When I see an adorable old couple that’s been married 50+ years, there’s an immediate sense of wonder… what’s the secret to their happiness and faithfulness to one another after all those years? We respect the wisdom that follows if we ask that question. We trust that their recipe for success is a good one.
Yesterday your Monday Hoper, Kate, introduced you to Hosea and Gomer – an Old Testament couple whose story can point us to a hefty dose of wisdom. Kate walked you though Chapters 1 and 2 detailing an unlikely love story of a rising preacher taking a prostitute for his wife.
Today, I’m tasked with helping our readers dig into Hosea’s chapters 3 and 4. If I were to only jump in at Chapter 4, I’d be rolling my eyes. In Chapter 4, Hosea is speaking the “Charge against Israel.” Reading it outside of the context of the surrounding chapters, I would easily picture a finger-pointing, holier-than-thou guy on a high-horse. He seems to be shouting accusations a la the angry loudmouth with a bullhorn on the street corner. There’s name-calling and shaming, it’s a bit of a rage-filled diatribe. Have a read and see for yourself.
Hosea is painting a pretty ugly picture of God’s chosen people, huh? It’s full of capitol T truth, though. Angry, honest truth can be a hard pill to swallow on its own. Often times, truth alone is really just too big for us to handle, much less ascribe to with the whole of our lives.
And unfortunately, truth alone often is not strong enough an anchor to hold us sinners in relationship with the God who adores us. We have strayed since the very beginning. And so, we most certainly need reconciliation to pull us back to Him. Hosea’s strong and prophetic words are a warning from someone who has been listening closely to God’s commands. So let’s look back to Chapter 3, at the story of Hosea’s lived experience. His authority to speak wisdom applicable for the folks of Israel earns some credibility with more context:
“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.’ So I bought her back for fifteen shekels of silver and five bushels of of barley and a measure of wine. Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.'”
Hosea took Gomer back. Scratch that. He didn’t just take her back, he pursued and bought her (for a price of something similar to a full year’s salary and part of the farm!) He did it because that’s what God does for his people. Hosea knows and warns that there is a case (full of incriminating evidence) to warrant God’s separation from His chosen people, and yet HE LOVES THEM ANYWAY. God told Hosea to persist to the call of love. “Persist” is a word that can be translated to “again.”
Readers, that’s our call: Persist! Love again, and again… and again ((and again and again and again and again and again.)) Like Hosea, we must rise above our personal circumstances to show the world God’s love (more than we go about exhibiting our own pain). And just as Hosea persisted in marriage to an adulterous wife, God has suffered though his people’s religious adultery. They/we have been so unfaithful, and yet He has chosen to persist with grace. He will not stop loving us.
Hosea spells it out in Chapter 4. There are many reasons God’s people should fear justice: no faithfulness, no acknowledgment of God, only cursing, lying and murder, stealing and adultery, bloodshed, stumbling day and night, lack of knowledge, rejected knowledge, ignoring the law of God, exchanging their glorious God for something disgraceful…. The list of faults and fall-shorts is extensive. A need for JUSTICE is indisputable and I, along with all of God’s people, aught plead guilty.
God’s ability to choose love over righteous anger is reflected in the character of Hosea and then, (yay!) ultimately FULFILLED by His son named Jesus who comes on the scene later.
Rest right there, dear Hopers. When hope is hard… when you fall short… Receive the reconciling grace of a steadfast, persistent God. Wed yourself to Him, and live in the wisdom of lived love.