A Time for Reconciliation (Part One)

Hosea 3:1-5

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

A Door of Hope (Part Three)

Hosea 2:14-23

On that day I will respond—this is the Lord’s declaration. I will respond to the sky, and it will respond to the earth. The earth will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the fresh oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. I will sow her in the land for myself, and I will have compassion on Lo-ruhamah; I will say to Lo-ammi: You are my people, and he will say, “You are my God” (2:21-23 CSB).

Finally, there is a new outlook. It is far too easy to become discouraged or perhaps even depressed as we journey through life. If we read or listen to news reports or scour the internet for information about situations, our outlook can become very gloomy. Or for others, all it takes is a visit to the doctor and follow-up testing, and anxiety about our mortality to affect ourselves, our family and friends. But God opens the door of hope widely to encourage and refresh his dearly loved people. Let’s listen to two hopeful vistas that he directs believers to ponder.

God reminds us that he is in charge of nature. There is a well-known cable weather service that delights to spread gloom and doom. They run programs to proclaim that we are wrecking our planet, and “superstorms” and other terrible events are just waiting to wreak havoc on our self-indulgent lifestyle. For example, it simply doesn’t snow anymore, but we face cruelly cold temperatures from a “polar vortex” and we just might face “blizzard-like conditions”. The shelves of grocery stores are emptied as people frantically buy ten loaves of bread, four dozen eggs, and gallons of milk. And it snows two little inches! (By the way, my family and I survived a huge blizzard with only an extra loaf of bread and gallon of milk.) And to these people, it simply doesn’t rain an inch, but the highways have “treacherous conditions”. People love to hear the “weather prophets of doom.” In all of this, people forget God.

  • However, God reminds us that every part of the agricultural process is under his control. He is very able to act in the world he created to provide us with what we need to live, and to live joyfully. God does what is good by giving you rain from heaven and fruitful seasons and filling you with food and your hearts with joy” (Acts 14:17 CSB).
  • To look at this another way, Israel, Jezreel, can see God’s care, start at herself, and then trace her blessings back to God. How skilled are you at reading the “map” of your blessings?

God offers a renewed exchange of “marriage vows”, of fresh promises of a new covenant relationship. The Lord had called them “not loved” and “not my people”, because of their rejection of him, refusal to love him, and rebellion against his laws. They had broken the relationship by their spiritual adultery. God promises a better covenant relationship. In it God gives:

  • A promise of enduring love. This promise holds true for God’s new covenant people. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39 NIV).
  • A belonging to each other. Paul clearly applies these words to the church. What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory—even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? As he says in 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, “In the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ there they will be called ‘children of the living God.’” (Romans 9:23-26 NIV).

Do you belong to Jesus? Are you in a covenant relationship with the Lord? Has he laid hold of you by his amazing, wonderful love? Have you trusted in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? FAITH is Forsaking All I Take Him.

Grace and peace, David

A Door of Hope (Part Two)

Hosea 2:14-23

I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord (2:19-20 CSB).

The hope (confident expectation) that God gives his people includes a new and better relationship (2:16-20) with him. This is expressed by the word husband (2:16-17)

In her early days, Israel had called the Lord baal, which simply meant “owner”, “master”, “possessor” or “husband”. But in Canaan, Baal was the chief god of the evil Canaanites, and Israel had forsaken the Lord to worship Baal. The true God no longer wanted such confusion to exist.

Therefore, the Lord chooses another word for husband, ish. This word is used in the first account of marriage in Genesis 2:23-24. The Lord wants his people to relate to him, not in a context of slavery and fear, but in a context of love, peace and joy. What characterizes your worship? Do you want to be in God’s presence? Do you approach him with gladness? This is only an illustrative question. You might confess that God loves you, because the Bible tells you. But do you think that God likes you? What I hint at is that the love of God has been trite, commonplace, to Christians. We’ve lost the wonder of being in an intimate relationship with the true and living and unlimited God. It’s like someone says, “God loves you,” and we nod our heads and think, “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.” We’re not profoundly moved by the love of God. But we think, “Would God want to hang out with me?”

It is expressed in assurances of peace and safety (2:18). Study the blessings and cursings of the law covenant (Deuteronomy 28) to grasp the importance. God acts to bring about two kinds of peace in his creation.

