Summary: Renewal, Restoration, Retrieval – the attitude is so important. It’s done in love- not reluctance. It’s done with mercy – not judgment. It’s goal is restoration – not conviction. It’s done with risk – not with guarded defensiveness.
A Covenant of Love ~ Love Returned
Scripture Text: Hosea 3.1-5
I think it’s important to study and investigate and probe the deep-questions of life; …but I-also-know that a person can get lost-in-the-questions! It’s-kinda-like pulling out an atlas, …while you’re driving down the highway, …and holding the map up in front of your eyes to get a sense of where-you-are and where-you’re-goin’; …but, in the process of looking-at-the-map, …you’re blocking your-view-of-the-road! You can look intently-at-the-map, …studying its features and the land-marks, …wondering why the road takes that-kinda-turn, instead of going a different-direction ~ …you can become so-engrossed-in-the-map that you end-up in the ditch because you forgot to pay-attention to the actual road!
I have high-regard for study; …I’m comfortable in the world-of-ideas. But, it’s gotta-be-aimed-at living-faithfully according to kingdom-of-God ~ …following in the footsteps of Jesus, …living-out the two-great- commandments: …to-love-God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength; …and loving my neighbor as myself. You can have your head-in-the-clouds, …your nose in a book, …your home can be in an “ivory tower” ~ …and end-up crashing-and-burning in the ditch because you weren’t paying attention to the road you’re traveling upon!
Which brings us to Hosea! We can talk day-and-night about the idea that God is love. But Hosea realized that when-it-comes-down-to-it, …we are not adherents to a set of ideas. We are followers of the Lord God ~ …and that means that our very lives and the choices we make, …and the decisions that get fleshed-out in our relationships, …our life-and-living will be absolutely-shaped by the God who calls us His “people”! Hosea’s most profound sermons come not-from his lips; …and they are not preached from a pulpit. But, Hosea’s most-profound sermons come from his life and his daily-choices!
St. Francis of Assissi famously-said: “Preach the gospel at all times; when necessary, use words.” What do you think Francis meant by-that!?!
He meant that our lives: …relationships, …conversations, …habits, …practices, …dreams and pursuits ~ …our lives are the most-effective sermons!
Hosea lived the message that God placed on his heart. He didn’t-just talk-about God’s love ~ …that it’s a faithful-love, …and unending-love, …that God’s-love is a long-suffering and merciful and forgiving. He didn’t-just-talk about these ideas; …But, Hosea lived-this message …in how-he-lived his-life.
Do you remember Hosea’s life and circumstances? God told him to marry a flirtatious – maybe-even promiscuous woman. Her name was Gomer. And for a time, things seemed-to-be o.k. But, Gomer started goin’-back to her old-ways. She started steppin’-out on Hosea. And the result was a lot of pain, …and hurt, …and brokenness. And-eventually, Gomer left Hosea. Left her husband. Left her three small children. She got-outta-Dodge!
I. She Did What!?!
Did she leave because she’d fallen-outta-love? Did she leave because she couldn’t-take the hassle-and-the-pressure of keeping house? Did she leave because Hosea was a simple-man, …with a simple mind, …and simple-ways of a poor-country-preacher ~ …and she wanted more?
Well, actually, …the Bible just-tells us that she left in-order-to “chase other lovers”. In-other-words, …she bought-into empty-promises.
You-know those-promises ~ …the ones the world-makes: …that life can-be more-exciting, …that life must-hold more-adventures, …that there’s more-to-be-had than what-we’d-normally-experience through living- faithfully, …by standing-fast, …by staying-true. And-so, …Gomer traded faithful love for cheap-thrills; …she bought-into the empty-promises and started-chasing other-lovers.
It’s awful! …It’s awful that she would choose-unfaithfulness, …that she would turn-her-back on her marriage and family, …that she would instead go from one-to-the-next and snub the gift-of-love. Hers is a story of betrayal, …and brokenness.
How do such things start? What goes through a person’s heart-and-mind that would lead them to these kinds-of-choices? ~ You’ve gotta-wonder-‘bout-these-things because Gomer’s life-style is not fun-and-games. It’-doesn’t-matter what-period-of-history a lady-finds-herself-in, …the kind of life that Gomer chose is filled with danger-and-abuse; …it’s demeaning and tragic. Hollywood and Vegas may dress-it-up and make-it-seem-like a glamorous-option ~ …in the ancient-world the voices were just-as-sinister-and-deceptive!
But… whatever-the-carrots that the world offers, …they are only vain-and-empty promises.
Chances-are… we look at Gomer with a mixture of disgust and disbelief. But, the tragedy we see unfolding in the drama-of-Hosea’s-marriage is not-just-about Gomer; …it’s-about how-God’s-people have been unfaithful to the Lord! This is not the realm of ideas; …this is not a debate of different theories ~ …Hosea tried to tell his neighbors and countrymen that they were-forsaking the love of God, …in-exchange-for the cheap-love of false-gods. The people of God were steppin’-out on the One who had promised faithful-love to them. He had rescued them out of slavery; …delivered-them from destruction. …gave-them a place to call home. He blessed their land and their flocks. And He promised them a certain-future.
But, they started-chasin’ other-loves. False-gods. Empty-promises. Cheap-thrills. Hosea said that the people of God were just-like-his-wife: …they “prostituted themselves” and were unfaithful to the covenant-relationship. And it’s shocking. It’s startling. It’s gut-wrenching. It is ugly! ~ Wouldn’t you agree?...