Summary: This sermon introduces the book of Hosea. It also explains issues such as Hosea being instructed to marry a prostitute, God’s jealousy, God’s love and Grace.

Hosea’s Love - Betrayal and Judgement by Chris Appleby

If you’re familiar with the story of Les Miserables, then you’ll know that the story begins with Jean Valjean, a convict on parole, coming to a town where the only person who’ll give him a room and a meal is the local bishop, Bp Myriel. The bishop welcomes him into his house, feeds him and gives him a warm bed for the night. However, the riches of the bishop’s house prove too much for Jean Valjean. He succumbs to temptation and steals the bishop’s silver cutlery. He’s soon apprehended, though, and when the gendarmes bring him back, the bishop is faced with a dilemma: should he tell the truth, that Jean Valjean has stolen the silver, in which case he’ll be thrown back into prison, or should he show him the mercy of the gospel and make out that it was given to him as a gift? The choice he has to make is between mercy and justice. He can’t have both. Well, as you probably know, he chooses mercy. He lies to the gendarmes. He says that the silver was a gift. In fact he insists that Jean Valjean takes not just the silver cutlery, but his silver candlesticks as well. But before Jean Valjean leaves, he’s told that this gift of love requires a response. From now on he must reform his life, from now on he must begin to live as a law-abiding citizen.

Was it all right for the bishop to lie? Was it OK for him to sacrifice justice for the sake of mercy?

What about our lives? When is it ok to lie? Is it ever ok to lie? Is it right to break the law and speed because your spouse is in need of medical attention? Under what circumstances can you divorce?

Life is full of greys so the bible often uses stories to highlight the tension between two good acts.

I would like to read a story from the bible that occurred about 500 years before Christ.

On the one hand God wants to extend his love to the people of Israel but on the other hand they are not being kind to each other. Israel has become wealthy through slavery, taxing the poor, temple prostitution and trying to make all religions the same, including the violent religions.

So the story I am about to read to is where a prophet Hosea is trained from birth in a group called ‘the company of prophets’ and his job is to illustrate to the people what God wants for them. People do not read so he has to show the people with his life. And the story is half about Hosea’s marriage to his wife and God’s marriage to the people of Israel. When he speaks about ‘my wife’ you are never sure if Hosea means Hosea’s wife or if it means God’s wife, the people of Israel. It is deliberately vague.

I hope from this story, you gain a deep understanding that God has something special for each of us to do.

Read Hosea 1:2-3:2

Reading old testament stories like this one is much like looking at a Van Gogh painting. Van gogh paintings are so famous because they are like a story of his life. When you sit in an art gallery you are supposed to just meditate upon the picture without judging it. Just let its thought seep through to you. It is like that with an Old Testament story.

So I will start with the life of Van Gogh and then you will understand the bible.

Gogh, Vincent Willem van


Van Gogh was born March 30, 1853, in Groot-Zundert, son of a Dutch Protestant pastor. Early in life he displayed a moody, restless temperament that was to thwart his every pursuit. By the age of 27 he had been, in turn, a salesman in an art gallery, a French tutor, a theological student, and an evangelist among the miners in Belgium. His experiences as a preacher are reflected in his first paintings of peasants and potato diggers; of these early works, the best known is the rough, earthy Potato Eaters (1885, Rijksmuseum Vincent van Gogh, Amsterdam).

Dark and somber, sometimes crude, these early works evidence van Gogh’s intense desire to express the misery and poverty of humanity as he saw it among the miners in Belgium.

In 1886 van Gogh went to Paris to live with his brother Théo van Gogh, an art dealer, and became familiar with the new art movements developing at the time. Influenced by the work of the impressionists and by the work of such Japanese printmakers as Hiroshige and Hokusai, van Gogh began to experiment with current techniques. Subsequently, he adopted the brilliant hues found in the paintings of the French artists Camille Pissarro and Georges Seurat.

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