Divorce and Reconciliation, part 2

Posted: April 20, 2017 in Hosea, Uncategorized

Hosea 2:14 – 3:5, “Divorce and Reconciliation, part 2”

Some stories have happy endings.  It is always difficult to hear of marriages that have fallen on tough times – even times of crisis to where no happy ending seems possible.  Some marriages are so badly broken that it may seem that all hope is lost.  Here’s the good news: when two people are humbly submitted to the Lord Jesus, there is always hope!  God’s desire is always for reconciliation and restoration.  After all, our God is in the business of bringing dead things back to life, and that applies to dead marriages just as much as anything else.

That isn’t only true among human relationships – the same thing applies to our relationship with God.  What seems to be dead can have new life breathed into it through humble repentance and faith.  When God seems far away, we find that it is we who have left Him & all we need to do is turn around & He will be right there.  All it takes is a heart submitted to Jesus, and we find that He restores.  Of course the key is that we actually do humble ourselves and submit ourselves to Him in faith – but all of that is a response to the work that Jesus has already done.  We’re simply able to receive of His work when we submit ourselves to Him.  He isn’t holding it back from us…on the contrary, it is what He has desired for us the whole time.

What is true on a personal level in the New Covenant is true on a national level between God and Israel in the Old Covenant.  The nation had sinned against Him, and God was ready to fully divorce Himself from them.  But that wasn’t His desire.  His desire was for Israel’s repentance & restoration.  He wanted His people to be reconciled to Him in a right relationship.  Would it happen?  Yes…eventually.  The nation would be humbled (even humiliated) as it experienced the full consequences of its sins against God – but eventually there would be a turning point.  At some point, the people would humble themselves in true faith & be restored in a right relationship to God, with Israel as the wife and God the Father as her husband.  It would take time, but it would indeed happen.

This is the story behind the prophetic book of Hosea.  What God desired to do among the nation of Israel was exampled in the personal life of this prophet.  Like God Himself, Hosea loved a wayward wife – one prone to promiscuity and adultery.  There were consequences that came with that, but there was also a promise of redemption, reconciliation, and restoration.  Hosea acted sacrificially towards the woman who had sinned against him, all in hopes of a future restoration – just like God sacrificially loved the people He called as His own.

Remember that Hosea (whose name means “Salvation”) was a prophet to the northern kingdom of Israel/Samaria in the latter days of its independence.  The northern kingdom had been immersed in idolatry since its very beginning.  Some kings may have been worse than others – but all of them had followed in the footsteps of Jeroboam I and continued a corrupted form of Hebrew worship, centered around some golden calves & other idols.  God had been patient with the nation, but it was about to run out.  Assyria would soon come in conquest and the nation would be overrun – the last vestiges of Israelite culture being (literally) bred out of them.  Soon, no longer would the people of the north be known as Israelites, but as Samaritans – barely resembling any of the original 10 tribes of Israel who had settled there.

In symbolism of this, God commissioned the prophet Hosea to marry a woman (Gomer) prone to promiscuity, who bore three children, of whom God Himself gave symbolic names.  First was the son Jezreel, named after a bloody field where a man had been murdered & his murder avenged on the evil king & queen (Ahab & Jezebel) who had carried it out.  Literally, Jezreel means “God sows / makes fertile” – an idea that didn’t make too much sense in 1:4, but is something that the Lord will come back to in later prophecy.

Second was the daughter Lo-Ruhamah, literally meaning “No mercy / Not shown mercy-compassion.”  Here, the meaning was clearer in that God declared that He would no longer have mercy upon Israel (1:6).  Though God would preserve the southern kingdom of Judah for a time, the northern kingdom would be taken away in warfare.

Third (and last) was the son Lo-Ammi, literally meaning “Not my people.”  The northern kingdom had completely broken covenant with God, and thus God removed His covenant from them.  They even lost the right to call Him by His covenant name “I AM.”

After listing the children (and their terrible names!), God gave a wonderful promise – the first of many, in what would be a cycle of judgment-to-mercy: there would be restoration!  Already in 1:10-11, there is a promise of a repopulated land united as a single kingdom & known as the sons of the Living God.  One day, there would be mercy shown to this people (God’s people) – and just the fact that a promise was given to them was an act of mercy in itself.

