“Parables That Pack a Punch” Sermon Series
Sermon # 8 April 6, 2014
Hosea and His Adulterous Wife Hosea 1:1-2:1 “O Love That Will Not Let Me Go”
Pastor Louis Prontnicki Maple Glen Bible Fellowship Church
Why would he love such a woman? “She decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot,” declares the LORD. Hos. 2:13
Hosea is one of the most emotional books in the Bible, an outpouring of persistent love from God’s heart.
Hosea begins with a love story—a painful, personal love story, the prophet’s very own. Hosea had married a woman who became unfaithful to him and brought great shame upon him. Yet though she cheated on him, Hosea still loved her. Why? Though she humiliated him, he did not divorce her. Why not?
Because God had told him that Hosea’s painful love story would help him understand and feel with another, more painful love story: the painful love of God for his people.
You see, God could have simply declared, “Israel is like an adulterous wife to me.” But instead, he used Hosea and Gomer to live out this painful love story in real life—so that we could FEEL God’s heart and love in a much deeper way, than if He had merely said, “Israel is like an adulterous wife to me.”
As the gospel of Jesus Christ is the greatest story ever told, we might say that the story of Hosea and Gomer is a preview of that story.
I want you to focus on the emotions and the feelings of Hosea and of Gomer in this story, and then to relate those feelings to those of the Lord God, and your own feelings:
Hosea’s feelings about Gomer give us a sense of how the Lord felt about Israel and how He feels about us today
Gomer’s feelings about herself and about Hosea give us a sense of how we often feel about ourselves and how we feel toward the Lord when He shows His undeserving love toward us.
The Setting: (1:1)The word of the LORD that came to Hosea son of Beeri during the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the reign of Jeroboam son of Jehoash king of Israel:
Hosea prophesied in the thirty years or so leading up to Assyria’s destruction of Israel in 722 BC. The book is addressed to the northern kingdom of Israel, (though the southern kingdom of Judah is mentioned as well.) This was a period of prosperity and good times, and so the people were not thinking about how their sinfulness and idolatry might be incurring God’s just judgment, since life was going well. Therefore God needed to shock them to wake them up, so that they might repent and turn back to Him. Therefore God’s message through Hosea is very relevant to the church in America today.
1. The Lord commands Hosea to marry Gomer, an adulterous wife, to enable him to understand, feel, and act out how Israel is like an adulterous wife in the Lord’s eyes (1:2-3a)
“When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, the LORD said to him, “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD.” 3 So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim…”
God made Hosea live the tragedy of Israel’s unfaithfulness by marrying a harlot. And if Hosea scandalized the good people of Israel by doing this, that’s exactly the reaction God wanted… because Israel’s own idolatry and spiritual adultery was shocking and scandalous in God’s eyes!
I once saw a bumper sticker that read, “Electricians do things that would shock you.” Well, God says and does things that sometimes shock us. Jesus said and did things that shocked people; think about turning tables upside down in the temple, and calling the Pharisees “white-washed tombs”
John Piper powerfully argues that “In God’s eyes, everyone who forsakes the Lord is an adulteress, a harlot, a whore. There are no religious “singles” in God’s eyes. Everyone is either faithfully married to God or is a prostitute to the idol they are serving. God made you for himself. If you “get your kicks” from somewhere else, you are committing great harlotry against God. That was Israel’s condition. And so God took Hosea and said, as it were, “Before I give you a word of judgment and grace for Israel, I am going to make you know what it’s like to be married to an unfaithful wife. Go, marry a harlot!” His marriage is an acted-out parable of God’s relation to Israel.
Hosea would understand and feel the magnitude of God’s broken heart and deep sorrows. “If the prophet could be so wounded in his spirit by his wife’s adultery, then what must the Lord feel by centuries of such treatment by the very people He had formed for His own glory, as His personal possession?”
Please note that when I talk about how God feels about something I am not implying that God gets moody or has days when He feels down or feels real high. No. But what the Scripture does teach is that our God, who is the creator of our emotions, certainly does feel emotions: He rejoices over us with singing (Zech. 3:17); He is grieved by sin (Ps. 78:40; Eph. 4:30); His wrath burns white-hot against His enemies (Ex. 32:10); He feels pity toward His children (Ps. 103:13), and so forth. Wayne Grudem says, “He is a God whose passions we are to imitate for all eternity as we like our Creator hate sin and delight in righteousness.”
Think about living with another person and loving them. It’s not enough to know about them; you need to know them, you need to know their heart, their passions, their joys and griefs, their delights and their pains. And so it is with knowing God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
2. The Lord gives Hosea and Gomer three children, each of whose names signifies that God is going to punish Israel, distance Himself from her, and disavow her. (1:3b-9)
“So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.
4 Then the LORD said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. 5 In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.”
6 Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then 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. 7 Yet I will show love to the house of Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but by the LORD their God.”
8 After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. 9 Then the LORD said, “Call him Lo-Ammi, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”
The Lord, as Israel’s covenant husband, separates Himself from His people (Israel, His bride) because of her continued and unrepentant adultery (giving herself, her heart to other lovers)
Gomer is going to bear three children, and each one is going to symbolize the judgment of God which harlotry always leads to.
The first is named Jezreel to remind the people of the fury of Jehu (a former king of Israel; see 2 Kings 9-10) when he killed the 70 sons of Ahab in the city of Jezreel. Even though Jehu was carrying out the purposes of God, he was reckless, impetuous, and high-handed in his dealings. So when God says that he will “break Israel’s bow”, He means that this is still Israel’s spirit. She is unfaithful, violent, and treacherous. The first son stands for this sin of Israel.
