Dec. 16, 2011
When the LORD began to speak through Hosea, 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, and she conceived and bore him a son.
The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” So I bought her for fifteen shekelsof silver and about a homer and a lethekof barley. Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”
There is a little book in the Old Testament called Hosea that is often overlooked. It’s an important book as it provides a metaphor for how intensely God loves us.
Hosea was a prophet. He lived at a time when the Israelites had become very lukewarm in their faith. It’s after the people have been lead out ofEgyptand back to the Promised Land. God has established a covenant with the Israelites as God’s chosen people. But the Israelites have strayed away from God. They haven’t kept up their half of the covenant.
The Lord comes to Hosea and tells him to knowingly marry a promiscuous woman named Gomer. He is to have children with her and love her fully. This is challenging. Hosea is asked to knowingly marry a spouse who will not be faithful to him. He is told to have children with her and raise them, not knowing fully if these children are biologically his children or not.
After marriage, Gomer continues to be unfaithful to Hosea. In chapter 3, Hosea has to go and purchase her back from her pimp! Even though she has been unfaithful, has committed adultery and sold herself into sexual slavery, Hosea is to love her unconditionally and reclaim her as his wife. When he gets Gomer back to their home, he promises to love her fully and make her his wife in every sense of the word.
This is in the Bible? Yep! Who needs an afternoon soap opera? Simply read Hosea!
Why is this story important for us to recall during Advent? This metaphor gets to the very heart of why God sent God’s son into the world. Think of God taking Hosea’s spot in the story. Think of the Israelites, God’s chosen people, as being Gomer. The Jewish people have knowingly turned away from God, prostituted their special relationship with God and given up the most serious of covenants casually, with little thought or understanding of the gravity of their sin. As awful as Hosea feels about his failed relationship with this wife, it is akin to how od feels about God’s failed relationship with God’s chosen people.
While it makes logical and emotional sense for Hosea to let his marriage fail and move away from this relationship, God coaches Hosea to take his wife back and re-establish his marriage covenant. While it makes logical and emotional sense for God to give up on the Jews – to declare that it’s no longer worth investing in – God doesn’t. The relationship between God and humanity is more important to God than the relationship between a husband and a wife. Even when it may not make sense, God doesn’t give up on humanity.
God determined there was one way to solve this problem: God coming as a human being. The way God decides to re-establish an eternal relationship with all of humanity is through God’s Son, Jesus Christ. Want to know how much God wants to be in relationship with you? Look at the baby in the manger scene.
Rick and I believe that God had a hand in bringing the two of us together. How else would have it been orchestrated that I would become a student pastor at the only church Rick had ever been affiliated with? Sometimes we have rocky days in our marriage. But I am confident that there is nothing that we will let tear our marriage covenant apart.
God’s commitment to each of us is even stronger than my commitment to my husband. When Rick does something that disappoints me, I am reminded to remember how often I let my Savior down. What am I to do when I feel let down by Rick? Love him even more and re-commit to him at a deeper level, just as Hosea re-committed himself to his prostitute wife.
God promises never to give up on us. Now if we can only remember not to give up on God and give up on each other! The relationship with God is unbreakable because of God’s perfect love for us. We can’t love perfectly but we can esteem to do so. Most importantly, may we see how much God desires us to be in relationship with God every day of the year.
Let us pray: Love came down at Christmas, Love divine. Love was born at Christmas, star and angels gave the sign. Love shall be our token; love be yours and love be mine. Love to God and all humankind. Love for plea and gift and sign. Amen.