Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the Old Testament prophetic book of Hosea the son of Beeri which he saw during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam son of Joash king of Israel. More specifically, today’s passage is found in chapters seven through fourteen of this Old Testament book. “When I would have healed Israel, then the iniquity of Ephraim was discovered, and the wickedness of Samaria: For the commit falsehood; and the thief cometh in, and the troop of robbers spoileth without. And they considered not in their hearts that I remember all their wickedness: now their ow doings have beset them about; they are before my face. They make the king glad with their wickedness, and the princes with their lies. They are all adulterers, as an over heated by the baker, who ceaseth from raising after he hath kneaded the dough, until be leavened” (Hosea 7:1-4). “For they have made ready their heart like an oven, whiles they lie in wait: their baker sleepeth all the night; In the morning it burneth as a flaming fire. They are all hot as an oven, and have devoured their judges; all their kings are fallen: there is none among them that calleth unto me. Ephraim, he hath mixed himself among the people; Ephraim is a cake not turned. Strangers have devoured his strength, and he knoweth it not: yea gray hairs are here and there upon him, and yet he knoweth not. And the pride of Israel testifieth to his face: AND THEY DO NOT RETURN TO THE LORD THEIR god, nor seek him for all this” (Hosea 7:5-10). “Woe unto them! For they fled from me: Destruction unto them! Because they have transgressed against me: though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against me. And they have not cried unto me with their heart, when they howled upon their beds: they assemble themselves for corn and wine, and they rebel against me” (Hosea 7:13-14).
SET THE TRUMPET TO THY MOUTH! “He shall come as an eagle against the house of the LORD, because they have transgressed my covenant, and trespassed against me law. Israel shall cry unto me, MY God, we know thee. Israel hath cast off the thing that is good: the enemy shall pursue him. They have set up kings, but not by me: They have made princes, and I knew it not: of their silver and their gold have they made them idols, that they may be cut off. Thy calf, O Samaria, hath cast thee off; mine anger is kindled against them. How long will it be ere they attain to innocency? For from Israel was it also: the workman made it; therefore it is not God: but the calf of Samaria shall be broken in pieces. FOR THEY HAVE SOWN THE WIND, AND THEY SHALL REAP THE WHIRLWIND” (Hosea 8:4-7). “Israel is swallowed up: Now shall they be among the Gentiles as a vessel wherein is no pleasure. For they are gone up to Assyria, a wild ass alone by himself: Ephraim hath hired lovers. Yea, thou they have hired among the nations, now will I gather them, and they shall sorrow a little for the burden of the king of princes” (Hosea 8:8-10). BECAUSE EPHRAIM HATH MADE MANY ALTARS TO SIN, ALTARS SHALL BE UNTO HIM TO SIN! “I have written to him the great things of my law, but they were counted as a strange thing. They sacrifice flesh for the sacrifices of mine offerings, and eat it; but the LORD accepteth them not; now will he remember their iniquity, and visit their sins: they shall return to Egypt. FOR ISRAEL HATH FORGOTTEN HIS MAKER, AND BUILDETH TEMPLES; AND JUDAH HATH MULTIPLIED FENCE CITIES: BUT I WILL SEND A FIRE UPON HIS CITIES, AND IT SHALL DEVOUR THE PALACES THEREOF” (Hosea 8:12-14).
REJOICE NOT, O ISRAEL, FOR JOY, AS OTHER PEOPLE: FOR THOU HAST GONE A WHORING FROM THY GOD! “They shall not dwell in the LORD’s land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria. They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: For their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD” (Hosea 9:1-4). WHAT WILL YE DO IN THE SOLEMN DAY, AND IN THE DAY OF THE FEAST OF THE LORD? FOR, LO, THEY ARE GONE BECAUSE OF DESTRUCTION: EGYPT SHALL GATHER THEM UP, MEMPHIS SHALL BURY THEM: THE PLEASANT PLACES FOR THEIR SILVER, NETTLES SHALL POSSESS THEM!
THE DAYS OF VISITATION ARE COME, THE DAYS OF RECOMPENCE ARE COME; ISRAEL SHALL KNOW IT: THE PROPHET IS A FOOL, THE SPIRITUAL MAN IS MAD, FOR THE MULTITUDE OF THINE INIQUITY, AND THE GREAT HATRED! THE WATCHMAN OF EPHRAIM WAS WITH MY GOD: BUT THE PROPHET IS A SNARE OF A FOWLER IN ALL HIS WAYS, AND HATRED IN THE HOUES OF HIS GOD! THEY HAVE DEEPLY CORRUPTED THEMSELVES, AS IN THE DAYS OF GIBEAH:THEREFORE HE WILL REMEMBER THEIR INIQUITY, HE WILL VISIT THEIR SINS!
ALL THEIR WICKEDNESS IS IN GILGAL: FOR THERE I HATED THEM: FOR THE WICKEDNESS OF THEIR DOINGS I WILL DRIVE THEM OUT OF MINE HOUSE, I WILL LOVE THEM NO MORE: ALL THEIR PRINCES ARE REVOLTERS!
MY GOD WILL CAST THEM AWAY, BECAUSE THEY DID NOT HEARKEN UNTO HIM: AND THEY SHALL BE WANDERERS AMONG THE NATIONS!
