God entered into a Covenant relationship with man. A Covenant was no trivial deal. It meant that the parties were bound to keep it to the T or else they would be considered cursed. In Exodus, God called Moses aside and handed him the Ten Commandments which were to be part of the Covenant. The Israelites agreed to obey them. Then when Joshua led them into the Promised Land, he reminded them about the Ten Commandments. The Israelites enthusiastically agreed to follow them. Finally, before his death Joshua exhorted the people again to follow the Commandments, which they heartily committed to.
A few years went by.
One party broke the Covenant. Guess who? The people of Israel.
Lying, stealing, oppression, perversion, injustice and prostitution abounded in the land. Right from the common man to the priest, everybody was involved.
A TALE OF LOVE
It was at this time in history (around 8th century B.C) that God sent Prophet Hosea with a message. He wanted to proclaim to His people through Hosea that even though they had been unfaithful to Him, He would continue to be loyal to them. His love for them was ‘hesed’ meaning ‘steadfast, enduring and unchanging love’. God says in Lamentations 3:22-24 ‘Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed, Because His compassions fail not. 23 They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. 24 “The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “Therefore I hope in Him!”’
So, God asked Hosea to marry a prostitute!!
If that wasn’t stunning enough then God asked him to continue loving his ‘unfaithful and disloyal’ wife! Hosea’s wife would continue to remain unfaithful to him even while she was married to him!
There is nothing more hurtful in a marriage than having a spouse commit adultery.
The worst is yet to come.
Soon afterwards, Mrs. Hosea ended up in a slave market waiting to be sold!
But you know what happens? Hosea goes to the market and buys her back. He brought her home and loved her with all his heart.
Even as his life is played out, Hosea alternates between two voices of God – one that condemns people’s sins and announces judgement on them and the other that compassionately loves His people.
ANALYZING GOD’S LOVE
Let’s now analyze this attitude of God’s compassionate love. It’s beautifully described in Hosea chapter 11.
1) GOD’S LOVE IS A GREAT COMMITMENT
Marriage vows typically conclude with the phrase ‘Till death do us part’. Sadly, nowadays marriages don’t last till death. Divorce and separations are on the boom. A British poet humorously described this trend in a simple poem as:-
She said she loved me for eternity but managed to reduce it to eight months for good behavior.
She said we fitted like a hand in a glove but because of the hot weather now she took the glove off and got rid off me.
She said the future was ours but the house was made out in her name
She said I was the only one who understood her completely and then she left me saying that I would understand her completely.
Marriage relationship shows us that we are made in the image and likeness of God. God instituted marriage with the desire for us to experience and reflect His enduring love.
God’s loves us faithfully like a husband, father and a shepherd.
2) A Husband’s love
Hosea 11:4 says, ‘I drew them with gentle cords with bands of love, and I was to them as those who take the yoke from their neck. I stooped and fed them’. God loved His people like a husband. He wooed them with words and actions and drew them to Him.
3) A Father’s love
He also loves us like a father. Hosea 11:1,3 says, ‘“When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called My son. “I taught Ephraim to walk, taking them by their arms; but they did not know that I healed them’. God loved the Israelites like a father would tenderly love his children. He anticipated their fears, feelings, apprehensions and loved them all the way.
4) A Shepherd’s love
In Hosea 11:4, God says, ‘I stooped and fed them’. Like a Shepherd, God loves His people and ensures that they have no want.
…to be continued…