As chapter 2 began, the focus moved away from the children & back to the adulterous wife, Gomer.  She was analogous to Israel, who behaved like a promiscuous harlot.  God made it clear that He views idolatry as spiritual adultery, and Israel had engaged in it non-stop.  She looked to other gods (lovers) for her provision, and God declared that He would hedge her in.  He would make things so desolate for her that eventually she would come to her senses and long for her former relationship with God.  But it wouldn’t come easy.  Everything would be destroyed & lost.  She had forgotten her Lord and sought the Baals, and it would only be through terrible trial that she would finally learn the futility of idolatry.  If God is not the object of our worship, our worship is vanity.  He is not to be forgotten; He is to be feared and loved.

That’s where we pick up in Chapter 2.  In the latest cycle of judgment-to-mercy, the first half of Chapter 2 is all about judgment; now the tone turns to mercy.  Israel had forgotten God, but God had never forgotten Israel.  He would woo her back, and she would be gloriously restored to Him.  He loves His people, and He will do what it takes to bring them back into a right relationship with Him.

  • Covenant Restored (2:14-23)

14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. 15 I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.

  • This is a marvelous change from vss. 12-13!  Israel had abandoned God, but God would “allure her” back.  To get the full idea, it’s best to read the verses back-to-back: Hosea 2:12–15, “(12) “And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, Of which she has said, ‘These are my wages that my lovers have given me.’ So I will make them a forest, And the beasts of the field shall eat them. (13) I will punish her For the days of the Baals to which she burned incense. She decked herself with her earrings and jewelry, And went after her lovers; But Me she forgot,” says the LORD. (14) “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. (15) I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt.”  Because of her sin, Israel would experience vast destruction.  Because of God’s mercy & grace, Israel would receive incredible restoration & blessing.  The vineyards which had been trampled would be rebuilt.  The field of judgment would be a “door of hope.”  The nation who had forgotten her God would remember God in songs of praise.  It is a total reversal.  Everything that was lost will be regained.  Everything that seemed dead would be made alive.
    • This is the hope that we have in the gospel of Jesus: He brings dead things to life.  We were dead in our trespasses & sins, and we are given spiritual life in His name.  We were estranged from God, at enmity against Him – now we are His children, with the right to call Him our Father.  We were previously recipients of His wrath – now we are co-heirs with Christ.  In Jesus, there is a total reversal of what we were before.  In Jesus, we have life!
    • Likewise with the people of Israel.  They have the promise of life and restoration through the grace of God – which is only given through Christ Jesus.  Right now, they do not experience this because they do not recognize Jesus as Messiah.  But that will not always be the case.  One day, the scales will come off their eyes – their hardened hearts will be softened – they will know Jesus to be Lord, the Son of Man / Son of God…and that is when they will experience this blessing & reversal.  How do we know it to be true? Because God promised it!  Should we start doubting the promises God made to Israel, how can we trust any promises He made to us?  God’s word must be true to Israel, which means that one day they too will experience a grand restoration & be bathed in the life of Christ.
  • How will it happen?  God “will allure her.”  He will persuade her, entice her – woo her, as a young man might court a young woman.  God will not forcibly make Israel come to joyous faith – this is something she will reach on her own.  Does He know she will do it?  Yes.  Is it in God’s sovereign will that she does?  Yes.  Is it conceivably possible that she will not?  No, for it has already been prophesied that she will.  But this is still the free choice of Israel.  She will willingly come to faith as she is persuaded & allured by God.
    • This is the same way each of us comes to faith in Jesus Christ.  Does God know which individuals among all humanity will be saved through Jesus?  Yes.  As Paul wrote to the Romans, “For whom He foreknew, He also predestined…” (Rom 8:29)  God’s knowledge is definitely involved.  Is it only His knowledge?  No.  It was the sovereign choice of God.  Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world…” (Eph 1:4)  How do these things work together?  Through His loving persuasion.  God has chosen us, and takes the initiative in bringing us to faith in Christ.  Yet He never forces us to believe – He woos us, loves us, persuades us to the point that we want to believe, and thus we do.  God freely loves us through Jesus, and we freely respond in faith.
    • Question: If that’s the case, what doesn’t everyone come to faith?  Good question, and one deserving of more time.  Because men & women freely choose, it means we have the ability to freely choose sin.  After all, that’s our natural bent.  We were born into sin with a sinful nature.  That’s what we naturally do.  We are radically depraved people apart from Jesus.  But His offer to save is there.  He has done all of the work for it to be possible.  But someone can say “no”…and sadly, many multitudes do.  The bottom line is that if we aren’t saved, the fault is ours; not God’s.  God wants us to be saved, and lovingly woos us into a relationship with Jesus.
  • FYI – the “Valley of Achor” reference is interesting in that this was originally a place of judgment.  When the children of Israel first entered the Promised Land during the Conquest, God instructed the nation (through Joshua) that the first city of Jericho was to be completely destroyed.  Not a single piece of spoil should be taken from it, as it all belonged to the Lord.  Yet one man (Achan) disobeyed, and because of it, Israel experienced a crushing loss at the next town of Ai.  Under examination, Achan confessed & he & those who participated with him were stoned to death – after which “the LORD turned from the fierceness of His anger.” (John 7:26)  From then on, that place was called the “Valley of Achor,” or “Valley of Trouble.”  Thus to Hosea, God tells them that the place of trouble changes into a door of hope.  Once God’s anger is done, the people of Israel will once more place their hope in the Lord.
  • When that happens, there will be singing!  The nation will praise God as they once did centuries before.  They sang praises to God when they received their freedom from Egyptian slavery, and they will do it again when they finally worship God in spirit and truth.  It will be a day of joy & praise…and it’s something we as the Church will be able to witness for ourselves!
    • Of course, what Israel looks forward to is something we enjoy right now.  We already sing praises to God because He has turned His wrath away from us because of Jesus… …
  • To what extent will this restoration be?  Vs. 16…

