THE COST OF COVENANT LOVE.
ILLUST: There have been stories – either fictitious or true – about men who have fallen in love with a prostitute and have married and had a happy life. There have been stories about men who have been “Jack -the lad” who have met a woman who has reformed him and they have married and love.
BUT how many men who having married a women who betrays him again and again, has children by another man, who sells her body for reward and who doesn’t want to return to him, – how many men would love such a woman?
We are not even told if Hosea actually loved Gomer. It would seem that Hosea had rescued Gomer from prostitution already and married her – after which she had returned to her old ways. It appears that she had sunk even lower than before. She was not a prostitute because she was forced into it. Her husband had not thrown her out or left her – she chose that kind of life because she was wanton and her passions were out of control.
She turned her back on her husband who loved her in order to satisfy her carnal desires.
The relationship between Hosea and Gomer was a picture of the relationship between God and the people of Israel. Israel was God’s chosen people – he loved them like a devoted husband. He provided all their needs. His intentions for them were only good but they had turned away and chased after other gods – they had worshipped the Baals they had engaged in immoral practices, practised injustices and entered into unholy political alliances.
Israel had treated God in the same way as Gomer had treated Hosea – they had prostituted themselves to foreign gods.
When God’s people are side-tracked into following after things that come between them and God then they are guilty of prostituting themselves.
- LOVE: AN OBEDIENT ACT OF THE WILL.
The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again,
though she is loved by another and is an adultress.
Try to imagine how Hosea must have felt.
He is the injured party. She left him. She humiliated him. She doesn’t want to return.
She is not saying “I will go back to my husband – I’ll clean up my act and then may be he will love me again” She doesn’t want to know. She is enjoying her life.
It is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that because in theory we know that sin is evil and dirty that it is therefore not enjoyable. Like Gomer, men and women today, do enjoy sexual promiscuity – there is excitement and pleasure in having an affair. If there wasn’t people wouldn’t do it. There is pleasure in premarital sex. We must not deny that sin is pleasurable BUT there is a sting in the tail.
The pleasure of sin are for a season.
We must not think that Gomer was the only immoral woman in Israel! And were there are immoral woman there are equally immoral men.
There is no faithfulness, no love, no acknowledgment
of God in the Land. There is only cursing, lying and
murder, stealing and adultery, they break all bounds
and bloodshed follows bloodshed. [4v2-3]
What Gomer was doing was the spirit of the age, everyone was doing it. Why was Hosea so upset why couldn’t they have an open marriage. Isn’t that today’s reasoning! Today for someone to still be a virgin on their wedding night is the exception not the rule! If they marry at all!!
The spirit of the age has taken the legitimate desires that God has given us and has pursued them and exalted them to the point of Idolatry.
As John White puts it ‘…sex, food, warmth, luxury, sensuality, soft sheets, thick carpeting, fine wines, and fine dining. These are all blessings from God, but when ardently sought for themselves, rather than as gifts to be received with thankfulness, they reduce us to the status of slaves.
The sting in the tail of sin is that it pretends to give us control but in reality reduces us to its slaves.
Gomer was a slaves but she didn’t yet know it – She had to be bought back, she was enslaved.
God commands Hosea to go and love Gomer again! Notice that the kind of love God expects from Hosea is not a “Because of” love but an “inspite of” love. It is not loving her because she loves him BUT loving her inspite of the fact that she is loved by another and has betrayed Hosea’s love – she is an adultress.
HOW is this love possible??
- LOVE: A REFLECTION OF GOD.
I don’t think that Hosea’s love for Gomer was ecstatically romantic! It was an act of the will and an act of obedience to God. It was to be a reflection of God’s love for Israel. God’s love for the nation of Israel was not based on their inherent goodness. God loved Israel because he chose to love them.
Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites,
though they turn to other gods and
love the sacred raisin cakes. [v2]
God says to Hosea, “I want you to demonstrate to this nation of Israel how much I love them by loving Gomer again.”
