August 30, 2020

Rescuing Us from Unfaithfulness – The Book of Hosea

With Hosea’s book, we enter the section of the Hebrew Bible called the Minor Prophets.

These books are not less in importance, but they tend to be smaller in length.  There are twelve of these prophets with Hosea being the longest at fourteen chapters.

When I read about Hosea’s life and ministry, I just have to laugh when I think about his life playing out in the modern-day church.  As we unpack this story, I want you to imagine the gossip that would have surrounded him and his family as details began to emerge.

The Old Testament prophets endured the constant pressure, harassment, struggles, and hardships of the ministry, but if their ministries been conducted within a local church, most of them would not have had a job for very long.

Suppose the First Church of Samaria called Hosea to be their prophet, except it didn’t work that way.  God did the calling.  Prophets just showed up and started preaching, sort of like a street evangelist.

Imagine Hosea showing up with his wife, Gomer at the First Church of Samaria.  Perhaps the people welcomed him into the community at first.  They might even have been given him a nice camel haired tent to live in.  It would have called a “prophetorium.”

But don’t you know when the church people found out that the prophet’s wife had a promiscuous history, the gossip mill would begin to turn.   That word would have spread quicker than a sneeze through a screen door.

Someone would have said, “I knew those children didn’t look a thing like Hosea.”

It’s a little difficult to know, but it seems like Hosea knew about Gomer’s promiscuous history before he married her.

People get married all the time agreeing that whatever happened in the past stays in the past, and they commit to being faithful to each other going forward because they love one another.

The text says that God led Hosea to Gomer, and he knew about her past life.

Then they began to have children.

But eventually, Hosea discovered that his wife was unfaithful to him after they were married.   And those children that he thought were his.  There were not.

How devasting!

While the children were not his biologically, there were still technically, P.K.’s (prophet’s kids.)

He had raised them as his own.  He was the only father they ever knew.

He claimed them as his own.

Still, Hosea did what most preachers do with their children.  From time to time, much to the dismay of the children, they were used as sermon illustrations.

But Hosea took it to an extreme.

Hosea used his children as walking billboards to send a message to the people of the Northern Kingdom.

Imagine the people waiting with great anticipation for the birth of the prophet’s firstborn.

Then the day came, and it was announced that it was a boy.  Eight days later, the boy would have been circumcised and given his name.

When Hosea announced the name, “Jezreel,” the people would have been appalled.

The boy’s name meant, “God scatters.”

Imagine the disbelief if I had named my firstborn “Tornado,” or “Hurricane.”  Remember, many describe storms as “acts of God.”

Every time people met Jezreel they thought about the prophet’s warnings that God would scatter them if they were not faithful.

Jezreel wasn’t the only walking billboard for God Hosea named.   He named the second child Lo-Ruhamah and the third Lo-Ammi.

Lo-Ruhamah was a daughter.  Her name meant “no mercy; not to be pitied.” Lo-Ammi, a son, meant, “not my people.”

You get the picture, don’t you?  Talk about using your children as sermon illustrations.

Imagine the people of Samaria trying to embrace this family.

“Mom, I’m going out to play with “God Scatters, No Mercy, and Not My People.”

Would you let your children play with those children?

Most moms would say, “No you are not.  You stay away from those children.  They are a bad influence.”

Don’t you see how preacher’s kids have been given a bad name for thousands of years?  It all goes all the back to Hosea.  It had nothing to do with them playing with the deacon’s kids.

But Hosea was trying to get the people of Israel to recognize their unfaithfulness to God.

When Hosea discovered that his wife Gomer had been unfaithful to him and that the children were not his biological children, he reacted as you might expect.

Chapter 2:4-5 says, “I will not show my love to her children, because they are children of adultery.  Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace.”

He was hurt, angry, and he had vengeful feelings.  He vowed that he would block her way back to those she had been with.

He’s was going to withhold giving her clothing, stop the celebrations, destroy her vines and fig trees.  He was going to banish her.

This was going to be a nasty divorce.  Hosea was going to inflict pain on her for her unfaithfulness and the embarrassment she had brought to him and her children.

All these feelings were normal, and who could blame him for carrying out any of these things?

But then, Hosea heard a word from God.

Then the Lord said to me, “Go again and love your wife, even when she is loved by another and is not faithful. Love her as the Lord loves the people of Israel, even when they turn to other gods and love cakes of dried grapes.” So I bought her for fifteen pieces of silver money and ten baskets of barley. Then I said to her, “You must stay with me for many days, and be faithful to me. Do not have another man, and I will also be faithful to you.

Now imagine the people of Samaria watching this play out.  Think about the kind of comments the men would have said about Hosea.

