A TIME TO SEEK THE LORD
Updated: Nov 10, 2020
Sow for yourselves righteousness; Reap in mercy; Break up your fallow ground. For it is time to seek the Lord. Til He comes and rains righteousness on you. ~ Hosea 10:12
Ask anyone who has experienced infidelity in a marriage I’m sure that they would agree that unfaithfulness is a fatal blow to a marriage. The excruciating pain inflicted by someone with whom you have a covenant and promised to love till death do you part is devastating and very hard to recover from. The deep suffering and trauma experienced by the person betrayed have often been compared to the sudden death of a loved one. The obvious difference is the person is still living but the pain and process of recovery are comparable. The heart-wrenching grief is hard to bear and impossible without God’s intervention, comfort, and grace.
But ponder this for a moment. What if a person knew going into a marriage fully knowing that the spouse would be unfaithful, repeatedly adulterous, reject, abandon, and betray them? On top of that, the cheating spouse would have children outside the marriage. Then the person cheated on was to forgive the one who violated the marriage vow, take them back, and show them sacrificial love and compassion.
This was the case with the prophet Hosea. God commanded Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute. (Hosea 1:2) Hosea knew going in that his wife Gomer was a harlot and would cause him much pain. This was not an easy task for the prophet but it would equip him to feel God's heart for Israel.
Hosea’s extraordinary obedience to God is mind-blowing, especially under these circumstances, yet he was willing to go all-in for God. I'm pretty sure Hosea knew that he had to experience much suffering, but to walk it out would be a true test of faith and his willingness to obey God.
Hosea’s foreknowing and willingness to suffer for God had a purpose. Just as in all suffering, we can be certain if it is allowed, there is an intent. For Hosea, his marriage to Gomer was a living object lesson to the adulterous northern kingdom of Israel. His adulterous situation would equip him to feel God’s heart toward Israel. Hosea’s role was to show how the people had been unfaithful to God, their “Husband” and Provider. Above that, it was to show that God was a jealous God who punishes sin but also is a God of restoration whose love has no end and mercies endure forever.
The nation of Israel "married" themselves to Baal and other false gods of Canaan. Israel was in a spiritual stupor and had acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshipping other gods. Hosea warned them that unless they repented of their sin and turned back to God they were headed toward destruction.
During Hosea’s and Gomer’s marriage, there were three children born, and two were perhaps not the prophet's. Hosea was (in my Maury Povich voice) NOT the father. Similarly, Israel did not acknowledge God as Father. They had a disregard for God, His ways, and chose to mix worshipping God with pagan gods and give credit to Baal for all the things that God had blessed them with. Gomer and Israel acted irresponsibly as they ran after other lovers and other gods. Therefore, God would fence Israel with “thornbushes” and “block their path” by making the rewards of idol worshipping so disappointing and inadequate that the people would turn back to Him. This was God’s chastening but also a great expression of His loyal and unchanging love and mercy.
Obstacles are often the catalysts that lead the wayward back to their first Love.
Although Israel was unfaithful, God’s commitment to them remained unchanged. (Hosea 1:10) At the same time, God did make charges against His unfaithful ‘wife’ Israel. The word of the Lord against Israel,
“But now bring charges against Israel, your mother, for she is no longer my wife, and I am no longer her husband. Tell her to remove the prostitute's makeup from her face and the clothing that exposes her breasts. Otherwise, I will strip her as naked as she was on the day she was born. I will leave her to die of thirst, as in a dry and barren wilderness. Hosea 2:1-4
Israel’s unfaithfulness would not go unpunished. He would strip her and make her like a desert in a dry and barren wilderness. A dry place but yet a place free from distractions. A place to focus on Him. A place where He could clearly communicate with them and to change what had been a time of trouble and into a day of hope.
Our country has been in a dry and uncomfortable place but in God’s great love and mercy, it’s also a place to reflect, repent, and replenish. A place to spend time with God, and seek Him while He may be found. A place stripped of many distractions that had previously consumed a lot of our time. Though very uncomfortable and difficult God in His sovereignty and providence has blessed us with an open space in time to go after Him, examine ourselves, and plow up the hard ground in our hearts so that we may reap in righteousness and hope.
A desert place is parched but prompts the soul to hunger and thirst for righteousness so that we may be filled.
There are many idols that individually and as a nation that has taken the place of the One True and Living God. Some put their hope in men making them idols in their hearts. Money, greed, power, organizations, political parties, and agendas have become idols and the primary source of division and hope for mankind. Like Israel, many are mixing the worship of God with the worship of idols. It's sad to say, but spiritual adultery is taking place even now.