16 “And it shall be, in that day,” Says the LORD, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ 17 For I will take from her mouth the names of the Baals, And they shall be remembered by their name no more.

  • Once more, it’s difficult to understand how good this is apart from the previous judgment.  Hosea 2:2–3, “(2) “Bring charges against your mother, bring charges; For she is not My wife, nor am I her Husband! Let her put away her harlotries from her sight, And her adulteries from between her breasts; (3) Lest I strip her naked And expose her, as in the day she was born, And make her like a wilderness, And set her like a dry land, And slay her with thirst.”  Previously, God declared His divorce from Israel!  He went through one of the few things that He outright declares that He hates (Mal 2:16), because of the spiritual adulteries of Israel.  Israel had so badly broken her covenant with God, that God could no longer be joined with her.  She was put aside, cast out, estranged & divorced from her holy Husband and God.  But now?  Now there was reconciliation & restoration!  Now there was revival!  A marriage that was dead in divorce is once more vibrant & alive.  In that day, when Israel comes to faith, she will once more see God as her “Husband” – the one God & spouse that has her undivided attention forever.
    • As we think of God’s desired (and future) relationship with Israel, we cannot help but think upon our own relationship with Christ Jesus.  What the Father has with Israel, the Son has with the Church.  We are the Bride of Jesus.  Our corporate covenant relationship with Jesus is so strong, that the only earthly description that comes close is that of marriage between husband and wife.  In fact, earthly marriage is intended to be a picture of the relationship between Jesus and the Church. (Eph 5:32)  Husbands are to love their wives to the extent that Jesus loves us: sacrificially serving them in every possible way.  Likewise, wives are supposed to love and submit to their husbands, because that is the role of the Church with our Lord Jesus.  Just as the relationship between Jesus and Church lasts forever, so should be the relationship between husband and wife.
    • Beyond the illustration of earthly marriage is the reality of the marriage between Jesus and the Church.  This makes many people uncomfortable (especially men), but for all the wrong reasons.  When we equate marriage to sexual intimacy, we’re missing the main point of marriage.  Yes, that intimacy does (and should) take place within the loving boundaries of marriage – but that isn’t all a marriage is.  Intimacy in marriage goes well beyond the child-bearing years…well beyond years of physical capability.  Intimacy in marriage is supposed to grow sweeter and sweeter as time goes on, even as our ages advance.  So it is with the marriage between Jesus and the Church.  Our closeness and intimacy with our Lord isn’t physical; it’s spiritual – and it will just get better & better as eons progress into eternity.
  • As for Israel, God’s promise to them is that one day they will see Him as their spiritual Husband.  That will be His name for them, instead of “Master.”  They will be His spouse; not His slave.  Actually, the Hebrew shows it to be even better than what is implied by the English.  The word for “Master” is the same word as the false gods mentioned in vs. 17, the “Baals.”  Basically, the promise is that Israel will no longer call God “Baal,” but He will take out any mention of the many “Baals” from Israel’s mouth & mind.  Once, they had sought after the false Baals, while they forgot God.  In the future, they will know God better than any Baal, and it will be the false gods that are forgotten.  Their pagan idolatry will be a distant memory, and it will be glorious!
    • How we long for the day when even the temptation to sin will be a distant memory!  Thankfully, we have that promise.  Right now we are free from the punishment of our sin, and we are free from the power of sin over our lives…but we are not yet free from its presence.  It still hangs around us, and we are continually enticed by it, fighting a spiritual war every time it comes to mind.  But it won’t be that way forever!  One day, we will be in the presence of our Lord Jesus, and the past temptations of this world will be long forgotten.  One day we will stand totally glorified in the presence of our glorious God!
  • That particular day of faith for Israel is something they will experience on this earth – something affirmed in vs. 18…

