I want you to think back to when you were a kid. Your parents tell you something you didn't want to hear and you snap back with “that tone” of voice. Then what’s the next sentence out of your mom or dad’s mouth? Right! “Don’t use that tone of voice with me!” See the issue with what you said wasn't the content itself but the tone or method you used to say it. The way a message is communicated says a great deal about the message itself and the messenger.
Open your Bibles to the book of Hosea.
Who was Hosea? He was a prophet, one chosen by God to be his mouthpiece. In Hosea’s case, his prophetic role involved more than speaking God’s message. Hosea was called to be a walking, talking, breathing kind of message.
2 When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, he said this to him: Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the Lord. 3 So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 Then the Lord said to him: Name him Jezreel, for in a little while I will bring the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu and put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. 5 On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel. 6 She conceived again and gave birth to a daughter, and the Lord said to him: Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel. I will certainly take them away. 7 But I will have compassion on the house of Judah, and I will deliver them by the Lord their God. I will not deliver them by bow, sword, or war, or by horses and cavalry. 8 After Gomer had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. 9 Then the Lord said: Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Now don’t be confused, Hosea knew exactly what kind of marriage he was entering into. He knew from the beginning that it would be filled with infidelity. However, this is what makes Hosea’s story so beautiful. He was to take in and embrace a wife who he knew was a promiscuous woman. We see the difference in language used in regard to the three children. Concerning Jezreel, Gomer conceived and bore him (Hosea) a son. Concerning Lo-Ruhamah and Lo-Ammi, the text just says Gomer conceived and bore a daughter and son. This could mean that the second and third children were Hosea’s illegitimate children. The truth is we don’t actually know, but that is a possibility.
And how about those names? Can you imagine?!
“Aww look at these cute kids! What are their names?”
“Well, this is Jezreel, for where Jehu massacred the whole city. This one’s ‘Not Loved’, and this little guy is ‘Not My People’.”
“Someone call child services…”
“Someone call child services…”
In any case, when God designed marriage, He instituted a relationship of such intimacy, sacrifice, and mutual love that it would serve as a walking, talking, living, breathing, illustration of the relationship between Christ and the church as it says in . God called Hosea to marry Gomer to demonstrate the intensely personal relationship He desires with His people, as well as how painful and sacrificial that relationship has always been for Him as the faithful partner.
Now if Hosea, a human, showed this kind of love and faithfulness to his wife while knowing her pattern of unfaithful behavior, then how much more must God love His people? How much more passionately does His affection burn even for those who time and time again walk away from Him?
God, in His perfect love, not only pursued us in the midst of our unfaithfulness, He promises His love to us forever. Laid deep in the meaning of Hosea’s story is God’s promise of love for His people. Just as Hosea was called to continue to pursue and love his unfaithful wife; God had committed Himself to His unfaithful people.
14 Therefore, I am going to persuade her, lead her to the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her vineyards back to her and make the Valley of Achor into a gateway of hope. There she will respond as she did in the days of her youth, as in the day she came out of the land of Egypt. 16 In that day— this is the Lord’s declaration— you will call me, “My husband,” and no longer call me, “My Baal.” 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth; they will no longer be remembered by their names. 18 On that day I will make a covenant for them with the wild animals, the birds of the sky, and the creatures that crawl on the ground. I will shatter bow, sword, and weapons of war in the land and will enable the people to rest securely. 19 I will take you to be my wife forever. I will take you to be my wife in righteousness, justice, love, and compassion. 20 I will take you to be my wife in faithfulness, and you will know the Lord. 21 On that day I will respond— this is the Lord’s declaration. I will respond to the sky, and it will respond to the earth. 22 The earth will respond to the grain, the new wine, and the fresh oil, and they will respond to Jezreel. 23 I will sow her in the land for myself, and I will have compassion on Lo-ruhamah; I will say to Lo-ammi: You are my people, and he will say, “You are my God.”
Look at what this passage says. God is going to allure her. God is going to attract His people back to him. Instead of sitting back and saying, “Well this is her fault, let her rot or let her come crawling back to me later.” God says, no I'm going to pursue my people, I’m going after them. God’s love involves willing pursuit and necessary sacrifice for the sake of the one being loved.
Three things we need to notice from this passage:
First, God is the one doing the pursuing. He is leading, taking, giving.
Second, What are God’s people to do? Respond, thats it. Respond to God’s pursuit.
Finally, God’s love has no time limit. Once we respond to God’s love and pursuit, we will be His people forever.
Now lets see how the redemption theme of this passage in chapter 2 relates to chapters 1 & 3. As we pick up in , Gomer has left Hosea. We don’t know exactly why or when she left, or if this was the first time she left or if this was a pattern for her. Maybe Gomer, like so many of us in our relationship with God, would commit herself to Hosea only to be lured away to the old life of sin and unfaithfulness.
Or maybe Gomer could never fully believe Hosea when he said “I love you”. Maybe she couldn't believe that Hosea’s love was as true, faithful, and sacrificial as it seemed. Maybe she was always waiting for Hosea to drop the ball, or wise up and realize the kind of woman he married and leave her. Maybe the wondering and waiting became too much for her and she decided that running away into her old life was easier or more comfortable for her. In any case, Gomer found herself away from her husband and even worse, bound in slavery.
1 Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and five bushels of barley. 3 I said to her, “You are to live with me many days. You must not be promiscuous or belong to any man, and I will act the same way toward you.” 4 For the Israelites must live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. 5 Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the Lord and to his goodness in the last days.
I have a video for us to watch. Its a little long but I think it explains this aspect of the story in a great way!
“Judah Smith Hosea Sermon Jam” video
Look at this imagery!
Hosea—the abandoned, faithful husband who has every right to turn his back on Gomer.
Gomer—unfaithful wife, the abandoner, who is powerless to affect her situation.
Then the husband, in love, pays the price for the freedom of the one he loves.
Is this starting to sound familiar?
Slavery— Gomer wasn't just gone, she was enslaved. Because of her lifestyle and the choices she made, she has become trapped and powerless to change her own circumstances. She was at the mercy of others. We are trapped in slavery to sin before Christ. Like Gomer, we are unable to change our circumstances.
Rescuer— Hosea had every right to leave his wife to what she deserved, but he didn’t. God commanded him to “go” to her because there was no way she could come to him, even if she wanted to. God comes to us because we have no way to him on our own.
Price— Hosea did not buy back Gomer on emotion, sentiment, or good intentions. He didn't stand at a distance and shout about his love for her. Instead, he recognized that freedom doesn't come cheaply. He went with his pockets full in order to pay the price so that the one he loved could go free. Just as Christ did for us. And just an fun fact for you, the amount that Hosea paid equals exactly the amount that Judas was paid to betray Jesus. But the point is that Hosea paid a lot of money for something that was already his, his own wife!
What a beautiful picture of Christ this story paints. This is a story of redemption. To redeem something literally means “to buy it back.” We belonged to God in the first place, we were the ones that ran from Him, but He is the one who bought us back. He redeemed us.
When we’re feeling alone and like God has abandoned us.
HE PURSUES US!
When we run from him into our old ways of life.
HE PURSUES US!
When we want nothing to do with God because we’re mad at him.
HE PURSUES US!
Stop fighting His pursuit. Some of you are fighting God this morning. I want to encourage you to get on your face before your pursuer. Don't take as long as Gomer did. Don't be as stubborn as Gomer was. Trust in the Lord today. Stop running.
And for those who have accepted Christ’s free gift, are you living a life that says thank you to God? Are you faithful, are you obedient?