Summary: Lessons from the life of Hosea. God’s love is beyond reason, inescapable and tough.
As I thought about the messed-up life of Hosea this week, I logged onto the Jerry Springer web site to check out the kind of topics he had been wallowing in lately. Some of the program titles read like this one on August 28: “Surprise, I’m Cheating.” The caption describes the show this way: “Angela will tell her longtime boyfriend that she’s been cheating on him and now she’s pregnant! Despite all this, she’s confident he’ll stay with her.” August 29: “Give Back My Lover — Will claims to love his fiancé, but he has some bad news for her. He’s been cheating… and now his mistress is pregnant!” August 30 – “Shocking Confessions! — Savaria broke up with her fiancé because she wanted to date his sister!” August 31: “Prostitution Sex Scandals — Lisa has secretly been working as an escort to help pay for her wedding. She likes her new job and she’s here today to tell her fiancé all about it!” September 8: “Baby Come Back To Me — Becky dumped her husband for his best friend, Josh!! Now she’s secretly seeing her husband again!”
Well, you get the idea. And those were the ones I could talk about in public. Actually, I was surprised to see how closely the topics of all those shows paralleled the story of Hosea. Gomer would have fit right in to the Jerry Springer setting. The show could have been called: “I Married A Prostitute.” The byline would go something like this: “Clergyman’s wife cheats on him. His children belong to three other men. After selling herself to everyone in town, Gomer ends up as a slave. Her husband, Hosea, eventually buys her back for $12.50. He claims that he knew she would be unfaithful to him in the beginning, but God told him to marry her. God also told him to buy her out of slavery and love her again.”
The book of Hosea is the most shocking book in the Old Testament. Few people can imagine what it would be like to be married to a woman like Gomer. She had no inner moral compass — no restraints. You could never trust her. You would know that she was always looking for some excitement. You would see her invite the attentions of other men and then deny it vehemently. The ability to make a commitment would never be a part of her character. She would disappear for days at a time and you would not know where she was. She would cruelly mock you and you would be the laughingstock of the town. She was full of moral turpitude.
It has happened to other people besides Hosea, but Hosea went into the relationship with his eyes wide open. He knew what kind of woman she was, but God had asked him to marry her; and he willingly did so, in spite of the enormous pain it would bring into his life. Sometimes God gave a prophet like Hosea words to speak to the people of Israel and Judah. He would give them words warning of impending judgment so they could be spared by giving up their sin and following God again. At other times he would give them words of love in an attempt to win back the affections of his people. He would remind them of all his love had done for them and tell them how much he wanted them to come back home to him. But sometimes words failed and God had to resort to a different kind of communication. He would give the prophet a message to act out. The prophet’s actions would be a living drama playing out the message of God in a dramatic way. He told Isaiah to remove his clothes, except for a loin cloth, and walk around as a living picture of the horrors of war and exile. He asked Ezekiel to lay on his side and eat a starvation diet which he would cook over animal dung — depicting the horrors of war inflicted on the people, which would come if they did not repent of their sins. He asked Amos to hold up a plumb line to show the people how out of balance their lives were.
There were many of these prophetic plays which took place, but none were as painful as when God asked Hosea to marry Gomer. Why did God ask him to do something like this? It was an ongoing drama of God’s marriage to unfaithful Israel. As people saw Gomer, a woman with no moral sense, becoming more vulgar and diseased every year, they remembered that she was the prophet’s wife and he had married her knowing that she would be unfaithful. They would ultimately get the message that there was a parallel between Hosea’s relationship to Gomer and God’s relationship to them. They were to be married to God, but they were unfaithful to him and loved many other gods.