Sermon April 13, 2014 Hosea 2:2-23 “Chastising and Charming His Wayward Wife” Sermon # 9 in the Series, “Parables that pack a Punch.”

“Parables That Pack a Punch” Sermon Series      Sermon # 9                                                                                                      

Hosea 2:2-23           “Chastising and Charming His Wayward Wife”         April 13, 2014

Pastor Louis Prontnicki                                            Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church

Introduction:

Husbands, if your wife left you and became a prostitute, a whore, world you still love her? Would you seek to woo her back to you?

Wives, if you became a prostitute, and gave your body to hundreds of men to support your drug addiction, would you feel that a man could ever love you afresh, as if you were a virgin?

Those questions and answers give us some insight into what the Lord wants us to feel in Hosea chapter two.

 

 I.  In His Love, the Lord Chastises Us (2:2-13)

The Lord warns Israel of His impending judgment, in order to lead her to repentance, but if she refuses, He must punish her.

    2 “Rebuke your mother, rebuke her, for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband. Let her

remove the adulterous look from her face and the unfaithfulness from between her breasts.

3 Otherwise I will strip her naked and make her as bare as on the day she was born; I will make

her like a desert, turn her into a parched land, and slay her with thirst.

4 I will not show my love to her children, because they are the children of adultery.

5 Their mother has been unfaithful and has conceived them in disgrace. She said, ‘I will go after

my lovers, who give me my food and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.’

6 Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her

way. 7 She will chase after her lovers but not catch them;      she will look for them but not find

them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first,      for then I was better off than

now.’ 8 She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and

oil, who lavished on her the silver and gold— which they used for Baal.

9 “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready.

I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her nakedness.

10 So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my

hands. 11 I will stop all her celebrations: her yearly festivals, her New Moons, her Sabbath

days—all her appointed feasts. 12 I will ruin her vines and her fig trees, which she said were her

pay from her lovers; I will make them a thicket, and wild animals will devour them.

13 I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings

and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD.

 

Review:

We saw last Sunday how the Lord instructed the prophet Hosea to marry a woman of unfaithfulness, a harlot, so that Hosea would understand, feel, and live out how Israel is like an adulterous wife in the Lord’s eyes. (1:2-3a)

Then we read that Lord gave Hosea and Gomer three children, each of whose names signified that God is going to punish Israel, distance Himself from her, and disavow her. (1:3b-9)

Finally we saw in 1:10-2:1 that the Lord promised that He would reverse the effects of His judgment and restore His covenant of love, not just with a remnant of Israel, but also with the elect gentiles, from every nation. (Romans 9:22-26; 1 Peter 2:9-10) What grace! What mercy!

 

Today, in Hosea chapter two, the characters of Hosea and Gomer retreat behind the curtains, until chapter three, and on stage here is the Lord Himself and His bride, Israel. Here in 2:2-13 we see the Lord as a loving and zealous husband, who is exhorting His wife, Israel, to abandon her unfaithful ways, and to return to Him. Part of His exhortation to her is to threaten to remove all that he has given her. He will leave her without clothing and food (2:3); He will disown her children (2:4); and He will publicly shame her.

Why does He do these hard things to her? Because He wants to warn her, rebuke her, and chastise her – in love! – so that she will wake up, repent, and return to Him! He rebukes her in order to restore her. He chastises her so that He can charm her. The Lord will discipline and punish his wayward wife, in order to convict her of her sins and to make her cry out to Him for help and for salvation!

And God will do the same for each of us today. When we stray from Him, God will strip us of everything else we are relying on- why? –  to bring us to our senses.

Think of the prodigal son, who “came to his senses” – Luke 15:17 – only after he had lost everything and was starving in a distant country!)

Likewise her in Hosea’ day, by sending Israel into a foreign country (exile in Assyria), she would be physically and geographically cut off from the centers of Canaanite cult worship of Baal, and so, in desperation, she would see her need of her husband, the Lord.

Bottom Line: When we go off course, the Lord usually has to take away from us all His normal blessings, so that we realize that we have nothing, unless He is at the center of our hearts, our worship, our priorities, and our lives.

Ps. 94:12 “Blessed is the man you discipline, O LORD, the man you teach from your law”

  Application:

How might the Lord be “blocking your path” or “walling you in” to get you to stop and turn?

How might the Lord be frustrating your pursuit of the things or people you are chasing after?

How might the Lord be “taking away” and “taking back” what He gave you?

How might the Lord be stopping your good times and ruining your idols, because He is seeking to chastise you, to discipline you, to draw you back to Himself?

Examples: Relying on your efforts to provide for you and your family? Worrying about things that you have no control over? Trying to be in control… or controlling others? Burning the candle on both ends?     So…are you paying attention? Are you turning from sin and turning back to Him, or does He have to turn the heat up under you even more?

 

II. In His Love, The Lord Charms Us (2:14-23) The Lord woos His wayward wife to Him!

    14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.

