An Outrageous Love
HOSEA: GOD’S RELENTLESS LOVE
AN OUTRAGEOUS LOVE
Hosea 1:1 - 2:1
2 When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
It’s shocking news: God’s love is outrageous? And it doesn't conform to your religious standards? Is it unethical? It goes beyond your norm and culture!
How would you react if you read a headline: “The Scandal of God”? How about “God’s Dirty Little Secret with a Promiscuous Woman”? Imagine the reaction of the people.
That’s Outrage! How about the religious leaders who are so theologically perfect? Blasphemy!
You might be able to tolerate a good man marrying a bad girl, but if you know of a pastor who married a former bold star, or a spiritual leader who married a former prostitute, that’s a different story for you. Right?
Why? It’s because we have our own ideas of decency, ethical standard, and sense of propriety. These subjective senses of what’s right or good are inside our minds. We judge grey areas, sometimes based on general standards. Sometimes we don't care to understand.
Now that we are moving to a new series of sermons on God’s Relentless Love based on the book of Hosea, you will find out that His “love affair” with Israel goes far beyond the Hollywood hype and lack of sexual decency. It’s because God’s love is pure, mysterious, and sacrificial.
Why does the book of Hosea matter? How is this applicable to us in the Post-Christian times? In what ways this book is relevant to us as part of the body of Christ and a local church?
Let’s explore three challenging elements of God’s outrageous love.
I. THE SCANDALOUS COMMAND REVEALED (vv.1-2)
The opening statements of the book of Hosea opens: “The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel” (v.1).
In ancient times, God spoke directly to some men and women. The phrase “the word of the Lord” means real language and audible. It is also an act of God revealing himself to a person or people. There is no mistaken identity that the one who speaks is God, and his word has absolute authority.
When God’s spoken word came to Hosea, Israel and Judah were in rampant unfaithfulness and idolatry. Between 753 and 687 BC, a heavy political unrest, economic chaos, and physical violence prevailed in the leadership of King Jeroboam and King Hezekiah. God’s people broke their covenant with God many times over.
“When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (v.2).
A. The Mandates. Hosea received a three-fold command. Go, Take, and Have.
Go. This command is more than just moving from one place to another. It actually emphasizes the absolute authority of the speaker: God. The recipient has an obligation to obey and trust the integrity of the command giver.
Take. It is safe to assume that prophet Hosea was single and available and marriageable. In ancient cultures, to take a wife could actually mean, “buy, acquire, receive, or get.” In this verse, it means to marry. However, the assumption that the wife is a prostitute is not clear. The wife to be is described “as a wife of whoredom” but it is a general term for sexual misconduct. It is a picture of a fornicating, promiscuous woman or a married woman who is unfaithful to her husband and having sexual affairs.
Have. The command to marry was not scandalous enough. Hosea has to have children in this union. And these kids carry the stigma as “children of whoredom.” (You may say, “That’s not politically correct, offensive, harsh and cruel!). It means the offspring of this marriage union bear the consequences and burden of brokenness.
B. The Metaphor. There’s something deeper in this real event that's taking place. What you see is not what you often understand. The marriage and family might be real, but the symbolism is something more meaningful. God said, “for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.”
The major theme of Hosea must be understood in the light of God’s covenant with His people. God called Abraham and promised to be faithful to his offspring. When God chose Israel to be His people and Him as their God, they are bound with that covenant relationship. He also expects His people to be faithful.
The same is true among us. In the spiritual sense, Christ is the groom, and the church is the Bride. It is important that the church should be faithful in their relationship to Him as Savior and Lord. As a church, we must protect our relationship with God, similar to how we vowed to protect the purity of our marriages and the wellbeing of our families.
But is it safe to assume that since we are God’s people, we could not possibly be unfaithful? Is it possible that we are on the verge of forsaking the Lord? I hope not.
But what happened to God’s people like Israel could also occur to local churches and denominations as a whole. How about in our families? Only by God’s grace! Are we as serious with our relationship with God in our families and individual lives?
II. THE SPECIFIC CONCERNS REFLECTED (vv.3-9)
We don't know how Hosea felt and thought about the seeming outrageous command to get a promiscuous woman as wife. As a man of God, he could have struggled about his calling, reputation, or even credibility. What would other people think?
However, the Bible seems to focus on Hosea’s obedience and the outcome of his act of faith. Hosea took a wife, Gomer, and had children with her, namely, Jezreel, Lo-Ruhama, Lo-Ammi. Each Hebrew name reflects the specific judgments of God for His people.
A. Jezreel, the first child - “So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, ‘Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel’” (vv.3-5).
