Today’s selected reading is found in the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea, and includes the first of the eight chapters that are found in the book. The prophetic book of Hosea is one that is incredibly interesting, for within it you find the Lord instructing the prophet Hosea to deliberately and intentionally enter into a damaging and harmful relationship. There are those who would read the first chapter of this book and who would find it absolutely insane to willingly and voluntarily engage in a relationship that had the potential to cause so much heartache and pain. There are very few of us who would willingly, deliberately and intentionally engage and enter into a relationship knowing in advance that that person was going to inflict countless hurts, wounds and bruises upon our hearts and souls. How many times do we deliberately and intentionally abstain and refrain from entertaining and engaging in relationships we know and recognize are going to be damaging—damaging to our self-esteem, damaging to our emotions, damaging to our heart, damaging to our soul, damaging to our perception of ourselves and even others? The Old Testament book of Hosea is one that is very difficult for many to swallow, for many find it absolutely unheard of and unfounded that the Lord would instruct Hosea to not only enter into and engage himself in an unhealthy and damaging relationship, but to engage in such a relationship that had the commitment and bond of marriage attached to it. There are very few among us who would deliberately and intentionally seek our relationships that would damage, hurt and wound our hearts, for we would rather guard our hearts and keep them safe from any type of hurt, pain, bruises and wounds.
Think about what great lengths and great measures you take in order to safeguard and protect your heart, and what type of individuals who deliberately and intentionally keep your distance from knowing that if you allow them to get too close, they have the potential to cause much heartache, sorrow, pain and agony. The prophet Hosea was not merely instructed to enter into such a relationship, but he was instructed by the Lord to enter into and engage himself in a covenant relationship with a woman of unbridled lust and fornication within her heart. The Lord instructed the prophet Hosea to take for himself a woman of harlotry as a wife, and to enter into a covenant of marriage that could not be annulled or broken. How absolutely incredible it is that the Lord didn’t merely instruct Hosea to engage himself in a relationship that could potentially damage him, but the Lord instructed him to define such a relationship under the banner of covenant. “HOSEA, GO AND COVENANT YOURSELF TO A WOMAN WHO MAY VERY WELL BREAK YOUR HEART. HOSEA, GO AND COVENANT YOURSELF TO A WOMAN WHO WILL MOST LIKELY BETRAY YOU! GO AND COVENANT YOURSELF TO A WOMAN WHO WILL INFLICT MUCH HEARTACHE AND PAIN WITHIN YOUR HEART, AND WILL CAUSE YOU TO EXPERIENCE PAIN ON LEVELS YOU HAVE NEVER EXPERIENCED BEFORE. HOSEA, GO AND PLACE YOURSELF IN A POSITION WHERE YOU ARE EXPOSED AND VULNERABLE TO BETRAYAL, TO HEARTACHE, TO PAIN, TO SUFFERING, AND TO EXCRUCIATING AMOUNTS OF PAIN SUCH AS YOU HAVE NEVER KNOWN OR EXPERIENCED.” When I read the prophetic book of Hosea, I am utterly and completely amazed at the fact that the Lord didn’t merely instruct the prophet Hosea to engage himself in a potentially damaging and catastrophic relationship, but to join himself in covenant to that person.
The Lord deliberately and intentionally subjected the prophet Hosea to pain and heartache that it takes men and women who experience it years upon years to deal with—and even that after much prayer, much intercession, much counseling, many tears, many sleepless nights, and perhaps even countless hours in prayer yelling before, and maybe even yelling at God. There are men and women who experience the type of pain and betrayal Hosea experienced, and who find themselves in a place where they erect countless walls around themselves—walls around their hearts, walls around their emotions, walls around their souls, and so much more. There are men and women who find themselves unable to trust again because they have been deeply hurt and wounded by infidelity and betrayal. If there is one thing we can all agree on, it’s that those who are closest to us are often the ones who can hurt us the most. For Hosea, he found himself engaged in a relationship with one who experienced the ultimate level of intimacy and relationship him, and it was from that place of intimacy and fellowship that the knife of betrayal cut the deepest. If you read the first chapter of this book, you will find that the prophet Hosea didn’t merely take for himself a wife of harlotry, but he was instructed to have children of harlotry. In other words, the Lord wasn’t simply asking and instructing him to covenant himself with a woman of harlotry, but to enter into a level of intimacy that would produce offspring. The Lord wasn’t merely instructing Hosea to enter into a covenant relationship of marriage, but to actually engage in a much deeper level of intimacy with this woman—a level of intimacy that touched his very soul. Each time the prophet Hosea engaged in sexual intercourse with Gomer, a part of his heart and soul became connected and attached to her. The Lord didn’t merely instruct Hosea to engage himself a relationship that had a high probability of causing him tremendous hurt and pain, but to engage in a level of intimacy that went much deeper than merely being in a relationship with her.