  • For nature to be at peace with humanity (Isaiah 11:6-9).
  • For people to be at peace with each other (Micah 4:3).

It is expressed in a new covenant (2:19-20). Compare Jeremiah 31:31-34. The Lord gives a beautiful wedding gift to his bride.

  • Righteousness – We are right with God because of the gift of Christ’s righteousness.
  • Justice – It is satisfied at the cross of Christ. See Romans 3:25-26.
  • Love – God’s covenant, unfailing lovingkindness
  • Compassion – The Lord is deeply concerned about us. This was another reversal (cf. 1:6)!
  • Faithfulness – God will never forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

Are you delighting in your Lord? A bride who delights in her husband will love him for every gift of his love and will glorify him for his gifts to her. How do you speak of your Lord?

Grace and peace, David

A Door of Hope (Part One)

Hosea 2:14-23

Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will respond as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt (2:14-15 NIV).

Previously in God’s always relevant Word, we read how God announced judgment on Israel for falling away from the Lord. It looked like Israel was finished! What hope could there be for those who turn their backs on the living God? What hope is there for those whom God threatens to punish? Some would write off America and other western nations as beyond hope. But is that so? What passage of Scripture can they appeal to? Doesn’t the Bible and church history present the darkest scenes of human hopelessness as the best opportunities for God to show his power?

The message of the Bible is a message of good news for the undeserving. God speaks of confident anticipation and of free and full forgiveness for the darkest sins. When all seems beyond hope, God is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20 NIV). God gives hope to the hopeless, joy to the grief-stricken, and peace to those torn apart by strife. The Lord is the God of new life and fresh vitality. And when he gives new life, it is a better life than previously known.

The Lord points to a new beginning (2:14-15). The key idea is unexpected and unmerited favor. God had just announced a just judgment upon Israel. She would be ruined! And now he speaks of leading her into the desert. How much worse could it get?

  • Biblically speaking, the desert has been a place of hope for God’s people. In the desert God formed Israel into a nation. In the desert, John the Baptist preached repentance and pointed people to Jesus, the Lamb of God. In the desert places of your life, the living God can speak tenderly to you (cf. Psalm 119:71). If you’re in a dark place now, look around with the eyes of faith and see the rays of hope breaking through the clouds.
  • God promises to reverse Israel’s fortunes. The destroyed vineyards (2:12) would be restored. The Valley of Achor, “Trouble”, which was always a dark memory because of Achan’s sin at Jericho, would become a door of hope. When you’re at the end of your rope, you’re at the place where God is able to untangle the knots in your life.

Sometimes God’s people go down into the “valley of trouble”, but in free grace God can open a door of hope unexpectedly before them. And when we walk through that open door, we have new opportunities to serve and enjoy the Lord. Remember Psalm 43:5: Why, my soul, are you so dejected? Why are you in such turmoil? Put your hope in God, for I will still praise him, my Savior and my God (CSB).

The Lord foretells coming days of joy and celebration. Israel would sing to the Lord again, as she did at the Red Sea (Exodus 15:1-21). The lost song can be restored. This is very important. Yes, we can mess up our lives because of our sins, especially the sins of unbelief and the lack of thankfulness and worship. But God gives overflowing grace. Get off the performance treadmill, follow the Lord in faith, and rejoice in him anew!

God’s people sing when God makes us glad because of his salvation (Revelation 15:1-4). Has the Lord been gracious to you? Do you have good reasons to sing his praises? Yes, you do when you remember his saving, redeeming, matchless grace in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grace and peace, David

The Danger of Forsaking God (Part Two)

Hosea 2:2-13

And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord (2:13 ESV).

Previously, we considered that old covenant Israel abandoned the Lord by refusing to acknowledge God as the source of the blessings she enjoyed. Next, we see that Israel also abandoned the Lord by giving to her false gods what God had given to her (2:8).

You can sense the Lord’s disgust with her conduct. What a wretched woman Israel had become, taking from her husband to give to another lover. Notice her twisted thinking. She thought her blessings were the pay from her lovers, and then she returns a part of her pay for her meretricious conduct to the lover who had used her (2:13).

America, the wealthy nation, is rapidly heading for the day when she will find herself impoverished by seeking after idolatry and pantheistic forces. People refuse to look at the present misery of those who serve idols, and instead gladly welcome foolish, idolatrous ideas as the latest and greatest way to prosperity.

