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IT’S ALL ABOUT JESUS!
You’re about to hear a salacious story of a unique and twisted love. It’s a story about an extremely unlikely couple, an unusual marriage between a PROPHET and a PROSTITUTE! Most importantly, it’s a story with a “double entendre.” It’s about an adulterous marriage between a man and wife, and the idolatrous marriage between God and Israel.
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote “the entire world loves a lover.” I think the world also loves a love story. If the world only knew, they would all love the Bible, because the Bible is the GREATEST love story ever TOLD! And Hosea is a unique love story in the Old Testament.
In many ways Hosea is the same as millions of stories from New York to Los Angeles; Seattle to Houston; St. Louis to Kansas City; Springfield to Joplin. Frankly, we’ve largely ignored Hosea, because it’s so RAW and so REAL. We've shunned it in our small groups and pulpits because the TRUTH is so painful!
However, today we will see how God has chosen the sad, sordid story of this broken-hearted prophet to take your breath away. The story overflows with heartbreak, failure, selfishness, and despair. It's the story of broken vows, broken trust, broken relationships, broken homes, broken hearts, and broken lives. But it’s also a story filled with love, hope, forgiveness, redemption, and restoration. Hosea experienced betrayal and anguish because of his wife’s adulterous relationships. Hosea’s broken human relationship reveals God’s agony and brokenness at our sin. Hosea shows us the very heart of God. Hosea’s love for Gomer and his commitment to redeem her at any cost, DEMONSTRATES God’s love and commitment to us.
THESIS: God yearns for your total commitment to Him so He can reveal His extravagant, faithful, sacrificial LOVE to you.
Hosea is unique and ranks as one of the most amazing love stories in literature. Hosea is both beautiful and confusing. The story of Hosea and his wife will shock you and then warm your heart. The story of Israel and God in Hosea will frustrate you then fill you with hope. It’s the story of Hosea and Gomer, God and Israel, and ultimately … it’s the story of you and Jesus. This is your love story. But how can I explain contrasts like hope and judgment, or loyalty and betrayal, or love and rebellion? Let’s try this:
I wear trifocal glasses. They give me three distinct fields of view. I would suggest that as you read and study Hosea, you need trifocals to see the book clearly. DISTANCE: The top lens is for distance viewing. I use it to drive so I can see the road ahead. Hosea from a distance shows the historical landscape of Israel during King Jeroboam 2’s reign when Israel was prosperous but unfaithful. Hosea preaches sermons filled with both judgment and hope for God’s rebellious people. King Jeroboam 2’s military exploits had extended the nation’s borders the farthest since Solomon’s glorious kingdom. Tribute money was pouring into the capitol treasury at Samaria, and Israel was experiencing a period of unprecedented prosperity and unsurpassed idolatry.
INTERMEDIATE: The middle lens helps me see at arm’s length. It’s for working on my computer. At arm’s length we see Hosea, his wife Gomer, and their family. Hosea’s life is the metaphor for the book. His love for his unfaithful wife reflects God’s redemptive love for Israel. God saw Israel as His bride, and He viewed the worship of idols or other gods as spiritual adultery. The first Commandment told Israel that Jehovah would not share her with other gods. But she persisted in her prostitution, and by the time of Jeroboam 2 the situation was intolerable. God was speaking decisively. First He sent a former herdsman from Tekoa named Amos, who THUNDERED God’s warning of imminent judgment, but he was largely ignored. So God spoke again, this time through Hosea whose name is means “Jehovah is salvation.”
NEAR: The bottom lens lets me read my Bible or do close up work in the shop or on a car. This lens lets you see yourself in Hosea. You can see who you are and how dearly loved you are. Hosea is your love story. The theme of Hosea is this: Even when you’ve betrayed His love, God still pursues you. He continues loving you! That’s how we look at the multiple layers in Hosea. In many ways the book of Hosea represents life!
In fact, when you peel back the layers of interpersonal relationships, it all boils down to this: we want somebody to love us. We just want to love somebody and we want somebody to love us back. All the world’s tragedy and comedy boils down to this simple fact: WE ALL JUST WANT TO BE LOVED!
