When you think about the word love, who or what comes to mind? What thoughts or feelings are evoked as you picture those around you that you love? Love is one of the most beautiful and powerful feelings of all our emotions and experiences we go through in life. I remember staring into the eyes of my husband at the alter on our wedding day, and this feeling of intense love for him came over me, much like the first time I held my daughter in my arms after giving birth to her. I gazed down at her tiny face in complete adoration, as an overwhelming sense of love that ran so deep flooded my heart and soul. The notion of love is all around us daily. We display our love to others in different ways, but we also get to experience love from our family and friends in return. But where did true love begin? True love began with the biggest and best love story ever told. You can find this love story in the Bible. The entire book from beginning to end is about redemption and God wanting to redeem his love for us throughout the entire bible. God wants to communicate this love story to us through His Word and he does so very clearly. He does this by giving us many smaller stories that illustrate the wonderful truth of the redemption provided through His Son, Jesus Christ. As I began to study the word redemption, I found that it means to buy or purchase. It’s the action of gaining possession of something in exchange for payment, or clearing a debt. Jesus redeemed us in this sense so that we belong to Him. We are “purchased” by Christ from the bondage of sin for the purpose of freedom in Him. Christ paid our “sin debt” through the action of saving us from our sins through his death on the cross. “In him we have redemption through his blood the forgiveness of our sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). The Bible is full of many stories about redemption and God’s grace and love towards us, but this one really stood out to me. It is the story of Gomer and Hosea. Hold on to your seats because this is going to be one of the most interesting love stories ever told.
Once upon a time, God told his obedient and faithful prophet Hosea to go out and find himself a wife. God then added the peculiar instruction to Hosea that his wife was to be a prostitute. Yes, a prostitute! Can you Imagine what Hosea must have been thinking to himself? But Hosea obeyed God’s instructions and he found a prostitute named Gomer with whom he fell madly in love, married, and had children with. Gomer apparently found her life being a wife and mother stifling and boring. She longed for the old days of excitement and unpredictability. There were no thrills in her present lifestyle serving her husband and three children, so sadly, Gomer went back to her old familiar ways. Heartbroken, Hosea raised the children, and loved them, not knowing if the last two were even his to begin with. He had to endure all of the rumors and gossip he was hearing about who the father of these children could be, and the whearabouts of his adulteress wife. Despite his circumstances, he still desperately missed and yearned for his wife. After a period of time, God returned to Hosea with the message to go out in search of Gomer and to bring her home: “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other Gods” (Hosea 3:1). Hosea found his wife in all her debauchery and sin and brought her back home where he continued to love her and tend to her needs. God uses this unusual story to illustrate the unfailing love He has for his people. They, like Gomer, had turned their backs on God in the land of Israel. They, like Gomer, proved themselves unfaithful to their commitment to God and returned to serving other Gods. With willful intention they resumed to their old lifestyle, which did not honor God or obey his laws. Hosea mirrors the consistency of God’s love for us. He says in Hosea 14:4: “I will heal their backsliding. I will love them freely.” Did Gomer deserve that kind of forgiveness? Do we? God’s love extends beyond the limits of our sinful nature and humanity. He longs to draw us into a state of restoration with himself. Hosea 11:4 says: “I led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love.” The bible doesn’t say if there was a happily ever after to Hosea and Gomer’s love story, but one could only hope and imagine that Gomer was eventually captivated by the unconditional love and forgiveness that was brought forth from her patient and adoring husband.
As I reflected on this most interesting love story, it came to me that Gomer represents the unfaithfulness of many in our generation today, much like it represented the people of Israel in the past. God had set the Israelites free from so much mess and sin, and delivered them time and time again, but they somehow went back to their old ways much like many of us today. Plaguing our world is so much evil, darkness, sin, sexual immorality, rebellion, and hatred against God, His people, and His word. Many of us have hardened our hearts to the things of the Lord, and have backslidden or turned away from God much like Gomer, even though we once walked with him. Gomer represents godlessness and one who does not know God, or does not hear from God anymore because they are too deep in their sin. They are desensitized to the things of the Lord and ruled by their own desires. In Galatians 5:16, it says: “So I say, walk by the spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh.” Many of us, much like Gomer, are led by whatever feels good with no regard or consideration to those around us, the consequences that sin brings, or most importantly to God and His standards. God is seeking out a “Hosea Generation.” Hosea represents God in all his holiness and righteousness. Hosea loved his wife unconditionally, the way God loved the people of Israel during that time, and the way he still loves us today. Hosea represents godliness. He heard from God, and when God commanded him to take his sinful wife back, he did so without hesitation. He immediately showed her love, gentleness, kindness, and extended mercy and grace upon her. Hosea clearly displays the holy and righteous attributes of God by taking his wife back and forgiving her time and time again, much like God does with us every time we fall into sin.
Is there a line beyond which we dare not go because of our sin? Yes there is. The line is a refusal to acknowledge our sin—to confess that sin, to ask forgiveness for that sin. However, once confession occurs so, too, does forgiveness. Isaiah 44:22 states, “I have blotted out, like a thick cloud, your transgressions, and like a cloud, your sins. Return to me for I have redeemed you.” God’s desire that we return to him, love him, and serve him faithfully has not only the reward of forgiveness, but the mind-boggling assurance that “I will walk among you and be your God, and you shall be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). Our prayer should be: “Lord, forgive all our sins and receive us graciously, that we may offer the fruit of our lips” (Hosea 14:2). “And because of him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption” (1 Corinthians 1:30). This is the hope we have in Jesus, that no matter how close or how far we are to him HE LOVES US.
With love, hope, and faith,