Article: God’s People Are Called to Love the Unlovable | Jacob Varghese

I would like to take your attention the book of Hosea. We don’t know much about Hosea, except that he was a prophet who was a native of the northern kingdom of Israel. He began his ministry around 750 B.C. and proclaimed God’s message for about 38 years. His message to Israel and Judah was for them to beware of the approaching defeat by Assyria. The main theme of his message was that Israel had failed to acknowledge God and therefore, would be punished. Disloyalty to God is the same as spiritual adultery! Israel had turned their attention to worshipping idols of Baal, sacrificing on the altars of pagan gods and their women prostituting in the pagan temples. In the book of Hosea we see the story of Hosea and Gomer. The story of Hosea and Gomer is the story of Hosea’s obedience to God; Israel’s disobedience and repentance and then God’s forgiveness and restoration. The lives of Hosea and Gomer are linked to love but their story is not a perfect love story. The Lord tells Hosea in Vs 2 to marry the adulterous woman Gomer. All we can assume is that Hosea was obedient to God’s command. We don’t know a whole lot about Gomer, except she was the daughter of Diblaim. She is described as “immoral” at the time of marriage rather than as a wife who became immoral during the marriage. Some scholars have suggested she just liked men and was not satisfied to remain true to her marriage vows. She loves to run around. Yet, each time she comes home, Hosea reconciles with her and welcomes her back.
Since Gomer doesn’t want to settle down, God punishes her with 3 children that God tells Hosea to give strange names too. The first son, Jezreel means God scatters, 2) daughter Lo-ruk hamah means no love, where God removes his compassion for his people, although he later returns it and 3rd) a son Lo-Ammi means not my people. We understand that their names are part of God’s message to the nation of Israel. The story of Hosea and Gomer has a sort of better ending. If we look at this story as a parable, we can see it as the stories of God’s relationship with His people. They were like disobedient children, who never listened to their parents and ended up in great turmoil and trouble. The nation of Israel got caught and paid a heavy price for their disobedience and disloyalty to the covenant God had made with them.
There are three parts to Hosea’s story; I want to share that with you this morning:
1​The Prophet is called to love the unlovable
Read Hosea 1:1-2 – The Lord gave this message to Hosea son of Beeri during the years when Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were kings of Judah, and Jeroboam son of Jehoash was king of Israel. 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 worshipping other gods.” This is probably not what we would consider the ideal way to begin a marriage. It is not going to be simple, it is not going to be smooth, there will be problems, and there will be pain. God tells this Holy man to marry a woman with a bad reputation, a reputation for unfaithfulness, a woman who is sure to break Hosea’s heart. In the standard wedding vows, a couple makes a promise to love and cherish each other and to be faithful to one another. Even before the marriage takes place, Hosea knows that his wife will never be faithful; her adulterous behavior is certain and brings him frustration and grief. The obvious question is why would God want His prophet to marry a woman like this? Because, this will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshipping other gods.
So Hosea married Gomer, and we see the story of the unfaithful wife and faithful husband. Hosea lived during the same time as the prophets Joel, Jonah, Obadiah, Micah, Amos and Isaiah. I can imagine people speaking to Hosea and saying, “Hosea, you are one of the many respected prophets of God in this country. But, your wife’s behavior is a disgrace. Why did you ever choose to marry Gomer?” I imagine Hosea would have responded by saying “The question isn’t why am I married to a woman like Gomer, but why a good and loving God married to an adulterous people like you?” It shows the unfaithful Nation and the faithful God.

Hosea’s marriage to an adulterous woman demonstrated God’s relationship to His adulterous people. God was showing Israel that His people were behaving in the same way with other gods and idols. In God’s view, if we worship or serve anyone or anything other than Him we are committing spiritual adultery. If we are occupied by putting other things before worshipping or serving God we are guilty of the sin of idolatry. It is easy to allow things to divide us from having a powerful relationship with Jesus.
2​The unlovable abandons the Prophet
Gomer was a woman who was looking for love in all the wrong places. Hosea 2:4, 5 says, “I will not love her children, for they were conceived in prostitution. Their mother is a shameless prostitute and became pregnant in a shameful way. She said, ‘I’ll run after other lovers and sell myself to them for food and water, for clothing of wool and linen, and for olive oil and drinks. Gomer was someone who was not satisfied with her needs being met; she was willing to sell herself so that her wants and desires could be fulfilled.