The first-born son’s name, Jezreel, was not an accident. God gave that name that means “God sows.” It is also the name of a place in Israel, where war and bloodshed happened. In fact, King Saul died there when at one time the Philistines defeated Israel.
Why is Jezreel significant? It’s because the leader of the “the house [or dynasty] of Jehu” who annihilated King Ahab’s clan and the priests of Baal committed blatant idolatry (2 Kings 10:28-31). He is one of the major reasons for the spiritual breakdown of Israel, leading them to spiritual captivity. The leader’s downfall is also the people’s demise.
B. Lo-Ruhamma, the second child - “She conceived again and bore a daughter. And the Lord said to him, ‘Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all. But I will have mercy on the house of Judah, and I will save them by the Lord their God. I will not save them by bow or by sword or by war or by horses or by horsemen’” (vv.6-7).
The name “No Mercy” is Lo-Ruhamma in Hebrew. It’s quite ironic that her name is both the positive and negative attitude of God towards His people. While He did not have mercy on the nation of Israel and did not forgive them for their sins, God showed mercy on the nation of Judah and promised to save them through His mighty power. Such is a display of God’s prerogative to save some who seeks Him and let go of those who deliberately disobeyed Him.
3. Lo-Ammi, the third child - “When she had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son. And the Lord said, ‘Call his name Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God’” (vv.8-9).
The drama continued. The youngest son named Lo-Ammi in Hebrew is born. But his name shows ultimate rejection: these people do not belong to God. It means, Israel, as a group of people, is no longer close or intimate to Him. Technically, God still owns them as chosen people, but spiritually and emotionally, there is no more intimacy and belongingness.
How can this be? Have you heard of the saying, “She’s the wife but not the lover”? If Hosea is the symbol of God as the husband and Gomer is the picture of Israel and Judah, then the implications are clear:
God is placed in a compromising relationship because she planted bad seeds by manipulating her husband as if she’s a good woman but dishonored their marriage vows. This startling lesson is clear. When you enter into a love relationship, you become vulnerable because you don't have control over the other person’s decision and will. But God took the risk in that relationship still.
God loved and had compassion on his “spiritual bride” but she idolized anyone other than her husband and acted like she hated her husband without mercy. She may appear as the legal wife, but in her thoughts, words, and actions, she seems to be happier in another man’s arms. Her idolatry placed God in a vulnerable or disadvantaged position in the relationship.
God, eventually, has had enough. He could no longer take the rejection and disdain of his wife without the consequences. He decided to disown his people because, in the first place, His people disowned Him. The marriage became null and void. Whatever lies in the future depends on the personal decisions of both parties.
Ask yourselves, in what ways your relationship with God differs? Are there challenges in your relationship with Him right now? Be aware of these “relationship killers.” And if this pattern continues, where are we heading?
III. THE SEVERED COVENANT RENEWED (vv.10 - 2:1)
The truth, not all love stories end up in tragedy. There may be some situations that seemed hopeless, but we also know that relationship thrives in second chances.
But does this mean the consequences will not be taken? It depends.
A. The Covenant of God – We must not forget: Like in a marriage relationship, God also gave a covenant promise to His people. It is reflected in this statement of God who gave this promise hundreds of years before them to Abraham and Jacob (Gen. 32:12). In Hosea, the same covenant is reaffirmed. “Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered” (v.10a).
B. The Change from God – While the name of “the children of whoredom” sound prophetic and shall come to pass, it is also undeniable that God’s love does not give up easily. In the face of rejection, God’s love is relentless. God told Hosea, “And in the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not my people,’ it shall be said to them, ‘Children of the living God’” (v.10b). Indeed, those who receive God are transformed into children of God.
C. The Commitment of God – God’s love for His people is not merely an emotional response to the spiritual state and vitality of His people. “And the children of Judah and the children of Israel shall be gathered together, and they shall appoint for themselves one head. And they shall go up from the land, for great shall be the day of Jezreel” (v.11). Both Israel and Judah may face the consequences of their decisions and unfaithfulness—that means going through political and spiritual captivity—but God’s commitment to gather them together remains.
D. The Confirmation of God. Here is the message of hope and encouragement. God said to Hosea, “Say to your brothers, ‘You are my people,’ and to your sisters, ‘You have received mercy’” (Hosea 2:1). In other words, God is saying, “You are mine no matter what. I will redeem you.” Call it stubborn but God’s love is, indeed, relentless.
God is not giving up on you. He loves even at times you don't love Him in return. You may suffer the consequences of what you’re doing, but God’s compassion is relentless. You might see His love as outrageous and scandalous, but you can be assured that God’s love for you is unstoppable, unbroken, and never-ending.
Don’t give up on Him because He is not giving up on you.