18 In that day I will make a covenant for them With the beasts of the field, With the birds of the air, And with the creeping things of the ground. Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth, To make them lie down safely. 19 “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; 20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.

  • In case there were any doubts, God makes it clear that the national covenant with Israel will be restored.  What is so striking about the promises here is how physical they are.  God gives very specific statements about the animals in the land in addition to protection on the battlefield.  These are not things easy to “spiritualize” away, as somehow belonging to the Church as a replacement for Israel.  The text simply doesn’t allow for that.  A plain reading of the prophecy leads to an interpretation of a literal kingdom of Israel dwelling peaceably in the land promised them by God, protected and beloved by God in right relationship with them.  IOW, this points to the Millennial Kingdom.  This is the time instituted by Jesus upon His return to earth at the end of the Great Tribulation.  He will set up a literal kingdom upon earth, during which all of the yet-to-be fulfilled promises of God to Israel will finally be fulfilled…this being one of them.
    • Question: Why can’t this be a spiritual promise to the Church?  Because frankly, that isn’t what the text says.  If we are going to be consistent in our Biblical interpretation, then a spiritualized meaning of the Church here means that all of the texts referring to punishment need to be put on the Church as well.  If the kingdom of Israel was literally punished (and they were), then it only stands that the kingdom of Israel will be literally blessed (and they will be).
    • Keep in mind that future promises to Israel take nothing away from Jesus’ relationship to us as the Church.  We do not lose anything if/when Israel finally comes to faith (as promised in the Scripture).  It does not affect our salvation, our current filling with the Spirit, our eternal promises in heaven, etc.  We have enough promises in the Bible that are clearly given to the Church that we don’t have to take away promises from Israel to put on ourselves.  Of course there may be parallels and applications for us as the Church today, but we need to be careful to keep our Biblical interpretation limited to what is actually stated on the page.  If it is to Israel, we need to primarily keep it for Israel.
  • And the promise for Israel is one of betrothal.  Three times in two verses God declares how Israel will be betrothed to Him.  Again, let there be no doubt that God’s desire is for His marriage to Israel to be restored!  Yes, Israel was flagrantly unfaithful – yes, they had broken their marriage covenant – yes, God had even declared His divorce from her…but it wouldn’t last.  What would last is God’s loving wedded relationship to Israel.  The bride-price would be paid for His people, and they will belong to God forever & ever!  Finally, they will know Him in spirit & truth.  Finally, they will know Him in the various aspects of His character.  They will personally experience His “righteousness and justice…lovingkindness and mercy…faithfulness.”  They will know God for who He is, and who He has always been.  They will know the “Lord.
  • Please do not miss the use of God’s covenant name!  Remember, Israel had lost the privilege of His divine name.  Because of their sin, they lost the right to be known as His people, and they would not know Him as “I AM.”  But in the future, they will!  In the future, they will come to faith in the Living God as God, and they will know Him in eternal covenant relationship.  What God had always desired for Israel will finally be experienced by them, and they will know the LORD as Lord.
    • Aren’t God’s mercies amazing?  Aren’t His promises incredible?  This is what He desires for His people, and this is what He has always desired for them.  God doesn’t want them to die in unbelief.  God doesn’t want anyone to die in unbelief, separated from Him.  What is God’s desire?  He wants people to be saved!  1 Timothy 2:3–4, “(3) For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, (4) who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.”  That’s God’s desire for the world!  He wants men & women, Jews & Gentiles, rich & poor, all people everywhere to be saved.  He wants us to know Him as the I AM, the LORD.  He wants us to know Him as our Heavenly Father.
    • And it’s only possible when we know Jesus as His Son.  Only when we see Jesus as God Incarnate – the eternal Son of God who sacrificed Himself for mankind & rose from the dead in victory…that is when we know God as God.  And this is why the Jews do not yet know Him: they do not yet know Jesus.  But they will!  One day, the blindness will be removed from Israel, and all Israel will be saved. (Rom 11:25-26).
      • Has the blindness been removed from your eyes?  Do you know Jesus as the LORD?
  • So what will happen when that marriage relationship is restored?  Everything that was lost will be renewed.  Vs. 21…