Here we have a picture of pure devotion over against gross infatuation. God loves the Israelites and what do they love “raisin cakes” -of all things. These raisin cakes were probably linked to some cultic religious festival or some other rare occassion.
Consider the incredulity of it – raisin cakes in the place of God’s love. Yet God still loves Israel and Hosea is to love Gomer again. BUT how? HOW?
- LOVE: A COSTLY ACTION.
After having been commanded by God to go and love Gomer we would expect Hosea to say “So I went and loved ….” But he says ‘So I bought her”..
Our curiosity is not satisfied as to why he had to buy her. Perhaps she was in debt, or a slave, or was a prostitute working for a pimp, or her lover wanted compensation [revealing the worth of his love]. We don’t know why.
Nor do we know Hosea’s feelings. In scripture love is usually practical before it is emotional.
ILLUST: Film – Fiddler on the Roof – his daughters are falling in love – man asks his wife – “Do you love me” Wife – “For 25 years I’ve cooked for you, raise the children, shared your bed.”
“Yes but do you love me” “Yes I suppose I do”
We have turned love upside down! Love is practical – its doing! The romance and the emotions come and go! Feelings are very fickle! So if a relationship is only based on feeling it will crumble! Love is a commitment and a trust.
Why is marriage in such a bad way?? Because it is based on feeling [or out of control hormones] BUT Biblical love is practical – its action – it is doing for the other what is right before God.
And you know the amazing thing is that love comes!!
Hosea showed his love by buying Gomer back! That doesn’t mean that love is as cold as ice. It is self-giving and includes a devoted will and a genuine warmth.
Hosea pays the price to get her back and he also lays down the terms of the reconciliation.
The conditions for reconciliation are laid out in verse 3:
Then I told her: “You are to live with me for many days,
you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man,
and I will live with [wait for] you.”
There is a realism and a symbolism attached to this probationary period.
Broken relationships take time to be restored. It doesn’t just happen! When there has been hurt and pain and broken trust restoration is never instant.
The end of v.3 could read “and I will wait for you to live with you”
After these verses we don’t know what happened to Hosea and Gomer – we can be sure that their relationship took time to heal.
The disciplinary period in the marriage is a prophetic symbol of a time that Israel will have to go through.
God is going to strip away from Israel everything that they have come to depend on and put in place of God.
Their kings and princes had been chosen in self-will . [cf.8v4]
They set up kings without my consent.
they choose princes without my approval
Their worship is tainted with Baalism [idolatry]
Their needed to be a clean break, deep enough and long enough to make a new beginning possible.
They needed to climb down from their fierce independence and return to the Lord.
God promises that that will happen “in the last days”
There was a time in the history of the nation of Israel when after the exile God did bring the People back and restore the nation of Israel for a time.
But Hosea is looking far into the future when “in the last days” the Davidic kingship will be restored. He is looking forward to the days when messiah would come and inaugurate the kingdom of God.
God loves his people he can’t turn his back – like Gomer he comes and buys back! He redeems from the slave market! He rescues from the streets of promiscuity!
His love is practical:
God demonstrates [shows] his love in this; While we
were still sinners Christ died for us [Rom.5v8]
We have seen the dawn of the last days that Hosea predict. We are living in the last Days. As believers we have inherited the name and destiny of Israel. David and his kingdom were a symbol of a greater and more glorious kingdom to come.[Rev.22v16]
- Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this testimony for
the churches. I am the Root and the Offspring of David,
and the bright Morning Star
God’s love will always prevail, he will not allow his people to be destroyed or to destroy themselves.
God’s love for his people is too great. God will never give up on his people> Love will have its way.
Like Israel of old the church has been guilty of turning away and following after other gods.
John White -“Flirting with the world” -READ p.15
It is true of us as individuals too, isn’t it?
We have disappointed him.
Let him down.
Been ashamed to be called by his name.
Bickered amongst ourselves.
We have chosen the raisin cakes.
BUT you know what He still love you – and me!!
READ White -p.153