3 Things Hosea Teaches Us about God's Unfailing Love
- Mary Southerland Journey Ministry, Inc
- 2021 26 Apr
A college man walked into a photography studio to have a framed picture of his girlfriend duplicated. When the photographer took the picture apart, he noticed an inscription written on the back of the photograph that read, “My dearest Tom, I love you with all of my heart. I will love you forever and am yours for eternity.”
The inscription was signed, “Diane” and contained a P.S. “If we ever break up, I want this picture back!”
Now there is some real love, right?
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 13 that real love never fails. “Fails” means “collapses, falls, or disintegrates.” True love is God’s love - a love we cannot understand or explain in human terms. God’s love has no “PS” in it.
God’s love doesn’t collapse under the weight of testing.
No matter how scorching the fires of life may be, God’s love does not disintegrate.
When a circumstance rattles the foundation of our lives, God’s love never lets us fall.
The life of the Old Testament prophet Hosea powerfully illustrates this kind of love. Hosea was a godly man – a prophet. I’m sure he dreamed of having a wife who was also a seeker of God, someone with whom he could share God’s calling on his life. Those dreams were shattered when Hosea heard the voice of God say, "The Lord said to him, ‘Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord.’ So, he married Gomer, daughter of Diblaim,” (Hosea 1:2-3).
Not exactly the kind of marriage announcement Hosea had anticipated or wanted. But because Hosea was a godly man, he obeyed the direction of God and married Gomer. Together, they had three children.
When Hosea heard rumors about Gomer, his heart began to break. His wife was sleeping with other men. In fact, Hosea could not even be sure the children they had were his.
Hosea was a faithful man of God, stellar in his humility and obedience to God. As a result of that obedience, Hosea found himself at the bottom of a deep, dark pit where he was a broken-hearted father, a deceived husband and a confused preacher. I’m sure Hosea wondered if his fragile heart would ever recover.
But there was more! God told Hosea to do the unthinkable—to go redeem his wife, the same wife who had betrayed him and their covenant of marriage. Gomer was being sold as a slave and God told Hosea to buy her back. Seriously?
Hosea 3:1 (NLT) “Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.’"
Hosea had every human right to walk away, but love that never fails calls us up to higher choices beyond human understanding – supernatural choices that demand supernatural action. Surely Hosea cried out to God, "She's thrown my love away. Why should I have to buy back what is already mine?"
In the midst of the swirling doubts and confusion, Hosea’s faith stood firm, his obedience to God unwavering. He did not have to understand God’s plan in order to obey God’s plan. Hosea was committed to God--totally committed.
1. God’s Unfailing Love Chooses Commitment
Hosea 2:19-20 “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine.”
Commitment is something our world knows little about. We want commitment to be easy, convenient, painless and cheap. Commitment is none of those things.
Commitment never stops trying. Commitment never tries stopping. Hebrews 12:1 drives home a powerful truth, “Let us run the race that is before us and never give up.” A commitment is a covenant, a promise or pledge, and a contract.
Cortes, the Spanish explorer discovered what we know today as Mexico. He sailed in several boats with many men committed to conquering and settling an unknown land. When they arrived, the men looked around at an undiscovered world and were terrified.
Sensing the fear of his men, Cortes gathered them all on shore and set fire to their ships. He then announced, “Now there can be no turning back.” That is the picture of commitment--no turning back, no escape clauses and no option for retreat.
Love that never gives up can hold on because of commitment as it looks past the circumstance and locks its gaze on the promise of the covenant with God.
Hosea had a decision to make. I’m sure his feelings told him to run as fast and as far away as he could. Hosea was angry, hurt and embarrassed. Everyone knew what Gomer was doing because it had been going on for some time. Remember, Hosea wasn’t even sure that he was the father of his second and third child, but he chose to stay because he chose commitment--commitment to his wife and to his God.
Commitment sometimes means sacrificing your own happiness for a time in order to redeem the relationship. God called Hosea to commitment the first time in marriage. He now calls him to show his love “again.” “Show” means to be a “friend or ally” and to focus on the needs of others.
2. God’s Unfailing Love Chooses to Forgive
Hosea 3:1 “The LORD said to me again, ‘Go, show your love to a woman loved by someone else, who has been unfaithful to you.’”
We often confuse forgiveness as a feeling instead of a choice. Forgiveness is a deliberate action, an independent act between you and God. To forgive means to “cancel the debt and send it away.”
Forgiveness is a choice.