“Israel is an empty vine, he bringeth forth fruit unto himself: according to the multitude of his fruit he hath increased the altars; according to the goodness of his land they have made goodly images. THEIR HEART IS DIVIDED; NOW SHALL THEY BE FOUND FAULTY: HE SHALL BREAK DOWN THEIR ALTARS, HE SHALL SPOIL THEIR IMAGES. For now they shall say, We have no king, because we feared not the LORD; What then should a king do to us? They have spoken words, swearing falsely in making a covenant: thus judgment springeth up as hemlock in the furrows of the field. THE INHABITANTS OF SAMARIA SHALL FEAR BECAUSE OF THE CALVES OF BETH-AVEN: FOR THE PEOPLE THEREOF SHALL MOURN OVER IT, AND THE PRIESTS THEREOF THAT REJOICE ON IT, FOR THE GLORY THEREOF, BECAUSE IT IS DEPARTED FROM IT. IT SHALL BE ALSO CARRIED INTO ASSYRIA FOR A PRESENT TO KING JAREB” (Hosea 10:1-5). “The high places also of Aven, the sin of Israel, shall be destroyed: the thorn and the thistle shall come up on their altars; and they shall say to the mountains, Cover us; and to the hills, Fall on us. O Israel, thou hast sinned from the days of Gibeah: there they stood: The battle in Gibeah against the children of iniquity did not overtake them. It is in my desire that I should chastise them; and the people shall be gathered against them, when they shall bind themselves in their two furrows” (Hosea 10:8-10).
SOW TO YOURSELVES IN RIGHTEOUSNESS, REAP IN MERCY; BREAK UP YOUR FALLOW GROUND: FOR IT IS TIME TO SEEK THE LORD, TILL HE COME AND RAIN RIGHTEOUSNESS UPON YOU. YE HAVE PLOWED WICKEDNESS, YE HAVE REAPED INIQUITY; YE HAVE EATEN THE FRUIT OF LIES: BECAUSE THOU DIDST TRUST IN THY WAY, IN THE MULTITUDE OF THY MIGHTY MEN. THEREFORE SHALL A TUMULT ARISE AMONG THY PEOPLE, AND ALL THY FORTRESSES SHALL BE SPOILED!
WHEN ISRAEL WAS A CHILD, THEN I LOVED HIM, AND CALLED MY SON OUT OF EGYPT!
When you read the prophetic book of Hosea your first and immediate impression of the book is that during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah kings of Judah—which was the same time Isaiah the son of Amoz prophesied according to the word of the LORD—the word of the LORD would come unto Hosea and give him a very specific instruction. The instruction the LORD would give unto Hosea would be such that would cause countless individuals to either gossip and speak against it, or even cause the one unto whom it was spoken to seriously question the living God. As you read the words which are found within this prophetic book you will find in the first and third chapters the word of the LORD speaking unto Hosea and instructing him to do two things which would not only might not have made sense to him, but also might have been incredibly difficult for him. What’s more, is that the instruction given unto Hosea would essentially take place in two realms and have two parts to it—the first being taking unto himself a woman of whoredoms, and make her his wife, while the second would be going again unto this same woman and loving her in the midst of her unfaithfulness. There is not a doubt in my mind that when you read the words found in the prophetic book of Hosea you can and will be struck with the fact that the LORD of hosts would instruct this man of the house of Israel to take unto himself a woman of whoredoms—and not only take her unto himself, but to enter into covenant with her as they would become united together as one in marriage. As a direct result of their union and covenant in marriage Gomer would conceive three separate times, and would bring forth two sons and one daughter. [As a side note I can’t help but wonder what it was like for these children growing up as they would have had a loving and faithful father, but perhaps had an absentee mother. Is it possible that the children which were conceived as a result of this union spent a considerable amount of time without their mother because she was off satisfying her own lusts, desires and passions? Is it possible that these three children grew up without ever truly knowing their mother because she had spent a considerable amount of time engaging in promiscuous behavior? Could the house and family of Hosea be one of the examples found in Scripture concerning a broken home due to the infidelity of the wife and mother?
BROKEN HOMES AND THE UNFAITHFULNESS OF THE BRIDE! I sit here today thinking about and consider the words which are found in the prophetic book of Hosea, and I can’t help but be drawn to the tremendous fact that the house and home of Hosea might very well be one of the prime examples found in all Scripture of a home that was not only broken, but also divided. I find myself thinking about the home of Hosea, Gomer and their three children, and how in the first chapter we find Hosea taking Gomer unto himself to be his wife, and her conceiving three children by him, while in the third chapter we find the LORD speaking unto Hosea once more and instructing him to yet and love a woman of whoredoms and adulteries. Scripture reveals how Hosea would find Gomer—perhaps in the arms and bed of another man, or perhaps where she had always been as she sought for lovers—and how he would purchase her unto himself that she might once more be his wife and be restored unto him. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what this would have been like as Hosea sought after and searched for Gomer that he might not only fulfill the word of the LORD which was spoken unto him, but might also bring this woman unto himself once more. How long did Hosea have to search before he was finally able to find Gomer? How many sleepless nights did Hosea have as he was searching for Gomer that he might restore her unto himself? How many doors might he have knocked on trying to find this woman who was perhaps giving herself in love, lust and passion to others? How many cities and towns did Hosea have to journey to and enter as he sought to find this woman who was not only his wife, but the mother of his children? Scripture is unclear how long the journey was, nor how long Hosea spent searching for this woman, but one thing we know for certain—Hosea would ultimately find Gomer, and upon finding her, would purchase her for fifteen shekels of silver. When restoration would have occurred between Hosea and Gomer it required a price to be paid, and for Hosea to actually purchase the freedom and release of her. I can’t help but wonder what that must have been like for Hosea to not only find Gomer, but also to pay a price in order to bring her back to himself.
