Today’s reading is drawn from Hosea 1:11.
When you and I were growing up, we learned about prostitutes. It may have been from something we saw on television or heard from one of the tough guys at school, but we were introduced to what some have called, “the oldest profession in the world.” We were told that some people literally sell themselves to willing buyers for a one-time sexual experience. We discovered that there are pitiable people in the world who, in every sense of the word, are “used.”
The story of Hosea is one of the most emotionally gripping in the entire Bible. Here was a man called to be a prophet of God. As he was preparing for his ministry to the Israelites, God visited him with a message: “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife.”
Hosea, assuming he was like you and me, must have been stunned with this directive. Certainly Hosea had hoped to find a nice Jewish girl, a virgin from a good home to be his lifelong companion. How Hosea must have been crushed with this horrific assignment!
So Hosea met a prostitute named Gomer and asked her to be his bride. Can you imagine how difficult it must have been for Hosea on their wedding night? . . .
Don’t you wish he could have married his highschool sweetheart who would have been ecstatic about spending her first night basking in the delight of her precious, innocent husband? Instead, Hosea got a woman for whom the thrill was gone from life. A hardened woman. Our hearts ache for Hosea, don’t they?
Now we know how God felt. His people, whom He had loved and protected, had slept around in a spiritual sense. Not once or twice on business trips, they had flaunted their unfaithfulness to him, literally bringing their false gods into the holiest of places . . . shamelessly brandishing their infidelity.
God was furious, angry that His people had been so foolish . . . so calloused . . . so arrogant. But mostly, God’s heart was broken. What could have been a holy union between God and His beloved people had become a punch line — the brunt of laughter and ridicule. So God told Hosea that it wasn’t good enough for him to know about this spiritual adultery, he wanted Hosea to feel it . . . to literally live with the heartbreak of loving a rugged harlot instead of a cherished and virtuous bride. What an incredible lesson.
You and I are like those arrogant Israelites . . . and like the adulterous Gomer. We are men who seek approval and pleasure apart from our faithful God. This story is an illustration of exactly what it’s like for God to love us. He could do so much better, but He loves us more that we could ever know . . . more than we ever deserved . . . even more than we loved our childhood sweetheart. Isn’t this awesome?