People of Israel, listen to the Lord’s message.Â
The Lord has this against you who live in the land:
“The people are not true, not loyal to God, nor do those who live in the land even know him.
Cursing, lying, killing, stealing and adultery are everywhere.
One murder follows another.â€ Â Â Â Â Hosea 4:1-2 (NCV)
I suspect that most of us haven’t read the book of Hosea recently. Hosea is one of the â€œminorâ€ prophets. That means it is a short book. It’s only 14 short chapters, not 66 long ones like Isaiah. It’s a great story that isn’t just about Israel but for me right here and right now.
The time of Hosea and Amos was a period of great wealth, over-the-top luxury, great oppression of the poor and spiritual decline and rejection of God. (Sound familiar?) It was Hosea’s duty to chastise the land and people that he loved as he delivered God’s message to the people. His personal life was an object lesson given by God. It began when God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute.
Men of that time did not marry non-virgins. So marrying a known prostitute, and especially if you were known as a prophet of Yahweh, well that would have gotten the attention of the people. â€œWhat was Hosea doing?â€
Gomer conceives children and God tells Hosea exactly what to name his children.
Jazreel â€“ which means â€œI will punishâ€
Lo-Ruhamah â€“ which means â€œnot lovedâ€
Lo- Ammi â€“ which means â€œnot my peopleâ€
I’m seeing the message here â€“ and it’s scary! But I am looking back with several thousands of years of perspective. Did the people see the message? Did they catch on that in that time especially, you did not name your children such â€œdownerâ€ names?! Did they see the message?
And the life story of Hosea and Gomer continues as Gomer returns to her philandering life. And Hosea, reassured by God, goes after Gomer, pays her pimp and brings her home again. God shows His compassion and unfailing, loving purpose to save.
But in reading this account I am struck that while God is compassionate and does reach out to save, He does not compromise His standard. He does not â€œwhitewashâ€ the sin but instead proclaims clearly the wrong. God says clearly that there is no reason to save me â€“ except love. There is nothing, nothing good enough in me to warrant His saving grace. He just loves. Hosea just loves Gomer.
Chapters 4-10 speak clearly how very lost Israel was â€“ and I am. It describes a land and a people that are so corrupt and blinded by their own way of doing things that it doesn’t see the excrement that covers them. (Sound familiar?)
Chapters 11-14 show me the Father’s heart. He looks at His wayward, sinful children and says that He loves even though He cannot ignore their sins. And He is angry that they chose to sin. â€œI love you and take care of you and yet you still chose to worship and exalt others ahead of Me.â€ The book ends with the true hope and encouragement that if I return to the LORD, ask His forgiveness, that He will bless me in His Kingdom. â€œNever forget these principles, Jody.â€
Blessed Be Your Name written & sung by Matt Redman