The Guide for Today’s
Marital Problems
If you are having marital problems and you are thinking of having a divorce, you should first look
over this guide provided by God in Hosea.

In obedience to God Hosea married “a wife of whoredoms”. As distasteful as the events between
him and his wife might have been to the prophet, they were divinely intended by God to portray
the relationship between Him and idolatrous Israel.

If ever anyone had “grounds for divorce,” Hosea did. He could easily have divorced Gomer within
the provisions given by Moses in Deuteronomy 24:1. In spite of the darkness of the picture and
hopelessness of the sinful Gomer, Jehovah did command him to go and reclaim her (Hosea 3:1).
This command of God to Hosea ought to lay to rest any speculations concerning the permanency of
marriage and the husband's responsibility in the matter. If adultery were sufficient grounds to
break the marital union, Gomer’s adulteries would have obliterated the union between Hosea and
her. Though the union certainly was damaged by her infidelity, it was not broken. Nothing breaks
the marital tie but the death of one of the partners (Rom 7:3; 1 Cor. 7:39). In obedience to God,
Hosea went and found Gomer and redeemed her to himself “for 15 pieces of silver . . . a homer of
barley, and a half homer of barley.”  The price paid is indicative of the depths to which Gomer had
sunk. Barley was a coarse grain eaten only by the poorest of people and animals. The price
commonly paid for a slave in good health was 30 pieces of silver (Ex. 21.32). So deep had been
the inroads of sin on Gomer that Hosea bought her for only half the price commonly paid for slave
plus about 10 bushels of animal food.

Hosea’s serious words to Gomer, “Thou shall abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the
harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man; so I also be for thee” (Hosea. 3:3), can be
understood either as spoken sternly or in great love. While Hosea had every right to speak them to
Gomer sternly, it fits the context better to view them as having been spoken in great love and
assurance.

Hosea illustrates several truths concerning marriage: (1) the responsibility for marriage is on the
husband’s shoulders—the command to consummate the marriage was given to Hosea; (2) the
husband is responsible for keeping the marital union together---God commanded Hosea to go and
reclaim his wife; (3) sexual infidelity does not break the marital union—while it may damage and
strain the relationship, only death breaks the marital bond; and (4) divorce is not the solution for
marital problems—Hosea could have divorced Gomer on “biblical grounds” but it would not have
solved either his problem or hers. Divorce has never solved marital problems; it only compounds
them. It should be observed that in commenting on Deuteronomy 24:1, Jesus said that Moses
made this provision because of “the hardness of your hearts” (Matt. 19:8). Thus whether it was in
Moses’ day, Hosea’s day, Jesus’ day, or today, there is no such thing as a “spiritual divorce.”
Whenever anyone gets a divorce it is testimony to the hardness and spiritual insensitivity of his or
her heart. Those who are seeking guidance in how to deal with marital problems would do well to
consider spiritual Hosea and follow his examples of seeking his wayward wife, forgiving her,
restoring her to himself, and loving her with a never falling love. There is no marital problem that
Hosea’s method would not cure.


Scripture reading: Hosea chapters 1, 2 and 3.
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