Now when she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.” (Hosea 1:8-9)

Hosea the prophet had a unique and difficult call. God told him to marry a prostitute as a way to illustrate the relationship between God and His people. When they married, like any husband Hosea hoped that their mutual commitment to each other would keep them together. but his wife (named Gomer) didn’t give up her prior profession. Because of his cheating wife, Hosea had a unique perspective on how God felt about cheating Israel, who didn’t faithfully love God the way that God loved them.

In the course of time three children were born to this unhappy family, and each child is mentioned in Hosea 1. The first son born to Hosea and Gomer was named Jezreel, which means “Scattered.” Israel would soon be scattered in exile by a conquering Assyrian army.

Hosea - three kids

The second baby was a girl, and named Lo-Ruhamah. Her name meant “No Mercy.” Every call to this child with the unfortunate name reminded Hosea and everyone else of coming judgment and exile. For the northern kingdom of Israel, God’s time of mercy was over. He extended mercy for hundreds of years, but now it was time for no mercy.

Then Gomer gave birth to a second son, whose name was Lo-Ammi. The name Lo-Ammi means “Not My People.” Every call to this unfortunately named child reminded Hosea and everyone else that the people of Israel had pushed away the Lord God, and should no longer be considered His people.

Since Gomer did not give up her prostitution, there may have been a cruel irony in the name Lo-Ammi. Perhaps this son really was not the son of Hosea, but of another man. Perhaps the appearance of the child made this evident. You can almost picture Hosea and Gomer walking down the street pushing the baby carriage with little Lo-Ammi, who didn’t look anything like either one of them. Someone asks about the name of the baby and Hosea answered, “Not My People.” The message God had to deliver to Israel through Hosea was hard enough, but God also made Hosea live the message.

Summing up the meaning of the name Lo-Ammi, God said this to Israel through Hosea: For you are not My people, and I will not be your God: This was not so much of a sentence or a penalty, as it was a simple stating of fact. It wasn’t as if the people of Israel really wanted to be the people of God but God would not have them. Instead, the people of Israel rejected God, and here the Lord simply recognized the fact. He would not play “let’s pretend.” God would not say, “You pretend to be My people and I will pretend to be your God.” The time for those games was over.

When we think about the relationship between Hosea and Gomer, there was a lot of pretending. Hosea pretended not to notice when she went out to prostitute herself. She came back pretending nothing ever happened. As much as they could, they pretended to be a happy family. God used the pretense in Hosea’s family as an illustration of the pretending between the Lord and His people.

This brings it back to your relationship with God. Is it filled with pretending? Are you really a follower of Jesus Christ, or are you more like a pretender? What God did through Hosea shows us that God may allow that to continue for a time, but there comes a day when the pretending must end. Today should be that day.

Click here for David’s commentary on Hosea 1