The story of Hosea: Love that defies definition, a relationship that never makes sense.
“When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, He said to him, ‘Go marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to Me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other gods.’ ” Hosea 1:2 New Living Translation
In the last few centuries it has become a popular notion that one should aspire to be a prophet, especially in spiritual groups, churches, cults, or those wanting to gather a following. A certain air of authority has grown around these individuals who claim to speak for God. Quite often what they reveal about the messages God is relating to them for the masses has to do with finances, property, things of value which must be placed in the care of the Prophet.
If one wants to discover the life of a prophet called by God to bring messages to the people, look for them in the Old Testament of the Bible. What is noticeable is the lack of individuals rushing to be a prophet! There is a very good reason for this, the lives of prophets were far from glamorous! At least the real ones, the ones who were actually called by God. For a prophet called by God had the responsibility to give the information from God to the people whether it was good or bad. And most often it wasn’t good news the prophet had to relate to the leaders and people of Israel. Many Old Testament prophets died quite nasty deaths; Jeremiah was sawed in half while laying in a hollowed out log. The life expectancy of a prophet called by God was rather short.
Anyone who found themselves being called by God to become a prophet knew what happened to those called by God. The future didn’t look too bright for you if God called your name. You could try running but that wasn’t going to work out too well for you. Unless you really liked ocean voyages, above the water and below! (Remember Jonah?) No, being called to be a prophet of God was not high on the Top Ten Careers for the up and coming spiritual leader.
Hosea is just one example of what was expected of a prophet of God. God told Hosea to marry a prostitute. Notice, God did not ask or make a suggestion. He told Hosea it was what he was going to do! So, let’s take a count. Are there any men who would like to volunteer to serve as a prophet as Hosea served?
By the way, God chooses what kind of prophet you will be, what your message will be, and to whom you will share that message. A prophet as defined by God was not a glamorous position of authority where one was respected and honored. More likely you would be run out of town, heckled, harassed, attacked, and mostly just plain hated! No one was standing in line hoping God would choose them to be a prophet. So, why would a man choose to accept that kind of a responsibility, especially, after God explained what He expected Hosea to do, what was required of him as the prophet of God?
The closest we might get to it today is a pastor. Why does anyone ever become a pastor? What is it that constitutes “the call”; how is it revealed to the person? And is it the same for everyone who receives, or hears that still small voice? What confirms or denies whether one has been chosen as a man or woman “of the cloth?”
Several years ago when Jim and Tammie Faye Bakker were at their zenith of televangelism the two most sought after college degrees were Theology and Communication. Want to hazard a guess why that might have been a reality? Do you think there was any kind of motivation coming from watching a multi-million dollar “ministry” as it blanketed the airwaves with “The Lifestyles of the Rich and Extremely Blessed Christians”?
Is it any wonder that the world at large continues to view christianity through “glasses of contempt” as they watch those who claim to know God the Father, Jesus the Son and the Holy Spirit our Comforter mangle their reputations on a daily basis? What is seen when those who put themselves forward as the anointed speak for God and forget His Mercy, Grace, Love, Patience, His constant intimate pursuit of those He created, when more time is spent pointing out sin rather than introducing the Sin Destroyer? If most sermons, Bible studies, and small group time is spent focused on sinful behavior and if by beholding we are changed, why are we surprised when nothing changes?
With every new prophet God called there was a need to up the intensity of the message as God sought to involve His children in the reality of life connected to the only God who actually existed. Unfortunately, way back in the history of planet Earth, two people made a choice. They chose to believe the lie they could somehow become like God. With that choice came the God Complex gene hidden deeply in every human from that moment on.
It is this lie that determines our behavior, motivates our habits, and moves us to demand our rights regardless of others and their rights. It is the human condition that causes the destruction evident world wide, the human condition that cries out, “Me, me, me, me!” as we turn our backs on a dying planet filled with dying people, including ourselves.
How do you involve those you love in meaningful conversation when no one wants to listen? You could leave them to their own designs, but that sentences them to death. The choices they are making are destroying them, you can’t leave them to that outcome. You love them. Love is a powerful motivator, one of the most powerful we know, one of the most powerful we ever experience.
Many of you will know what I am talking about; some of you may not know what I am talking about, it may still be coming to you. There are those of us who know the motivation that love, even the love we experience in this broken, self-focused world can cause. Actions you knew you would never tolerate become more tolerable than you thought. Or maybe it’s the fact that your love for that one person changed you, not whether the action was now one you could tolerate.
There are so many life experiences that when chatting about them with the Guys or the Girls are merely academic. They take on a totally different life when they become a reality. It is no longer, “What if?” It has become, “What now?” And this is happening all around us. Around the world, moment by moment, someones life is being changed by, “What Now!”
God wanted His children to know His love for them especially in the “What Now’s”. God was motivated by His Love to continually seek to plant in the hearts and minds of Israel the truth of His love. There was a whole a world who needed to know this love God had for them. He had chosen Israel as the emissary to reveal all God offered those who would receive His gift. And that Gift was Himself willingly becoming the One who took the place of humanity as He gave humanity what was His. This message of hope centered on God’s Gracious Love echoed throughout the canyons of time repeating, “You will bruise His heel, He will crush your head.” Genesis 3:15
The Promise, the Plan was already in place waiting for that moment in time when the sacrifice of love could have its maximum impact. Until then, God continued His effort to teach His stubborn, wayward people their special place in this struggle of life and death.
God chose yet another man to become the messenger: Hosea, his wife, and the children which were the result of Hosea’s wife’s flagrant adultery. Each one in that family had a part in revealing to Israel what their actions, their dalliance with false gods was doing to them and their relationship with the only real God. And because of the deeply intimate, passionate love God had for the people of this planet, we have the story of Hosea. For me it is one of the most difficult life stories. I call it one of the Reality Stories in the Word of God. Hosea would have suffered extreme humiliation, the shame he carried even as he responded to Gods request, the shame he felt with himself as he dealt with each new episode of adultery.
Here as we begin walking with Hosea, we have an opportunity to experience the healing power of God’s grace. Through God’s grace we can descend to depths in ourselves unknown until now, places which need the healing touch of Jesus, places that have caused us pain for far too long. I can’t be sure about anyone but myself, however I am very weary of the pain. It takes too much energy, causes too much separation, breeds conflicts I really can’t waste time on!
It’s never easy to descend into the dungeons that are chained, barred, double locked. However, the Comforter promises to go with us every step. Jesus lights each step, even carrying us over those steps which are too slippery. God the Father leads as we go deeper and deeper. An amazing thing is He won’t allow you or me to go too far! God protects us from us, from our own dungeons, from our own skeletons. God makes sure to cocoon us in His presence always. It doesn’t matter what I think, or see, or feel, God promised He will always be where I am, done deal!
It is definitely going to be an interesting journey as we experience Hosea’s life and marriage. There will be opportunities for each and every one of us to have a deeper connection with our God who loves us, and maybe even with someone we love in the here and now. That part is between you and Him, Him and me. He and I are dealing with several connections which are being deepened constantly. Perhaps you are in the same place, working on connections between you and Him.
I realize this story of Hosea is one I probably have needed to consider more deeply for a long time. Now, God has provided the opportunity for me to explore this challenging, heart wrenching story of a man’s love for his wife mirroring God’s love for the men, women, and children to whom He has given life. It’s a remarkable love story.
The Lord appeared to me in a faraway place and said,
“I love you with an everlasting love.
So I will continue to show you my kindness.” Jeremiah 31:3 God’s Word Translation
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