God's Enduring and
Pastor Arn Buck
Heart Song Worship Center
Ephesians 3:17-19 (NLT) Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
In order to be what God wants us to be, it is important that we see ourselves through His eyes of love. This can only be done by having some comprehension of how great God's loves is. We must also know that we are truly objects of His affection. If we are honest with ourselves this is hard to accept this because in our eyes, we are unworthy of such wonderful love. It is even harder for someone who has been psychologically conditioned to believe that they are unlovable. These are typically people who have been physically or mentally abused. The same might be true for some who have led very sinful lives. They have trouble believing that they can be forgiven for what they did. Yet they know that forgiveness is a prerequisite for a loving relationship.
Neither of these conditions are obstacles from God's point of view. God's love endures and restores. He created us to be objects of His love. An example of this can be found in the first three chapters of Hosea.
Passion in Prophetic Delivery
Hosea's calling was not easy. God's love, faithfulness, and inherent goodness had to be very real to him in order to walk the path that God set him on. In chapter one God calls Hosea to warn Israel of His impending judgment against them.
Hosea 1:2-3a (NLT) 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 worshiping other gods." So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim,
Prophets serve as an intermediary between God and man. They are chosen by God to make His heart and His will known to others. Quite often it is to those who have turned a deaf ear to Him. Because of it typical ramifications I would imagine God would normally want the delivery of His message to be as clear and persuasive as possible. Affective communication is more than just the words that are spoken. The tone of voice, the body language, and the facial expressions all convey meaning.
In this case Hosea's marriage to a prostitute not only served as an appropriate illustration to Israel, the experience put passion into Hosea's words. It enabled him to better convey the pain and disappointment that God felt in His dealings with Israel. People can sense sincerity and passion. I strongly believe that it is important in all we do in His service. Hosea's case is quite extreme.
Israel was God's chosen nation. He had loved them and provided for them. He had been faithful to them as a good husband. He had done all that was possible to earn their love and fidelity. Yet they, like spiritual prostitutes turned, from their loving God and gave their worship and sacrifices to man-made images. Gomer represented those who committed spiritual fornication against God. There is a good chance that Gomer, in real life, was an idolatress who had worshipped the calves of Jerboam.
Gomer bore three children. God had the first named Jezreel which means God scatters. It warned of the Assyrian defeat of Israel and the their exile to Assyria. The Holy God of Abraham, Issac, and Jacob had to judge His people for their flagrant disobedience and acts of idolatry.
2 Kings 17:18 (NLT) Because the LORD was very angry with Israel, he swept them away from his presence. Only the tribe of Judah remained in the land.
They were warned of this by Moses before they entered the Promised Land.
Deuteronomy 6:14-15 (NLT) You must not worship any of the gods of neighboring nations, for the LORD your God, who lives among you, is a jealous God. His anger will flare up against you, and he will wipe you from the face of the earth.
Gomer then had a daughter. God had her named Lo-Ruhamah to signify that He was no longer having mercy upon the house of Israel. The third baby was another boy. He was named Lo-Ammi indicating a break in the covenant relationship between God and Israel.
These acts of judgment must have been painful to God. He had showered them with His love yet they of their own free will turned their backs on Him. He as a Holy and righteous God must judge un-repented sin. Keep in mind that God is always quick to forgive and slow to judge. His enduring love held back His punishment of Israel for centuries. His hesitance to judge Judah was noticed by the prophet Habakkuk.
Habakkuk 1:2-4 (NLT) How long, O LORD, must I call for help? But you do not listen! Violence is everywhere!" I cry, but you do not come to save. Must I forever see these evil deeds? Why must I watch all this misery? Wherever I look, I see destruction and violence. I am surrounded by people who love to argue and fight. The law has become paralyzed, and there is no justice in the courts. The wicked far outnumber the righteous, so that justice has become perverted.
