Over the last two-and-a-half weeks, I have been so overwhelmed by God’s amazing grace and love. In my study of Scripture, as God continuously reveals more about Himself, I had one of those watershed moments. It is almost like God reveals little things about Himself and then all at once several pieces connect and we have this amazing epiphany moment. Our worlds fall apart, our pride is wrecked again, we fall to our knees, and forget how to speak. In this case, I couldn’t even figure out how to form a communicable thought, so you can imagine how difficult it has been for me to find the words to describe this new depth of God’s love that I have now realized and experienced. I won’t even come close, here. I hope that I never stop having these watershed moments.
Do you remember the story of the prophet Hosea? You may or may not. Preachers don’t really preach from Hosea because they are afraid to teach about God commanding someone to buy and even marry a prostitute. That is precisely what God did with this prophet, and we will get there. For now, I want to ask you what your understanding of God’s love is. What makes it so amazing? What makes it so good? After you have thought about it for a moment, we will go to the Scriptures. Perhaps I will be able to communicate a drop or two from the great waterfall that has crashed on top of me, crushing me speechless for the last couple of weeks.
I will sow her in the land for Myself,
and I will have compassion
on No Compassion;
I will say to Not My People:
You are My people,
and he will say, “You are My God.”
God’s relentless love
God has at this point used the actions of Hosea to communicate a divine truth to the people of Israel. Hosea was God’s prop, His object lesson, His illustration, His living parable. As God instructs Hosea to act, He also instructs Hosea to prophesy in accordance with his actions. As God is speaking to and through the prophet Hosea, He says, “I will sow her in the land for Myself…” This is meant in the same sense that a farmer will sow a crop.
To get at what God is declaring through the proclamation of Hosea, we need to observe Hosea’s actions. We are simply going to take a broad look at Hosea’s prophecy because I don’t have the time or space here to walk through the book of Hosea with you. I will eventually be able to do that, so be sure to follow the blog.
When the Lord first spoke to Hosea, He said this to him:
Go and marry a promiscuous wife
and have children of promiscuity,
for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity
by abandoning the Lord.
So he went and married Gomer daughter of Diblaim” (Hosea 1:2-3a).
At this point in Israel’s history, as with almost every season in her history, she was abandoning the Lord. Gomer, who was a prostitute, represents the nation of Israel. Gomer was already prostituting herself. She started in prostitution. That is who she was. God commands Hosea, who represents God Himself in the living illustration, to go and marry a prostitute. Hosea went, chose a wife from among the prostitutes of the land, and married her.
Is this not precisely what God has done with Israel? We might journey further into Israel’s history, to the Exodus. God, speaking to Israel through Moses, said,
“The Lord was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples” (Deuteronomy 7:7).
Israel, like Gomer, was nothing to be desired. Israel had no glory. In fact, God had chosen Israel as a national people before Israel was even a nation (Genesis 15). When we see in this story that Hosea was to go a seek out a prostitute to be his wife, we know that it correlates specifically with God’s choosing of Israel. God, through Hosea, is painting this vivid, explicit picture of His own pursuit of His national bride, whom He has chosen for Himself.
When God says that He will sow her (Israel) in the land for Himself, the truth we grasp is that God has planted a crop and will raise that crop precisely the way He intends to raise it. It is God who chooses a and plants a crop for Himself.
Just as Hosea’s life was a living parable for the people of Israel, so too is Israel’s history a living parable for God’s chosen spiritual people. Just as God raised Israel as His crop, choosing her as a national people, so He is raising for Himself a spiritual people whom He has also chosen for Himself. In Genesis 12:3, God promises Abraham that all the nations of the earth will be blessed through his offspring (the nation of Israel). Jesus came through the nation of Israel and gave His life so that all those who believed in Him would have eternal life (John 3). Those in Christ were chosen from before the foundation of the world.
“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:3-7).
God has been sowing for Himself a spiritual people, and the life of Hosea is one of the illustrations, living parables, that God has given for us so that we might understand who He is and so that we might begin to grasp the depth of His grace and love. Let me, for a moment, paint a picture for us. The God who says, “I sow her in the land for myself,” has such a relentless love that He chose people for Himself, planted them in the world, and pursues them without recoil.
For those who know Christ, please understand, you and I were lost in prostitution. We worked for what we perceived to be righteousness. We were dirty and wretched even if attractive in some way to others in the world. God had every reason to let us wallow in His righteous indignation. He had every reason to let us follow our hearts, our desires in self-righteousness into the pit of Hell. Yet, not because of anything within us, He chose a people for Himself. He came to us in our promiscuity. He married us. He bought us and married us! The love of God is this explicit. It is this relentless. I fear that we skip Hosea’s prophecy because we are afraid of a love that pursues us, never gives up, and always succeeds. If you don’t experience this type of love from the God of the universe, perhaps He will come and retrieve you today.
God’s redemptive love
We have a tendency to stop there when considering God’s love for His people. God loves you and wants a relationship with you! God’s love overcomes sin! Isn’t that what we say? Then we stop. Why do we stop? Why not continue and explore the depths, being crushed under the waterfall of God’s love? God’s love is so deep that I am convinced we will never stop looking into it with such a pure childlike amazement, and I can only share a drop or two of this great waterfall with you with the space that I have. Perhaps the waterfall that I experience on this earth is only a drop that I have time and space to experience on this earth. I hope so desperately that you get to experience it for yourself. Hosea continues in this verse, “…and I will have compassion on No Compassion; I will say to Not My People: You are My people…”
In chapter 1, verses 4-9, Hosea and Gomer have three children. These children are named as a testimony to what Israel had become- condemnable, abhorrent, unforgivable, disassociated with anything godly, not good enough, and deserving of God’s divine hatred. How would you like to have such a name? This described the nation of Israel generations after God had chosen her; that is why it is symbolized by the names of Hosea’s children with Gomer. Gomer, even though she was chosen by Hosea and married to him, would go back into prostitution just as Israel had done. Gomer was unable to love Hosea even though she was chosen by Him. Israel was unable to love God even though God had chosen Israel. Can you guess what I will write next? We are unable to love God even if we are chosen by God to be a part of His spiritual people. In essence, we are bound by our own nature.