Gomer had a godly man as a husband, yet her children were products of her adultery. She had a husband, a good man to share her life and still, she chose to run after other men. In many ways, God had given her something good in her life, yet Gomer behaved as if the blessing God had given her was not enough. Have you ever behaved as if what God has blessed you with was not enough? God loved Israel and yet they turned their back on Him and tried to find what they wanted in other places and in other gods. Here is the application for us: Anything we put before ‘God’ can become more important than our God. The Bible teaches us that our lives are meant to be lived as a living sacrifice to God.
3​The Prophet pursues the unlovable
Hosea 2:13 “I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earrings and jewels and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me,” says the Lord.” She forgot all about me… can you sense the pain of rejection behind those words? Even in the pain, even in the rejection, there is a desire for reconciliation, verses 14&15 “But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into a gateway of hope.” Look at Hosea 3:1-2, Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” Many in the world would say, “She is not worth the effort”, “leave her in her sin”. Instead of abandoning her to her sin, Hosea pursues her, he runs after her, he still loves her and wants to bring transformation and hope. So Hosea bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Do you see the amazing love God has for His people, for His church? Hosea goes searching for his wife who is now owned by someone else. However, in Hosea Chapter 3, Hosea reconciles with Gomer and keeps her isolated for a time to restore her back into a healthy marriage. This is a beautiful picture of what God has done in your life and mine. He did not abandon us in our sin. He came to save us, to restore us, to give us hope and a future. What we have here is a picture of our God, the one with such deep love for His people, His bride; He is willing to do whatever is necessary to redeem us. We are the bride of Christ. We are worth the effort. We are worth the humiliation Jesus endured. We are worth the suffering He endured. We are worth dying for! This is not religion, this is relationship. Throughout the Bible, throughout history, in our own experience, God constantly and consistently pursues His people.

Disobedient children turn away from God and follow their own ideas and pursuits. As we read in the rest of the book God in anger decides to punish them. In the remainder of the Book of Hosea, God’s anger is unleashed on Israel and it is only in the last chapter, Chapter 14, that we find Israel repenting and receiving God’s blessings once more. This shows Israel’s punishment for unfaithfulness, Israel’s repentance and restoration. Each of the 3 major sections of the book of Hosea end with a chapter devoted to hope, restoration and affirmation of God’s love (chapters 3; 11; 14). This suggests that Hosea saw the testimony to God’s love and grace as the final word, not the witness to judgment and brokenness. God has remained faithful to covenant promises through and in spite of Israel’s sin that made judgment inevitable.

What is our story? On Mt. Sinai, God made a covenant with His people Israel, to be in relationship with them. You and I are their descendants. God demanded then, and still does today, loyalty to HIM alone. But we go chasing after other gods; money, prestige, cars, homes, clothes, being the best at everything; the list goes on and on. We have no time for God anymore; besides, we ask…what has He done for us lately? Only when our lives are turned upside down…. or when we are in crisis, we remember that God is still around us and that He can and will help us? The Lord wants to restore us to that covenant relationship but God can only do that when we return to Him.

What are you willing to sacrifice in your life to show your love for God? The Bible teaches us that there is a cost in following Jesus. Our time, our effort, our devotion, our service, our love, our wants, our daily lives, all of these are meant to be secondary things – Christ is meant to be the center of our love and our lives. Don’t let other people or other things to diminish your love and worship of God. In a way, Gomer’s life is an illustration of the church: The church is often described as the bride of Christ; Gomer was a wife, a bride, who ignored her husband. There are those who call themselves Christians who choose to ignore the will and Word of God. The challenge for us, then, is to renounce our own sinful natures and return to God. And then the God of mercy, compassion and grace, will forgive us and restore us to our rightful place as heirs of the kingdom.



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