(The post today is lengthy. I hope, if you are in the Digging Deep study, that you can take the time to read it before the podcast tomorrow night. Whether or not you get the time to read, please be sure to join us at 7 CST on the 23rd for a discussion of a heartbreaking read. If Hosea can’t bring us to crave sanctification, I’m not sure it will happen.)
Hosea chapter three has got to be one of the saddest passages in all of scripture. It’s heart rending to realize that this man of God was commanded to go and then actually did go and get a prostitute to marry and bear his children. So far as we know, Hosea had never been intimate with a woman. He gave his all to Gomer, the prostitute. He loved her. He rescued her from a life of cheap one-night stands and wrapped his world of respect and honor around her. He took the girl out of harlotry, but, alas, he could not take harlotry out of the girl. Gomer tasted respect. She nursed the precious babies of Hosea. She was granted his affection and his provisions. But she walked away from all that was good and right and re-entered a world of disease, sorrow, humiliation and death. She preferred being used and discarded by multiple lovers to the security and integrity she had gained in her union with the man of God.
Finally, we see Gomer, living with a man. She has left Hosea, who was, to her, both husband and friend. Adding insult to deep injury, God tells Hosea to go to the “auction block” as it were and buy her back. Hosea, at the behest of God Himself, bears the reproach of purchasing his own wife for a paltry amount. He feeds her the food of a slave and restrains himself from bringing her home to his bed and to her children. He must treat her as a slave, feeding her course meal and giving her time to prove that she can be his and his alone, before he has marital relations with her again.
And then, of course, we come to realize that the spurned husband is God, Himself. Gomer is representative of Israel, who, chosen by Jehovah for His spiritual bride, spurned His love, turned her back on His goodness and went whoring after gods of wood and stone. She actually convinced herself that a life of cheap idolatrous pleasures was preferable to the honor of being married to Jehovah, participating in His holy worship and being guided by his faithful hand. In fact, the Israel represented by Gomer would remain separated from Him until the time of the cross, when the marriage chamber would once, again be opened to her.
Let’s just think about that as wives, for a moment. If you are in a godly marriage, you know what it is like to be wrapped in the caring arms of a faithful provider. You long for that protection when you may be out alone at night and someone scary is driving along beside your car in the lane next to you. You are thankful for a man who always makes sure there is food on your table. You know that he would give his life to protect you or your children. You have seen him stand up to evil. You love hearing his tender voice on the phone when you are apart, at night saying, “I will always love you.”
If you do have this kind of husband, and you have a good heart, you cannot imagine turning your back on him when he is hurting. It nauseates you to think of being in the arms of a man who would take your physical pleasures without committing his heart and life to you. Even though your man is not perfect, he is good. He wants with all He is, to be what you need. He wants to lead you to heaven.
I hope you have this prince in your life. I hope, if you do, you will never, ever allow yourself to be drawn to the adulterous life that will surely end in sorrow for you and Him.
But, sisters, you are spiritually married to God! He is the perfect One. He has brought you out of the slavery of sin (Galatians 4:3). He purchased you at the greatest personal price imaginable. He paid the blood of His Son (I Peter 1:19) for your freedom. He brought you home with Him and wrapped you up in His blanket of mercy and gave you hope of eternal salvation. He listens every time you speak and He gives you always what is best. You…yes, you are His spiritual Israel, the apple of His eye (Deut. 32:10).
I know you do not want to hurt this loving Husband. I know you want to bring honor to Him and you would never shame Him. The world around you is spitting on your Husband today. People everywhere are mocking Him. They are laughing at Him. Their actions run the gamut from ignoring His existence (even though He keeps giving them sustenance and wealth) to blaspheming His name. The world shouts insults in His ears and throws obscene gestures in His face. They eat His food, drink His water, enjoy His nature and breathe His air while they ridicule the “happiness manual” He mercifully gave them.
Hosea 4:2 gives a succinct list of behaviors exhibited by the adulterous wife:
Here are the characteristics she displayed.
- She cursed. (According to a recent study by Family Safe Media, American television profanity rose 69 percent in a recent five year period.)
- She lied. (We don’t need, nor could we get a correct statistic on this evil. Will liars tell you that they lie in a survey? We’ve been inundated with lies in the public arena in recent years; i.e. Clinton, O.J. Simpson, Jodi Arias, John Edwards, etc…)
- She was a murderess. (American women kill over a million babies each year. Although Boston, Sandy Hook, Columbine, The University of Alabama in Huntsville and many more examples of death by violence can be cited, abortion is by far the most common and accepted form of murder.)
- She stole. (For the sake of space, think about only one form of American stealing. According to The Educational Testing Service/Ad Council campaign, 73% of all test takers, including prospective graduate students and teachers agree that most students do cheat at some point. 86% of high school students agreed. Cheating no longer carries the stigma that it used to. Less social disapproval coupled with increased competition for admission into universities and graduate schools has made students more willing to do whatever it takes to get the A.)
- She committed adultery. (According to truthaboutdeception.com, somewhere between 30 and 60 percent of spouses will cheat during marriage. Again, it’s easy to see why we don’t have accurate stats about adultery. Spouses don’t file accurate “cheating reports”. But, as Christians, we know that whatever the reported numbers about adultery are, they are actually way too low to reflect reality because large numbers of “marriages” today are actually adulterous unions.)
- She broke all restrictions. She went wild. (This one reminds me of the 2012 widespread looting in major American cities. Incidentally looting has broken out in the West, Texas wake of a deadly explosion over the past weekend. It reminds me of the in-your-face homosexual demonstrations of recent years and of the uncontrollable sex, filth and immorality of the Wall Street protests of 2012. There is a restrictions-free subculture in our country that is growing its way into mainstream at a frightening pace.)
- In her world, “blood touched blood”. (This refers to one act of violence being barely finished before another was reported. Does this remind you a bit of watching the local news?)
I know I didn’t really have to list these parenthesized modern American parallels to make you connect the dots. We can see that the world around us is truly bereft of morality. But,as much as we would like for things to be different in our beloved country, let us remember, that America is not married to God. The church of Christ is married to God. The United States of America is not the chosen race of God. His Israel–His chosen people–is the church. Thus, we as God’s wife, must decide how much we love Him. Do we love Him enough to give up the pleasures of the world around us? Maybe it’s time we even ask it this way. Do we love God enough to stay with Him even if the “other man” is the American culture in which we live? See, as the America that, in years past, was somewhat nurturing of our relationship with Jehovah turns into the object of our adultery, there grows a sense in which we must decide between God and America. Oh, as long as there is an America, it is never to late to pray for the country and to work for America’s betterment, but if I have to choose between love of the country and love of God, let me be sure I will be true to my husband!
Many times I have heard preachers use the following amazing passage in reference to America:
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (II Chron. 7:14).
But that verse was written for Israel. The modern-day Israel is not America, at all. See America is just not the chosen people of God in any sense. It never has been. The Israel of God today is the church, the body of Christ (Gal. 3:29). If II Chronicles 7:14 applies to us today as the spiritual Israel of God (and it does), it applies to those of us who are the children of Abraham by faith in Jesus, those of us who comprise the body of Christ.
May we, as the body of Christ, decide that our sacred marriage to Christ (God, the Son) is far more important than any covenants we may have with country, employer, relative or friend. When my “friends” become a distraction to my marriage to God, they (just like a “friend” who would tempt me to physical adultery) are not really my friends anymore. May I become very uncomfortable in their presence. In fact, may I seek to avoid them.
James 4:4 reminds me a lot of Gomer and Hosea. It’s for today though. It’s for you and me. It calls us what we are when we give our husband’s devotion to the world.
Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.