My pastor’s teaching through a series on Hosea still reverberating off the walls of my heart, echoing this overarching reality: Hosea isn’t merely about Hosea and Gomer. Neither is the story finished centuries ago with Israel and God.
Oh no, I am Gomer.
Wayward in heart from my faithful Husband who purchased me from the throes of self-induced slavery and treacherous affections, this is about God and myself. I am Gomer.
In this story of a husband who is relentless in his pursuit and redemption of his wife, we find ourselves today at the midway point, chapters 5 and 6. This allegory anything but linear, and neither is our life with Christ. Gomer (Israel… myself…) finds herself in another cyclical pattern of falling away, running away, back to her old loves. Repeat God’s warning (oh soul, please hear His warning! Hear it and heed it today!)
Chapter 5 begins with warning to a specific audience: the leadership of Israel. “Priests and house of the King, this warning is for you,” and my own heart shutters. Not a priest or a king, but absolutely in other positions of influence. Pay attention, oh my heart, that those positions of influence – whether parenting or areas of serving in the church – call me to lead from the overflow of my heart, and I best be leading from an overflow of a heart bowed to King Jesus.
The whole of this chapter is a recounting, a resume of wrongs, a just indictment on the people God had originally purposed to rescue for the purpose of sweet, sweet fellowship with Him. They would have none of it. Instead they were revolters. Playing the whore. Defiled. A spirit of whoredom within them. Pride. Stumbling in their guilt. Dealing faithlessly with the Lord. And now they have borne the exact results they chased after…
Desolation. Punishment. Oppressed and crushed. Sickness. Wounded – with none of their lovers to save them. And who was God to them then? He was like dry rot, a moth, not even a second thought to Israel. Instead she turned again to her side lover, Assyria, hoping for one last fling that might save her soul.
At this point it is necessary that I repeat to myself a reminder from my pastor:
Perhaps these analogies seem too strong. Whore? Did they really just say that in our good Christian suburbs? From the pulpit? I blush even thinking about these terms, so can we turn down the intensity just a little bit?
God purposes His language to raise our reality to what our sin actually is: faithless running from Good and Loving, and High and Holy God. Do I turn to mindless internet scrolling for comfort instead of the Rock of Ages? Do I attempt to find safety in the forever shifting approval and affection of people? Do I think God can be fooled since my sin is tucked quietly into the thoughts and intentions of my heart, refined and polished up nicely on the outside?
He sees everything.
“I will return again to My place, until they acknowledge their guilt and seek My face, and in their distress earnestly seek Me.” God, in Hosea 5:18
“Come, let us return to the Lord,” Israel, in Hosea 6:1
My friends, I don’t presume to know the reasons for your suffering. There are other Biblical reasons that hopeless circumstances may have come to you, they do not all find their source in sin. But can we do a vital signs check? Do we have our fingers on the pulse of God’s ways? He does still discipline for waywardness, and it is His mercy to do this! He longs to draw you back!
An invitation, a beckoning to come to Him. What will He do? Crossed arms of disapproval? Though He is holy and He hates sin, guess what? He heals. He binds up. He revives. He raises us up. The greatest and unjust judgment that came to Jesus on the cross was for my healing and resurrection! And this can be for you too, dear Hoper! He tears down to heal! He strikes down bind up! He revives and raises up! And why? For more freedom to return to old loves? No! To make us more free to live before Him!
“Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord, His going out is sure as the dawn; He will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” Hosea 6:3
At Golgotha, the place of the skull, He purchased for us the freedom to run to Him freely, not so that we would return to other lovers. He continues in chapter 6 about our hearts’ commitment to God being as transient as morning fog that dissipates by late morning. For our current state of weather, like a light dusting of snow that melts to brown slush. How fickle our hearts are.
Warning and good news from Chapters 5 and 6 of Hosea. Friends, let us read both with humble hearts. His warning and His discipline are both from a holy heart of love. He is worthy of our entire hearts’ affections, not just the fleeting mist of recommitment in the new year. Come! Let us return to the Lord! Let us press on to know Him!