Faithlife Sermons

An Unfaithful People Receive Love (pt.2)

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Leader Guide ESV, Unit 14, Session 2
© 2019 LifeWay Christian Resources. Permission granted to reproduce and distribute within the license agreement with purchaser. Edited by Rev. Lex DeLong, M.A.
Summary and Goal
With great power, God delivered the Israelites out of slavery in Egypt, led them for forty years through the wilderness, and then finally enabled them to conquer the land of Canaan—filled with people mightier than themselves—so that they could live there. Though it seems most logical that people who had been the recipients of these great gifts would have endured in praise of the One who gave them.
Sin never follows logic.
The hearts of the people turned away from their faithful God and went to pursue others gods, other nations, other created things. By His grace, God endured Israel leaning on their idols, which inevitably collapsed beneath them, and invited them to turn and run back to His loving embrace.
Session Outline
++God’s love remains steadfast toward His unfaithful people (Hos. 2:16-23).
++God’s love pursues His unfaithful people and purchases them out of slavery (Hos. 3:1-5).
++God’s love invites His unfaithful people to repent (Hos. 14:1-4).
Session in a Sentence
God faithfully loves His people even when His people are unfaithful and fail to love Him.
++God’s love for and faithfulness to His children, do not depend on their own merit, but rather His choosing.
Christ Connection
Hosea’s relationship with Gomer reminds us of God’s relationship with the people of Israel and with us. Even though God’s people are unfaithful and love many other things more than Him, God still loves us. It was because of God’s love that He sent Jesus to die on the cross for our sin and bring us back to Him.
DDG (p. 57)
· Contrasts: Hosea’s story differs from a fairy-tale type story because Gomer, Hosea’s “princess,” is not desirable. No words describe her beauty, talents, or gifts. Instead, Gomer was an unrepeatable woman. Though Hosea was faithful to her, she was not faithful to him.
Through their marriage, God was going to show His people what they were like in their relationship with Him.
The people of Israel were like Gomer, an adulterous people who had been casting off their intimate covenant with God to pursue all sorts of idols. Thankfully in this true story, God revealed the greatest hope: God will do so much more for His children than He ever asked Hosea to do for his undeserving wife. He is the husband who will not give up on His bride. He would pursue her and do everything necessary to restore her to the marriage covenant. The gospel, our true fairy-tale story, reveals that the beautiful, powerful, and holy King of all creation comes to rescue us, an adulterous people who do not deserve such grace.

Point 1: God’s love remains steadfast toward His unfaithful people (Hos. 2:16-23).

Read Hosea 2:16-23 (DDG p. 58).
16 “And in that day, declares the Lord, you will call me [Ishi] ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ (Or master) 17 For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And I will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety. 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
21 “And in that day I will answer, declares the Lord, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, 22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, 23 and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on her who had not attained Mercy, and I will say to those who were Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ ”
DDG (p. 58)
The Lord called the prophet Hosea to act out through his life and marriage a picture of God and Israel. So Hosea sought out Gomer, a woman of promiscuity, and married her, made his home with her, and bore children with her (Hos. 1:1–2:1). God wanted Israel to see that He didn’t just call them to be His people because He wanted servants who obeyed out of rigid duty; He called them as a wife to draw near to Him in love.
· Gomer was not sought out to be a maid, a personal assistant, or simply a companion; she was not a servant to be tolerated. Hosea was to make her his wife to be loved, known, and cherished. So too was the nation of Israel, as the Lord redeemed her from slavery in Egypt as His covenant people.
Like Israel, we as God’s people, as God’s church, are to be wedded to Jesus (Eph. 5:22-33). We are to be known, loved, cherished, and drawn in with great intimacy in our relationship. Christ did not die and rise to make us hardhearted soldiers who bow our knees but harden our hearts. He went to the greatest lengths and paid every price and bought us out of slavery to sin so that we, the church, would draw near with delight and call Him husband.
Christ has come to make us brothers, friends, servants, and ambassadors, yes. But the pages of Revelation testify, alongside Hosea, that Christ has come for a bride (see Rev. 19). This may feel and sound a little weird, especially for men. We should keep in mind that the emphasis is not on a physical, sexual relationship but on the oneness exemplified between a husband and wife. Plus, the analogy is communal, not individual.
The church is the bride of Christ, not individual Christians.
DDG (p. 58)
Hosea’s marriage was far from perfect. In fact, sometime after marrying and having three children, Gomer left Hosea and returned to her life of promiscuity. But God would soon command Hosea to pursue Gomer once again. To prepare Hosea for this call, the Lord told him more about His love for His people and how He loved them though they turned again and again to other lovers, whoring after other gods. And one day, His love for His people would transform them into a faithful bride.
· In verses 19-20, God described the way He will bring His idolatrous people back to Himself as follows: “I will betroth you to me.” Three times He says this. This reference to betrothal refers to a man’s pursuit of a virgin maiden to wed. How could Israel be considered a pure virgin maiden after her idolatry? How could we?
· This degree of purity is only possible if the sins we have committed in our spiritual adultery are fully forgiven — only if they are cast away as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12; Isa. 43:25). The blood of Christ provides this forgiveness for us (1 John 1:7,9). When we stand before Christ at the marriage supper of the Lamb, we won’t be an adulterous bride clothed in a gown stained by our iniquity. Through the cross, Christ has made us clean by faith. We will be clothed in fine linen, white and clean—the spotless bride that He has purchased for Himself to make her righteous and what she does righteous (Rev. 19:7-8).
Ask:
What are some ways God’s people today demonstrate unfaithfulness to God?
(hypocritical in calling out the world for the same sins of which they are guilty; refusal to love their brothers and sisters in Christ; choosing to ignore Jesus’ command to make disciples of the nations; holding grudges against others instead of forgiving as they have been forgiven)