What should be done to a fallen woman like Israel? In this section, God uses the “powerfully tough” approach that we mentioned in our start pf this series. How would the Lord punish Israel for her sins?

First, the Lord would punish Israel by putting obstacles in her path (2:6). The Lord sometimes places “stop” or “warning” signs in the ways of sinners, because he has no pleasure in the death of the wicked. God commands all people everywhere to repent. Therefore, having overlooked the times of ignorance, God now commands all people everywhere to repent (Acts 17:30). These obstacles were intended to help Israel lose her adulterous way of life. When we can’t reach satisfaction in our sinning, we should be glad. God is opening a way out of the mess we have made of our lives. Consider the story of the lost son (Luke 15:17ff). Are you experiencing dissatisfaction in your sin? Turn back to the Source of joy!

Second, the Lord would punish Israel by judging her productivity (2:3, 9, 12). The Lord threatens to take back what he had given. This is a most just judgment on those who refuse to praise God who blesses. The Lord threatens to ruin what had supplied her with happiness and sustenance.

Third, the Lord would punish Israel by exposing her wickedness (2:10). Wherever you have sinners, you will have sins. But western civilization has delighted in displaying her debauchery to a watching world. We should listen to what the rest of the world says about us. No one would be able to deliver Israel when she fell into the Lord’s hands. Let us reflect on Hebrews 10:31. People have hated the sermons of Jonathan Edwards for nearly 300 years. One day the haters of the truth will know the terror of the Lord.

Fourth, the Lord would punish Israel by ending her religious festivals (2:11). God had given Israel set times throughout the year to remember him and to thank him for the blessings he showered upon her. Every opportunity to thank God ought to be considered precious! But God would end it all. He tired of the travesty of having celebrations seemingly intended to remember him, but which were really riotous worship of idols.

Will you remember the Lord this week? Is he really precious to you? As I write, YouVersion is having a twenty-one day Bible challenge to read God’s word each day during that time. Certainly, we ought to read properly. But will you invest time in listening to God’s Word? You don’t need YouVersion. All you need is a Bible.

Grace and peace, David

The Danger of Forsaking God (Part One)

Hosea 2:2-13

Rebuke your mother; rebuke her. For she is not my wife and I am not her husband. Let her remove the promiscuous look from her face and her adultery from between her breasts. Otherwise, I will strip her naked and expose her as she was on the day of her birth. I will make her like a desert and like a parched land, and I will let her die of thirst (2:2-3 CSB).

We must always keep in mind God’s revelation of himself. Almighty, holy, sovereign and self-sufficient, God still wants to share his love and glory with people. Amazingly, God reaches out to people who have not wanted God in their lives. He does this in order to draw them into a deep relationship of love, which God sets forth in terms of marriage and family.

Sadly and tragically, people wander away from the living God, who overflows with love. In this passage, God reveals one way he responds to such conduct. This response to rejected love should not surprise us. God is surely right in bringing justice on those who despise his overflowing love. Again, the language in this section is blunt, racy, and shocking. God intends it to be. He wants us to wake up and realize that offended love responds powerfully!

How did Israel forsake the Lord? Israel abandoned the Lord by refusing to acknowledge God as the source of the blessings she enjoyed (2:5). In contrast, the godly person sees God as the supplier of what we need to sustain and enjoy life. As Paul told a group of non-Christians, who had a wrong view of God, Friends, why are you doing this? We too are only human, like you. We are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things to the living God, who made the heavens and the earth and the sea and everything in them. In the past, he let all nations go their own way. Yet he has not left himself without testimony: He has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons; he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy (Acts 14:15-17 NIV; cf. Matthew 6:25-34; James 1:15-17). God provides us with what is necessary to sustain life and to have joy in our lives.

Israel’s troubles began when she forgot the Lord, though she had been warned against so doing. And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the Lord (Hosea 2:13 ESV; cf. Deuteronomy 8:6-14). In our culture, where both marriage partners often work outside the home, it is easy to miss the point of the wife depending on her husband for support. How could Israel forget the husband who provided her with all she needed to live? She had forgotten the lesson of the manna.

As Israel forgot the Lord, it is not surprising that she did not acknowledge God as the source of her blessings (2:8). The average person in western society thinks that their skill and hard work or clever use of government entitlements are the source of blessings. But who gives you your abilities? Who has provided wealth to our nation? All comes from God.

