JUNE 18 - Nº 169 Hosea 1 - 14
Israel had been warned many times: they needed to stop sacrificing to idols and worship only the One true God! If they didn’t, they would soon be destroyed by the Assyrians—who were now ruled by a ruthless king named Tiglath-Pileser. However, Israel’s King Jeroboam II refused to listen to the warnings God delivered through prophets like Amos (see #167 - June 16). But God loved the nation of Israel (sometimes called Ephraim) enough to send one more prophet. His name was Hosea. His message was very similar to the one Amos had given—but his presentation was completely different! God instructed Hosea to marry a woman named Gomer. Right up front, God informed the young prophet that his new wife would be unfaithful. But He wanted Hosea to love her regardless of what she did. Gomer and Hosea had three children. God chose their names. The oldest child was a son named Jezreel. His name was a reminder of the unnecessary massacre King Jehu had led at Jezreel (see #156 - June 5). But it also meant “God Will Scatter or Sow,” which is exactly what God was about to let Assyria do to Israel. The couple’s second child was a daughter named Lo-Ruhamah, which meant “No Mercy.” Her name was a reminder that judgment was no longer negotiable due to Israel’s constant disobedience. The third child was another son. His name was Lo-Ammi, which meant “Not My People” since the Israelites had completely turned their backs on God and did not want to be known as His people. Just as God had predicted, Gomer was unfaithful, but Hosea remained loyal to her. God had given him a very real and unconditional love for his wife—a love that would not give up. Sometimes he allowed her to suffer the consequences of her actions hoping she would change her ways. Sometimes he overwhelmed her with his kindness. Sometimes he tried to restrict the places she could go, so she wouldn’t be able to wander into harm. But, whenever she ran away, he went after her and rescued her. One time he even paid for her freedom when she was being auctioned as a slave. No matter where she had been or what she had done, Hosea brought her home and took care of her. Hosea and Gomer’s marriage was a picture of God’s relationship with Israel. God loved Israel unconditionally. But Israel did not return His love. The Israelites did not honor the “marriage” vows they had taken on Mount Sinai (see #48 - February 17). Instead, they chose to have relationships with other gods. God kept pursuing them and bringing them back to Himself. There were times God let Israel suffer the consequences they deserved. Other times He offered them amazing blessings. (Ultimately, He would buy His own people back—paying with the life of His Son—see #280). Whenever the Israelites returned, God embraced them and blessed them. Unfortunately, they kept wandering off. However, Hosea’s writings and sermons, collected during his 25 tough years of marriage, end with a message of hope. One day God’s people will choose to return and live with Him forever!
The Hebrew word for unconditional love is hesed. It is a love that has no boundaries and never gives up. It involves deep feelings that prompt undeserved actions. God loves each one of us with hesed love. Are you allowing yourself to experience and enjoy it? Or do you keep running away from it and suffering the consequences?