Israel’s suffering for their lawless behavior had brought twin judgments of increased violence, and climate disturbances. The moral and spiritual decay of Israel mirrors the days we are living in. Israel during this time was in political turmoil and had much dissension. They experienced prosperity but began to decline in economic wealth. They were spiritually decaying and rebellious. Sound familiar? But we learn from God's dealings with unfaithful Israel that God is faithful and merciful still and will restore those who turn to Him.
There is hope for the repentant.
Spiritual and physical adultery is a dangerous business and has severe consequences and both cause disappointment and unsurmountable grief for the one betrayed. Hosea experienced the heartbreak of Gomer’s unfaithfulness but yet took her back and dealt with her tenderly. Though Hosea’s agony was one-woman God’s disappointment and heartbreak were a whole nation. Yet He showed unconditional love, enduring mercy, and abounding grace to Israel. May the Lord have mercy upon us.
Through all of Israel's pursuing and passion for idols, God's heart was still set on them. The good news is that God still has the same unconditional love, mercy, and longsuffering for us today.
Listen to the word of the Lord through the Prophet Hosea:
But then I will win her back once again. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there. I will return her vineyards to her and transform the Valley of Trouble into the gateway of hope. She will give herself to me Me there as she did long ago when she was young when I freed her from captivity in Egypt. When that day comes, says the Lord, “you will call me husband’.
I will make you my wife forever showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you Mine and you will finally know Me as the Lord. (Hosea 2:14-16 19,20)
God was promising them a fresh new beginning. He would exchange their trouble for hope. He would show Israel compassion, and 'rekindle" His love to His Bride. And this all took place in the desert. In a dry place. Oh, how merciful and gracious is our God. Though we may be in a desert place, it's a place of reconciliation, restoration, intimacy, and outpouring!
As I reflected on Hosea and Gomer's enduring"love story". I saw many grace-filled glimpses of God's heart for us.
The prophet Hosea and Gomer lived under the Law. Under the Law, Hosea could have taken Gomer before the elders and had her stoned to death. Under the Law, adultery was punishable by death but Hosea chose to show Gomer unconditional love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy to his wife. In the same way, God shows patience, unconditional love, mercy, grace, and forgiveness of sin to us by sending His only begotten Son. Death has no sting and is swallowed up because of Jesus' redemptive work on the cross. For while the wages of sin is death but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus. (Romans 6:23)
Gomer became enslaved in prostitution and Hosea bought back her freedom, she was released and Hosea was reconciled to her. In a similar but much grander fashion, Jesus purchased our freedom with His own blood and we are released from the power of sin and reconciled to God. (2 Corinthians 5:18) (Colossians 1:19-20)
Hosea was most likely ashamed of his harlot wife yet he hung in there with her. The Bible tells us in that Jesus despised the shame. Jesus like Hosea experienced rejection, pain, and betrayal on a whole other level, yet He hung on the cross. (Hebrews 12:2)
Hosea was obedient to God. He felt what God felt for Israel through His own suffering and experience with Gomer. In like manner, Jesus, full of grace and truth, came down from heaven to do the will of the Father and walked the earth in his humanity. He put Himself "in our shoes" therefore He knows how we feel and can deal compassionately with us.
For we do not have a High Priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet He was without sin. (Hebrews 4:15)
Listen ever so carefully to God's word to unfaithful Israel,
The Lord says I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever.
O Israel stay away from idols! I am the One who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from Me. Let those who are wise understand these things. Let those with discernment listen carefully. The paths of the Lord are true and right, and righteous people live by walking in them. But in those paths, sinners stumble and fall. Hosea 14:4-9
To sum it up, Hosea and Gomer's marriage is a picture of God's love for us. Even when we are unfaithful He remains faithful. God never abandons the covenant. We may stray but He is constant. His love is persistent and continual. He is the same, yesterday, today, and forever.
There is much to distract us at this hour. If not careful we can drift and take our eyes off of our First Love. God is always wooing us to seek Him. So let's set our eyes to look straight ahead and fix our gaze on Him and give careful thought to the paths for our feet and be steadfast in all our ways. We must not get sidetracked. We must be adamant in seeking God and not give in to the subtly of seducing idols.
The Lord is coming back for His Bride. A church without spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she would be holy and blameless. (Ephesians 5:27) He's coming back for a church with hearts that are not divided between the gods of this world and the God of all mankind.
For the Lord of hosts is His name. And your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. Who is called the God of the whole earth. Isaiah 54:5