Summary: Love takes first place in John 3:16. But isn’t that exactly why more don’t trust Jesus. They simply don’t trust love! Yet, God proves his love in the story of Hosea. His love(1)will never let you go and (2)will always take you back.
Message was inspired and adapted from Max Lucado’s book 3:16, Numbers of Hope, study guide materials, and his sermon series by the same title.
Scripture: Hosea 1:2; 3:1-5
Title: He Loved
Series: 3:16 (part 2)
Love takes first place in the 3:16 Gospel statement, “God so loved…” But isn’t that exactly why 3 out of 4 North Americans do not trust Jesus. They simply don’t trust love.
And we as a people give every reason for others think that selfless, sacrificial, unconditional love is really only in fairy tales. When we say I will, it really means maybe. When we say I do, the odds are greater that the marriage will never make it to death do us part.
Our love only makes promises that we just don’t keep. No wonder more people don’t trust this reason that God sent a Savior…they just don’t trust love.
Max Lucado asks, “God so loved this world? Heartbreakers, hope-snatchers, and dream-dousers prowl this orb. Dictators rage. Abusers inflict. reverends think they deserve the title. But God loves.”
I’m here to tell you that that kind of love does exist…in God. God’s love is real, and He has offered it to everyone. It is a love that will never let you go, it’s a love that will always take you back.
I. The All-Too Common Story of Love
It was the usual story of boy meets girl. God spoke to man and said that’s her. She’s the one. So, he married her, she got pregnant, but it seemed that she wasn’t interested in making the marriage work. She needed to be free. After all they came from different kinds of families.
After the baby was born, it didn’t take a prophet to tell that the child was not his. He was heartbroken. God said she was the one, but she had been unfaithful, and now she’s gone. She went off to live her life, but like the prodigal son, it turned bad. She ended up selling herself to pay off her debts.
All that sounds like a modern-day story. But really it happened around seven centuries before Christ was born. It is the story of Hosea.
Read Hosea 1.2
II. God’s Uncommon Example of Love
Hosea was a prophet, and God used his life as a living example.
God asked Hosea to marry Gomer to make the comparison between Hosea and Gomer’s relationship and God and Israel’s relationship. For years the nation of Israel had cheated on God. They stopped worshipping God and started worshipping idols. Some didn’t leave God wholly alone, but thought they could strattle a religious fence.
But it was God’s full intention to never let Israel go. God’s love doesn’t fail. He loved them in their spiritual adultery the same as when he loved them centuries before when he first covenanted with the people.
Duet. 10:15 “The Lord chose your ancestors as the objects of his love.”
When Moses said “objects of my love” They understood that form of the word love as binding. God was saying I bind myself to you. That means he’s latched on, chaining himself to them, and will never let them go.
Have you seen those harnesses for kids? The mom is tethered to the rambunctious three year old as they walk through the zoo.
The strap serves two functions yanking and claiming. You yank your kid out of trouble and in doing so proclaim, “Yes, he is wild, but he’s mine.”
God has never taken the binding off of Israel, even though they have resisted him. And neither had Hosea. Hosea kept the wedding ring on. Hosea had every right to divorce Gomer, but he didn’t. Instead…
Read Hos. 3:1-5
III. I’ll Never Let You Go, and I’ll Always Take You Back
If Hosea had let her go, it would have been like everyone else saying I love you, only to let weakness, and unfaithfulness break the bond. But Hosea said I will not let you go. And proved it. He spent all he had to buy back his own wife.
[Illustration of George Matheson. “He was only a teenager when doctors told him he was going blind. Not to be denied, he pursued his studies, graduating from the University of Glasgow in 1861 at the age of 19. By the time he finished graduate seminary studies, he was sightless.
His fiancée returned his engagement ring with a note: “I cannot see my way clear to go through life bound by the chains of marriage to a blind man.”
Matheson never married. He adapted to his sightless world but never recovered from his broken heart. He became a powerful and poetic pastor, led a full and inspiring life. Yet occasionally the pain of his unrequited affection flared up, as it did decades later at his sister’s wedding. The ceremony brought back memories of the love he had lost. In response, he turned to the unending love of God for comfort and penned these words to our famillar hymn on June 6, 1882: