A Redeeming Love
Hosea: God’s Relentless Love: (Part II)
A REDEEMING LOVE
Hosea 2:2-13 (ESV)
2 “Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband— that she put away her whoring from her face, and her adultery from between her breasts;
3 lest I strip her naked and make her as in the day she was born, and make her like a wilderness, and make her like a parched land, and kill her with thirst.
4 Upon her children also I will have no mercy, because they are children of whoredom.
5 For their mother has played the whore; she who conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’
6 Therefore I will hedge up her way with thorns, and I will build a wall against her, so that she cannot find her paths.
7 She shall pursue her lovers but not overtake them, and she shall seek them but shall not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.’
8 And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.
9 Therefore I will take back my grain in its time, and my wine in its season, and I will take away my wool and my flax, which were to cover her nakedness.
10 Now I will uncover her lewdness in the sight of her lovers, and no one shall rescue her out of my hand.
11 And I will put an end to all her mirth, her feasts, her new moons, her Sabbaths, and all her appointed feasts.
12 And I will lay waste her vines and her fig trees, of which she said, ‘These are my wages, which my lovers have given me.’ I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall devour them.
13 And I will punish her for the feast days of the Baals when she burned offerings to them and adorned herself with her ring and jewelry, and went after her lovers and forgot me, declares the LORD.
In God’s covenant-relationship with His people, He has always provided a way to sufficiently communicate with them. He knows that in order to maintain a vibrant relationship with them, communication was an integral part of it; it must be nurtured and valued. However, because of the sinfulness of God’s people, His efforts of communication had often been carelessly ignored, rejected, or misrepresented. For example, during the Old Testament times when God has chosen the prophets as His main instruments for His revelations and messages, He gave them visions, dreams, parables, or audible messages. But instead of keenly listening to them, God’s people responded by ridiculing, persecuting, and even killing these prophets. Consider this passage
2 Chronicles 24:19 (ESV)
19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.
Obviously, because the people undermined God’s ways and means of communications to them, He ultimately punished them by allowing them to be defeated by their enemies and be taken into captivity. Unfortunately, this attitude of indifference was exactly the spiritual atmosphere when God sent Hosea to prophesy to Israel, which was the Northern Kingdom. Remember, in the history of Israel, there was a time when they were divided into two Kingdoms. The Northern Kingdom was composed of ten tribes, while the Southern Kingdom was composed of only two tribes. The Northern Kingdom was often led by a wicked king, leading the nation away from God. Because of this rebellion, God punished them by allowing them to fall into the hands of the Assyrians in 722 BC.
Now, since God’s messages have been falling on deaf ears, He had to try a more radical approach in sending His message. What could be more radical than asking His prophet, Hosea, to marry a prostitute in order to show His relentless love to His people vividly. Yes, it was definitely tough on the part of Hosea to be asked to do this, but God had to make a way for His people to get the message because His judgment was about to come. Consider the timeline, Hosea ministered to Israel approximately between 753-715 BC. Again, the Assyrians came by 722 BC.
What again is the overarching significance of the book? I believe Dr. George Campbell Morgan captured it when he said:
“We have in the book of Hosea one of the most arresting revelations of the real nature of sin, and one of the clearest interpretations of the strength of the Divine love. No one can read the story of Hosea without realizing the agony of his heart. Then, lift the human to the level of the Infinite, and know this, that sin wounds the heart of God.”
This morning, we will cover chapters 2 to 3 and talk about three major messages from God to His people. Let’s examine them one by one:
I GOD’S REBUKE AGAINST ISRAEL (2:2-13)
Before we begin looking at some major verses in our text, let’s review the basic representations in the book:
Hosea represents God. The name Hosea literally means “God saves.”
Gomer represents the nation of Israel
The children of Hosea and Gomer represent the Israelites.
Now, as we begin to read verses 2 to 13, we will find three specific sins that God will openly rebuke. Here are they:
HER INFIDELITY (vv. 2-4)
Verse 2 opens with this statement - “Plead with your mother, plead— for she is not my wife, and I am not her husband . . .” In here, you will find God addressing the children of Hosea and Gomer (faithful remnant of Israel) to put out a rebuke to their mother, Gomer (nation of Israel), because of her unfaithfulness to her husband (God). Israel had committed spiritual adultery when they chose to worship the pagan god, Baal, who was known as the Canaanite rain god.
The covenant relationship of God with Israel is likened to marriage. Since marriage relationship is the most intimate relationship that humans can have, God has used it in order to convey the type of relationship He wanted to establish with His people. However, Israel broke her marriage bond with God when she prostituted herself with another lover, Baal.
As a result of her unfaithfulness, God puts out a strong warning in verses 3 to 4, that He will punish her by stripping her naked or by putting her to shame and taking away her blessings with her children of fornication. Notice, this would be the pattern through the text, God would lay a clear rebuke of sin. Then, He would issue a strong warning if they don’t listen to Him.
The question is: When God gives a warning, does He follow through on what He said He would do? Or is it only an empty threat? Well, when the Assyrians finally came, they did not just destroy the nation of Israel, they also took away all her treasures leaving her literally stripped as God has promised.
HER IDOLATRY (vv. 5-7)
Another sin that God highlights in our passage is idolatry. To identify the sin of idolatry, we will have to highlight the statement of Gomer in verse 5 saying: “I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.”
During the Old Testament times, the pagan god, Baal, is well recognized as the god of fertility or prosperity. Being the god of rain, then he is the one who helps them experience a great harvest.
It’s a shame when God’s people look for other gods to be their source of blessings, rather than the One from whom true blessings come. Can we be guilty of doing the same? What has happened here is practically the same as what God had addressed during the time of Jeremiah. Listen to Jeremiah 2:13:
13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.
God’s people will always end up wanting when we forsake the true source of our blessings, right? This is exactly what will happen to Israel because of their shift of loyalty (vv. 6-7). Let me jump to the end of verse 7 – “Then she shall say, ‘I will go and return to my first husband, for it was better for me then than now.” Listen, often we ignore God while our lives are great, and we don’t have troubles. Then, when difficulties come, we begin to run to God and seek His help. I trust we come to our senses and truly examine how we relate to God.
HER INGRATITUDE (vv. 8-13)
The third sin that is closely attached with infidelity and idolatry is ingratitude. Literally, they failed to give Him thanks for all the gifts He gave them. Notice verse 8, “And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal.”
If you examine these words, God was telling them that He had graciously lavished them of material blessings, but instead of being grateful to Him, they have used those blessings as offerings to Baal. What an ingratitude! But you know we could be doing the very same thing. Listen, the biggest insult we can throw at God is when we begin to use what He gave us to pursue and serve other gods. Let’s think about our stewardship this morning – time, talents, and treasures. To whom are you offering them? Who gets exalted when you dispense your gifts? Don’t forget that God will always hold you accountable with regards to how you use His blessings.
Just like in the earlier verses, God will clearly state His plain warnings to the nation in verses 9-13. Please don’t miss this truth in the book of Hosea. Yes, God is relentless in His love, but He is also holy. If we decide to live in sin, He will not tolerate it. He will surely punish us.
II GOD’S RESTORATION OF ISRAEL (2:14-23)
Hosea 2:14-23 (ESV)
14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope. And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’
17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more.
18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety.
19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.
20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD.
21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’”
After God has pronounced His rebukes to Israel, He now offers hope by promising renewal and restoration in the future. I know that we have this long passage before us. So, in order to appreciate these verses, we need to catch what I call as the 14 “I will” statements of God (vv. 14, 15, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 23). All of them clearly show what God is willing to do, so that Israel will be restored to a place of blessings in the future.