Oh, think about how many times you have entered into a relationship, and have allowed yourself to go deeper, and become more intimate with another, and have found yourself giving a part of you to that individual the longer the relationship progressed. Hosea was instructed by the Lord to make himself vulnerable in this relationship, and even to let his guard down, for you do not engage in sexual intercourse and intimacy without allowing yourself to be unguarded and vulnerable. Scripture records at least three distinct acts of sexual activity that took place between Hosea and Gomer, for she conceived three times and brought forth two sons and one daughter. Oh, consider how this scenario would have played out in our modern context, and this family could have been considered severely dysfunctional in the eyes of many. Here you have a man who enters into a covenant relationship of marriage with a woman of promiscuity and unfaithfulness, and as their marriage progressed, they brought forth three children. The Lord clearly defines the terms of this relationship as Hosea’s taking for himself a wife of harlotry, and to have children of harlotry. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like for these three children to grow up in this household. What was it like for these children to grow up in a house where the father served before the Lord as a prophet, yet their mother was a promiscuous and adulterous whore? There are many of us who would see such a family enter into our sanctuary and house of worship, and would immediately judge and criticize such a family. We wouldn’t have just judged and criticized the husband—we would have criticized the wife and children as well.
Hosea was instructed by the Lord to thrust himself headlong into a relationship where hurt and betrayal would be the norm, and where dysfunction would be a consistent way of living for them. Here was a prophet of the Lord being married to a woman of harlotry, and attempting to raise three children in such an environment. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what the home life was like for Hosea, Gomer, and their three children. What was Hosea’s relationship Gomer both publicly and privately? What was Hosea’s relationship with his children like at home, and even out in public? What was the relationship like between these three children and their promiscuous and adulterous mother? THE WHORE AND THE PROPHET! These words almost sound like the title of a national and New York Times best seller. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it would have been like for Hosea and Gomer and their three children to enter into many of our church services today. How many of us would have judged Hosea for even being involved with such a woman as Gomer? How many of us would have attempted to counsel Hosea against such an action before he committed himself in marriage to her. Oh, I would love to have seen what premarital counseling would have been like for Hosea and Gomer, and what the diagnosis and opinion would have been concerning them. It’s absolutely incredible that it was the Lord Himself who instructed the prophet Hosea to put himself in a position where he was vulnerable and susceptible to hurt and betrayal. Oh, there are very few of us who would willingly and deliberately engage ourselves in such a damaging relationship, and we would have worked extra hard and careful to ensure that such a person was never allowed to be close to us. Hosea, however, had received a command from the mouth of the Lord, and was to take for himself a wife of harlotry—a wife of harlotry, infidelity and promiscuity. Very few of us would deliberately place ourselves in a place where we could experience such deep wounds, such deep hurt, and such deep pain, but Hosea was instructed by the Lord to do so.
As the prophetic saga of Hosea continues, you will find that Gomer had actually walked out on and practically abandoned him and their three children. Consider the reality that not only did these children have an adulterous and promiscuous woman as their mother, but they also experienced their mother walking out on, walking away from, and abandoning them. I can’t help but wonder if Gomer had left the house during the evening on countless occasions, and didn’t return until the following day. At what point did it become understood where she went and what she was doing. Imagine these children growing up in a divided home with divided parents—at least in the sense that their mother might have spent more time outside of and away from the home than she did within it. At one point, you even get the sense and impression that Hosea became a single parent, for Gomer had not only walked out on and away from them, but had actually become enslaved and captive because of her actions. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what these children thought of their home life, and what they thought of their father and mother. Did these children grow up with a skewed and warped perception of their mother because of her immoral actions and atrocities committed against themselves and their father. THE PROPHET AND HIS DYSFUNCTIONAL HOUSEHOLD! THE PROPHET WHO BECAME A SINGLE DAD! What makes the account of Hosea so incredibly challenging, is that Hosea’s life and experiences were a prophetic picture and symbol of the repeated and flagrant offenses which the house of Israel had committed against the Lord. “…for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.”