This is why, in Romans 3, Paul is writing that no one can seek after God. All have sinned and have fallen short of God’s glory. It is why when he gets to chapter 10 in his letter to the Romans, he is writing that God was found by those who were not looking for Him and that He revealed Himself to those who were not asking for Him.
God, whose love is so relentless that He would choose and pursue a people from before the foundation of the world, has compassion on those who had not obtained compassion and says to those who are not His people, “You are My people.”
We see this clarified for us again in Hosea 3:1, “Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.”
A more accurate translation, here, would be that Hosea is to show love to a woman who is “loved by her husband, yet an adulteress.” This is the case because the context demands it. “…just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods.” Hosea chose Gomer to be his wife. Gomer returned to her promiscuity. God instructed Hosea to buy her back and love her just as He loves those He chooses for Himself even though they turn to idolatry and love raisin cakes (sacrificial offerings to false gods and participation in the ceremonial feasts). This is redemption. God buys us from our own promiscuity in this world. God’s love is not only relentless. It is redemptive.
This means something too significant to miss. God hates evil people (Psalm 11:5). If in this story, we are the prostitute and we are the ones who return to our promiscuity in this world, then we are evil. No one is righteous (Romans 3:10). No one does good (Psalm 14:3, 53:3). We are all objects, then, of God’s divine hatred, His divine and righteous revulsion. Yet in our promiscuity, in our sin, God is choosing a people to love particularly, buying them and bringing them from their promiscuity to Himself. We might expand on the verses we read in Deuteronomy and Galatians so that we might gain a better understanding of God’s redemptive love.
“The Lord was devoted to you and chose you, not because you were more numerous than all peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples. But because the Lord loved you and kept the oath He swore to your fathers, He brought you out with a strong hand and redeemed you from the place of slavery, from the power of Pharaoh king of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 7:7-8).
It is because of God’s love and the covenant that He made that He brought Israel out of Egypt and redeemed His chosen national people from slavery. It wasn’t because of anything within Israel at all.
“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens. For He chose us in Him, before the foundation of the world, to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted through Jesus Christ for Himself, according to His favor and will, to the praise of His glorious grace that He favored us with in the Beloved.
We have redemption in Him through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding” (Ephesians 1:3-8).
We do not have redemption because of anything that is in us, but only through Christ’s blood according to the riches of His grace that He lavished on us. God alone does this. He does this with all wisdom and understanding. God’s redemptive love dealt with sin permanently. It is effective for the bride that God has chosen for Himself.
So, there I was, born into promiscuity. Sowed in unrighteousness, but already chosen by God. In my unrighteousness, I turned to sin and God came to buy me with the blood of Jesus Christ. For those who are particularly loved by God, God has purchased you and is having compassion on you and is calling you His people. God’s love is relentless and redemptive.
God’s irresistible love
Making this realization about the love of God raises an interesting question for the unrighteous and wretched human mind. If God is working in this way. If this is what God’s love is, can it be said that God forces people to come to Him? If God has this worked out, is it really possible for us to love Him?
Verse 23 concludes, “And they (Israel) will say, ‘You are my God!’”
When we look to chapter 3:4-5, the story helps to clarify for us, “For the Israelites must live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, and without ephod or household idols. Afterward, the people of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come with awe to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.”
God chose, God redeemed, and His chosen people came to Him. Grace is not irresistible because God brute forces people into some sort of captivity. It is irresistible because God, who chooses people from before the foundation of the world, pursues His bride, proves Himself to her, gives her understanding, shows His awe-inspiring nature, and woos her relentlessly. We choose sin and God redeems us. While we were enemies of God we were reconciled to Him (Romans 5:10). God dotes gifts of grace, mercy, regeneration, sanctification and new birth upon His people all to bring those He has chosen to Himself. When He calls a people who are not His people His people, they say, “You are my God!” God is working all things together in this way. God is not the mobster who says, “Love me or die.” He is the lover of our promiscuous souls, and He says, “I chose You and I will not lose you.” God’s love is relentless, redemptive, and irresistible.
This means something real for the way that we love others in this world. We love because God first loved us (1 John 4:19). Scripture instructs us to love our enemies (Matthew 5:44). It instructs men to love their wives as Christ loved the church (Ephesians 5:25). We are to love one another as Christ has loved us; this is how the world will know that we are His disciples (John 13:34-35). Though our enemies may be deserving of hatred, of indignation, or even of death, we act with benevolence and beneficence toward them as God is benevolent and beneficent toward those He hates. We don’t know, God may very well be bringing some of our enemies into glory with us. We love our spouses (particularly men to their wives) with this particular, relentless, redemptive, and irresistible love that Christ has for His church- the love that Hosea was instructed to have for Gomer. We give up far too easily in our society. Real love rejects personal preference and buys people back from their wrongdoing. Christ gave His live so that His people might be loved. This is how Christians are to love one another. We become the living parable. This is how we know that most self-proclaimed Christians do not know Christ, because they can’t get over the little preferences they have, let alone give their lives for people they say that they love.
I will leave you with these words from Jesus, which He taught just before a multitude of people stopped following Him because the teaching was too difficult,
“Everyone the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will never cast out. For I have come down from heaven, not to do My will, but the will of Him who sent Me. This is the will of Him who sent Me: that I should lose none of those He has given Me but should raise them up on the last day” (John 6:37-39).