Hosea ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel during the latter half of the eighth century b.c., the most difficult time the nation had ever faced. Israel had forsaken the Lord and was worshiping Baal instead. Hosea understood that this was why the Lord intended to judge the nation. God commanded Hosea to marry, but warned him that his wife would be unfaithful to him. Hosea married Gomer, who indeed became unfaithful to him. When Gomer left Hosea, God instructed him to reclaim her. This would be a sign to the people that, though their sins were shameful, the Lord still loved Israel, his spiritually unfaithful wife. Hosea’s marriage to Gomer, her unfaithfulness, and their eventual restoration were thus a parable of the Lord’s relationship to Israel. (Hosea 3:1–5)