Hosea’s marriage to Gomer is introduced in chapter one, revealing their relationship and their children’s prophetic names. But chapter 1 is told in third person—”this is what happened to Hosea.” Hosea 3:1 says “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.” Hosea turns to first person narrative in chapter 3. Hosea’s telling us, “This is MY story.”
When Israel exploded with prosperity in the mid 700’s BC, they imploded with moral decay and spiritual degradation. Secularism and materialism captured the hearts of the people and sin was rampant. It looked much like America today – moral bankruptcy, ethical decay, swearing, gossip, lying, stealing, abuse of every kind, human sacrifice, including killing their innocent children, prostitution and adultery, murder, rape, drunkenness, and perversions of every kind known to man. Today people are rushing to invent NEW ways of destroying our scriptural roots! But what grieved God the most was the sin of idolatry. Hosea 4:1-3a says “There is no faithfulness, no kindness, no knowledge of God in your land. You make vows and break them; you kill and steal and commit adultery. There is violence everywhere-one murder after another.” Hosea 4:12 “They ask a piece of wood for advice! They think a stick can tell them the future! Longing after idols has made them foolish.” “Hosea 5:11 “The people of Israel will be crushed and broken by judgment because they are determined to worship idols.”
So God revealed His heart to Hosea, commanding him to enter into a love relationship he knew would be one-sided and heart wrenching! God wanted Hosea to love Gomer—not just marry her, but love her! Knowing full well she was a prostitute and his love would not be returned, just like God’s love for Israel!
Have you ever found yourself completely in love with someone you knew wasn’t right for you or didn’t love you back? That’s very painful, isn’t it?
God’s EXTRAVAGANT LOVE is amazing because He experiences this same thing in his own heart. Hosea’s experience reveals God’s anguish and agony over OUR sins. God’s justice requires judgment, but in His love, He promises to redeem us. God loves us knowing we often won’t love him back. God created us to love Him and be loved by Him, knowing we could choose to walk away. That’s extravagant love!
The metaphor is NOT that Gomer will love Hosea after he redeems her from her faithlessness. Gomer’s love isn’t the point. Hosea’s love is - which means it’s NOT about OUR love, - it’s about God’s love. See, our freedom shows us the incredible power of God’s own love. God’s love is a “even though” love. What I mean is, God loves us “even though” we might not love Him. He loves us “even though” He is repeatedly rejected. He loves us “even though” we put other “gods” ahead of Him. He loves us “even though” we commit spiritual adultery and prostitution against Him. That’s EXTRAVAGANT love! God’s love always pursues us. God relentlessly chases us, yearning either to draw us TO HIM or back to Him. God wants us to respond to his EXTRAVAGANT love by loving Him in return. Hosea 6:6 “I want you to show love, not offer sacrifices. I want you to know Me more than I want bunt offerings.”
WATCH THIS: Not only does God want us to accept his love and love Him in return, God’s vision is that we join Him in loving the world. Jesus commands us to love our enemies, because that is how God loves the world. He knows His love is different than the world’s love—that’s the WHOLE point! Romans 8:7 says “For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will.” Unlike Gomer’s love, and unlike our love -
We see the unfaithfulness of God’s children as they turn their backs on Him and worship worthless idols beginning almost immediately after their deliverance from Egypt. We see it at Mt. Sinai and numerous times during the wilderness wanderings. We see it during the acquisition of the promised land in the next generation. We see it throughout the time of the judges. It becomes rampant during the period of the kings, especially during the divided kingdom. We see it in the prophets. We see it in the teachings of Jesus and the New Testament writers.
LOOK AT ME: We are STILL worshipping idols today! WAIT! WHAT? That’s right! Since 1962 we have been bowing at the ALTAR of US Supreme Court rulings. The socialist secular humanist’s want to rid our nation of anything resembling God, so they took a ruling saying it was unconstitutional for states to compose prayers and force their recitation in schools, named it “separation of church and state” and they’ve used it with increasing frequency to compel schools to reject all things Christian, like FCA groups, voluntary Prayer/Bible Study clubs, Christmas Carols, Nativity Scenes, and even prayers for safety during athletics. The US also worships at the altar of ABORTION. Since 1973 over 63 million abortions have been REPORTED, with approximately 20-30 million UNREPORTED. We have 80 million “Millennials” in the US today. So we have MURDERED an entire generation of Americans in the past 46 years! In Genesis 1, “God said Let us make human beings in our image, to be like us…So God created human beings in His own image, In the image of God He created them; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said, Be fruitful and multiply….Then God looked over all He had made, and He saw that it was VERY GOOD.” But God’s VERY GOOD is obviously not good enough for America! We not ONLY bow to every SEXUAL Perversion ever known to man, we’re now making up NEW perversions practically every day! It’s mind- boggling!
