Hosea and Gomer
I felt lead to read the book of Hosea recently. It is about a man who lived in the nation of Israel. It was during the period of the country being split apart. 10 tribes banded together and disassociated themselves from God and followed false god’s, worshiping idols.
God spoke to Hosea and told him to marry a prostitute. He wanted to use Hosea’s marriage as a word picture for the nations adulterous relationship with idols.
“When the Lord began to speak through Hosea, the Lord said to him, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.” So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.”
The couple had 3 children together, then Gomer
went back to prostitution.
This straying relationship was a symbol of the relationship between God and his wayward family of the 10 northern tribes of Israel.
After all of their unfaithfulness God still longed for them to repent and come back to him.
There are some hungers that go away if you feed them. My wife was craving the candy called Smarties. Not all stores carry them. Our normal grocery store doesn’t. When I found them at Walmart I rejoiced. I may have even said out loud, “yes! Woo hoo!” There were 2 sizes of bags. The one pound and the baby size. It’s called baby size because it weighs the same as a large baby. I got the baby size. We ate Smarties until my wife no longer craved them. Her craving was sated. (Parks and Rec reference).
Some cravings though just get stronger. As you feed them they gain power. I don’t know why but a craving for something that is outside of God’s boundaries usually has this power.
We don’t get to know what it was that drove Gomer back to a life of prostitution but I would guess that it was a craving that she kept feeding until it overwhelmed and overpowered her and she ended up back where she started. Did she go kicking and screaming? Fighting and clawing at the forces that were enticing her away? Maybe but probably not. Many times these battles are won by our enemy not by a frontal attack but by constant erosion and a lack of shoring up defenses on our part. Usually there is no SOS or “God Help!” signal being sent out. The constant pounding on our walls of defense by our enemy is seen as an annoyance, not as an attack. We never even sound an alarm.
We follow paths in our life. There are physical paths like the one in my back yard that leads to the gate, then there are mental paths, like how I respond to to gentle touch or a kind word. I also have mental paths for harsh words or abuse or neglect. An outward stimulus leads to an internal reaction, following well worn mental paths. Ruts in a road aren’t made by occasional travel and neither are mental ruts. Maybe Gomer just fell into a rut that led her back to prostitution, we just don’t know.
Our enemy knows our paths better than we do. He watches and he waits. In his spare time he has target practice on those paths that get us close to the edge and leave us exposed. Like a little mound of pride where we stand and look over the borders and boundaries of our life and we see the verdant fields, and maybe here the soft cooing of the sirens song.
What can we do? We cannot escape temptation but neither should we play with it. Fire is a great thing on a cold day, as long as it stays in the fire box where it belongs. If we play with fire, and I know this from personal experience, we will eventually get burned. Fire has no saturation point. It does not decide on its own to say, “I’ve burned enough for today, I will stop here”. No, fire consumes constantly with an ever increasing appetite for more. Temptation is not sated by giving in. It just gets stronger with every little opening we give it.
The book of Hosea I isn’t really about how to avoid falling into sin. The book of Hosea is more about God’s faithfulness and dogged pursuit of his wayward people. It’s about God’s grace and mercy toward people bent on running away. People who are rebellious and selfish and self seeking and self serving. People like, well, people like me.
Chapter 6 verse 2 and 6 are worth looking at.
“After two days He will revive us; On the third day He will raise us up, That we may live in His sight. For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, And the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:2,6 – NKJV
These verses are clearer in the New Living Translation, “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know me more than I want burnt offerings.”
Hosea 6:6 –
God’s people had begun living selfish, indulgent lives, and then they would heap up sacrifices at the temple to pay for them. I believe God’s point was he wanted hearts that followed him and obeyed him rather than profuse apologies.
After Gomer returned to prostitution God spoke to Hosea a and told him to buy her back.
“Then the Lord said to me, “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. ” So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me. ”
I heard a radio pastor point out that it cost Hosea everything he had, his money, his grain and his wine. To redeem me, It cost Jesus his life.
The last chapter of Hosea has these words:
“Take words with you and return to the Lord. Say to him: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips. Assyria cannot save us; we will not mount warhorses. We will never again say ‘Our gods’ to what our own hands have made, for in you the fatherless find compassion.” “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”
If you the reader have strayed from God, return to him. He has given all for you. If you the reader are walking with God today but you know others who have strayed, remember God’s heart toward us all. God loves us even though we have strayed and broken our covenant vows with him.
“I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them.”