Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Very Different Love Story

Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes." Hosea 3:1

The book of Hosea is the most shocking book in the Old Testament. Within this book is one of the greatest love stories of the bible…and one of the most peculiar ones as well. 

The prophet Hosea was faithful and obedient, and not married.  God spoke to him and told him to go out and find a wife, and God added that his wife was to be a prostitute.  Now this was quite a strange request from God, but Hosea obeyed. 
Hosea found a prostitute named Gomer and he fell madly in love with her.  They married and had three children.  However, Gomer was not happy being a wife and mother and left to go back to her previous lifestyle and profession.  This broke Hosea’s heart.  He loved Gomer very much.  He desperately missed her, but was a good father and raised his children. 
After some time passed, God spoke to Hosea again and told him to go in search of Gomer and bring her home.  Hosea found her living the same life of sin she had lived before and he brought her home.  He continued to love her and care for her needs. 

Now, the whole reason God had Hosea do all this was for a very important purpose.  Sometimes God gave a prophet like Hosea words to speak to the people of Israel and Judah. He would give them words warning of impending judgment so they could be spared by giving up their sin and following God again.  At other times he would give them words of love in an attempt to win back the affections of his people. He would remind them of all his love had done for them and tell them how much he wanted them to come back home to him.  But sometimes words failed and God had to resort to a different kind of communication.  He would give the prophet a message to act out.  In other words, Hosea was to live a dramatic pageant before the nations of Judah and Israel, whom God counted as one nation.

God uses this story to illustrate the unfailing love He has for His people.  Hosea was to play the part of the loving and faithful God.  The erring wife would be cast in the role of the perverse nation. She would play the harlot with many lovers even as Israel had left the true God to go after a multitude of strange gods.  They, like Gomer, proved themselves unfaithful to their commitment to God.  They also went back to their old lifestyle which did not honor God.

Hosea, on the other hand, is a picture of the constancy of God’s love.  God says in Hosea 14:4: “I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely.” Did Gomer deserve that kind of forgiveness? Do we? God’s love extends beyond the limits of our sinful humanity and He longs to draw us into a state of restoration with himself. However merciful God is he adds this crucial condition to his mercy in Hosea 5:15: “I will return again to my place till they acknowledge their offense.”  So can this be interpreted as a limit?  Is there a limit, or a line we dare not cross because of our sin?  Yes – the line is refusal to acknowledge our sin, to confess our sin and to ask forgiveness of our sin.  Once you confess, forgiveness follows.  Isaiah 44:22 states, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to me for I have redeemed you.”

Who can explain love? If love always made sense it would not be love. It does not always respond to logic.  Like Gomer, we walk away from God and continue in our sin because we don’t want to let it go but like Hosea, He is ever faithful to take us back, time and time again.  We don’t have to EARN or DESERVE God’s love. He doesn’t love us because we are loveable. He just wants us to return to Him, love Him, serve Him and in return He offers not only forgiveness, but assurance of everlasting and unconditional love.

Scripture to Claim:
Then all your people will be righteous and they will possess the land forever. They are the shoot I have planted, the work of my hands, for the display of my splendor. Isaiah 60:21

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