Summary: Sermon 3 in a study in Hosea
“Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. 3 Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.” 4 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the LORD and to His goodness in the last days.’
Since the beginning of my study for these sermons in Hosea I have had several occasions to notice the revulsion on the part of some scholars at the very suggestion of a Holy God, not only condoning a marriage such as Hosea had with Gomer, but actually commanding it and using it as a living sermon to the kingdom of Israel.
What I fail to understand is how they fail to see the beauty of true and sacrificial love that is portrayed in the obedience of the prophet. Anyone can make up a story and the teller’s hearers will go away a little misty-eyed and saying to one another, ‘Wasn’t that a touching tale of romance?’
But when the commentators in their shyness take away the literalness of this account and try to make it a symbolism only; a yarn, a tale, a fabrication, they diminish the potency of the spiritual truth being revealed; that God the Husband truly married Himself to the bride of His heart, Israel, and she went a-whoring after other gods – other lovers – and He, like Hosea, demonstrated His love by purchasing her back and keeping her to Himself even in the face of her rebellion, pending her day of awakening and repentance.
What the Father’s deep love for us has wrought through His Son’s obedience is not symbolic. It is not some spiritualized tale to represent some cosmic goodness to which we should all now endeavor to attain.
It is real and was accomplished in a point in history and can be represented by nothing less than the actual life and pathos of a man with a Godly heart walking in the obedience of faith.
THE SLAVE MARKET
God wanted to demonstrate to his wayward people the height of His love for them and the depths to which they had sunk. He wanted them to see in His prophet a drama played out in real life that would parallel the spiritual reality.
So we should pause also, to get into our minds and hearts the tragedy of this union.
This man has married a woman that he loves. In researching various commentators I was tickled at how much speculative detail is injected into the early verses of this book. Were they really in love from the beginning? Was she a prostitute at the time he married her? Did they have a good marriage for a number of years before she went astray?
Were the children really his or did she get pregnant by her illicit lovers? Believe it or not, men try to answer these questions. I’m not certain why.
We’re only told that he took a wife, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived, and so forth.
As the writing progresses we see Hosea following after her, providing for her, wooing her back.
Now at this point we might just assume that he is only obeying the Lord’s instruction in the same spirit of obedience with which Jeremiah hid his waistband under a rock Jeremiah 13:4, or Ezekiel laid on his left side for over a year Ezek 4:4-5, to demonstrate God’s message to the people.
But God loves His people! And the lack of information given to us about the prophets or any other main player in these stories can often be filled in out of what we know of the One who is speaking through their words and their lives.
So no, we are not told specifically that Hosea loved Gomer. Nor is there any indication at all given to us that Gomer repented or was converted.
But we do know about God and His love.
“For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For one will hardly die for a righteous man; though perhaps for the good man someone would dare even to die. 8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from the wrath of God through Him. 10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.” Romans 5:6-10