The narrative of Hosea and Gomer is one that is absolutely astonishing when you take the time to think about it, for it is one that reveals what would have undoubtedly been quite the instruction given unto Hosea. Upon reading the words found within these chapters you will find Hosea being instructed by the living God to go and take unto and for himself a woman of whoredoms, as well as have children of whoredoms and harlotries. We must realize and recognize that in the initial instruction that was given unto Hosea concerning taking unto himself a whorish woman as a wife there is a powerful invitation to partake of the divine nature of the living God. As surely and as certainly as the instruction to take unto himself a woman of whoredoms and harlotries might very well have been something incredibly difficult for Hosea to accept at first, it was nonetheless a wonderful and powerful invitation to participate in the divine nature and character of the LORD in choosing to love—and not only choosing to love, but also entering into covenant relationship with—a woman of whorish desires and behaviors. Through Hosea’s obedience to the word of the LORD and its instruction to take unto himself a woman of whoredoms and harlotries we find a powerful prophetic picture and example of the LORD who deliberately chose to take unto Himself a people who would themselves engage in whoredoms and harlotries. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in this prophetic book, for Hosea the son of Beeri would have been given a truly wonderful and powerful invitation from the LORD to participate in His own divine nature and character. What makes this even more intriguing when you consider it is when you consider the fact that the invitation to partake of and participate in the divine nature and character of the LORD would not have been easy for Hosea. In fact, I would dare say that Hosea might very well have experienced a considerable amount of scorn, mockery, gossip, slander, malicious talk and the like when those whom he knew realized who he had chosen for a wife, and who he would enter into that covenant relationship with. I would dare say that Hosea’s obedience to the command and instruction of the LORD would have been something that required a tremendous amount of strength, patience, perseverance and courage to actually continue walking in it within the land.
PARTICIPATING IN THE DIVINE NATURE OF THE LORD DOESN’T MEAN IT WILL BE EASY! PARTICIPATING IN THE DIVINE CHARACTER OF THE LORD DOESN’T MEAN IT WILL BE EASY! I absolutely love that Hosea was invited to participate in the divine nature and character of the LORD—not only in taking Gomer unto himself as a wife, and not only in having children of whoredoms with Gomer, but also in seeking after and searching her out that he might restore her unto himself. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if after the word of the LORD instructed Hosea to go again and love a woman of whoredoms and harlotries, he didn’t speak of the matter with his father, and perhaps even his mother. When and as Hosea set out on the journey to find Gomer that he might bring her unto himself, was he met with questions and curiosity by those who wondered where he was going and what he was doing? I am trying to wrap my head around and imagine what it would have been like for Hosea the son of Beeri to set out on an incredible journey of love and redemption that he might find this woman whom he had previously taken unto himself as a wife. What’s more, is the instruction which was given unto Hosea this second time was even greater and even deeper than what it was at the first, for this time Hosea would be instructed to go and “love” this woman of whoredoms and adulteries. It’s almost as if the LORD knew and realized the heart of Hosea might have been repeatedly broken into a thousand pieces as the sting of each infidelity and each betrayal tore at his heart and soul. I can’t help but wonder if Hosea even wondered how he could love such a woman who he knew had been unfaithful to him, and unfaithful to the covenant of marriage. There is a part of me that wonders if this particular instruction given unto Hosea was one that was easy for him to obey and follow, and if he had not reached the point within himself where he couldn’t go on any longer. Scripture is unclear how much time had elapsed between the time the third child was born and the time the word of the LORD instructed Hosea to go again and love a woman of whoredoms and harlotries, but one can’t help but wonder how many times Gomer had been unfaithful during their marriage. How many times did Gomer perhaps not come home to their bed, and Hosea was left to sleep alone? How many times did Hosea have to perhaps take care of the kids by himself because Gomer was nowhere to be found?
BUT GOD, YOU DON’T KNOW HOW HARD THIS IS! DON’T YOU REALIZE HOW DIFFICULT IT IS TO LOVE HER GIVEN EVERYTHING SHE HAS DONE TO ME? WHAT ABOUT THOSE THINGS SHE’S DONE TO THESE CHILDREN? GOD, HOW COULD ASK YOU ME TO LOVE THIS WOMAN AGAIN? Have you ever been in the place where you not only felt as though you could love again, but also that you couldn’t love that particular person again? Have you ever found yourself in the place where you have been hurt so many times by that same person, and each and every time you were hurt, betrayed, wounded, bruised and scarred there was a little less of you that was willing to love them? Have you ever been in a place where someone else has not only hurt you—but repeatedly hurt you—and each time you found yourself having to pick up the pieces of your broken heart? We know and understand that when the LORD first spoke unto Hosea the son of Beeri He made it quite clear that the woman he was going to take as his wife was a woman of whoredoms and a woman of harlotries. Before Hosea chose Gomer he knew that she was quite possibly going to be a promiscuous, adulterous and unfaithful woman. Hosea knew according to the word of the LORD that the woman whom he would take as his wife would be a woman of a questionable past, and a woman who might very well be unfaithful to him. Not only this, but Hosea most likely knew that this woman would be unfaithful to him—not once, not twice, not even three times, but over and over again—and yet he still obeyed the word of the LORD in taking her unto himself as his wife. Oh, I can’t help but wonder what it was like that first time when Gomer perhaps didn’t come home one night, or when Hosea found her in the arms and bed of another man. What was it like that very first time when Hosea discovered the lewdness and infidelity of his wife, and knew that she had been with another man? What happened when it happened a second time? The third time? What was it like when Hosea realized that it was more than just random times and actions, but actually a habitual pattern that was taking place within the life of Gomer?
