Summary: The heart of the Christmas story
Advent # 4 Resource - Christmas Is Not Your Birthday, Mike Slaughter, Abingdon Press, 2011
A Love Story
Christmas is a love story. John frames it that way. “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life." (John 3:16, NIV) But, God’s love story is not about roses, candlelight, and romance! It’s more like blood, sweat, and tears. His is a bold love, offered in the face of rejection, persistently. It’s a story of pursuit, an amazing account of just how far He would go to reach out to people who not only ignore Him, but actually love other things more than Him.
The love story of Christmas was foreshadowed in the tawdry lines of Hosea, written 7 centuries before the birth of Jesus. It’s as scandalous as Desperate Housewives, as full of drama as a Jerry Springer show! In the story of Hosea, God illustrates His love for people who turn their backs on Him.
TEXT Hosea - PB 1395
The nation of Israel was enjoying a booming economy. Jeroboam had reduced the tax burden that Solomon had laid on the people. They were not at war, spending their treasure to field an army. Life was good. But, the soul of the nation was rotten. The sense of security that enveloped the people was a false one. A disaster was looming unless the people turned to the Lord and allowed His love to reach their hearts. He said that He would save them, if only they would seek and follow Him.
Tragically, they did not and within 15 years of Hosea’s death, Israel entered a time of upheaval. Four kings were assassinated in succession. They became a weak and fragmented nation . In another 20 years or so, the nation was reduced to ruins by the invading Assyrians. Many who survived the invasion were scattered to slavery across the Assyrian empire!
If only Israel had listened to the love song of the Lord. If only they had paid attention to the amazing love story of Hosea.
READ Hosea 1:2-3
What an assignment for this ancient preacher. “Hosea, go marry a woman who will not be faithful to you! Your marriage will be an object lesson in front of the nation about the way they are living and my persistent love.”
We are not sure if Hosea actually married a prostitute, which the most literal reading of the text implies, or if his wife became unfaithful to him shortly after they were married. It was tragic marriage, one that had to cause everyone involved a great deal of pain. Gomer involved herself repeatedly with other men. She left Hosea and returned as her affairs brought disappointment. "She’ll go on the hunt for her lovers but not bring down a single one. She’ll look high and low but won’t find a one. Then she’ll say, ‘I’m going back to my husband, the one I started out with. That was a better life by far than this one.’" (Hosea 2:7, The Message)
The couple had two sons and one daughter. Hosea named them for their mother’s sins.
His first son he named, “Jezreel” which means depending on context-
“God scatters” or more positively, “God plants.”