My Pastoral Ministries student was a senior at Dallas Seminary giving the message he would use if he were candidating for a position as a senior pastor. He was powerfully exposing his theme of tender, gracious forgiveness flowing from Christ’s love. The class had heard this theme many times, but when he started to close with these words, “Guys, I found out this week that my wife had an affair with someone in our church,” suddenly it was not a sermon on the theology of forgiveness but a riveting story with all the tension of –what was he going to do? What should he do? What would she do?
In Hosea 3 the prophet Hosea was the man of God with the straying wife, and the LORD told him exactly what he was to do in the situation. In fact Hosea’s situation was worse than my student’s. His wife had left him and was now shacking up with another man.
“Then the LORD said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman having sex with another companion, committing adultery, as the LORD loves the sons of Israel, even though they are turning after other gods and love sacred raisin cakes.’
So I purchased her for myself—the price was fifteen shekels and about ten bushels of barley. Then I said to her, ‘You will live with me for many days. You will not be promiscuous. You will not have intercourse with any man, and I will live with you, and we will not be intimate sexually. For the sons of Israel will live many days without a king, without a prince, without sacrifice, without sacred stones, ephod, or household idols.’” Hosea 3:1-4
In Hosea 2 the LORD pictured himself wooing his fallen wife, the Northern Kingdom of Israel. He took her back to the beginning of their relationship in the wilderness, spoke tenderly upon her heart, gave her gifts, and waited for her to genuinely respond to him. In Hosea 3 the prophet again enacts in his own life what the LORD experienced in His life with Israel.
When the LORD again gave his command to Hosea, he didn’t even name the woman who rejected Hosea for other lovers. She’s even living with one of them now, and Hosea is commanded to go and love her again. He is to flesh out in his life the love the LORD is still going to give to his idolatrous immoral people.
Hosea obeys and purchases his adulterous wife for the price of a slave. He prohibits her from her sensuous sexual pleasures, and this includes having legitimate sex with him. He doesn’t force her, but like the LORD, he waits for his wife now living with him to respond.
All this pictures how the LORD will purge Israel of their immoral idolatry. He’s going to remove both their legitimate and illegitimate means of worship and he will wait for her to deeply respond to him with love. The book of Hosea has already told us that one-day Israel will respond to the LORD, but it leaves the story of Gomer and Hosea unresolved.
LORD, protect me from just going through the motions in my relationship with you in my worship, and most of all protect my heart from betraying your love by thinking I’m sustained by false gods. Thank you that when I deal with situations like the unfaithfulness my former student faced, I can be assured that you have lived and are living this same kind of hurt and you have the strength and the love to bring resolution.
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