NOW WATCH THIS: There’s GOOD NEWS! Even when we are unfaithful and even idolatrous toward God, His LOVE is ALWAYS FAITHFUL to us. God loves us even when his love is unreturned, and Jesus calls us to learn to love exactly like He loves.
QUESTION: Do we have the audacity to mimic God’s love in our own lives—can we learn to be FAITHFUL in loving those who simply do not or will not love us back? Long ago God called the prophet Hosea to put His love—God’s love— on display by loving someone who would not love him back—now God calls the church to do the same. We are called to be “Hosea’s” in our day! Despite the knowledge that it will often be unreturned, we must love all people, including our enemies. We do it in the hope that our love will communicate the extravagant, faithful love of God—so that even THEY might be redeemed by Jesus. While we hope and pray for their redemption, we are called to love them regardless of the results. We must be like God and break away from the limitations of our natural way of loving. We are to love with God’s own love. We must love FAITHFULLY. Jesus said our two most important missions in life are to LOVE GOD with everything in us – heart, mind, soul, and strength! We must also LOVE OTHERS and love them FAITHFULLY! Finally, Hosea shows us that -
The story of Hosea is a story of the gospel, that God loves us SACRIFICIALLY. But that gospel is never for us alone. As soon as we grasp its meaning for ourselves, we are called to live it out for the world around us. We love with God’s SACRIFICIAL love, for the sake of God’s kingdom and glory.
I want you to understand just what’s happening in Hosea 3. Remember there’s both a real life physical meaning and a spiritual meaning.
The physical meaning is about sacrificial love. Here’s a man of God who loves the Lord and lives above reproach. Think of the personal sacrifice of Hosea’s reputation and spiritual integrity to marry a prostitute. Scripture says she gave birth to 3 children, the second of which was a girl who God calls “your daughter.” The other two likely were not Hosea’s. Very likely they were conceived in prostitution and adultery. The first boy was named Jezreel, which means “God plants.” The baby girl was called “Lo-ruhama” which means “not loved.” The third child was named “Lo-ammi” meaning “not my people.” Lo-Ammi’s name pronounced the harshest judgment of all. In Exodus God had told Israel “I will be your God and you will be My people.” In Exodus 3:14 God tells Moses “I AM who I AM. Say to the people of Israel; I AM has sent me to you.” Now God is saying, because of your unfaithfulness, you will no longer be my children and I will no longer by your God. In the Hebrew it literally reads “I AM not I AM for you!” WHOA!
Gomer abandons her family to live a life of prostitution and degradation. Hosea’s commitment is shown in caring for three children when 2 were probably not his. He had to be mom and dad while preaching “gloom, despair, and agony, deep dark depression, excessive misery” on Israel. Hosea heard the gossip in the town square. The children were mocked and mistreated by neighborhood kids and their parents.
Eventually God tells Hosea to go redeem his wife. The text indicates that Gomer had fallen so far into sin and degradation she had to sell herself into slavery. Imagine Hosea’s struggle. He had obeyed God and not only married Gomer, but genuinely LOVED her. Hosea is another example of the truth that “you CHOOSE who you love.” Love is a CHOICE. Jesus CHOSE to love YOU even though it cost Him His life!
So Hosea went to get his wife back. He had to buy her back from the slave block. As far as slaves go, Gomer wasn’t worth much. Hosea bought her back for half the prescribed price of a female slave in Exodus. Gomer was nearly worthless to the world, but she was priceless to Hosea!
The spiritual meaning is clear. Believers are the Bride of Christ, but we have been unfaithful to Jesus.
