Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes” (3:1 CSB).
The book of Hosea is a love story: the love of the faithful God towards his unfaithful people, Israel. This love story is not a “fairy tale romance” for the immature. It is a biting, heart-wrenching portrayal of adult love in the worst conditions. In presenting this love story, God uses the marital experiences of his faithful prophet Hosea toward his unfaithful wife, Gomer, to show his desire to be reconciled with his people.
It is my earnest prayer to God and heart’s desire that neither you nor anyone in your family will know the anguish and sense of violation that comes from marital unfaithfulness. The world around us shows little respect for marital purity, and people hop from partner to partner like a rabbit freely hops around your backyard. In our culture, when a person loses the feeling that they assume they should have toward their spouse, they show no hesitation in abandoning their spouse for a new fling, leaving their ex to pick up the pieces of his or her life.
What is remarkable is the love of God towards the unfaithful displayed in this passage. God commands Hosea to be reconciled to his very unfaithful wife. God does this to let us know the power of his love toward unfaithful people.
The Lord presents Hosea with difficult task (3:1). God commands Hosea to restore his marital relationship with Gomer, his adulterous wife. Hosea faced two obstacles: her involvement with another lover and her character. Gomer was not looking to go back to Hosea; she was uninterested. This is a picture of how we all are apart from God’s grace. By nature we are deeply involved in sin and do not seek a way back to the true God.
God does not appeal to anything inside Hosea (like desire for her beauty or loving feelings) in telling him to restore her. His action was based on the word of God to him. When God seeks a sinner, there is nothing in the sinner to merit God’s love; in fact, there is only demerit. Grace is God’s unmerited, undeserved favor to those who have earned and deserve wrath.
Consider God’s purpose in this command. Do not think that God lacked concern about Hosea and Gomer; he certainly did. But he reveals another reason for his command.
- To show the standard of love— “as the Lord loves the Israelites.” Hosea would model God’s love toward Israel. This is the job description for every Christian husband, which we men should keep before us (cf. Ephesians 5:25-27).
- To show the depth of love— “though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” Hosea would show God’s love to a wayward people. They were in love with other gods, and yes, they loved the worship of those other gods (“the sacred raisin cakes”).
When people are in love with a false religion, their feelings get tangled up with all the externals of that religion, too. They find it hard to give up the little things, like raisin cakes, for a better relationship with the living God. For example, “I love the ceremonies, the spiritual atmosphere; it makes me feel like ‘God’ is there.”
Why won’t people turn to God? They’re in love with greed, sexual immorality, greed, pleasure, greed, drunkenness, greed, and having all their time and money for themselves!
Are there any Christians still alive who are willing to ask God if they’re really in love, not with God, but with sexual immorality, pleasure, drunkenness, and having all their time and money for themselves? May God the Holy Spirit give us grace to examine ourselves.
Grace and peace, David