Summary: No other word in the English language is so misused or misunderstood as the word LOVE. Looking to the Bible we can see what God says Love is.
What is Love?
With Valentine’s Day approaching, I thought it would be best to use this Sunday for the Fruit of the Spirit, which is Love. What is Love? Well depending on whom you talk to you will get different answers. Back in the early 70’s we would remember a movie with Allie McGraw and Ryan O’Neil called “Love Story” the definition for Love there was “Love means Never having to say your sorry.” In a way I do agree with that, but let me qualify, true love should forgive before, or even without, having to hear the words I’m sorry. Another definition of Love is that it is forever; some would say its physical, some cognitive, yet without really understanding the word we use it very often. We use it to describe feelings, emotions, and expressions. We use it too loosely. “Oh I’m in Love!” when we are really just infatuated. Love is forever, not temporary. The Bible has 3 words for Love; they are Agape, Philas, and Eros. Today lets look at this word Love in these three forms in this passage in Hosea.
Hosea is a Love story for the ages; it is about the love between a man and a woman. That is Eros. It is physical; it is where we get the word Erotic. But between Hosea and Gomer it may be even one-sided. Gomer’s love for Hosea would seem to be just physical. When the love between a man and a woman is just physical, marital unfaithfulness is abounding. Let me say this, I feel sorry for every man in the universe. The reason I feel sorry for every man in the universe is that they, including every one of you here, had to settle for second best. The reason is I already married the best.
Hosea is a prophet and he is told to get himself a wife, a prostitute, a woman from the red light district. Can you imagine what that conversation was like? Hosea, yeah God, Go and marry that prostitute! Heh Yeah right. Hosea, yeah God, Go and marry that prostitute and have children with her! Yeah right! Hosea, I said Go! OK.
Hosea obeys out of Love for God even though he does not understand why. Our Love for God should do the same. We get all excited about missions overseas, oh yeah lets reach those poor lost souls in Africa, Asia, Europe, Australia and the utter most parts of the world. We get all excited about the missions we support going to these areas, yet God has not called any of us to these areas. We have missed the calling, almost like Hosea. But like Hosea we are called to right here, we are called to Morgan County and Hampshire county West Virginia. God has called us to love our neighbor, like he called Hosea to love a prostitute. God has said to us, Go and show your neighbor my Love. Imagine what that conversation is like.
Hosea’s love for Gomer is more than physical. The calling is an object lesson, Israel is laughing at Hosea, some prophet you are Hosea; you can’t foresee that your wife is an adulteress. Yet Hosea will turn this and say, just like you are to God, my wife is to me. But just like God is to you so shall I be to my wife.
Look at the names of the children. I ask you who ever call their children these names? These names are to illustrate a feeling of God toward these people, even today toward the church. We see what happens when they return V. 10
Gomer goes back to her life of prostitution, goes back to her other lovers. Yet the path is blocked, she is older in a young woman’s profession so to speak. But she is also known as the wife of a prophet. There is superstition about having an affair with the wife of a prophet. Remember what happened in Genesis with the kings of other lands who took Sara and Rachel for their wives, when they were the wives of Abraham and Isaac?
But after coming to her senses she says “I will go back after my husband.” A NT equivalent to this is the Prodigal Son. She comes back, after coming to her senses and she is restored 2:19-23.
It is widely accepted that Gomer left Hosea, had children by other men. She returned to her life as a prostitute because her love for Hosea was only physical. Yet Hosea’s love for Gomer is agape=unconditional. After leaving Hosea, Gomer becomes destitute. She is broken, her money is run out, she is deeply in debt. She is about to be auctioned off, and yet it Hosea who buys her back. He removes from her the guilt of unfaithfulness. She is bought back not as a slave but as wife. (v. 16). She is restored, because she is penitent and willing to come back on his terms. There is a lesson for spouses, we need to learn to forgive our spouses unconditionally.