16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’ 17 I will remove the names of the Baals from her lips; no longer will their names be invoked. 18 In that day I will make a covenant for them with the beasts of the field and the birds of the air and the creatures that move along the ground. Bow and sword and battle I will abolish from the land, so that all may lie down in safety.

19 I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice,     in love and compassion. 20 I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.

21 “In that day I will respond,” declares the LORD— “I will respond to the skies,    and they will respond to the earth; 22 and the earth will respond to the grain, the new wine and oil,

and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 I will plant her for myself in the land;  I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.’ ”

Hosea 2:14–23 is one of the most tender and beautiful love songs in the Bible, especially when you consider that it is being sung by God to his unfaithful wife, Israel. Having chastised his wayward wife, The Lord, like a romantic lover, now tenderly charms and woos her back to Him!

 

There are at least three things the Lord does to win you, His wayward wife, back to Himself:

1. The Lord speaks tenderly to you. (v. 14)

V. 14:“Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.”  Incredible! Though you and I are all guilty of spiritual harlotry, and we have loved other lovers more than God, yet the Lord has not cast us off. In fact, He takes us into the wilderness to be alone with us. Why? So that he can speak tenderly to us. Literally, so that He can speak “to her heart.” And when He speaks, He allures you. He entices you and woos you. He will say what a lover says to his lady when they walk away from the party into the garden. God wants to talk that way with you.

So go with him into the private places and listen with your heart. Do not think you are too ugly or too rotten. He knows that his wife is a harlot. That’s the meaning of mercy: God is wooing a wife of harlotry. This is indeed a parable that packs a punch!

What a picture! The Sovereign King, the Lord of Hosts, works hard at tenderly wooing a woman who had given herself over to prostitution and adultery! And he gently and persistently seeks to win her heart. And why does He have to work so hard? Because she sees herself as completely unlovable, as an outcast; she sees her soul as being as ugly as sin and permanently scarred with wickedness that is repugnant to all. So He does everything He can to woo us and charm us, so that we will respond to His amazing grace!

And here’s an important truth:  unless you see yourself that same way; unless you first see yourself as a wretched whore in the eyes of God… the Lord won’t woo you. No. You see, He has to help you to first see how wretched and repulsive you really are, before He can begin His wooing process. You must be chastised before you can be charmed. So….have you been?

 

   2. The Lord promises you hope, security, and peace. (vv. 15-18)

Verse 15: “There I will give her back her vineyards, and will make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. There she will sing as in the days of her youth, as in the day she came up out of Egypt.”

    The valley of Achor is where Israel was first unfaithful to the Lord in the Promised Land. It was the place where Achan kept the forbidden booty, which caused Israel’s defeat at Ai.

But now God promises that if his harlot will come home, Achor will no longer be a “valley of trouble,” but a door of hope. If only his estranged wife will come home, she will find a paradise with her husband: he will make a pact even with the animals, lest they do harm; and he will remove all violence and conflict. These are no doubt the words God speaks into the heart of his wife in the lonely place. “It will be so good, so good! Put away your harlotry and come home.”

And you might think: who could resist such an offer? Why would anyone refuse to accept such promises? But the sad reality is that we sometime think and behave like a woman who chooses to remain as a prostitute or to stay in an abusive relationship… because she thinks that it’s better to stay with what is known, than to have her hopes falsely raised by something better, and then have them dashed.  For such a woman, her loving husband’s tender appeal seems too good to be true! (She thinks: “Why would he love me that way, when I am a no-good wretch?”) So she chooses to remain in her slavery and misery. She feels that she could not handle any more rejection or dashed hopes, so she doesn’t even want to try.

Is that how you are thinking, when you hear the Lord wooing you; when you read His promises of hope, security, and peace? If so, then take a fresh look at this Husband. Look, by faith, at the nail scars on His hands, where He has engraved you!  Look, by faith, at His glorified, resurrected body, which is screaming out to us “I have conquered the power of sin; I have set you free; You are a new and holy creation in me!” And look, by faith, at His gift of the person and ministry of the Holy Spirit, at work within you, convicting of sin, comforting you, enlightening you, and speaking to your heart that you are forgiven, and that you belong to Him!

Come to Him, with all your heart; and he will give you hope, security, and lasting peace.

 

  3. The Lord gives you a new beginning! (vv. 19-20)

        He renew his wife’s betrothal and consummates the marriage again in purity.

“And I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness; and you shall know the Lord.”

Three times this loving husband promises to marry her: “I will betroth you; I will betroth you; I will betroth you.” But you think “They are already married; why is he saying he will promise to marry her again?” Yes, but what He is promising here is that “We will go back to the days of our engagement. We will start over. I will give you a fresh new beginning. The slate will be wiped clean!” Isn’t that amazing?  Harlots can start over! Whores and adulterers can become like virgins. The Lord promises that He will lay a fresh foundation for the marriage, one founded on righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness.

