SheReadsTruth.com has been going through one of my favorite books of the bible: Hosea. You can read the full study on their website. This post is part of their link-up series #SheSharesTruth. Read more from others who have gone through the study at #SheSharesTruth or read the 17-day devotional for yourself online.
There is something so visceral about the book of Hosea. The story (if you’re not familiar with it) draws a stark parallel between Israel’s relationship with God and Gomer’s unfaithfulness to her husband, Hosea. She (meaning both Israel and Gomer) runs away from the person who can love her like no one else into the arms of idols, gods, and danger.
The poetry in Hosea is difficult to read. It tells the story of Israel’s unfaithfulness to its creator, her blatant disregard for everything God has done for her, and how she runs away laughing into the arms of that which (and whom) cannot satisfy, cannot love, and poses a dangerous threat to her beyond her imagination.
At one point (chapter 3), Hosea has to buy Gomer out of slavery in order to bring her home. I imagine she was so lost in where she had run to that she didn’t know how to get to safety. And what does her husband do? He seeks her out, finds her in immense trouble, and pulls her back into his embrace – at a literal and palpable cost to himself, not to mention the overwhelming love and dedication he would have needed.
If not, read the gospels.
Summary aside, we rarely see the prophets in marriage or discussing their spouses. (Deborah is the exception that comes to mind.) But this is exact what Hosea is called to do: “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord.” (Hosea 1:2 ESV)
I’m imagining this scene in my head – Hosea hears this from God, and he knows he’s been called to do an uncomfortable thing. It’s not as simple as preaching to his enemies, or transcribing a dream, or going out to battle. God is calling him to go find a wife among the prostitutes and love her, care for her, and do the same for her children – which may or may not be his children.
But it really comes down to this: God was in his marriage. Even when it felt like there was no hope, that his wife had abandoned him to care for the children, when it felt like God was asking too much – Hosea knew that God was there.
I feel for Hosea. I want to say in my heart, yes God, I’d be ready for even that mission.
Then I read more about Gomer and Israel and I see myself reflected back.
I’m not the prophet in this story.
Gomer runs away three times. Israel has run away thousands. And we – yes, us good Christians – have run away billions of times.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t consequence to our running, or that God will provide complete shelter from all that is tainted in the world, but he will never leave us to face it by ourselves. He will always accept us back in the name of his son’s sacrifice.
So this is what I learned in Hosea:
I am Gomer.
I am Israel.
I am a sinner.
But as I was looking for ways to close this post, I found this image and it felt right. Hosea bought his wife back, and God purchased us with the blood of his son while I was still a sinner. The Bible is a continuous narrative, because as much as we want to say Hosea and Gomer’s story ended at chapter 14, it really ends in Revelation after Christ comes back for his Bride, the sinners he died for before we were even born.
And that’s worthy of an AMEN.