We can’t even say in church the kind of course language they would have used about him as they saw him reclaim this unfaithful woman and bring her back into his home.

Do you think they would have seen Hosea’s heart and his love for this woman or do you think they would just call him crazy?

They might say, “What’s going to keep her from doing the same thing again?”

“Why waste his good money to reclaim her and to purchase her back?”

And the women – how might the women have looked at this relationship?  Perhaps, some of the women would have said, “I wish someone loved me that much.”

But many would have said, “She doesn’t deserve a second chance. He’s too good for her. She’s not worth saving.  He should just let her go.”

Whatever might have been said by the people who watched Hosea’s married life play out before them did not deter him from following God and doing what God asked him to do.

Prophets rarely listen to people.  They usually listen to God. That makes some people angry and uncomfortable, but it’s also what brings others to salvation.

When Hosea began to preach to Israel, they came to see that his own life represented the kind of love God had for them.

May I connect the dots for you?

1)         Israel was like Gomer.  She had been unfaithful.  She ran after other gods.

God was like Hosea.

God was hurt that Israel has been unfaithful but God was faithful.

Either Hosea is projecting human feelings onto God, or God feels wounded when we reject His love.

If that is true, God carries within Himself a lot of pain.

But that leads to an interesting question.

“Is it possible to love someone apart from pain?”

Think about it?  Have you ever loved anyone or anything without experiencing pain?

It’s impossible.  The deeper you love, the more you will hurt when there is a loss of any kind in that relationship.

Here is something else Hosea taught the people of Israel.

2)   Usually, unfaithfulness by one member of a party means the end of the relationship.

The covenant has been broken.  Trust is no longer possible.  At least one member has decided not to honor the commitment, and the other agrees that there is no longer enough love to save the relationship.  But it’s different when God’s involved.

But God told Israel:

“And now, here’s what I’m going to do:

I’m going to start all over again.

I’m taking her back out into the wilderness

where we had our first date, and I’ll court her.

I’ll give her bouquets of roses.

I’ll turn Heartbreak Valley into Acres of Hope.

She’ll respond like she did as a young girl,

those days when she was fresh out of Egypt.

16-20 “At that time”—this is God’s Message still—

“you’ll address me, ‘Dear husband!’

Never again will you address me,

‘My slave-master!’ (Chapter 2:14-16)

What man goes after a wife that’s been unfaithful to him?

What husband rescues a wife that sold herself to other men?  What man goes and brings her back and courts her again so that she will fall in love with him again?

The only person that would do such a thing would be a man with a huge heart of forgiveness and a man that sees much more in that person than she sees in herself.

What God would continue to pursue people that have repeatedly gone after other gods and demonstrated unfaithfulness to Him?

Only a God who loved us enough to send his one and only Son, that loved us so much he was willing to lay down his life for us.

Whenever we replace our allegiance to the Lord with anything, it becomes a god, and we break the First Commandment.

We are told in scripture that while our sin separates us from God, God was not content to leave us in that condition. God came to rescue us even after we were unfaithful.

He sent Jesus into this world to pursue us.

Jesus pursued all kinds of people.

He reached out to Zacchaeus, a man that stole from the poor, and the people complained that said, he’s “gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

He allowed a woman to anoint his feet with oil, and Simon the Pharisee thought to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know what kind of woman is touching him! He would know that she is a sinner.” (Matthew 7:39:b)

Jesus ministered to a Samaritan woman at a well who had been married five times and was living with another man.  When the disciples came back from the village where they went to purchase food, they were surprised he was talking with her.  Even though none of them questioned him or asked him why he was talking to her, you know they were thinking it.

Jesus healed a man, and the Pharisees complained about it because it occurred on the Sabbath.

It seems that those that do the most complaining have the least desire to see people come to Jesus.

But God loves and pursues those people, too.

This morning, God is pursuing you.  We have all been unfaithful to God in our lives.

God has not and will not give up on you or anyone.

How do I know?

The Apostle Paul reminds us that we are not our own.  We were bought with a price. ( 1 Cor. 6:19 NIV).

Just as Hosea bought back Gomer, God reached back out to Israel with love and mercy, and through the life of Jesus, our sins were covered with the gift of his life.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son that whosever believes in him will not perish, but have everlasting life.”

Now it’s up to us to either accept or reject this amazing love from God for our unfaithfulness.

Hosea is an example of the amazing grace of God and the kind of love and mercy God extends to us.

Have you accepted His love?  Are you extending that love and mercy to others?

Have you shared that decision with the church? Have you followed through with believer’s baptism?

If not, will you take this opportunity to text us during this invitation (706-480-8463) or if you are present, come down and share with me your desire to become a disciple of Jesus or to unite with our church?

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