Israel abandoned the Lord by taking idols as her lovers. She wrongly believed that her false gods provided her with the blessings of life. She worshipped idols like Baal as the ones who controlled nature (2:5). An error in the content of faith or doctrine leads to errors in our worldview, which leads to absurd, disgusting and immoral practices. An example of this is the different ways that people look to harmonize their environment, in order to be successful or have a sense of well-being or for other reasons.

Israel wildly pursued her false gods in her adulteries (2:7, 13). Notice the lack of purity (2:2) that led to a spiritually immoral lifestyle. When God exposes our attitudes and actions by the word, it is not the time to mutter a mere “I’m sorry,” but to have a deep change of mind. “Lord, give me the mind of Christ—an inner person of the heart that is zealous for you.”

Grace and peace, David

Clouds and then Sunshine (Part Two)

Hosea 1:4-2:1

Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘children of the living God’ (1:10 NIV).

The third child was named Lo-Ammi, which means “not my people” (1:8-9). God’s message through the prophet Hosea was that he would cast Israel away. Israel was overconfident about her covenant relationship to the Lord, even as she turned from the Lord to Baal. It is much like the modern American, who somehow falsely assumes America is a “Christian nation”, while the Lord’s name is blasphemed, his worship forsaken, and a godly way of life is abandoned, mocked and resisted like the plague.

The Bible tells us that God cannot be mocked. Don’t be deceived: God is not mocked. For whatever a person sows he will also reap (Galatians 6:7). People may pretend to be Christians today, but God will not own them as his own on the Judgment Day. Jesus said, “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’” (Matthew 7:21-23 ESV).

The fact that God gave this message through the naming of the children, which took a few years, demonstrates that he gave Israel the opportunity to repent. God has issued many warnings to this world over the last hundred years: terrible wars, terrorist attacks, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, tsunamis, landslides, ice storms, plagues, and blizzards. Yet people have not turned back to God. How much longer do we have before far more destructive judgments fall from heaven?

However, in a setting of apparent hopelessness, the living God offers a word of hope, a promise of restoration (1:10-2:1). The foundation is that God keeps his covenant promises. Remember his promises to Abraham (Genesis 12:1-3; 15:4-6; 22:15-18). God’s grace is greater than human sin and weakness.

What did the Lord promise? The place of rejection would become the place of restoration. There would be another reversal of the name Jezreel! God is able to restore, even when it seems impossible. Keep on praying and believing. Never give up! As the New Testament makes clear, this was also a promise of salvation to the nations (Romans 9:22-26; 1 Peter 2:9-10).

God would restore the names of love and relationship to his chosen people. They would again be honored as God’s people. They would experience anew that they were loved by the Lord. God has freely chosen to have a family relationship of love with people that were rebellious against him. He makes this happen through his Son, Jesus Christ. The Messiah died to pay for our sins and rose the third day that we might be declared right with God when we turn from our sins and trust in the Lord. Are you right with God through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ? If you are, worship God. Expressing your joy in God through worship is God’s great purpose for you.

Stop and think for a moment. What about your relationship with the true God? Are you able to say with good and right Biblical reasons that you belong to God and that God loves you? There is hope, living hope, when we turn to the Lord for mercy and grace. Today is the day he offers salvation and righteousness. Are you right with God? You may be today by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone. If your life has been thick with clouds, there is a glorious ray of sunshine. God has brought you to a place where you can hear his good news. We pray that God will be exceedingly merciful to you. Seek the Lord today, while he may be found! Isaiah 55:6-7

Grace and peace, David

Clouds and then Sunshine (Part One)

Hosea 1:4-2:1

Our passage is like a day that begins with thick, dark clouds. A storm is brewing, and skies put an ominous feeling into one’s heart. Far off, you can hear the low roll of thunder, and you sense that now is the time to prepare for the storm! In our previous posts we looked at the opening words of this prophetic message. God reveals his message through the symbolic actions of his prophet and then through revelation by word. Hosea was to marry a sexually immoral woman to show how Israel herself had been unfaithful to the Lord, who loves his people. The storm clouds were beginning to rise.