21 “It shall come to pass in that day That I will answer,” says the LORD; “I will answer the heavens, And they shall answer the earth. 22 The earth shall answer With grain, With new wine, And with oil; They shall answer Jezreel.

  • Once more, there is a promise of physical blessing.  Before, it was protection from wild beasts and enemy nations.  This time, it is provision…specifically that of rain to water the Israelite crops of wheat, grapes, and olives (the crops used to produce grain, wine, and oil).  Recall that this was what Israel sought from her pagan gods (2:5), giving credit to the idols even though it was the Lord God that actually provided those things (2:8).  Thereby, God took them away as He punished Israel to bring her to a place of repentance.  Eventually, that true repentance will come, Israel is restored to the land, and all of the covenant blessings promised to Israel will be given to her.  And these are not random blessings; these are specifically promised to Israel through Moses when the nation is in a right relationship with the Lord.  Deuteronomy 28:11–12, “(11) And the LORD will grant you plenty of goods, in the fruit of your body, in the increase of your livestock, and in the produce of your ground, in the land of which the LORD swore to your fathers to give you. (12) The LORD will open to you His good treasure, the heavens, to give the rain to your land in its season, and to bless all the work of your hand. You shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow.”  In fact, all of Deuteronomy 28:1-14 speaks of the specific physical blessings that the Lord God promised to Israel when they were in a right relationship with Him.  Rain was only part of the picture, though an important one.
    • The point?  God is good to His word!  Israel may have neglected their covenant with God for centuries, but God does not forget His promises.  A covenant with God is eternal, and God will prove to be faithful even when people have long forgotten Him.  Just as God was faithful to deal out His discipline according to His covenant promise, so will He be faithful to bless Israel according to that same promise.
  • Note the earth’s answer back to the Lord in response to all this rain & agricultural blessing: “Jezreel.”  If that sounds familiar, it should: it is the name of Hosea’s firstborn son.  Remember that “Jezreel” was not only the name of a place of bloodshed & judgment, but it is a word that can be translated “God sows.”  Here, the earth has been seeded & watered for the blessing of His covenant people Israel, and all of the previous curses upon the nation start to be reversed.  Vs. 23…

23 Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ”

