HOSEA- a man who had to love the same way that God loves.
What is one of the hardest things that have ever been required of you?
Maybe you remember it very vividly and can recall every little detail, or perhaps you’ve forgotten all that it took from you to carry out the task.
But what was asked of Hosea changed his whole life. Every little intricate detail of who he was.
If I was to tell you to think of the person who has hurt you the most, then I would tell you to go to them and be friendly, but not just friendly with a casual smile- but more than that- forgive this person and then love this person…
A plain enough request, right, but is it really?
The Old Testament prophet Hosea depicted a picture with great symbolism which is actually quite crucial to our faith. The book ultimately tells the story of great love.
The name Hosea means “DELIVERANCE”- the effect of this meaning will be more visible as we progress in our ‘study’ of this prophet God chose.
“When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea:
“Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord.” Hosea 1:2
So Hosea obeyed God- and he married a prostitute with the name Gomer- the name Gomer meaning “COMPLETION” (side note: maybe you are able to see the imagery and symbolism already?) In short harlotry refers to ‘unfaithful’. So here Hosea is asked to love someone who is unfaithful, he is asked to give his heart to a woman who might just as well shatter them in pieces before his eyes.
Hosea loved her as his wife; he cared for her and provided for her. He gave her so much more than what she could ever have imprisoned by her old ways. But still she ran away…
She went back to harlotry, to giving away her body, spirit and soul. She sold herself yet again. She was pulled somehow by her old nature- lured by her flesh, she ran from the safety and acceptance that she had with Hosea.
But God is persistent and He commanded Hosea to go back, to go and take her again- to buy her as his wife.
“Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who took other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”
So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver…” Hosea 3:1-2a
So he bought her back and nurtured her wounds, he loved her again. Even though she had been careless and had deeply hurt him, even though she had run away- he went back for her, he bought her at a price and took her home.
Aren’t we so much like Gomer? Aren’t we foolish enough to run back to what we’ve been saved from? Don’t we realise how far we’ve come and how much we have been seeking after that fulfilling love? How we have been craving for a Saviour; yet when He saved us we ran back to all we once knew.
Perhaps you have never looked at it that way- but hear this; your thoughts can be a prison cell, your actions a trap. Without necessarily knowing or acknowledging it we ourselves go back to bondage, we offer our thoughts to be steered by lies of Satan- lies of condemnation, lies of defeat, of insignificance. Sometimes we even play the harlot by returning to idolatry, worshiping possessions, people or money more than we serve Christ. We give our loyalty away; we turn from the truth and take the lie.
“Woe to them, for they have fled from Me! Destruction to them, because they have transgressed against Me! Though I redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me.” Hosea 7:13
Yet while we are drawn back by our flesh in whatever way God comes back for us, He seeks us and finds us in the dark alleyway of despair, the pit of lies and the shadows of our doubts. He comes to pick us up, to draw us close to His heart and to whisper that He loves us. He comes to restore what has been broken and to mend what has been bent. He comes to prove His faithfulness and loyalty when we’ve spat in His face and cast our promises to the wind
“If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13
I don’t know about you but the mere thought of having someone love me endlessly, unconditionally and eternally completely overwhelms me. I think we take so much of what Christ freely gives for granted. We take His grace as granted, His forgiveness, His mercy, His love… we are so used to the terms: “God loves me.”
But just pause right there, to be loved by God is an unfathomable, undeserving gift!
We run away and we return to worthless things, we desert what we knew to be true and forsake all He has taught us, nevertheless He bought us back! He sent His Son, He gave us His redeeming love, and He loves us still! Even after we are unfaithful.
“I drew them with gentle cords, with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them.” Hosea 11:4
Coming back to Hosea’s story- Hosea means “DELIVERANCE”- delivered from bondage, from slavery from sin…
Gomer means “COMPLETION” – we are made whole; we are completed as His love floods our empty souls. We have been given Living Water, we have been set free and we’ve been fulfilled. We lack nothing for all we ever needed is in Him
“Whoever drinks of this water shall thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him, will never thirst.” John 4:13b-14
So don’t run back, don’t even look back- just embrace what God is giving you and accept His endless love. Don’t desire the sin and the pleasures thereof but instead look to God for sustenance. Seek His will for your life and drown yourself in the knowledge that you are loved more than you can ever imagine and even dream. Then go out and love as He has loved us- unconditionally.
“O Israel, return to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity.”
“I WILL HEAL THEIR BACKSLIDING; I WILL LOVE THEM FREELY, FOR MY ANGER HAS TURNED AWAY FROM HIM. I WILL BE LIKE THE DEW TO ISRAEL; HE SHALL GROW LIKE THE LILY, AND LENGTHEN HIS ROOTS LIKE LEBANON.”
Hosea 14:1; 4-5
My challenge to you is to ask God to show you where you have been playing the harlot, where you have run from what He gave and where you’ve been unfaithful.
Then take that and ask Him to return your heart to His will. Ask Him to renew your faith and help you to believe and know that He loves you- then let Him heal you.
If there is anything standing in the way for you- cast it aside. Be loved by Christ
And finally- do the hard thing He asks of you: LOVE OTHERS
“if you love Me, keep My commandments.” John 14:15