Summary: Unfaithfulness among Christians has led many in and out of the church to deal with guilt. Mercy is God’s love toward men extended to free us from condemnation.
Last week we looked at the first illegitimate child born to Hosea’s unfaithful wife, Gomer. We noted that the child, whom the Lord instructed Hosea to name Jezreel, represented the first product of unfaithfulness, which is impotence, or the loss of strength. This week, as we continue to consider the consequences for "steppin’ out on God," we will look at the second product of our unfaithfulness.
Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. The the Lord said to Hosea, "Call her Lo-Ruhamah, for I will no longer show love to the house of Israel, that I should at all forgive them. – Hosea 1:6
To figure out what this means, it is helpful to look at the meaning of Lo-Ruhamah. While the footnotes in your Bible tells you it means "not loved," it is more accurate to say "not pitied." This is an important distinction, because when we think of not being loved, we think of not being made to feel special.
For example, when I am having a pity party and feeling sorry for myself, I might tell my wife, "you don’t show me love." What does that mean? Quite frankly, it means she’s not doing special things for me, like rubbing my back or telling me how handsome I am! In reality, though, she shows me she loves me every day by simpling sticking around after nearly 15 years of my nonsense. On top of that, she cooks for me, washes my clothes, takes care of my kids…and she gives me a bath every three or four days!
So if we were to look at the second product of unfaithfulness as not being loved, we would associate it with how we feel. Some of these feelings, such as loneliness or unworthiness, which many of us feel, are the result of "steppin’ out on God," but that is not what God was getting at with Israel through Hosea.
The KJV seems to give us a better feel for the second product of unfaithfulness. It says, "I will no longer have mercy on the house of Israel." A video clip from the movie "Dead Man Walking" might give us a better understanding of what Hosea was to warn Israel they were going to miss.
In the video, Sister Helen Prejean sits with convicted killer Matthew Poncelet in his cell. When he confesses that he has indeed killed a man, Sister Prejean teaches him that he can become a child of God by asking for forgiveness of his sins and owning up to his responsibility—which he does, realizing that confession doesn’t negate what he’s done. The best he can do is wish the families peace. Poncelet is grateful for Sister Prejean’s compassion and love.* The video concludes with Poncelet telling Sister Prejean, "Thank you for loving me." (* Excerpted from Videos That Teach, by Doug Fields and Eddie James)
The second product of unfaithfulness is not the absence of what we think of as love but the absence of mercy. We call it condemnation. Those who are under condemnation are prone to wondering, "Where’s the love?"
This aspect of the Lord’s message for Israel came true after Israel lost its strength in its battle against Assyria. After Israel fell, the king of Assyria settled them in camps. 2 Kings 17:7-9 explains,
All this took place because the Israelites had sinned against the Lord their God, who had brought them up out of Egypt from under the power of Pharaoh, king of Egypt. They had worshipped other gods and followed the practices of the nations the Lord had driven out before them, as well as the practices that the kings of Israel had introduced. The Israelites secretly did things against the Lord their God that were not right.
After detailing how the Israelites had been unfaithful to the Lord, v. 18 asserts,
So the Lord was very angry with Israel and removed them from his presence.
Today, unfaithfulness in the church has given birth to a monster called condemnation that is tormenting people in the church and out. Roy Baumeister, a psychologist at Case Western University, found that the average person spends two hours every day feeling guilty and for 39 minutes of that time, people feel moderate to severe guilt that may greatly limit their abilities.
People everywhere manifest behaviors that are motivated by guilt – everything from shutting themselves in their homes to trying to justify themselves through radical activism. In some cases, guilt can lead to a series of other problems. Christian psychologist Gary Collins says, "talk with people who are depressed, lonely, struggling with marriage problems, homosexual, alcoholic, grieving, dealing with middle age, or facing almost any other problem, and you will find people who experience guilt as part of their difficulties. One writer has even suggested that guilt in some way is involved in all psychological problems."