Hosea 3:1-5 – The cost of covenant love

Hosea 3v1-5

THE COST OF COVENANT LOVE.

 

INTRODUCTION.

 

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.

 

  1. 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??

 

  1. 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?

 

  1. 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.

 

READ V.4.

 

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”

 

READ v.5

 

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]

 

  1. 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.

Denied him!

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

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Hosea 1:1 – 2:1 -The God who won’t let go! Punishment and Promise

THE GOD WHO WON’T LET GO!

Punishment and Promise.

 

Hosea 1v1 – 2v1.

 

BACKGROUND.

 

A brief recap of the background is helpful. The kingdom of Israel had split into North [10 tribes] and South [2 tribes] after the death of King Solomon. The North was called Israel and the South, Judah. It is to the North, Israel, that Hosea is speaking primarily although Judah is mentioned at times.

 

When Hosea came on the scene Jeroboam II was on the throne of Israel. It was a fairly prosperous time for the nation of Israel. BUT they were also far down the road of moral decay. So when Jeroboam died a power struggle began with kings being setup and cut down one after another. Of the six kings who succeeded Jeroboam only one died of natural causes. Some reigned for a very short time. Zechariah 6 months and Shallum only 1!

A keyword that would describe the politics of Israel at this time is “CONSPIRACY”.

Each new king sought help from foreign nations like Egypt and Assyria – they lost their national power and independence and eventually became a vassal of Assyria.

 

It was more than just loss of political power – moral decay had swept the nation.

 

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 [4v1b-2]

 

Religion had sunk to sensual idolatry! Family life had broken down! Even the priests had become corrupt and rejoiced that the people were sinning because that meant more sacrifices and therefore more revenue.

 

It was into this situation that God called Hosea to be a prophet.

 

INTRODUCTION.

Hosea: the man and his message!

 

When God calls us to be the bearers of his message – and we are all called to that in one way or another – he expects us not only to speak about it but to live it. If this was ever true of any servant of God then it was true of Hosea. He more that any other prophet of the OT was called to live out his message.

 

When we judge a persons ministry today we tend to judge it according to how successful it is. AND we tend to measure success in terms of popularity and growth in the number of people who come or how much material blessing a person receives. Obeying God can, however, be very lonely and difficult – you can be misunderstood, even by fellow Christians, and suffer rejection and anguish.

 

Don’t you sometimes think that if you could hear God give you specific instructions it would be so much easier to obey! Would it? Put yourself in Hosea’s place-

“GO AND MARRY A PROSTITUTE ….” [v2]

 

How do you think his friends reacted? Here is a man of God marrying a street girl from SOHO. It wouldn’t sit very well with us, would it?

 

It is unclear as to whether or not she was a prostitute before he married her or only became one later. I tend to think she was already one but either way Hosea knew the kind of woman she was or would become.

 

“Go, marry a whore, and get children by a whore,

for the country has become nothing but a whore

by abandoning God. [JB v2]

 

What God is asking Hosea to do by marrying Gomer is to symbolize to the nation their relationship with God. The nation of Israel has prostituted itself by running after other gods. Whenever we allow other things or people or philosophies to determine and dominate our lives we are guilty of prostituting ourselves. These are harsh words that God is speaking to his people. And God’s tactics may come as a shock to us and we might feel that they are a bit unrefined. But then God is not an English gentleman who is confine to our social etiquette.

 

  1. GOD’S WARNING. [v2-9]

 

God’s warning is conveyed through Hosea’s life and especially through the birth of his three children. Or rather of the three children born to Gomer, his wife, because it is probable that two of the three where fathered by other men.

 

READ v3-5.

 

Jezreel is born.

The name itself has similar meaning to Israel. It was the name of a valley and a town in Israel. BUT because of what had happened there it took on a whole new meaning.

Jehu had in the past caused a blood bath when he wiped out the household of King Ahab. Through trickery and cruelty he slaughtered the kings family and supporters. So Jezreel conjured up that picture in people’s minds. Just like Belsen or Rwanda or Bosnia brings to mind certain pictures.

 

God used the Jehu to punish Ahab for his wickedness but Jehu never followed God nor did his successors so God is now warning Israel that the same fate awaits them.

 

God is going to use the Assyrians to punish Israel. As a kingdom Israel had ceased to be a force for God – so they were to be removed. It took some time for the final judgement to be fulfilled but it was final. God is patient but he is not soft and if his people refuse to go his way and follow his will he will remove them.

 

ILLUST: Consider the churches of Asia Minor – Where are they today? The became cold and preoccupied with other things and so God removed his Spirit from them.

 

We cannot assume that because Binscombe Church is here today it will always be – God will keep us as long as we follow him.

 

Lo-Ruhamah [not pitied]

 

READ v6-7

 

The first child that Gomer had was Hosea’s but it doesn’t say that the second one was his.

It was tragic enough to have Jezreel who foretold the loss of a war and a kingdom but more tragic was the message of the second child “NOT PITIED” . How desperate to lose the compassion and mercy of God. What a pitiful state to be in. If God is not compassionate and merciful then we are without any hope.

 

God is a compassionate and forgiving God but he can’t simply gloss over disobedience and sin. He has been patient with Israel but year upon year they have turned away from him. God was willing to show mercy but they were unwilling to obey. God was willing to forgive but they were unwilling to repent. There comes a point where God says enough!