I am sitting here today thinking about the tremendous truth that is found within the prophetic book of Hosea, and I am trying to wrap my head around what it must have been like for Hosea to hear the word of the LORD speaking unto him a second time and instructing him to go and love a woman of whoredoms, and to do so a second time. This second instruction was in my opinion much more difficult than the first one, for this second instruction would have had directly linked and connected to it the sting of betrayal, the sting of infidelity, the hurt and pain of wounds inflicted, and a whole host of emotions and thoughts within the heart and soul of Hosea. It was easier when he was instructed to take unto himself a woman of whoredoms, for perhaps he wondered if entering into the covenant of marriage would put an end to those whoredoms. Is it possible that Hosea thought that even though this woman was one of whoredoms and harlotries, she would give up and abandon her promiscuous ways as a direct result of being in covenant relationship with him? Did Hosea think—perhaps even believe within his heart and soul—that this woman would have given up her adulterous, whorish and promiscuous ways, and remain faithful unto him? Is it possible that Hosea was completely and utterly shocked when Gomer engaged in whorish and adulterous behavior the very first time? What about each additional and subsequent time it happened? Was Hosea’s heart broken and shattered a thousand different ways with each betrayal, with each affair, and with each act of sexual deviance? And now—almost as if to add insult to injury—the word of the LORD would come unto him and instruct him to go and love this woman again. There is not a doubt in my mind that this particular instruction spoken unto Hosea would have been all the more difficult for him to swallow and comprehend since it would undoubtedly carry with it the sting of betrayal, and the hurt and pain of infidelity and adultery.
WHEN LOVE HAS THE STING OF BETRAYAL! LOVING FROM A PLACE OF BROKENNESS! LOVING FROM A PLACE OF HURT! WHEN LOVING AGAIN COMES FROM A PLACE OF BROKENNESS! THE PRICE OF LOVING AGAIN IN THE MIDST OF BETRAYAL! I have to admit that it is quite telling to consider the word of the LORD being spoken unto Hosea this second time, for the word of the LORD which came to him this second time was to go and love again a woman of whoredoms and harlotries. The exact word of the LORD which was spoken unto Hosea was “Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine” (Hosea 3:1). In response to the word of the LORD spoken unto Hosea we find that Hosea bought this woman who was an adulteress and was the beloved of her friend for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley. What’s more, is that we find that when Hosea obeyed the word of the LORD which was spoken unto him, Scripture records and reveals that he bought her “to me,” and then lays out the prices for which he had bought and purchased her. Stop for a moment and consider what a tremendous ask this was of the LORD, for the LORD was instructing Hosea to go and love a woman who was beloved of her friend, yet was an adulteress. The LORD mentioned nothing else to Hosea aside from loving a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, and yet what we find and read is that when Hosea found her he bought her to him for a specific price. The price which Hosea paid for this woman was fifteen pieces of silver, which many will reveal was the price of a common slave. It is something worth noting and pointing out that when Hosea went and loved this woman who was loved by another, yet an adulteress—he would do so with a price tag connected to it. We cannot and must not miss the awesome truth and reality that is found within the third chapter, for when Hosea went to love a woman beloved of her friend, yet was an adulteress, it would actually cost him something. In all reality, I would dare say that this request cost Hosea more than simply fifteen pieces of silver and an homer and a half of barley, but it cost him emotionally, mentally, physically, and perhaps even spiritually. I can’t help but wonder what it was like as Hosea and this woman returned unto Hosea’s house, and especially as Hosea would speak unto her and declare that she should abide for him many days, and she would not play the harlot, nor would she be for another man.
YOU WILL ABIDE WITH ME! YOU WILL NOT PLAY THE HARLOT! YOU WILL NOT BE FOR ANOTHER MAN! THE CALL TO FAITHFULNESS! WHEN LOVE DEMANDS FAITHFULNESS! The incredible importance of what is found within the third chapter is that not only did Hosea go and love this woman who was beloved of another and was an adulteress, but Hosea would also pay a price to bring her unto himself. This fulfillment and obedience to the word of the LORD which was spoken unto him would not come without price or cost, and it would require him to be prepared to give up something that he might bring this woman once more unto himself. Please don’t miss that truth, for more often than not loving another—particularly and especially loving another who has hurt, wounded and betrayed us—can and will come with a price tag attached to it. The LORD merely instructed Hosea to go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, and yet an adulteress, and He would actually take it a step further, as the LORD would describe the love which Hosea was to have toward this woman as being according to the same love of the LORD toward the children of Israel who looked to other gods, and who loved drunkenness and revelry. Pause for a moment and truly consider those words, for it wasn’t merely that the LORD instructed Hosea to go yet and love this woman who was loved by another and was an adulteress, but the LORD instructed Hosea to love her according to the same love which He had toward Israel who had gone after her other lovers, which were foreign, false and strange gods. In fact, the entire prophetic book of Hosea is a book describing and setting forth the whoredoms and harlotries of the house of Israel before and toward the LORD of hosts, as they would give themselves other gods, idols and images, and even other nations, countries, peoples, kingdoms and empires. When the LORD instructed Hosea to go and love a woman who was beloved by her friend and yet an adulteress—what he was actually instructing him to do was to participate in His own divine nature. Not only this, but the love which Hosea was to demonstrate toward this woman was to be the same love which the LORD would have and demonstrate toward the house of Israel.