  • This is nothing less than complete restoration!  Once more, all three names of Hosea’s children are used in regards to Israel.  This time it is not for judgment, but for blessing.
    • Child #1: Jezreel, “God sows.”  God sows not just the physical land in order to bless His people with crops, but He sows the nation itself.  Israel’s population will once more grow to the point that they cannot be numbered.
    • Child #2: Lo-Ruhummah, “No mercy / Not shown mercy.”  The motherly love & compassion that was once held back from Israel is now lavished upon her.  Israel will receive the mercy that God had always desired to give her – not as something earned, but as the loving gift of God.
    • Child #3: Lo-Ammi, “Not my people.” The nation that had been cast off by God would once again be claimed by God as His own.  They will belong to Him in eternal covenant relationship, and this relationship will go two ways.  Not only will God see them as His people, but they will know Him as their God.
  • Praise God for His promise of restoration!  Praise God for His grace!  This is His promise to Israel – one day they will know Him as the Lord!  In the meantime, these are promises that we ourselves enjoy as the Church.  Today, WE are the people of God – WE are the ones who have received mercy & the ones who have been sown and placed throughout the earth as a witness unto the Lord Jesus.  In fact, both Paul & Peter call upon this verse in relating God’s blessing upon the New Testament church.  Paul actually quotes this in Romans 9:25-26 speaking of how God calls both Jews and Gentiles to be saved (going on to specifically affirm how a remnant still exists in Israel, Rom 9:27-28).  Peter paraphrases a bit, attributing it all to the Church: 1 Peter 2:9–10, “(9) But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; (10) who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”  Does this mean these promises no longer exist for Israel?  No.  The original context is plainly & clearly for national Israel.  What it does mean is that while Israel waits for the promise, this is something we enjoy now.  Again, WE are the people of God, privileged to be called by His name & to serve as His witnesses in the world today.  This is our blessing & our responsibility.  We are the recipients of God’s mercy, so we are to proclaim those same mercies to all the world (including to Israel) through the gospel of Jesus Christ.

At this point, there is a solid break in the prophecies.  Chapter 3 continues with the personal life of Hosea, though it will be the final chapter to do so.  It also gives one more cycle of judgment-to-blessing, and it starts with God giving Hosea a very difficult command…

Hosea 3

  • Israel redeemed (1-5)

1 Then the LORD said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.”

  • The “woman” is unnamed, but it is undoubtedly Gomer, Hosea’s wife.  Though she may have been chaste prior to marriage, God had warned Hosea that she would wander, and she did.  Apparently, Gomer had long since moved out & was actively “committing adultery” with another “lover.”  God told Hosea to seek her out & to “love” her.  Keep in mind that she was currently in unrepentant sin.  She had not yet stopped her adultery, yet Hosea was to go find her and love her anyway.  God commanded the prophet to love the unlovable.
  • Why?  Because that is what He Himself was doing with Israel.  The nation of Israel had not yet repented of its adulterous sin.  At the time, the northern kingdom was worshipping “other gods,” even presenting food offerings to these idols in the form of “raisin cakes.”  This was an unrepentant idolatrous nation…and the Lord God loved them.
  • How can it be?  How can God love such an unlovable people?  How can God love a people so fiercely committed to sin & rebellion?  It is beyond our capability to say.  After all, that is what He did with us.  While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Rom 5:8)  Such is the demonstration of His love for us!  We were His enemies, and still He loved us & sent Jesus for us.  And if that weren’t enough, now that we’re saved, we still sin against God, and He still loves us!  However awful our sin may be (and it is abhorrent), it does not snuff out the love of God for us.  Nothing can separate us from His love…not even ourselves.
    • Keep in mind this doesn’t mean that God approves of our sin, or even that He ignores our sin.  Not so!  He is a holy God, and He will deal with the sin of His people.  His grace is not something to be taken lightly, nor the blood of Jesus something to trample underfoot.  But He does love us…even in spite of our sin.  He loves the unlovable, and we are them.  Praise be to God for His great love!
  • Hosea was faithful to obey…

2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man—so, too, will I be toward you.”