The Unfaithful Wife
In Hosea 2:2-13 God brings charges against Israel as an unfaithful wife. A representative sampling of these charges are shown in the following verses from that passage. Notice that verse 8 describes bountiful gifts from God that were used to glorify Baal and dishonor God.
Hosea 2:2 (NLT) "But now bring charges against Israel-your mother- for she is no longer my wife, and I am no longer her husband.
Hosea 2:4-5 (NLT) And 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.
Hosea 2:8 (NLT) She doesn't realize it was I who gave her everything she has- the grain, the new wine, the olive oil, I even gave her silver and gold. But she gave all my gifts to Baal.
Hosea 2:13 (NLT) I will punish her for all those times when she burned incense to her images of Baal, when she put on her earring and jewels and went out to look for her lovers but forgot all about me," says the LORD.
The Healing Power of God's Enduring Love
After announcing punishment in verse 13 God immediately speaks of restoration in verse 14. Notice that there is nothing that the wife does to encourage God's action. "She does not repent or ask forgiveness. It clearly shows how God's love for us is not conditional on our love for Him. The Apostle John describes this is 1 John 4:10.
1 John 4:10 (NLT) This is real love-not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins.
In verse Hosea 2:7 His wife does express a desire to return but it is not out of renewed love or repentance. After losing all her other lovers she realizes that life with her husband was better than her present state. His plan of restoration is described in Hosea 2:14-23. The following are a sampling of verses taken from that passage that illustrate His enduring love and forgiveness in spite of Israel's unfaithfulness.
Hosea 2:14-15a (NLT) "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.
Hosea 2:19-20 (NLT) I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the LORD.
Hosea 2:23b (NLT) I will show love to those I called 'Not loved.' And to those I called 'Not my people,' I will say, 'Now you are my people.' And they will reply, 'You are our God!'
The completeness of His restoration and the tenderness of God's love is shown in Hosea 2:16. Where he wants her to know Him in an affectionate way on more intimate terms than those found in a master/slave relationship.
Hosea 2:16 (NLT) When that day comes," says the LORD, you will call me 'my husband' instead of 'my master.'
The Discouragement of Disobedience
My Christian walk was not always consistent - especially at the beginning. Once the person who was my best friend, before I became a Christian, invited me to his birthday party. I had not seen him or his wife for quite a while because they had moved out of state about the time that I was saved. After I arrived his wife pulled me aside and said, "My husband would feel hurt if you don't smoke with us at the party." God had taken drugs away from me. Now I was faced with quite a temptation. I could take a stand and show them that I didn't need drugs because God was so good or I could be like I was before with them. Unfortunately I choose the latter.
Shortly after returning home I visited a Christian family who had a very positive influence on me. They knew that I had visited my friend - in fact they prayed with me before the trip. They prayed that I would be a good testimony to my friends and show them how Christ had changed my life for the better. This family was now treating me so nice. How could I tell them how miserably I failed? Finally the guilt and shame caused me to tell them what happened. The mother of the family told me, "We know. We could tell by the look in your eyes. We want to be an encouragement to you. You are commending enough to yourself."
They were so much like I have found God to be. God wants us to grow and mature in our relationship with Him. He doesn't want discouragement to keep us distant from Him. The more we isolate ourselves from Him and other Christians, the easier it is for the enemy to overpower us.
In chapter three God instructs Hosea to buy Gomer back and have her live in his house with him again.
Hosea 3:1-5 (NLT) 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."
God is not like people who will give the "silent" treatment to make certain that you know how much you hurt them. He will not rub past transgressions in your face. Once we sincerely repent of our sins against God, we should never feel that He is hesitant or reluctant to take us back. Such feelings are a distortion of truth. They are either self generated - based on our past experiences with people or they are a lie from the enemy designed to keep us distant from God. God loves us with the same compassion that is shown in the first three chapters of Hosea. We should rejoice in this knowledge and desire to love Him in return with sincere passion.