25th August 2013

Love Story 

“The Lord said to me, ‘Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin-cakes.”
Hosea 3:1 (NIV UK) 

Some of the most powerful words in the Bible are in the Old Testament prophets. Sadly, their words are often torn from their original context by modern ‘prophets’, who use them to reinforce their dire warnings about modern society. But that’s the best way to miss the real message and how that  message still applies today. 

Let me show you through the story of the prophet Hosea. God called him to warn ancient Israel to turn from their sins and return to him. He asked Hosea to make his family a living parable, to illustrate God’s feelings about his chosen people being unfaithful. He had Hosea marry Gomer, a prostitute. This by itself would have not gone un-scrutinised—because Hosea was an influential figure. Hosea and Gomer go on to have three children, but regardless, Gomer continues to live out her promiscuous lifestyle. She eventually abandons her family and, as so often happens, her promiscuity leaves her destitute, a slave at the mercy of whoever wants to use her. 

We would understand it if Hosea at this point gives up on the marriage. His wife seemed incorrigible. But God urged Hosea to find Gomer and buy her back. In ransoming this faithless and ungrateful woman from degradation, Hosea showed Gomer that he still loved and wanted her. God uses this powerful illustration to show how he felt about his chosen people and their behaviour. Consistently they had rejected and betrayed him, but still he loved them, ultimately paying the price to get them back. 

But it’s a mistake to search Hosea’s writings for clues to help us calculate the date of Jesus’ return, for example, by comparing it with the events of news today. The prophecy itself was written for ancient Israel in the 7th century BC, not for us. Still—the message of God’s unconditional faithfulness to an unfaithful people was written for all people in all times. Through Hosea and Gomer God shows that even though our love for him may be fickle and treacherous, he never stops loving us. His love is unconditional; he has paid the price to get us back, and make us his own. 

The book of Hosea actually anticipates the good news of the gospel—how in the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God has proven his unconditional and sacrificial love for us all.

Prayer
Merciful Father, we thank you for your love, your mercy, yes, even your great patience with us. Help us to show similar patience and love to equally treacherous and hateful peoples as we once were, when we encounter them, to demonstrate your love for them. In Jesus’ name we pray.
Amen
 

Study by Joseph Tkach

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joeandtammyAbout the Author:
Joseph Tkach is the President of Grace Communion International (the Denominational name of The Worldwide Church of God UK), and resides in California, USA.

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