Summary: This sermon explores the love of God in the midst of our rebellion through three enduring images from Hosea that find their ultimate fulfillment in Christ.
He Loves Us Anyway
Hosea on three images of God’s Love
Intro: Love expresses itself most fully in the midst of betrayal.
We would all agree that love is one of the most overused words in the English language. We love our spouse. We love pizza. We love our kids. We love the Lakers. We have basically stripped the word of its meaning. So, love is best understood in context and demonstrated through actions. Here’s one such demonstration.
No words could ever express the great unhappiness I’ve felt since breaking our engagement. Please say you’ll take me back. No one could ever take your place in my heart, so please forgive me. I love you, I love you, I love you! Yours forever, Marie.
P.S., And congratulations on winning the state lottery.
That’s the kind of love we get! It is often the kind of love we practice. Let me share with you another kind of love.
During World War II, Hitler commanded all religious groups to unite so that he could control them. Among the Brethren assemblies, half complied and half refused. Those who went along with the order had a much easier time. Those who did not faced harsh persecution. In almost every family of those who resisted, someone died in a concentration camp. When the war was over, feelings of bitterness ran deep between the groups and there was much tension. Finally they decided that the situation had to be healed. Leaders from each group met at a quiet retreat. For several days, each person spent time in prayer, examining his own heart in the light of Christ’s commands. Then they came together.
Francis Schaeffer, who told of the incident, asked a friend who was there, "What did you do then?" "We were just one," he replied. As they confessed their hostility and bitterness to God and yielded to His control, the Holy Spirit created a spirit of unity among them. Love filled their hearts and dissolved their hatred.
It is difficult to imagine being one of the churches that endured horrible persecution and lost many loved ones while those of the same fellowship compromised their faith and survived the war in relative peace. Could you express love and fellowship to those who so deeply betrayed you? At this point, something greater than human love must be present in our hearts. That love recognizes that God’s love is most visible in the midst of our betrayal. Yet, he loves us anyway. That’s what’s so amazing about his love. Hosea gives us three enduring images of God’s love that impact us deeply.
Image 1: The husband and wife.
1. Historical background to Hosea
Hosea was a prophet of the Northern kingdom near the fall of Samaria to Assyria. God will allow Assyria to destroy Israel, because Israel has played the harlot. Here’s how God described his current relationship to Israel. Read. 2:20:1-5, 13. Israel was God’s bride since he rescued her from Egypt. God provided everything Israel needed or even wanted. Yet, God through Hosea will declare Israel guilty of the vilest offenses. Israel has been guilty of lying, violence, drunkenness, turning to other nations instead of God for help, religious hypocrisy, and even child sacrifice. Yet the worst is that Israel had turned to the worship of Baal, the Canaanite god of fertility. They had practiced prostitution both literally and spiritually in the name of Baal. They had forsaken the true lover and gave glory to Baal for the gifts that God had showered on his bride. God is personal and jealous. If he didn’t love Israel he wouldn’t care, but in Hosea God is the jilted lover. He will punish Israel for her adultery. He even puts her away from him as his bride. How would a husband feel for the gifts that he showered on his bride to be shared with another lover? That is exactly how God feels.
2. Hosea is asked to be the example.
Read 1:2, 3. Hosea is asked to do something really unfair to him, yet he is God’s servant, and God’s servant will be God’s illustration of his relationship with Israel. He is asked marry a woman who will become an adulterer. She bears him two sons and a daughter and even their names tell the story of God’s judgment against Israel (not loved and not my people). Later Gomer sells herself into slavery and God speaks to Hosea again. Read 3:1-3. How is it that God could ask Hosea to do this? It is exactly what he intended to do with Israel.
3. God’s love will not abandon Israel.
We would think nothing of a spouse that is treated this way for never wanting to see their spouse again. We know that no one deserves a second chance that has betrayed another to the level that we see in Hosea. But God’s plan of punishing Israel is simply so that she might come back to him from her own heart. Read 2:14-16. It is amazing that God’s love will not abandon his people. He loves them still and intends to allure Israel again and bring her back as his bride. This is the love that Hosea is asked to emulate. It is love demonstrated in the midst of betrayal. It is love given when it is not deserved, and though Hosea can do as God commanded, nobody commands God. It is ultimately divine love. Why doesn’t God just do away with his people forever? He answers himself; “For I am God, and not man” (11:9b).