Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Hosea, a picture of God's love

The story of Hosea is a love story.....a story that is often played out in life today.....a story of unrequited love.  It is the story of a lover who fails to keep her vows.  It is the story of God's love for us and our betrayal of the greatest love of all.  it is the story of God's faithfulness and of our unfaithfulness.

Hosea is a prophet in Israel in the 7th century before Christ.  Hosea is commanded by God to take a wife and he is told that his wife will be unfaithful to him.  She will bear many children; some of them will be his and some will be fathered by other lovers.  This is certainly grounds for divorce and in the days of the keeping of Mosaic law, it would be grounds for the death of Gomer, his wife.  But Hosea is commanded to love his wife even in the face of her infidelity, just as God loves Israel in the face of her apostasy and refusal to honor the vows that she has made to God.

One of the challenges of reading the minor prophets is to read them in the context of their time and then to relate them to our time.  Israel was falling away from the God who had led them out of bondage, who had enabled them to possess the land of 'milk and honey', who had raised up judges and kings for them, who had miraculously preserved them.  Now as they had grown more prestigous and proud; they began to think more of themselves than they ought.  they began to become possessive of wealth and more desirous of additional wealth.  They began to take advantage of one another.  They began to worship in word but not in deed.  They began to make alliances with nations who did not believe in Jehovah.  They began to come apart morally.  They no longer lived their faith.  They constantly broke the pledge that they had made to God to "be his people".

God asked Hosea to be a human example of what it was to love someone who continuously violated the most intimate promises.  God loved these people with an unending love and in return they violated his love.  What should his response be?  Our human response would be to walk away and never look back, but God is unhuman in his love....he is God and he persists in his love.

How have we denied God's love?  How have we broken covenant?  Have we violated our vow to love God with all our heart, soul and might?  Do we worship false idols?  Do we place our trust in things of this world rather than in eternal things?  Do we worship in the flesh and not in the spirit?  Like Gomer, have we chased after other loves?

There is hope for all those who will turn back to God.  His love is immense and ready to forgive the repentant heart.  No achievement, no honor, no earthly love can compare to the all-encompassing love of an eternal God.  His love knows no end.  Perhaps it is time to renew your covenant, to reaffirm God's rightful place in your heart and in your life.

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