In all reality, the invitation given unto Hosea would be an invitation to understand and comprehend the love of the LORD in a way that many and most would not even experience or comprehend. If you think it, the invitation which was given unto Hosea to love this woman who was beloved by her friend and yet an adulteress was both an invitation to love as the LORD loved, but also to understand and experience the love of the LORD for himself and within his own life. I can’t help but think about the fact that in the midst and process of Hosea’s loving this woman who was an adulteress he was able to experience and understand the love of the LORD for and toward himself. Through his loving this woman according to the love which the LORD had toward the children of Israel he was entering into a place of understanding just how much the LORD loved the children of Israel, and quite honestly how much the LORD loved him as well. I am fully and completely convinced that as hard as it might be on our hearts and our souls—if we can truly learn to love through our brokenness we can begin to understand and step into the love which the LORD has toward us and toward others. I firmly believe that when we step and enter into that place where we can love others despite the sting of betrayal and the hurt and pain they might have caused us we can indeed and in fact step into the love which the LORD has toward the world, and ultimately toward us. There is not a doubt in my mind that when Hosea was instructed to go yet and love a woman who was loved by another and yet was an adulteress he was being invited into a place of not only demonstrating the love which the LORD had toward Israel, but also understanding that love. There is a part of me that can’t help but wonder if you cannot truly understand and appreciate the love the LORD has for others—even the love the LORD has for you—until you have stepped and entered into that place where you can love another despite the wrong they have done unto you. It was Jesus himself who reversed and flipped the script when He declared how we have heard it said to love our neighbour and hate our enemies, but He now commanded us to love our enemies, to bless those who curse us, and pray for those who despitefully use and persecute us. It was Jesus who drew no distinction between our neighbors and our enemies when commanding us to love, and in all reality instructed us to love our enemies with the same love we would love our neighbors and our brothers.
It would be incredibly easy to read the prophetic book of Hosea and look at all the gross whoredoms and harlotries the house of Israel committed against the LORD, and yet I am convinced that to do so would be to risk getting caught up in the LORD’s anger and displeasure toward His people and miss the demonstration and manifestation of His love for and toward them. The word of the LORD would instruct Hosea to go yet and love a woman who was beloved of her friend and yet was an adulteress—and not only love this woman, but love this woman with the same love the LORD had toward the house of Israel. Additionally, the word of the LORD directly and intrinsically links and connects the love of the LORD which He had toward the house of Israel to their whoredoms and harlotries, and although they had committed great grievances in the sight of the living God the LORD of hosts still loved them with an eternal and everlasting love. When the LORD spoke unto Hosea and instructed him to love yet a woman who was beloved of her friend and yet an adulterous he was ultimately inviting Hosea into the place where he would not only understand and recognize the love which the LORD had toward Israel, but also the love which the LORD had for him as an individual. AN ILLUSTRATION OF LOVE! What’s more, is that as you read the words which are found within the prophetic book of Hosea you will find and discover the awesome and incredible reality that Hosea would himself be a unique expression of love in the midst of and unto the house of Israel—one that would truly and utterly demonstrate the love which the LORD had for and toward them. In light of this, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the New Testament epistle which was written unto the saints which were at Rome. Consider if you will the following words which are found in this New Testament epistle beginning to read with and from the ninth chapter:
“I say the truth in Christ, I like not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, that I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: who are Israelites; to whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. Not as though the word of God hath taken none effect. For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called. That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed. For this is the word of promise, At this time will I come, and Sara shall have a son. And not only this; but when Rebecca also had conceived by one, even by our father Isaac; (For the children being not yet born, neither having done any good or evil, that the purpose of God according to election might stand, not of works, but of him that calleth) It was said unto her, The elder shall serve the younger. As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated. What shall we say then? Is there unrighteousness with God? God forbid. For he saith to Moses, I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion . So then it is not of him that willeth, nor of him that runneth, but of God that sheweth mercy. For the Scripture saith unto Pharaoh, Even for this same purpose have I raised thee up, that I might shew my power in thee, and that my name might be declared throughout all the earth. Therefore hath he mercy on whom he will have mercy, and whom he will he hardeneth. Thou wilt say then unto me, Why doth he yet find fault? For who hath resisted his will? Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God? Shall the thing formed say to him that formed it, Why hast thou made me thus? Hath not the potter power over the clay, of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour? What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction: and that he might make known the riches of his glory on the vessels of mercy, which he had afore prepared unto glory, even us, whom he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved. And it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people; there shall they be called the children of the living God. Esaias also crieth concerning Israel, Though the number of the children of Israel be as the sand of the sea, a remnant shall be saved: For He will finish the work, and cut it short in righteousness: because a short work will the LORD make upon the earth. And as Esaias said before, Except the LORD of Saboath had left us a seed, we had been as Sodoma, and been made like unto Gomorrah. What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith. But Israel, which followed after the law of righteousness, hath not attained to the law of righteousness. Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed” (Romans 9:1-33).