In the Orient, when someone pays a debt, the loan paper is marked “Paid in full.” It is then nailed above the door of their home for everyone to see. Forgiveness makes the choice to cancel the debt--before they ask for forgiveness or even if they never ask for forgiveness.
Gomer did not ask for or even seem to want forgiveness. Scripture tells us that she “loved adultery” and worshipped the false God Baal. In other words, Gomer was happy in her sin, but Hosea forgave her and brought her home--again!
Why? To Hosea the answer was really quite simple. Because God told him to! God told Hosea not only to bring Gomer back but to love and forgive her.
Now that is asking an awful lot. Right? But God can ask a lot because He gave a lot. Forgiveness is the deepest need of our lives and the greatest gift of God.
Colossians 2:13-14 (NLT) “Then God made you alive with Christ. He forgave all our sins. He canceled the record that contained the charges against us. He took it and destroyed it by nailing it to Christ's cross.”
Forgiveness must be given in the same proportion that it is received. There should be no limits to our forgiveness because there are no limits to His. In other words, we can stop forgiving when we run out of forgiveness. True love never fails but chooses instead to forgive.
3. God’s Unfailing Love Chooses to Sacrifice
Hosea was the one who had been wronged and humiliated. He was the one following God, but he was also the one called to sacrifice. Not only did he sacrifice his pride, but his rights as well.
Gomer had broken the covenant of marriage so, biblically, Hosea had every right to divorce her, but he chose to give up that right just like he chose to give up the right to seek revenge. He could have stripped her of every good thing in her life and no one would have blamed him, but he laid down his revenge, took the initiative and went to her. Amazing!
When our son Jered was a little boy, he loved to work in the garage with his dad. He especially loved Dan’s power tools. Wanting to direct his love of power tools in a safer direction, we bought him the cutest set of plastic tools and a wooden workbench for Christmas.
The look of disappointment on his face when he ripped the paper off his new tools and workbench broke my heart. I thought he would be excited. Wrong!
After playing with them for a few minutes, Jered headed for the garage to use “daddy’s big tools.” My husband said, “Son, those tools were made for daddy’s hands. If the wrong person uses those tools, they can get hurt.”
Dan then held out his hands and placed Jered’s hands in his. “See how much bigger my hands are than yours, son? When your hands are this big, you can use the power tools.” Jered got the point.
I hope we do. Revenge is reserved for the hands of God. Revenge is destructive in our hands but in God’s hands, revenge becomes a tool of restoration.
Nowhere does it say that Gomer was repentant. Hosea had no guarantee that she wouldn’t do the same thing again. I am sure his family and friends told him he was making a big mistake and deserved better.
True love goes beyond reason, refusing to settle for justice alone. True love insists on giving mercy. Love that never gives up is willing to pay a great price--to sacrifice.
The marriage of Hosea and Gomer is a picture of our relationship with God and illustrates God’s love for us, a love that never fails. Like Gomer, we have been unfaithful to God, selling ourselves to unworthy desires and goals.
Gomer did not deserve to be redeemed. Her behavior did not merit such mercy. Israel did not deserve God's faithful betrothal. Their unfaithfulness did not merit such mercy. You and I do not deserve salvation. Our sin does not merit such mercy.
We have run from God, straight into the arms of our own selfish desires. Our lives and hearts are cluttered with people and things that we worship. They are false idols because anything that stands between us and God is an idol.
We have become comfortable with our sin and at times, happy in our disobedience. Like Gomer, we cherish that sin, refusing to let it go. However, like Hosea loved Gomer, God has loved us unconditionally--right in the middle of our messy lives.
“Hosea” literally means “salvation” and just like Hosea was Gomer’s salvation, God is ours as He looks fast our rebellious hearts and unfaithfulness – and pursues us. God never gives up on us.
Romans 8:39 (NLT) “Whether we are high above the sky or in the deepest ocean, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
God chose to forgive us, sending His perfect son to pay for our sin and now He calls us to love the way He loves--with a love that never fails.
Photo Credit: ©Unsplash
Mary Southerland is also the Co-founder of Girlfriends in God, a conference and devotion ministry for women. Mary’s books include, Hope in the Midst of Depression, Sandpaper People, Escaping the Stress Trap, Experiencing God’s Power in Your Ministry, 10-Day Trust Adventure, You Make Me So Angry, How to Study the Bible, Fit for Life, Joy for the Journey, and Life Is So Daily. Mary relishes her ministry as a wife, a mother to their two children, Jered and Danna, and Mimi to her six grandchildren – Jaydan, Lelia, Justus, Hudson, Mo, and Nori.