This morning service was led by Alan Davison of Carmarthen Evangelical Church who preached from Hosea chapter 3.
Today, television soaps focus on story lines which shock so that they get more viewers. Imagine this for a storyline: a man is obligated to marry a woman, a prostitute. They have a child together. The marriage goes downhill. Another two children are born, but there are suspicions that the man is not the father. The wife goes off to a new man, an abuser, who forces her into prostitution. This is the story laid out in Scripture; it was required of the prophet Hosea by God. Sometimes, prophets were asked to live out the word that God wanted to give. Here we see a picture of God’s continued love for His people.
The adulterous wife
Because Gomer was Hosea’s wife there must have been some commitment. Gomer represents the people of God – us. She behaves in a way that is totally against God’s love. The marriage is dysfunctional. We read in chapter 2:13 that Israel had fallen away from the worship of God. This is reflected in the marriage; Gomer doesn’t care. She walks away from the marriage. She doesn’t want independence for she is ‘loved by a lover and is committing adultery.’ (Hosea 3:1). She is offering herself to others. This is a warning for us; we need to be careful we don’t take God for granted. We need to guard our time carefully. Hosea tells us that the people were after ‘raisin cakes’ (Hosea 3:1). These raisin cakes were part of worship of Baal, part of the offering. The baking of these was a prolonged process. Baal worship also included prostitution, which Gomer was probably involved in. Who would be prepared to pay the price to redeem Gomer?
The forgiving husband
Hosea’s love is a sacrificial love and shows God’s love for us. Hosea really does love Gomer. In chapter 1:2-3 Hosea took Gomer, he was obedient to God’s command. He acted for himself as well as God. God lavished love on Israel but they loved ‘raisin cakes.’ God continues to love us, no matter how often we fail Him. God’s love for us is eternal, He will continue to love His elect, “Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” (Ephesians 1:4-6). Jesus’ death redeemed us, we know we are God’s elect by His Grace. We have gone from being enemies of the King to being joint heirs. God has turned our status around.
In order to redeem Gomer from the slave market Hosea had to leave the comfort of his own home to come to her. Jesus chose to leave the glory of heaven because He loves us. There are two steps of forgiveness:
- To be redeemed sin needs to be paid for. Hosea paid 15 shekels of silver, which was half the price of a slave. However, Hosea also paid one and a half homers of barley. This would have satisfied the expected price of a slave woman. We see from this that Hosea struggled to pay the price, the purchase cleared out Hosea’s resources. To redeem Gomer from sin Hosea gives everything he had.
Jesus offered up His own life on the cross. He took on human flesh, He felt pain, He made Himself vulnerable for us. As a man He felt pain, rejection, torment. He laid down everything for us.
- After redeeming Gomer, Hosea then restores her to her previous status. Under Hebrew law she was still a slave, Hosea was her owner. However, Hosea loves Gomer and buys her back to be his wife, not a slave. Gomer must still repent and display faithfulness to him alone.
Whilst God offers forgiveness, we must repent. Chapter 6 of Hosea shows how the people of Israel returned to God, but it was a false commitment. What is missing is any reference to their sin, they are just going through the motions. “ . . . For your faithfulness is like a morning cloud, and like the early dew it goes away.” (Hosea 6:4) We have a merciful God who wants to forgive us. Strive to correct our wrong behaviour.
We have all been unfaithful to God. Our rituals are not sufficient to keep God happy. We must repent. This is the only way we can be accepted by God. He has paid the redemption price. God goes so much further than redeeming us, He restores the relationship. He owns us completely. We are elevated, part of the inheritance of the glory of heaven.