Summary: God uses Hosea’s broken marriage to paint a picture of covenant unfaithfulness, but the story doesn’t end there because God is a pursuing God.
This is one day when our nation pays special attention to the importance of motherhood.
Many of you have planned some special way to observe this day with a meal, a gift, or a visit. And it is wonderful that you can do that. I also recognize that Mother’s Day is not easy for a lot of people for various reasons: a death in the family, a difficult relationship, or maybe the inability to have children as one man told us last week.
Many pastors puzzle over what kind of a sermon to preach on Mother’s Day. As I was preparing for today’s message, I ran across some advice for pastors from some blog entries of young mothers. (http://carynrivadeneira.com)
One said, “So much of the Mother’s Day hoopla suggests that every mom is the same and that all we need is a good brunch once a year to make us happy. They all work together to create this dreamy, perfect view of motherhood. So if you don’t fit in to the ideal model of motherhood, the sermons end up being a reminder of how not like “all the other moms” you really are.
Another woman gave this advice to pastors: “Say “Happy Mother’s Day” and then preach the sermon that God spilled into your heart and head. Don’t make it about Mother’s Day. Where the Holy Spirit guides you is where it needs to go and what mothers and fathers and non-moms and non-dads and kids and old people and singles and whoever else is sitting there needs to hear.”
That sounded like good advice, so first of all, Happy Mother’s Day.
And now I want to turn to the message God has for us today.
As most of you know, Sue and I have been preaching through the books of the Bible and today we come to the Old Testament prophet Hosea, who uses the tragedy of his own broken home to get his message across. He is able to speak out of his personal experience of a broken heart to portray the way God felt when His people betrayed his trust and broke their promises.
Just this past week we talked with a young man who thought his relationship with a woman was leading to marriage. In fact, they had begun to plan their wedding. And then he found out that she had been unfaithful. So he broke off the relationship.
If you have experienced betrayal, broken promises, and a love that has gone cold, you understand the pain that God feels when His people walk away from their covenant with Him.
A covenant is an agreement between two parties about the future of their relationship. God invites people into a relationship of blessing with him. And we know that God is always faithful, but his people are not.
Yet, as we see from our study of the Bible, the Lord cannot simply cut his people loose from his covenant. God is torn between the need to point out the failure of his bride and the desire to restore the intimacy that once was theirs. Intimacy can flourish only when the lovers are knit together by integrity, commitment, and love. So this book of Hosea uses this human story to help us understand the heart of God.
Hosea lived some 700 years before Christ. He was a citizen of the Northern Kingdom at the same time the prophet Isaiah was living in Jerusalem. Hosea lived in turbulent times. During his prophetic career, Israel had six kings in just over 20 years, and four of them assassinated the king ahead of them so they could become king. On top of that, a brutal nation, Assyria, invaded Israel in 722 B.C., deporting many of its citizens.
But the most serious problem in Israel wasn’t political – it was spiritual. Economic times were good, but this prosperity led to moral decay and Israel started to run around on God, flirting with foreign gods, bowing down at strange altars. This was serious business. The Covenant People had broken the covenant. They had gone back on their promises. They had not only broken God’s law—they were breaking God’s heart. We see it expressed in Hosea 2:13: “(Israel) decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after other lovers, and forgot me, declares the Lord.”
Remember, a covenant is an agreement between two parties about the future of their relationship. But if one party does not keep its side of the relationship, that voids the covenant. We know that God is always faithful, but his people are not. And that is what happened to the people of Israel.
So, how can God communicate the seriousness of unfaithfulness to them? Here is where Hosea the prophet comes in. Remember that a prophet is one who conveys to the people a message from God. God asks Hosea to do a very difficult thing. He commands Hosea to marry a woman who would become a prostitute as an example of God’s relationship with Israel. Listen to 1:2.