  • Remember that Hosea was already married to Gomer, so presumably he had already paid her dowry (bride-price).  In a real way, he is paying her dowry again…twice purchasing the right to take Gomer (this sinful adulterous woman) as his bride.  Why it was necessary is unsaid.  Some have theorized that perhaps she was serving as a temple prostitute at the time, and this was the price necessary for her freedom.  The amount of money wasn’t all that much, even if the payment method was unusual (a mix between silver & barley).  It’s estimated that the total cost to Hosea was 30 shekels, which would equal the price of a slave.  Perhaps Gomer had indebted herself in some way in the form of slavery & Hosea purchased her freedom…it’s impossible to say for sure.
    • What is clear is that Jesus paid the redemption price for us…and the price He paid is inestimable!  We were purchased with the blood of Jesus, which is priceless.  Any debt we owed towards God is covered by the blood of His Son.  Any claim we may have owed to death is covered in the death and resurrection of Jesus.  We have been purchased – we have been redeemed – we are free in the Lord Jesus, beloved by Him!
  • Along with Gomer’s freedom came certain instructions.  The days for her harlotry were past.  Hosea was committed to his wife; she needed to be committed to him as well.
    • Likewise, when Jesus calls us out of sin, we’re not to go back to it any longer.  His grace is not to be abused in this way.  It is to be cherished & valued!

4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim.

  • Here’s the parallel application to Israel.  Just as Gomer was to be without other men, so would Israel be without other leaders.  God told Hosea of a time in the future in which Israel would no longer be a kingdom, nor would they have any worship.  In other words, there was soon coming a time that nation (such as it was) would lose all of its identity.  And so it happened with the Assyrian invasion.  The kings and princes of Israel were removed, and even the pagan worship system was lost.  The northern kingdom had long mixed elements of Israelite worship with that of idolatry – apparently even that would come to an end.  This is nothing less than a prophecy of the destruction of Israel…something literally fulfilled.
  • Of course, if its destruction was fulfilled, so will its restoration.  Vs. 5…

5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.

  • At some point, everything changes.  Although for “many days” the Israelites will live without any kingdom or any unified worship, something happens to cause them to “return and seek the LORD their God.”  What might this be?  Whatever it is, it will accompany their faith in Christ.  How can we know?  Because they will not only seek God, but they will also seek “David their king.”  The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of the Davidic promises, being the Son of David.  He is coming back to rule & to reign upon the earth, and when He arrives, the nation of Israel will mourn.  They will look upon the One they had pierced, and they will grieve their previous rebellion and unbelief. (Zech 12:10)  They will see King Jesus come back in power & might, standing upon the Mount of Olives, splitting it in two. (Zech 14:4)  It’s no wonder that they will “fear the LORD” in dread & trembling!  How could they not?
  • Yet even in their (legitimate) fear, they will not be isolated from the Lord.  They will seek Him & “His goodness in the latter days.”  IOW, they will have faith – they will be in a restored relationship with Him.  It hasn’t come yet, but it is coming…of that we can be sure!

Conclusion:
Has Israel been divorced by the Lord?  Sadly, yes.  Is that divorce final? Amazingly, no!  Israel’s tragic divorce from the Lord will conclude in a happy ending: the day they all come to faith. Romans 11:25–26a, “(25) For I do not desire, brethren, that you should be ignorant of this mystery, lest you should be wise in your own opinion, that blindness in part has happened to Israel until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. (26) And so all Israel will be saved;”  God’s heart is always reconciliation, and He desires it even with His own people.  Israel deserved nothing but God’s wrath – they deserve every last bit of judgment that God could pour out upon them.  Yet they will receive His blessing.  They are the objects of God’s love.  He made them a promise, and that promise will last into eternity.

It is no different with us.  We deserve God’s wrath.  Corporately & individually, we have sinned against God in heinous ways.  Not only were we born into sin, but we gladly indulged in it when given the chance.  And we still do!  Though we may have placed our faith in Christ, we still sin against Him.  We act like Gomer, prostituting ourselves out to our former lovers when all the while we have the love of Christ available to us.

May it not be!  May we be (1) awakened to the gross nature of our sin, understanding the filth that it is, and (2) overwhelmed by the love of the Lord Jesus for us, so enamored by Him that we don’t even think of looking elsewhere.  May we rejoice in the fact that we have been made the people of God, never taking it for granted.

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