Now the scene is darker. Clouds fill the sky with the naming of Gomer’s children. The first son is clearly said to be Hosea’s, but the others may have been the offspring of Gomer’s adulterous adventures. As each child is named the storm draws nearer. Will there be any escape from it? Is there any ray of light amid such darkness?

We hear symbolic names for Hosea’s children (1:4-9). The Lord names all of the children to warn Israel of judgment that would soon come, if Israel did not repent.

Jezreel (1:4-5) was the first child. God’s message is that we must do God’s work in God’s way. The child’s name recalls the atrocities of Jehu (2 Ki 9-10). This would be like naming a child Andersonville, Dachau or My Lai to cite just three notorious examples. God had appointed Jehu as his executioner (2 Kings 9:6-10). And so Jehu went to Jezreel and put Joram, Ahaziah, and Jezebel to death. But in the process, Jehu used deceit and brutality to carry out God’s commission. His heart was not right with God, though he did what the Lord righteously willed to be done (cf. 2 Kings 10:6-31). He was not working for the Lord in the Lord’s way.

Jehu was like the Assyrians (Is 10:5-7); he was just like an ax used to cut down a broken tree, but he paid no attention to the desires of the owner in cutting the tree down. We must always do God’s work in God’s way. It is necessary to renounce the ways of deception, coercion, and manipulation. It does no good to get someone to make a decision, if they lack any heart for God in his or her decision. In fact, it compounds their problem before the Lord.

The reversal of a name’s significance. Jezreel had been the birthplace of Gideon’s greatest victory (Judges 6:33-7:21). Think of Saratoga or Gettysburg or Normandy in our history. But now it becomes the sign of Israel’s complete military defeat by the Assyrians. The military power of the northern kingdom was destroyed forever.

The second child was Lo-Ruhamah, which means “not loved” (1:6-7).  God’s message is that he is not merciful to the unrepentant. The people of the northern kingdom had walked for centuries in the ways of Jeroboam I, and also they had turned to Baal worship and astrology (2 Kings 17:16-17). Therefore, God announced that he would no longer be merciful to Israel. They had been living like God did not care about what they did. The name of this girl would show that God did care and would judge them for their guilt. Hosea’s message is a wake-up call to those who assume God doesn’t judge the guilty.

However, God would continue to have mercy on Judah, the southern kingdom. While Israel fell to the Assyrians, God would protect Judah without human help (2 Kings 19:35-36). God is very able to deliver his people. Israel’s fall was not due to any lack of power on God’s part. This is true today. The sovereign God is still able to turn the hearts of people to himself, and yes, he is doing that today! Jesus still saves sinners.

How concerned are you about God’s mercies? Are you crying out to him for mercy? We have not yet prayed as we should!

Grace and peace, David

God’s Perspective (Part Two)

When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son (Hosea 1:2-3 NIV).

Next, let’s turn our attention to the plot of Hosea. The opening story has upset many people. Hosea was commanded to marry a sexually immoral woman. Although the old covenant priests were required to marry virgins, the prophets were not so restricted. Nothing in the law prohibited such a union, though she deserved to die (Leviticus 20:10), just like David and Bathsheba.

The language of the original language is rough, racy and blunt. Go, marry a whore, and get children with a whore, for the country itself has become nothing but a whore by abandoning Yahweh (Jerusalem Bible). In spite of the arguments of some, the Hebrew word zenunim, while referring basically to illicit sex, can refer to prostitution.

Hosea’s life became complicated and sorrowful. He pledged himself to be faithful to an unfaithful woman, and he became the father of children who resembled their mother in their behavior. Before you complain about your lot in life, you would do well to look at others and consider what God has called them to endure for his name’s sake. We need to get our eyes off ourselves and fix them on the Lord Jesus. Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2 ESV).

Hosea’s broken marriage would illustrate the relationship between the living God and his covenant people Israel. God is like Hosea, the faithful husband and loving father. But Israel was like Gomer, the unfaithful wife. In every area of life, Israel was an adulterous.

  • In religion, she committed adultery by loving other gods—many other gods.
  • In politics, she committed adultery by selling herself to other countries for military protection.
  • In morals, she committed adultery by engaging in literal sexual immorality, and indulging in greed and violence.

In this disgusting picture, the Lord reveals his way of ruling over the world and his people. In Hosea we do not see One who rules by using brute power, nor do we see One who helplessly wrings his hands. But we see God acting in various ways to make known his manifold glory.