“I say then, Hath God cast away his people? God forbid. For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God hath not cast away his people which he foreknew. Wot ye not what the scripture saith of Elias? How he maketh intercession to God against Israel, saying, Lord, they have killed thy prophets, and digged down thine altars; and I am left alone, and they seek my life. But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is on more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work. What then? Israel hath not obtained that which he seeketh for; but the election hath obtained it, and the rest were blinded (According as it is written, God hath given them the spirit of slumber, eyes that should not see, and ears that they should not hear) unto this day. And David saith, Let their table be made a snare, and a trap, and a stumblingblock, and a recompense unto them; Let their eyes be darkened, that they may not see, and bow down their back always. I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Genitles; how much more their fulness? For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: IF by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them. For if the casting away of them be the reconciling of the world, what shall the receiving of them be, but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit be holy, the lump is also holy: and if the root be holy, so are the branches. And if some of the branches be broken off, and thou, being a wild olive tree wert graffed in among them, and with them partakes of the root and fatness of the olive tree; boast not against the branches. But if thou boast, thou bearest not the root, but the root thee. Thou wilt say then, The branches were broken off, that I might be graffed in. Well; because of unbelief they were broken off, and thou standest by faith. Be not highminded, but fear: for if God spared not the natural branches, take heed lest he also spare not thee. Behold therefore the goodness and severity of God: on them which fell, severity; but toward thee, goodness, if thou continue in his goodness: otherwise thou also shalt be cut off. And they also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be graffed in: for God is able to graff them in again. For if thou wert cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and wert graffed contrary to nature into a good olive tree: how much more shall these, which be the natural branches, be graffed into their own olive tree? For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. And so also Israel shall be saved: as it is written, There shall come out of Sion the Deliverer, and shall turn away ungodliness from Jacob: for this is my covenant unto them, when I shall take away their sins. As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes. For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. For as ye in times past have not believed God, yet have now obtained mercy through their unbelief: Even so have these also now not believed, that through your mercy that also may obtain mercy. For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? OR who hath been his counseller? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen” Romans 11:1-36).
The words which are found within these two chapters of the New Testament epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the saints at Rome bring us face to face with the awesome and incredible reality that the LORD loved Israel—and still loves Israel—with an everlasting and eternal love. It would be easy to read the prophetic book of Hosea and focus solely and entirely on the whoredoms, the spirit of whoredom, the harlotries, the adulteries, and the gross iniquity and immorality, and in so doing completely lose sight of the underlying message which the LORD was speaking through Hosea. It would be through the personal testimony and example of Hosea the LORD would speak directly unto the house of Israel and yes, deal with and confront their sin, but also speak unto them concerning his love for them. When the word of the LORD came to Hosea this second time it was a word that would not necessarily have been easy for him to handle—much less actually obey and give himself to. The word which was spoken and given unto Hosea was a word that would instruct him to go and love a woman who was an adulteress, and who was loved by another—and this despite and in the face of all the betrayals he had experienced. I cannot escape the awesome and underlying reality that is found within this prophetic book of Hosea, for through this ancient Hebrew prophet the LORD was speaking to and wooing His people and His bride, while demonstrating His love for them. How absolutely wonderful and powerful it is to think about the tremendous invitation Hosea was given, for although he was called to love through the pain, and love through the hurt, and love through the brokenness, he was invited to love a woman who was an adulteress and who repeatedly committed promiscuous acts. It is truly something wonderful to consider the fact that we have been called to love through our hurt, love through our pain, love through our brokenness, and love through our wounds and bruises, for it is in that place, and in that moment when we are truly able to love others that we are able to understand a glimpse of the love of the eternal God.
If there is one thing I absolutely love about the narrative of Hosea it’s that he was invited to do more than simply take a woman of whoredoms as a wife, and to love a woman who was beloved of another and yet an adulteress. Hosea was invited to know and understand the heart and mind of the one true and living God for and toward His people. Hosea was invited to truly understand the great depths and measures of the love of the God of Israel for and toward His people—and this despite the fact that they were given unto whoredoms and harlotries, the LORD would love them with an eternal and everlasting love. Through the narrative of Hosea we find this prophet being invited to enter into—and not only enter into, but also walk in—a tremendously powerful place of understanding and demonstrating the love the LORD had for and toward the house of Israel. The narrative of Hosea finds this prophet being invited into a wonderful and powerful place of loving through hurt, loving through pain, loving through brokenness, loving through wounds, bruises and scars, as he would have to love this woman who was loved by another man, and who was an adulteress. What’s more, is that Hosea’s invitation to walk in this love would be such an awesome invitation to not only love through hurt, but also love when it hurts, and even to recognize that there are times when love actually costs us something. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time love actually cost you something? When was the last time loving someone actually actually hurt, or required you to love through your hurt and pain? Please note that I am in no way suggesting, nor I am declaring that love needs to be this painful experience, but rather that love may not always come cheap, nor will it come easy. As much as we would like to think that walking in the love of the LORD which He has toward His people is easy we must realize and recognize that love may often require us to love in spite of gross mistreatment, abuse, neglect, rejection, abandonment, and the like.