God tells Israel in Hosea 2:23 “I will show love to those I called “Not loved.” I will say now you are My people. And they will reply, You are our God.” In John 15:9 Jesus says “I have also loved you even as the Father has loved Me. Remain in My love. Vs. 12 reads “This is my commandment; Love each other in the same way I have loved you.” God loves us sacrificially. Jesus loves us sacrificially. Sacrificial Love.
In the early morning hours of February 3, 1943, the US Army Transport Dorchester, was struck by German torpedoes 150 miles from Greenland. The ship capsized and sank in less than 20 minutes. Of the 920 soldiers and merchant marines aboard, only 229 survived.
There were four Army Chaplains aboard the Dorchester. Lt. Clark V. Poling was Dutch Reformed; Lt. George L. Fox, Methodist; Lt. John P. Washington, Catholic; and Lt. Alexander D. Goode, Jewish. They loved God and country, so all four had volunteered and were trained as Army Chaplain during the height of WW2. They were journeying to their first assignments of the war. The Dorchester had pinged a German U-Boat on sonar and the Captain had ordered everyone to sleep in uniform with life jackets on. Unfortunately, many did not obey. The soldiers were nervous so Chaplains were still ministering at 2 a.m. when 3 torpedoes hit the Dorchester mid-ship and took out both electrical and communications. Pandemonium ensued as the word spread among the soldiers and merchant seamen to abandon ship. The four courageous chaplains preached calm and courage during the chaos. The chaplains spread out among the troops, helping them to the rails and giving comfort. In the midst of the panic, fear and terror, the chaplains mustered their courage and offered hope and prayers. They opened a closet and distributed life jackets to many soldiers who weren’t wearing them.
Engineer Grady Clark witnessed what he called an astounding act of personal sacrifice. When all of the life jackets had been distributed, the four chaplains removed theirs and insisted on giving them to four other troops. John Ladd, another survivor, testified, “It was the finest thing I have ever seen or ever hope to see this side of heaven.” In the nearby rafts, survivors recall watching the four chaplains as the ship slanted, sank, and disappeared. They were arm in arm singing hymns and offering prayers; four faiths united in petition to one God. Every witness was struck by the fierce faith, heroism, and self-sacrifice of these brave men.
The chaplains sacrificed their lives, epitomizing Jesus’ words in John 15:13 “No greater love has any man than to lay down his life for his friends.” They were certain that death would not have the final say; they would soon be with God in heaven. Their love for God gave them courage to die for their brothers. They were all awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and the Purple Heart posthumously. Congress couldn’t give them the Medal of Honor because of the requirement that their heroism be displayed while being fired on in combat, and their sacrifice was not until after the torpedoes struck the ship. So Congress unanimously approved a one-time award called “The Four Chaplains Special Medal for Heroism” which carried the same weight and importance as the Medal of Honor. SELF SACRIFICE!
Chad Arnold was always sickly, and in February 2010 he went into liver failure at 38. He was hoping for a cadaver transplant, but none were available, so Dr.’s decided a live donor was the only option to save him. Live liver donations are very rare, but Chad’s younger brother Ryan didn't hesitate to offer part of his. Chad didn't want Ryan to do it because of the dangers involved, but Ryan was adamant. Chad consented but sadly, tragedy struck and Ryan died of complications shortly after the surgery. Chad survived, and the sacrificial loss of his brother brought his family of committed Christian’s even closer to God. SACRIFICIAL LOVE!
Extravagant, faithful, sacrificial love. We’ve seen it in Hosea with Gomer, God with Israel, the Four Chaplains with soldiers, and Ryan with Chad. Total, Life-giving commitment on behalf of someone else.
God yearns for your total commitment to Him so He can reveal His extravagant, faithful, sacrificial LOVE to you. God’s ultimate example of LOVE is Jesus Christ. His love for you made Him become the sacrifice for your sin. He pursues you relentlessly because of His love. Hosea 6:3 says “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us PRESS ON to know Him.” How much is Jesus’ extravagant, faithful, sacrificial love worth to you? Is it worth enough for you to give Him your extravagant, faithful, sacrificial love today? Total commitment to Jesus no matter what. Extravagant faithful, sacrificial love. Make that commitment today.