Obviously, in the midst of everything that Israel did against Him, He will still actively pursue her and restore at least two things:
A. He will restore His loving relationship with Israel:
In verses 14 and 15, the first that God will restore is the love of His people to Him. I love the phrase in verse 14 – “I will allure her . . . and speak tenderly to her.” God never forces Himself to have a loving relationship with anyone. But He will be pro-active in doing what is necessary in order to win over the object of His love. “To allure” simply means to charm or to attract the object of love. This is likened to a young man who is doing his best to court or attract the girl he likes.
When you move to verse 15, part of the efforts to woo Israel would be to restore them back to the vineyards and valleys, where they can go back to farming and have their sources of livelihood.
B. He will restore His covenant marriage with Israel:
The next gracious act of God is to re-establish His bond of marriage with the nation of Israel. Check out verse 16 saying, “And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’”
When what Israel deserves is to be driven away because of her unfaithfulness to her Husband, God will show His mercy and relentless love and purge out Baal from their hearts. There will come a day in the future when they won’t see Baal as a worthy object of their love and loyalty. When that day comes, then, God will forgive them and restore their blessings as His bride. Let’s not miss these words of restoration – “And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD” (vv. 19-20).
It is amazing how God will find it in Himself to restore Israel to a place of love even after He has been deeply wounded by Israel. This reminds me of Jeremiah’s struggle in Lamentation. He considers the sinfulness of God’s people and their coming judgment. He knew God’s people would be judged for their sins. Yet, he managed to fix his eyes on God’s character. This is what he wrote:
Lamentations 3:21-23 (ESV)
21 But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope:
22 The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; 23 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.
Yes, because God’s love is steadfast, we can always hope in the midst of the brokenness around us. At the end of the day, God’s mercy and grace will always triumph!
III GOD’S REDEMPTION OF ISRAEL (3:1-5)
Hosea 3:1-5 (ESV)
1 And the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.”
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley.
3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”
4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.
5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the LORD and to his goodness in the latter days.
Lastly, we will see God’s beautiful work of redemption for His people who are the object of His relentless love. Examining our text, we will find the Lord commanding Hosea to go to the slave market to buy back Gomer. As we have seen in our earlier passages, Gomer left her husband to pursue her lover. However, instead of finding love and happiness in her sinful pursuit, she ended in the slave market where prostitutes are being sold.
There is certainly a great truth there that we cannot ignore. Serving other gods may be so appealing because of what it promises like more prosperity, better opportunities, or a happier life. But the reality is that all of these are empty promises. People who pursue them will only end up being more miserable, just like Gomer.
But the love of God is willing to persevere and able to give another chance. And He demonstrates this by buying back Gomer with the price of “fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and one and one-half homer of barley.” Together, the total value may have equaled thirty pieces of silver, the price paid for a common slave (cf. Ex. 21:32).
This is clearly the gospel story being proclaimed in this passage. Jesus went to the cross because of His great love for us. And He paid an expensive price to buy us back to Himself. Peter talked about this in his epistle:
1 Peter 1:18-19 (ESV)
18 …knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot.
Yes, an expensive price had to be paid by Jesus Christ, so that we can have a relationship with Him. Just like Gomer, Hosea had to buy her back just so she could be restored back to full marital status. I trust that we don’t miss the amazing truth in our sermon this today. We are all like Gomer. We did everything to pursue other lovers, only to end up more miserable. But praise be to God who loved us with an amazing love that He was willing to do everything in order to restore us to Himself. Allow me to close with this beautiful praise song entitled: Unfailing Love
You have my heart
And I am yours forever
You are my strength
God of grace and power
And everything You hold in your hand still you make time for me I cant understand Praise you God of earth and sky how beautiful is Your unfailing love unfailing love unfailing love
And you never change God you remain the holy one and my unfailing love unfailing love
You are my rock the one I hold on to
You are my song and I sing for you
And everything You hold in your hand
Still you make time for me, I cant understand
Praise you, God of earth and sky
How beautiful is Your unfailing love (unfailing, love unfailing love)
And you never change, God
You remain the Holy One and my unfailing love (unfailing love)