WHY ARE YOU GOING BACK TO HER? WHY ARE YOU EVEN BOTHERING WITH THAT WOMAN? AREN’T YOU AWARE OF WHAT SHE HAS DONE? AREN’T YOU AWARE OF WHO SHE IS? DON’T YOU KNOW THAT SHE WILL NEVER CHANGE? LOOK AT EVERYTHING SHE HAS PUT YOU THROUGH! LOOK AT EVERYTHING SHE HAS DONE TO YOU IN YOUR LIFE? DON’T YOU KNOW SOMEONE LIKE THAT CANNOT BE CHANGED? DON’T YOU KNOW SOMEONE LIKE THAT CAN’T BE REACHED AND ARE TOO FAR GONE? HOSEA, WHY WOULD YOU CHOOSE TO GO BACK? WHY DON’T YOU COUNT YOUR LOSSES? WHY WASTE YOUR MONEY PURCHASING AND BUYING BACK SOMEONE WHO REPEATEDLY HURT, WRONGED, AND OFFENDED YOU? HOSEA, WHY DON’T YOU WALK AWAY, AND WALK AWAY FOR GOOD?
I have to admit that I would absolutely love to hear the words and language which were spoken unto Hosea—not only when he made the decision to take a whorish and adulterous woman as his wife, but also when he would make the conscious decision to love her yet, and love her still, and love her again. LOVE HER YET! LOVE HER STILL! LOVE HER AGAIN! We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the tremendous instruction that was given unto Hosea concerning loving this woman still and loving this woman again, for it would be through Hosea’s loving this woman again he would be able to fully understand what is the depth, what is the height, what is the breadth of the love of the LORD which He has for and toward His people. With that being said, however, it’s important that we also understand that this doesn’t mean ignoring, nor even forgetting what that person and individual did. If and as you read the words which are found within this book you will find the LORD continually and repeatedly speaking unto the house of Israel through Hosea the son of Beeri and declaring unto and making known unto them their sins, their whoredoms, their harlotries, and their wickedness which had been committed in the land. The LORD would not abandon, nor would He forsake His love for the house of Israel, and although He would cast them forth from the land, He would not cast them forth from His love. CAST FROM THE LAND, BUT NOT FROM THE LOVE! Perhaps one of the most powerful truths that is found in the Old Testament prophetic literature—and not only what is found in the Old Testament literature, but also in the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, and the epistle which was written by the apostle Paul unto the Romans—is that although the LORD would indeed cast His people forth from the midst of the land, He would not cast them forth from His love. The LORD would cast His people out of the land, and would scatter them among the nations, but that did not and would not mean He would abandon and forsake His love for them. The LORD would continue to love the house of Israel despite her repeated whoredoms, harlotries, wickedness, idolatry, immorality, and that which offended the holiness of the LORD.
More often than not we think that loving someone cannot and will not cost us anything, and yet the narrative of Hosea—and not only the narrative Hosea, but also the narrative of Jesus Christ and God the Father—demonstrates and reveals that love may very well cost us that which we perhaps might be hesitant to pay and/or to give. I sit here today and I can’t help but think about whether or not Hosea even had to think twice about going and loving this woman who was beloved of another man, and who was an adulteress. When the word of the LORD came to Hosea, did he have to think about whether or not he would obey the word and command of the LORD, or did he without hesitation and reservation begin the process of seeking after and searching out this woman until he had found her. I still can’t help but wonder what this search was like for Hosea, and whether or not he was willing to go to any length and travel as far as he needed to go in order to find this woman that he might love her still and love her again. There is a part of me that can’t help but think about what it would have been like for Hosea to go yet and love a woman who was an adulteress knowing all the whoredoms, all the harlotries, and all the lewdness she had committed. Stop and think about whether or not you could do such a thing and obey such a command and instruct spoken by the LORD of hosts. As you consider the words found within the prophetic book of Hosea, are you one who is willing and who would be willing to love still, to love more, to love again, and to love yet that one who had perhaps broken your heart into a thousand different pieces. Would and could you love someone who had seemingly showed absolutely no regard for your heart, and instead trampled upon it with their acts of betrayal? We know in the third chapter of this book that Hosea was instructed to love yet a woman who was an adulteress and who was the beloved of her friend, and to love her according to the love which the LORD had toward the house of Israel—despite and even in the midst of her great sins and great atrocities.
I previously wrote concerning being cast forth out of the land and yet not cast forth from the love of the eternal God, and it is absolutely necessary that we pay close attention to this, for through Hosea the LORD would make known unto the house of Israel their sin, but also in that place of making known their transgression and iniquity the LORD would express His love for and toward them. What’s more, is that as you progress within and throughout this book you will find the LORD calling His people to return unto Him, and to turn their hearts toward Him once more. This is actually something worth thinking about and considering, for it suggests the beautiful truth that there is always the call and invitation to return and to turn your heart tot eh LORD again. It is something worth pointing out and considering when reading the prophetic book of Hosea that although the LORD would make known unto Israel their adulteries, their fornications, their whoredoms, their idolatries, and their harlotries, He would invite them to return unto Him. The LORD would invite His people to turn their hearts toward Him once more, and in fact we find within the final chapter of this prophetic book a wonderful and powerful invitation of the LORD to return unto the LORD their God. The LORD held no punches when it came to the iniquity and idolatry of His people Israel, and the LORD would make known unto them how they had indeed offended Him, and yet in the midst of that He would still express His undying love and affection toward them. Even the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the epistle which was sent unto the saints which were at Rome reveals the awesome reality that the LORD would never and could never completely cast off and cast forth His people, and would always redeem and restore them. Even when the LORD had cast His people out of their land and scattered them among the nations the LORD had a plan in place to restore them once more unto the land, and to return them to the place that was given unto their fathers—Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The LORD would bring the houses of Israel and Judah out of the nations in which they had been scattered, and the LORD would bring them into the midst of the land that they might once more be a people—and not only a people, but His people as He would be their God.
