Summary: Deals with the tension between the love and judgment of God.
“God’s Tough Love”
Steve Hanchett, pastor
Berry Road Baptist Church
January 21, 2001
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to him: “call his name Jezreel, for in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, and bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. It shall come to pass in that day that I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
And she conceived again and bore a daughter. Then God said to him: “Call her name Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel, but I will utterly take them away. Yet I will have mercy on the house of Judah, I will save them by the Lord their God. And I will not save them by bow, nor by sword or battle, by horses or horsemen.”
Now when she had weaned Lor-Ruhamah, she conceived and bore a son. Then God said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I will not be your God.”
Toward the end of the ninteenth century, Swedish chemist Alfred Nobel awoke one morning to read his own obituary in the local newspaper. It read: “Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite, who died yesterday, devised a way for more people to be killed in a war than ever before, and he died a very rich man.”
Actually, it was Alfred’s older brother who had died; a newspaper reporter had bungled the epitaph. But the account had a profound effect on Nobel. He decided he wanted to be known for something other than developing the means to kill people efficiently and for amassing a fortune in the process. As a result Nobel established the Nobel Prize for scientists and writers who fostered peace.
Nobel said, “every man ought to have the chance to correct his epitaph in midstream and write a new one.”
Reading Hosea is reading the obituary of a people who had not died when it was written. The prophecies of Hosea were an opportunity for repentance and in a sense the offer of a chance to correct the eulogy in midstream and write a new one.
Not many people get a chance like that. Imagine if you died today and that every person who showed up at your memorial service were compelled to tell the truth about you. Imagine what they would say. When we hear the word of God we are given an opportunity to correct the eulogy in midstream. The message of Hosea was a call to change the eulogy in midstream.
One of the great difficulties we have in communicating and understanding our relationship with God is maintaining the tension between the just wrath of God against our sin and the holy love of God that provides forgiveness and salvation from sin. One the one hand we can become so comfortable with the idea of forgiveness and grace that we lose any fear of God. On the other hand if we only see wrath and justice and are blind to love and grace we might give up in despair of ever really knowing God. When we read Hosea we find that both the wrath and judgment against sin and the love and forgiveness of God are intertwined.
This morning our text is about the judgment of God that came upon Israel because of their sin. What I want you to understand is that God’s love is not incompatible with His love. It is not either or. Some people read the Old Testament and say that it has a primitive view of God. They are convinced that the New Testament teaches us about a God of love and the Old Testament about a God of wrath. But the book of Hosea is at the top of the list when it comes to communicating to us how much God loves us.
We have already seen that the first three chapters are about Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. That marriage and the children of Hosea and Gomer became a divine drama that illustrated God’s relationship with Israel. Last week we saw how great God’s love for His people is. He loves those who have not earned His love and His love is steadfast. He does not cease loving us because of our sin. Our sin breaks the heart of God and it is a violation of the sacred and spiritual relationship that we have with Him. Sin is spiritual adultery against the husband of our soul.
Some people though have some spiritually dangerous logic and reasoning about God’s love. Some people believe that since God is love than He would never punish sin. Surely if God loves me He would never send me to Hell, nor would He ever discipline me.