Yes, even a wife of harlotry can experience a new relationship of righteousness, justice, steadfast love, mercy, and faithfulness, with her divine husband.

A few of you have read a book by Tessa Afshar, “Pearl in the Sand.” It is a fictionalized account of the marriage of Salmon, a leader in Israel and Rahab, the former harlot from the pagan city of Jericho, who put her faith in the Lord God of Israel. After the are married, Rahab sees herself as unclean, unworthy, as shameful and sinful, because of all the men she had slept with. And so Salmon very patiently and persistently charms and woos Rahab, until she can finally open herself up to his unconditional love!

 

That’s what God did for Israel…. and that’s what the Lord Jesus Christ does for us. Look with me at Rev. 3:19-20. Speaking to the lukewarm church at Laodicea, Jesus says: “Those whom I love, I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest, and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

We’ve just seen in Hosea 2:2-13 that “In His Love, the Lord Chastises Us.” And that’s exactly what we read in Rev. 3:19: “Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline.” That is, the Lord chastises those He loves when they stray from Him; He disciplines them so that they will repent and return to Him.

And then we just saw, secondly, in Hosea 2:14-23, that “In His Love, The Lord Charms Us.” And that is exactly what we read in Rev. 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

The Lord seeks to have an intimate relationship with us again, if we will respond to his gracious and tender invitation and wooing.

 

What’s amazing about Jesus’ words in Rev. 3:19-20 is that He is addressing the church at Laodicea, a congregation of lukewarm Christians, a condition which makes Christ want to spit them out of His mouth! (3:16). Lukewarmness is the worst condition to which a church can sink. Jesus says to them, “You make me sick!” (and you and I are lukewarm far too often.)

And yet Jesus says to them “those whom I LOVE.”  “It is a touching and unexpected manifestation of (God’s) love to those who deserve it least among the seven churches.”   Furthermore, the “I” in v. 19 is emphatic, for this rebuking and discipline comes not from enemies but from the Lord of the church Himself. This is the foundation of the exhortation to the church (to us) to be earnest/ zealous in making a decisive act of repentance.

Then in v. 20, Jesus says, “Here I am! (Behold!)”  This is vivid, as John sees Jesus before his very eyes, standing at the doorway of the church. Leon Morris notes, “Jesus is knocking, continually, in the hope of a response.

Think about that image: Jesus does not force his way in by knocking the door down, nor by going right through it, though He could have chosen either method! In the same way, in Hosea 2:14, the Lord chooses to tenderly speak to his unfaithful wife, His wife of harlotry; he woos her, when He could have compelled her and dragged her off be her hair! The sovereign Lord chooses to use tender, patient, and gentle means to persuade us back to Himself!

“ Jesus is knocking, continually, in the hope of a response. Up to this point in the letter He has been addressing the church as a whole, but when Christ says, “If anyone hears my voice…” He is appealing to the individual. Even if the church as a whole does not heed His warning, any individual may do so. This is a note of tender pleading.

“…I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.” Here Jesus invites those who do respond to an intimate meal. This was the main meal of the day, and a leisurely affair (not a quick pizza or a fast food meal).

Morris: “This is a remarkably tender appeal to a church far gone from its rightful state.”

 

Turn back to Hosea 2:20, and see what that means: “And you will acknowledge (or know, in the physical/ sexual sense) the Lord.” In the context of a broken marriage being renewed with the fresh vows of betrothal, this promise means that you shall enjoy an intimacy like that of the purest sexual intercourse. When the wife of harlotry returns to her husband, he will withhold nothing. He will not keep her at a distance. He will give to his wayward wife the profoundest union, when she comes home, broken and empty.

This is the gospel story in the Old Testament. This is the meaning of Incarnation. God the Son comes to woo us tenderly to himself; He promises us the fullest hope, safety, and peace; He will start afresh with any who will come to Him, and He offers us the most intimate and pleasure-filled relationship possible.

 

And what does he want from us? Look at Hosea 2:16 “In that day,” declares the LORD, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.” This means two things:

First, it means, “You will no longer include me as one of many gods, or many lovers; you will talk to me as your only true God and husband.”

Second, it means, “Relate to me as a loving husband, not as a harsh master or owner.”

The good news is that God wants you to love him warmly as your husband, not just to serve him dutifully as your Lord. When you think of your failures….how little you have read his Word, how burdensome prayer has felt, and how often you have looked to the world instead of to God for your needs… God wants you to remember that He knows you have been a harlot, yet He is still wooing you into the chambers of His love.

 

Lastly, take note of this, especially you who tend to keep God at arm’s distance from your emotions. According to Hosea 2:16, God does not want you to return to him and say, “Yes, Sir,” and set about your duties.

He wants you to come into the wilderness, to listen to him speak tenderly, and to respond to him, “My husband.”

God wants your heart, not just your hands, because if he has your heart, he has all of you.

So…does He have your heart?

 

Copyright@2014 Louis Prontnicki