  • Sometimes he is sovereignly cool, letting his people walk in their own way.
  • Sometimes he is powerfully tough, bringing well-deserved judgment on them.
  • Sometimes he is patiently tender, refusing to give them up. Isn’t it great that God doesn’t give up?
  • Above all, he is amazingly gracious, forgiving the vilest adulteries when people ask for mercy.

God is not the magician of our childhood fantasies, who solves all problems with the wave of his magic wand. No, the living, personal God works through the complexities of personal relationships to show his glory. For God that meant sending his Son to death on a cross. We see also that God loves the unlovely; in fact, he even loves those who despise him and walk away from him. We should only say, “Amazing love, how can it be?”

Grace and peace, David

God’s Perspective (Part One)

The word of the Lord that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and of Jeroboam son of Jehoash, king of Israel (Hosea 1:1 CSB)

Think about a child’s impression of the adult world. “They make the rules,” he or she thinks. “There’s power for you! And they have the money, however much they moan about not having much—there’s freedom! Just think what we children could do with all that freedom and power!” (Compare Kidner’s comments.) Kids long to be adults; then all their problems will be solved! No oppressive adults telling them what to do, and with all the money they’ll have, they’ll be able to buy anything they want. All their dreams will come true! But what really happens when you become an adult?

Christians, too, can have childish dreams about God’s rule of the world. If only God would do things our way, we think, the world and national situation would improve rapidly and dramatically! Just speak a word of omnipotence, and all will be right! The Lord can calm a storm, can’t he? Didn’t he create the universe just by speaking? Yes, he did. Then it’s so simple, isn’t it?

Please excuse me for suggesting this, but perhaps we all are too simple-minded. We confess to believe what God has told us about himself, but then promptly forget all that we say we believe. We hear some truths about God’s sovereignty, holiness, justice, love or mercy, and quickly choose one of them, and then ride that one selected truth like some people will buy only one brand of vehicle.

What we forget is God’s ultimate purpose—to display his own majestic glory (Romans 11:36; Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14). What we fail to consider is that God’s glory is not defined by one of his characteristics, but by all of them in harmony. To help us understand more about his glory, in the book of Hosea God pictures his rule over the world as a husband leading his family. The picture is surprising, even shocking! God presents the truth of displaying all his glory like this. It is not the picture of a husband who calls all the shots and whom no one dares to question. Nor does he present a husband with an adoring wife and perfect children. Instead, we read of a husband whose wife has left him and whose children are bent on destroying themselves. Some find this picture disgusting, but the Holy Spirit has not smoothed the rough edges to meet prudish Victorian standards of propriety. Without further introduction, let us turn to Hosea’s prophecy about God’s love to unlovely people.

God put his copyright on this message. In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways… (Hebrews 1:1 NIV). He gives the publication data. This is like the information you find on one of the opening pages of a book. You remember—that stuff you had to write down to make a bibliography.

  • The messenger is Hosea. He was a prophet who lived in the northern kingdom of Israel. Nothing else is known about him apart what we read in this book. It does not matter that people know of you; what matters is that God knows you.
  • The time of God’s message through Hosea was during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah of Judah and Jeroboam II of Israel; in other words, during the eighth century B.C. The ministry of Hosea is God’s call to repent to a people on the brink of destruction. Compare this with Jonah. In Jonah a group of Gentiles repent, but God’s visible people refused to listen to Hosea’s message!

However, there is a publication problem in the opinion of some people. They simply do not approve of how God spoke through and by the prophet Hosea. What happened to him offends their ‘moral sensibilities’. First, we should realize that God sometimes had his prophets illustrate their message by performing some action (cf. Jeremiah 16:1-9; Ezekiel 5:1-4). God presented a play, and then handed out “Cliff Notes” explaining what the play meant.

Second, what God commanded Hosea was unpleasant and brought much trouble into his life, and God didn’t even ask for Hosea’s permission! The Lord does not usually lead his servants to walk on smooth, level, dry paths. Some of our paths are hilly, rocky, and perhaps mucky and swamp-like. Our mission is to serve God wherever he leads, regardless of the inconvenience or suffering that it brings (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:4-10). This is not to say that we like suffering, but we value the glory of God so much that we persevere through suffering for Christ’s sake. Grace and peace, David