by Jonathan Haefs
As a young, Christian guy, there were two things I thought about almost more than anything else:
Unfortunately, it was not always in that order. Still, these things preoccupied a good portion of my thought life throughout high-school. Occasionally, these two subjects would intersect in the form of a prayer that went something like this, “God, would you just reveal to me who the girl that I’m supposed to marry?”
Now I had many variations of this prayer, all of which were designed to make me sound as though I had nothing but noble and pure intentions… I mean what other kind of intentions would I have had?!?!
1. I often found myself longing for a direct experience of God’s voice.
2. I often found myself longing for a deep relationship with a girl (that wasn’t my mother or sister).
Now imagine what it would have been like if I had been privileged to experience both of those things. Let’s even pretend they coalesced, as in one of my prayers, and I was actually allowed to hear the audible voice of God booming from the heaven’s pronouncing the girl to whom I was to be wed! Can you fathom such a scenario? Are you aware that just such a thing has actually happened before…
Hosea 1:2, “When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.'”
Yeah… not exactly how I imagined the conversation either.
This how the minor prophets open. This is how we are introduced to Hosea. Apparently, this is how Hosea the prophet was introduced to hearing the voice of God.
1. Hosea got to directly experience the voice of God.
2. Hosea was told to form a deep relationship (marriage) with a prostitute.
Why did Hosea’s ministry begin this way? Why was this the word which the Lord spoke to Hosea? Why was Hosea called to marry a woman whom he KNEW would be unfaithful to him?
God actually told Hosea why at the very end of verse 2. God said that the reason Hosea was to take a prostitute as a wife was because, “the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” Hosea’s marriage was to reflect the relationship that the LORD shared with his adulterous, rebellious people who were constantly seeking after other gods (Hosea 3:1). The message of the prophet was not going to be something external to himself.
Hosea would not just speak his message… he would live it.
Hosea would not just declare to the people what was on the heart of God… he would feel the very heart of God.
Hosea’s heart and the heart of the LORD would beat in rhythm with one another… both to the broken beat of love.
1. God faithfully loves his people as his bride.
2. God’s people are an unfaithful, adulterous wife.
These two facts create a problem within the book of Hosea. The rebellious, sinful nature of God’s people is condemned with incredible words and images of judgment (e.g. Hosea 2:1-13). God is righteous, holy, and just. He will not leave the sin of his people unpunished.
Yet, the LORD is faithful. He loves his bride even though she does not deserve it. His love and faithfulness is not founded upon the worthiness of the bride, but on his unfailing nature. God’s number one commitment is to uphold his glory by being the faithful, unfailing God of steadfast love.
That God is committed first to himself, to be who he is, is the greatest news in all the world for us because this guarantees that his love for us will never fail! If his love were rooted in our worthiness, it would be gone in a second, but it is rooted in his faithfulness to be who he is!
We have been an adulterous wife that deserves only judgment, but God, in commitment to his own glory, continually gives himself to us! This is the greatest, most loving thing he could give us…himself! We want God to be committed to his own glory for this gives a rock solid foundation to his love for us!
Thus, within the book of Hosea, we do not only find words of judgment against God’s adulterous people…we also find words of hope, restoration, and healing (e.g. Hosea 2:14-23). Judgment is not the final word from the LORD…nor is it the final word for Hosea’s adulterous wife, Gomer.
In Hosea chapter 3, the prophet’s prostitute-wife had landed herself in a desperate situation, most likely slavery. Yet, Hosea bought back his bride.
1. Sin brings slavery.
2. The Savior brings salvation.
Gomer and Hosea are a small-scale picture of a much larger reality. Humanity has landed in a slavery that is much more binding than physical chains, and there is only one who has the power to break our bonds. Hint: It is not Hosea.
Jesus. Jesus is the redeemer/the slave freer/the people purchaser. Jesus is the Gospel…and we are Gomer.
We are Gomer? I thought we began this whole “Hosea-story” by putting ourselves in Hosea’s shoes and imagining what it would have been like to hear the voice of God calling us to marry one who would be unfaithful. However, the truth of the matter is that we are not supposed to identify with Hosea…that is not our part in this Gospel story. No.
We are Gomer.
As a Christian, there are two things I think about almost more than anything else:
2. Gomer (me).
Fortunately, thoughts of God and Gomer often intersect in my mind, and there is only one thing that can hold God and Gomer together…
Praise him for his glorious grace!