The unfaithfulness and infidelity of Gomer was a powerful prophetic picture of the unfaithfulness and infidelity of the house of Israel and the land before the Lord. The symbolism is that the Lord covenanted Himself to a people who would hurt, betray and wound Him deeply. The Lord engaged in intimacy and fellowship with a people who repeatedly commit acts of immorality before Him. The house of Israel continually and repeatedly committed flagrant acts of rebellion and adultery before the Lord in the land, and the Lord used Hosea and Gomer to display such a reality before the people. When Jesus the Christ walked upon the earth and spoke of turning the other cheek and allowing yourself to be struck again, He understood that reality personally, for He saw what the house of Israel did before the Father, and He knew how His own cheek would be struck. Oh, when I read the prophetic book of Hosea, I can’t help but see a powerful reality that is before us as the people of God—the reality that we cannot close ourselves off just because we are afraid of somehow being hurt and betrayed by others. Far too often we remain guarded and isolated from others because we are afraid of entrusting ourselves to others who may very well hurt and betray us. One of the most powerful realities about Hosea and Gomer, is that despite Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea, Hosea didn’t have to deal with such betrayal and offense, and then bring that into a new relationship. The Lord didn’t instruct Hosea to take for himself a wife of harlotry, and once she hurt and betrayed him, he could abandon and walk away from her. Consider the tremendous amount of baggage Hosea could and would have carried with him into the relationship if he had taken another woman as his wife—perhaps even a woman who would remain faithful and committed to him. In fact, there would come a point when the Lord would instruct Hosea to go back and commit himself to her again.
Hosea was instructed not to abandon, neglect or forsake Gomer—despite the tremendous hurt and pain she caused him—but was instructed to return to her, and to take her again to himself. Oh, far too many times we walk away from people the minute we experience hurt and betrayal. Far too many times we tend to immediately write off those who have hurt us, and walk away from them never to look back. Oh, I would dare say that there are times when such actions can do more damage and harm to us than we are even aware of. It’s absolutely amazing that the Lord didn’t allow Hosea to walk through the rest of his life with baggage, for the process of redemption which he engaged in when buying Gomer back suggested that he would forgive her of her indecencies and indiscretions, and would choose to move forward. Such a reality may be hard for us to understand, yet consider what our lives would be like if the Lord walked away from and abandoned us after we betrayed and flagrantly hurt and wounded Him. Think about where we would be if the Lord had chosen to write us off because of our many infidelities and acts of immorality and idolatry before Him. I am convinced that many of us find it far too easy to walk away from and write off others when they have hurt, wounded and betrayed us. Oh, in a culture and society when divorce is rampant, we see a powerful picture that it is not only easier, but even acceptable to walk away from those who have hurt, wounded and betrayed us. There are very few in our culture and society who are in it for the long haul, and who are willing to walk in the reality of seventy times seven. There are very few of us who are willing to turn the other cheek, and even allow ourselves to be hurt, wounded, and even betrayed again.
There are very few of us who are willing to allow ourselves to become vulnerable again after being hurt and wounded deeply by those closest to us.
Think about how many relationships have been aborted because of hurt and betrayal, and because it is easier to walk in unforgiveness, hurt, offense, and bitterness. Consider how many people would rather walk around licking their wounds which they display before others rather than allowing those wounds to be healed, and allowing themselves to trust once more. The prophet Hosea is a powerful example of redemption, forgiveness, trusting once more, and moving beyond hurt and pain in order to experience restoration to the woman who was covenanted to him in marriage. Oh that we as the people of God would learn to walk in the reality where we are unafraid to trust once more, and unafraid to love again—even after we have been deeply hurt and wounded. There are countless men and women who are unwilling to step foot into a church because they experienced hurt and pain in the midst of a church they previously attended. There are countless men and women who deliberately choose to walk away from relationships because the hurt and pain they experienced is too great for them to bear. IT’s almost as if we are declaring to the Lord that He is unable to heal our wounds, our hurts and our pain, and is unable to bring us to the place of forgiveness and wholeness once more. Oh that we would read the prophetic book of Hosea and that we would understand the tremendous call to learn to live again, to learn to love again, to learn to trust again. Oh that we would understand the power of redemption and forgiveness in our lives—in our homes, in our families, in our marriages, in our relationships, in our churches, and in our workplaces. Let us take and learn from the prophetic book of Hosea, and let us understand the powerful call to trust the Lord with our hurts, our wounds, our bruises, our scars, our pain, our unforgiveness, our offenses, our bitterness, and anything else we may be harboring, and that we would allow the Lord to not only take and remove that which doesn’t belong there, but would provide the healing and wholeness that is necessary. Let us walk in the type of reality where we cannot and will not walk away from relationships simply because we have been hurt, wounded, betrayed, offended, and the like. Let us truly understand the power of grace which we ourselves have received, and which so many desperately need to experience. Consider what would happen if we learned to walk in grace, and we displayed grace to others—even when we feel they don’t deserve it. Oh that we would learn to walk in mercy and grace, and that we would provide mercy—the deliberate choice not to give to others what we feel they might deserve—and grace—the giving to others that which we may feel they don’t deserve. Let us learn to love again, to trust again, to forgive again, to live again, and to enjoy relationships once more.
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