 

Remember Jesus’s words about Jerusalem:

O Jerusalem. Jerusalem, you who killed the prophets

and stoned those sent to you, how often I have longed

to gather your children as a hen gathers her chicks

under her wings, BUT YOU WERE NOT WILLING,

Look your house is left to you desolate. [Matt.23v37]

 

You see the warning is clear: Persistent impenitence brings the judgement of God.

 

It need to be said that these prophetic utterance were not irrevocable sentence but servere warnings.

 

The same Assyrian army that destroyed Israel set its sights on Judah [the Southern Kingdom] as well. The difference was that Hezekiah who was king of Judah did not turn to a foreign power for help but turned to God and God delivered them {Isaiah 37}. Ultimately they were conquered and taken into exile because they fell into the same sin as their brothers in the north.

 

God is long-suffering and compassionate but there comes a time when he says, “ENOUGH”

 

READ Jeremiah 18v7-10

 

Judah repented and God relented but the next generation refused to repent so God punished them. We cannot rely on the faith of the previous generation and we are responsible to teach our children to obey God. Not only by what we tell they but by what we show them by our lifestyle -what we do with our time and our money how we relate to each other and so on….

 

ILLUST: The first time I went to Wales I was saddened to see so many Churches boarded up. The one we attended could probably seat 1000 but there were 30 there. Something has gone wrong along the way.

 

There is no guarantee that because a Church is alive today that it will be tomorrow. We have to guard the gospel God has entrusted to us.

 

Lo-Ammi. [v8-9]

 

Lo-ammi like his sister seems to be the product of Gomer’s adulterous relationships.

 

Imagine the heartache of Hosea as he contemplated his children – realising that two of the three were not his – and the sadness of the words to Israel “YOU ARE NOT MY PEOPLE”

 

You see Israel wanted other gods beside Yahweh – They were not content to follow Yahweh alone – they wanted God plus … . Israel wanted to pay lip service to God and then live like the Nations around her. BUT God says that is not good enough.

 

Yahweh is a jealous God. He is not for sharing. God likened himself to a husband – and he is a jealous one – he is not prepared to share his people with another lover. He says; “You have me exclusively or you do not have me at all!”

 

“You are not my people and I am not yours”

 

ILLUST: Would you be prepared to marry someone who said: “I’ll marry you as long as I can continue to live my own life as I please and just fit you in when it suits me”

 

Sadly some marriages operate that ways and inevitably end in disaster. We would not expect that from our partners and we cannot expect God to be content with that attitude.

 

The message is; If you reject God, then ultimately he will reject you. He is patient and forgiving but he is a jealous God who will not tolerate being pushed into second place.

 

  1. GOD’S PROMISE. [v10-11]

 

READ v10-11

 

Through the messages of doom and gloom there are always God’s promises shining through. God’s message of destruction is not the final word – there is the message of Hope. There will be a time says Hosea when the people of God will be restored.

 

There is a clear reminder in v.10 of the promises God made to Abraham.

 

“I will surely bless you and make your descendants

as numerous as the stars in the sky and the sand

on the seashore, …. through your offspring all nations

on earth will be blessed because you have obeyed me

[Gen,22v17-18]

 

I will make you offspring like the dust of the earth,

so that if anyone could count the dust then your

offspring could be counted [Gen.13v16]

 

God did not totally destroy Israel nor Judah when they went into exile. We know that some of the people from the North joined Judah and God brought back a remnant from Babylon. In that Israel and Judah were united again into one nation. The concept of a single people of God was far from dead and God would bring them together and build a new nation.

 

BUT it does not stop there. The NT does not allow us to stop there.

Paul in writing to the Romans quotes from Hosea:

I will call them my people who are not my people

and I will call her my loved one who is not my loved one.

AND It will happen in the very place where it was

said to them ‘you are not my people’ they will be called

‘sons of the living God.

[Rom.9v25-26]

 

PETER. “Once you were not a people but now you are the people of God

Once you had not received mercy but now you have received mercy

[1 Peter 2v10]

 

This idea of the gentiles being part of the people of God was no after thought. It was part of the promise that God made to Abraham. “In you shall all nations of the earth be blessed” [Gen.12v3] . Jesus came to die not just for one nation but for the world and to bring together one holy nation, the people of God.

John tells us this in his gospel: John 11v52.

Jesus would die for the Jewish nation,

BUT not only for that nation, but

also for the scattered children of God

and bring them together and make them one.

 

We are the recipients of this promise. We were once ‘not the people of God’ but now we are ‘the people of God’. We have received mercy.

 

If you have wandered away from God – return God is gracious and loving.

 

The warning to the church is that if we wander from path of obedience to follow Christ out in the world where he is going – he will withdraw his presence from us. God’s concern is that in the places where it is said “NOT MY PEOPLE” there it will be said “YOU ARE THE PEOPLE OF GOD”. God is not content to have second place in our lives or for us to set our own agenda.

 

God is infinitely loving and compassionate – he is always willing to forgive if we will return to him.

God is in the business of rebuilding the ruins and calling out a people for himself. He includes us in that business if we follow him and obey him.