“‘When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.’ So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son.” -Hosea 1:2-3
Is this in the bible?
This isn’t the type of passage that we would slap on a bumper sticker or display on our refrigerators…This isn’t the first verse that we would share with the lost or our young children…
But maybe it should be.
Why? Because the story of Hosea and Gomer is the essence of the Gospel.
It’s a fascinating, riveting, scandalous, gripping story of redemption.
There is no better story to illustrate God’s ability to make beauty from ashes.
So, what’s happening here?!
Hosea (an up-right, godly man)married Gomer (who had a questionable history with other men) knowing that she would leave him. They formed a covenant before the Lord signifying their union of flesh and love for each other. It was truly a beautiful thing…until Gomer left Hosea. She went back to her former life, to another man, leaving behind Hosea and her child at home.
Can you imagine? How mad would you be at God? He told Hosea to go and marry a prostitute, a woman who was promised to be unfaithful to him. Life seemed good when she took his hand in marriage, started a family, and were just beginning their new life together.
Until she cheated. She left. She turned towards other idols. She wanted satisfaction from other things. She broke the covenant of marriage. She wandered the streets looking for satisfaction and ended up right back where she was in the beginning.
What did God tell Hosea to do?
“And the Lord said to me, “Hosea, go again, love a women who is loved by another man and is a prostitute, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other Gods.'” -Hosea 3:1
Woah. Go into the streets, search for her, and buy her back? The streets that Gomer was wondering were not the nicest. The well-educated, religious up-right folks would never be seen walking around in those neighborhoods. Prostitutes were considered to be unclean, as were adulteresses.
Yet Hosea trusted what God has asked him to do. He knew that his life was serving as an illustration to all of the people of Israel. He knew that God was speaking through his life. So he went. Hosea finds himself wandering around some sketchy streets calling out to his wife, asking for her to come back. He finds her, and she isn’t able to come home without a price.
“So I (Hosea) bought her for 15 [pieces] of silver, and [45 bushels of barley]. Then I told her that [she] was to live with me for many days, that [she] must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man. [And then I told her that I would behave the same way towards her.]” -Hosea 3:2-3
Hosea bought Gomer back even after he had already claimed her as his own wife. Gomer’s sin didn’t come without consequences. She was brought to the lowest point in her life when she ran back to the lifestyle that she knew wasn’t good for her. She wasn’t worthy of forgiveness or love or attention or any of that. Yet Hosea still gave it, without holding a grudge, storing up bitterness, or refusing to forgive her.
Here’s the parallel:
God formed a covenant with Israel, proclaiming their identity as his holy people. Before this covenant, they were like lost sheep without a shepherd. Now, they would be taken care of, provided for, thought about, and loved. However, they too would turn their backs on God and towards other idols, even after proclaiming their love for him. They even created their own idols. They would become ungrateful and fall back into their sinful ways of life. They lacked trust in him. Instead of throwing in the towel and giving up on the ones who used to show him so much love, he continued to pursue them.
“Therefore I am now going to allure her (Israel); I will leader into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her. There I will give her back her vineyards, and I will make the Valley of Anchor a door of hope.” -Hosea 2:14-15
God created us (you + me both) knowing full and well that we wouldn’t choose him. At least, not at first. By nature, we are children of wrath due to the fall of humanity in the garden of eden. We are helpless and hopeless without the help of our blessed messiah, Jesus. And then he came. He formed a new covenant with us. He bridged the gap between sinful humanity and the righteous, holy God of the universe. He choose us even while we were still sinners. When we hated him, questioned him, were apathetic towards him; ignored him, neglected him, & took advantage of his grace.
If you haven’t began a relationship with Jesus, I can’t think of a better time to start than now. Can you? In Isaiah 1:18 God says to Isaiah, “Come now, let’s settle this. Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. He wants to settle things with you. He wants to work through the bitterness that you have towards him. He wants to know you. He wants to spend time with you. He wants you to love him back. Just like Hosea.
There isn’t a magic prayer or formula or check-list that will save you. Only Jesus does that. Only by pleading his blood and kneeling down at the cross will we have life eternal. We must confess our sins to God. He knows them, we know them. So we might as well get it all out in the open, right? Be vulnerable. Allow him to touch those broken, shame-filled parts of your heart. He won’t just touch them, but he will heal them. Next we must begin living a lifestyle of repentance. Does becoming a Christian mean you are expected to be perfect? Absolutely not. We just saw that in the way that God interacted with Israel. However, when you fall in love with Jesus you begin to fall out of love with your sin. God makes that change in your heart.
So we don’t settle for sin.
We don’t rummage through trash bins when we already possess a treasure that is more worthy than anything in this world. Surround yourself with people who love Him and love you, spend time in God’s word, & connect with a local church. The Holy Spirit will make it clear what needs to stay in your life and what doesn’t. The last part of putting your trust in Jesus is faith-believing without seeing; clinging to the promises of God even when the circumstances don’t make sense; understanding that our feelings are fleeting and that God never changes; trusting him when he asks you to do something that makes you step out of your comfort zone; knowing that he is the only thing in this world that can save you. You don’t have to clean yourself up. Jesus will do that. All you have to do is accept the love that you have been rejecting for so long. Let him love you like Hosea loved Gomer.
If you are in Christ, if you have a relationship with Jesus, if you are a new creation, born-again child of the God most high, you have been saved from your sin. God has made a new covenant with you, one in which Jesus pays the price for all who confess, repent, and believe that he is Lord. You are his and he is yours. You are now justified before God, meaning that God looks at you “just as if you have never sinned”. He doesn’t look at you and see your sin, he looks at you and sees the blood of Jesus.
Okay, awesome. So, what if you have (or had) that relationship, but you turned your back on God? You ran to partying or drugs or sex or pornography or relationships or material things or food to be your ultimate satisfaction, even as a Christian. What do you do now? Do you still have that same relationship with God? Is he mad at you, at us? Will he hold this against you? Will he put you to shame? Will you be forgiven? Once a sinner always a sinner, right?
Just like with Hosea, just like with Israel, God never stops pursuing our hearts. We are so prone to wander, yet he knows that. He doesn’t stop knocking. He doesn’t stop chasing. He doesn’t stop trying. He endlessly and unrelentingly fights for us. He paid the initial price for our unfaithfulness on the cross; but he also paid for every sin that we have committed in the past, present, or future. He knows even how we will mess up within the next hour, day, week, or even months. He knows. He gets it. Life is hard, but how sweet is it that we have a savior who never gives up, who calls you a saint of God, not a hopeless sinner.
Accept the grace that he pours over you. Embrace the power of his holy spirit turning your heart of stone into a heart of flesh. Be willing to be broken by your sin so that you may be restored.