bringing the remnant back from captivity was much like Hosea buying Gomer back from her servitude. Just as Hosea had told Gomer that their relationship as husband/wife wouldn’t restart immediately, God had told Israel that there would be many days without a close relationship with Him. Again, there is evidence of this in the temple dedication.
Ezra 6:16-18 “And the people of Israel, the priests and the Levites, and the rest of the returned exiles, celebrated the dedication of this house of God with joy. They offered at the dedication of this house of God 100 bulls, 200 rams, 400 lambs, and as a sin offering for all Israel 12 male goats, according to the number of the tribes of Israel. And they set the priests in their divisions and the Levites in their divisions, for the service of God at Jerusalem, as it is written in the Book of Moses.”
The dedication was celebrated with joy and there were many sacrifices made, but did you notice what was missing? Unlike in Moses’ or Solomon’s day, the glory of the Lord never came down to inhabit the new Temple. God’s presence WASN’T among His people. The close relationship was over, for now.
Many days later, God sent His Son. There were those in Israel (spiritual Israel) who sought God and “David their King” and God renewed the relationship, just as He promised. Notice how the description of what happened to the Apostles in Acts 2 fits to the earlier descriptions of God’s glory entering the Temple.
Acts 2:2-4 “And suddenly there came from heaven a sound like a mighty rushing wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. And divided tongues as of fire appeared to them and rested on each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
The house was “filled” with the sound. More importantly, the men were “filled” with the Holy Spirit. It wasn’t just a building or tent filled, it was men who were filled. It wasn’t the symbolic glory of God, it was God’s Spirit that filled the men. God had come to be among His people again. The road to a relationship with Him was again open. Just as Hosea prophesied.