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I feel it absolutely necessary to point out that which so greatly offended the heart and holiness of the living God when He spoke through His servant Hosea, for upon reading the words of these chapters you will find the LORD speaking of the golden calves which they had set up and worshipped in the land of Israel, as well as all the idols, all the graven images, and all the shrines and false gods they had set up within the land. Moreover, the LORD would speak unto the house of Israel concerning their fornicating with Egypt and Samaria, and playing the whore with them while at the same time abandoning their love, their trust, and their confidence in Him as their God. The children of Israel would play the harlot and whore—not only with all their idols and graven images, but also with those nations and peoples whom they turned to for salvation and deliverance. It would be through their many idols, their many graven images, and their many foreign and strange gods the house of Israel would play the harlot and commit gross whoredoms in the sight and presence of the living God, and the LORD would repeatedly plead with them to turn themselves from their idols, turn themselves from their graven images, and turn themselves from their abominable practices. It would be through their many graven images and idols the children of Israel would continually engage themselves in adulteries before and in the sight of the living God, and would greatly offend the LORD their God. What’s more, is the LORD would repeatedly send His servants the prophets rising up early to speak unto and warn them concerning their fornication, their idolatries, and their adulteries. The LORD repeatedly called them to abandon their many lovers and to return unto their one and only true love. Moreover, the LORD would declare unto the house of Israel through His servants the prophets that they turn from their wicked and abominable ways, and turn their hearts once more to the LORD.
You cannot read the prophetic book of Hosea and not encounter and come face to face with the incredible reality that the LORD would indeed confront the house of Israel with their sin, and the LORD would indeed present unto them all their foreign lovers and strange gods, as the LORD would mention the two golden calves which Jeroboam son of Nebat had set up, as well as Egypt and Assyria which they had turned their hearts toward. What’s more, is the LORD would even speak unto the house of Israel that their heart was divided—a reality which was present even during the days of Elijah when the prophet would ask the children of Israel how long they would halt themselves between two opinions. The prophet Elijah would declare unto them that if Baal be God then they ought to worship him, but if the LORD is God then they ought to worship Him. It was there atop Carmel in the land of Israel Elijah would confront the prophets of Baal—and not only the prophets of Baal, but also the false god which was behind the worship of Baal—to a showdown and duel of fire. Elijah would declare unto the house of Israel that the God who answered by fire was indeed the true and living God, and would allow the prophets of Baal to call unto Baal from morning until the time of the evening sacrifice. Having given them the chance to call upon Baal the prophet would repair the altar of the LORD, would soak the altar and the sacrifice three times with water until the water ran round about the altar in the trench before it. The prophet Elijah would then call upon the name of the LORD, and the LORD would answer by fire from heaven upon the altar and the sacrifice—and not only upon the altar and the sacrifice, but also upon the dust and the dirt round about the altar. It is this concept of a divided heart that Elijah sought to confront during the days of Ahab and Jezebel, and we find that even after the days of Elijah and Elisha the house of Israel continued to suffer from a divided heart. It would be in the tenth chapter of this prophetic book we find the prophet Hosea declare unto the house of Israel that their heart was divided, and that they would be found faulty. As a direct result of this, the LORD would break down their altars and spoil their images.
As I conclude this writing I find it absolutely necessary and imperative for us to recognize and understand the awesome and incredible invitation the LORD has given—and continues to give us as in this generation—to turn our hearts fully and completely toward Him. There is still time within this generation, and there is still the ability to return unto the LORD and to amend our ways and our doings. If our heart is divided between the false and strange gods of this world and the one true and living God then we have great need to turn ourselves and repent in the sight and presence of the LORD that we might once more be fully and completely committed to him. What’s more, is that just as Hosea bought this woman that he might have her unto himself, so also did Jesus the Christ purchase us through His body and His blood. In all reality, I can’t help but be reminded of the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Corinthian saints in both the first and second epistles written unto them. I leave you now with the wonderful and tremendous words which were written by the hand of the apostle Paul unto the Corinthian saints:
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any. Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy both it and them. Now the body is not for fornication, but for the Lord; and the Lord for the body. And God hath both raised up the Lord, and will also raise up us by His own power. Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ? Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the mambers of an harlot? God forbid. What? Know ye not that he which is joined to an harlot is one body? For two, saith he, shall be one flesh. But he that is joined unto the LORD is one spirit. Flee fornication. Every sin that a man doeth is without the body; but he that committeth fornication sinneth against his own body. What? Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s” (1 Corinthians 6:12-20).
“O ye Corinthians, our mouth is open unto you, our heart is enlarged. Ye are not straitened in us, but ye are straitened in your own bowels. Now for a recompense in the same, (I speak as unto my children,) be ye also enlarged. Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? And what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? OR what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwel in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the LORD, and touch not the unclean thing: and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the LORD Almighty” (2 Corinthians 6:11-18).