The Marvelous Love of God
The study of the prophets is a fascinating one. While their messages may be very similar, there is a uniqueness about each one as well. God used various methods with his prophets to get the message delivered, and one of the more interesting ones is the story of Hosea.
God told Hosea to take a wife that was a harlot, and the personal sufferings Hosea had to endure with a wife that was a harlot were representative of the sufferings the Lord had endured while Israel was unfaithful to him. Just as Israel had played the harlot and gone after other gods, so too did Hosea’s wife, Gomer, play the harlot and go after other lovers.
Even their children were named by God with special names and meanings relating to the message God was giving to the nation. The first one was named Jezreel, which meant “God will scatter”, to signify the scattering of the Israelites when the Assyrians came to destroy them. The second was named Lo-Ruhama, meaning “No mercy”, since God was no longer offering mercy to them. And finally, the third child was named Lo-Ammi, which meant “Not my people” because this was not a child of Hosea’s, but of some other man, just as the children of Israel were no longer God’s people since they had left God long ago.
Notice the list of sins that Hosea says the Israelites are guilty of: idolatry, swearing, lying, murder, stealing, adultery, sexual immorality, pride, corruptness, rebellion, making false covenants, making treaties with other nations, rejection of God, lack of truth, lack of knowledge, and lack of mercy.
That’s a pretty heinous list! These were people that weren’t exactly loveable. However, in spite of Israel’s betrayal of God their refusal to repent, God still showed his longsuffering and love for his people. It is astounding to me just how longsuffering he is, how much he endures on behalf of a sinful people, and the great lengths to which he’ll go to get his people to repent. There are few people today who would be willing to put up with the same type of behavior and rejection from a spouse.
Things haven’t changed much today. It’s really the same today as it was almost 3000 years ago. People don’t change. We’re really not all that much different from the Israelites. While we may not have committed all those sins I enumerated a moment ago, we have offended God just as the Israelites did.
If we put worldly concerns ahead of spiritual pursuits in our life, then we’re just as guilty of idolatry as they were. Who among us can say we’re not guilty of lying, or stealing, or not showing mercy, or having pride, or being rebellious? Regardless of how many of those same sins you or I have committed, the fact remains we’re not innocent. We all are guilty of transgressing God’s laws and of running after other lovers, of forgetting about and rejecting God.
The same things that led the Israelites astray are the same things that lead people astray today. It starts when we follow our own lusts and desires (James 1:13-15). We see something that’s appealing, that’s desirable, and we go after it instead of after God’s statutes, just like Israel went after other lovers. Pride gets in the way, and we don’t want to submit to God’s will. And if we don’t know God’s will in the first place, then it makes it pretty difficult to follow. One of the major charges brought against the Israelites was their lack of knowledge of his laws (4:6). When we don’t grow in the knowledge of God, then we’re no different than the Israelites.
People haven't changed since the time of Hosea, and God hasn’t changed either. His love and longsuffering with us is just as it was with the Israelites. He views us as his children for whom he has cared and provided, and his love for us is never ending. God also hasn’t changed when it comes to punishment. He warns us through his word, just as he warned the Israelites through the prophets, and he will punish those who are not faithful, just as he ultimately did with the Israelites.
But God is also unchanging in his message of hope. Hosea 2:14-23 is a picture of Israel being reunited with God, and there is no more spiritual adultery, but a wonderful harmonious relationship. What makes it even more wonderful is that it is speaking of us – not the physical nation of Israel, but the spiritual nation of Israel. We are living in the time of the fulfillment of this prophecy given in Hosea, and it’s all made possible through Jesus the Christ.
Do you realize just how amazing all this is? God’s patience and love for us in spite of our unfaithfulness to him is so wondrous and marvelous, something that is difficult for us to even comprehend. In light of what he has done for us, doesn’t it just make sense for us to honor him and obey him?
“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10).
“We love him because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).