The second and the third children, Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, speak of how the Lord will forsake His people. Lo-Ruhamah means unloved or not pitied. Imagine naming your daughter “You are not loved!”? Lo-Ammi means “not my people.” Imagine calling your son, “I disown you!”?
So God is showing them, through these names, that His mercy will come to an end, and that He will cast off Israel as His people. There is a point of no return in the faithlessness of a wife and the faithlessness of a people, and Israel is about to cross that line. What a warning!
Stop and think about what it would take for a loving father or mother to say to an adult child: “I disown you. I disinherit you. You are no longer my son or my daughter. I will not show you anymore love, mercy, or pity, no matter how much you cry out to me!” It would take decades of rebellion, hate, and evil atrocities on the part of an adult child to merit such a harsh judgment, right? So God wants us to feel His heart here, which has been broken and trampled on, for centuries, by the people He loved and rescued and cared for all these years!
3. The Lord promises that He will reverse the effects of His judgment and will restore His covenant of love with His people (1:10-2:1)
“Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted. In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ 11 The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited, and they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.
2:1 “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’
These verses show that the Lord’s judgments are not the last word. Judgment may be coming (as indeed it came in 722 BC when the Assyrians deported Israel), but somewhere down the line God would take his people back and love them again.
Look at what the Lord promises to do:
a. He restores His covenant with His people: “Yet the Israelites will be like the sand on the seashore, which cannot be measured or counted.” God would carry out his promise to Abraham despite the unfaithfulness of the people.
b. He reunites and reconciles those who had been hostile to Him and to each other: “The people of Judah and the people of Israel will be reunited”
c. He renews the glory of His people: “they will appoint one leader and will come up out of the land, for great will be the day of Jezreel.”
d. He reverses the effects of His judgment: “Say of your brothers, ‘My people,’ and of your sisters, ‘My loved one.’”
God, in His immeasurable grace and mercy, will not give up on His people forever. This is a love that will not let us go! “Not Loved” becomes “My Loved One.” “Not My People” becomes “My People”
Can you imagine the emotional impact of these gracious promises? To know that you deserve to be broken, disowned, and shown no more love…. and then as feel crushed and are filled with despair and loneliness, you hear these prophecies of restoration, renewal, and reconciliation?
How could God remain just and righteous in His judgment of me, and at the same time, show me such bountiful mercy? The only answer is found in the words of the hymn writer:
“What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my soul, what wondrous love is this that… that caused the Lord of bliss to bear the dreadful curse for my soul, for my soul, to bear the dreadful curse for my soul!”
And make no mistake about it: these wonderful promises of renewal and reconciliation are not only for the remnant with Israel; they are also for you and me, even with our pagan, heathen backgrounds. Listen to how the apostles interpret the prophecies of Hosea:
Romans 9:22-26 “What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory— 24 even us, whom he also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles? 25 As he says in Hosea:
“I will call them ‘my people’ who are not my people; and I will call her ‘my loved one’ who is
not my loved one,” 26 and,
“It will happen that in the very place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’
they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’ ”
You see, in the Gospel, Hosea’s prophecy concerning the reversal of God’s judgment and restoration of God’s covenant promises includes the gentiles! That is, those who were not loved by God and were not a people chosen by God are now, in Christ, elect, beloved, and chosen!
In the original context Hosea was referring to the spiritual restoration of Israel. But Paul finds in them the principle that God is a saving, forgiving, restoring God, who delights to take those who are “not my people” and make them “my people.” Paul then applies this principle to us, the Gentiles, whom God makes his people, by sovereignly grafting them into a covenant relationship. Moreover, notice the context in Romans 9: the sovereign electing power of God to show mercy or to withhold mercy! Yet just when we might be tempted to criticize God for such a seemingly harsh sovereignty, we read of His heart full of mercy, love, and passion for His people! His election is full of emotion; His sovereign choosing is covered with compassion!
The apostle Peter also applies Hosea’s prophecy to people like us who were not born into the physical ancestry of Abraham, in 1 Peter 2:9-10:
9 “But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.”
What an amazing outpouring of unexpected grace! Not only does God restore a remnant of rebellious Israel as His chosen people, but God also includes pagan heathens among His elect people, showing mercy to both groups, in Jesus Christ!
Analogy: Like a person not only forgiving a family member who did great them great harm, and being reconciled to them again, but also showing that same forgiveness and grace to some strangers who were also involved in doing you great harm!
John Stott writes: “In the gospel, the outsiders have been welcomed inside, the aliens have become citizens, and the strangers are now beloved members of the family.”
And did you notice in Hosea 1:10 that it says they will be called ‘sons of the living God.’? Before you and I were drawn to God by His electing love, we were slaves to dead idols; we were addicted to worshipping gods of our imagination. But they were as dead and helpless as a brass statue of Buddha. But through the gospel, we are now sons of the LIVING GOD!
This is the Good News as preached though Hosea!
It is about a “Love That Will Not Let Me Go.”
Does this grip your heart? Does this move you to respond to God’s mercy?
It should! And if it doesn’t, then you’d better check to see if you have a spiritual pulse. Cry out to the Lord and ask Him to revive you.
Copyright 2014 Louis Prontnicki All Rights Reserved