Point 2: God’s love pursues His unfaithful people and purchases them out of slavery (Hos. 3:1-5).

Read Hosea 3:1-5 (DDG p. 59).
1 And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech [half] of barley. [The combined price of silver and barley was roughly equivalent to 30 shekels, which the Law prescribes as compensation for the loss of a slave (Exod 21:32).] 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.
DDG (p. 59)
God commanded Hosea to go to Gomer and show love to her. Gomer had run off to a lover, but it appears her status had sunk much lower. Hosea couldn’t just find Gomer and take her home because in her pursuit of other lovers, she had fallen to the status of a slave. The only way to get Gomer back was to purchase her. A cost had to be paid to redeem her from slavery, which resulted from her promiscuity, her sin. Hosea’s love for Gomer cost him something: he had to seek her out and pay the price for her freedom.
Love is more than a feeling of affection.
If Hosea’s love for Gomer were measured only by his feelings for her, then perhaps there would be nothing to show. But the kind of love that God has for His people, the kind of love He wanted demonstrated through Hosea, is a covenant love—a love rooted in a promise and guaranteed by a commitment to pay whatever cost is necessary for that love to continue.
· Again, God wanted Hosea’s pursuit of Gomer to reflect His pursuit of Israel. The love that God had for Israel was a love not merely felt but one that demanded to be shown. And the people would recognize His goodness to them.
We too were slaves when God came after us. In our pursuit of other lovers—other things that we thought would satisfy and give us pleasure and meaning—we were nothing more than slaves to sin. The price that God paid for us in Christ was much steeper than thirty shekels. Our slavery to sin was an infinite debt against an infinitely holy God; an infinite price had to be paid to ransom us out of such slavery. And with something much more costly than silver or gold, God paid for this bride (see 1 Pet. 1:18-19).
1 Peter 1:18–19 NASB
18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers,19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.
The precious blood of Christ—of infinite worth and value—was the sole payment that could be accepted for so great a debt. Christ was an eternal payment for a debt that would otherwise demand an eternal judgment. As God told Hosea to go and love Gomer and pay whatever price was necessary to restore her to their covenant, God knew that one day He would do the same in Christ to reconcile His people to Himself.
Essential Doctrine “God Is Love”:To say that God is love is to say that God is the essence of love, or that perfect love both resides and resonates within God Himself—one God in three Persons.
Fill in the blanks: DDG (p. 59).
God Is Love: The imperfect love that human beings share between one another is a dim reflection, a sign that points to the perfect love that resides within God. The greatest act of love by God toward humans isn’t the giving of earthly goods but the giving of Himself in Christ so that we might become reconciled to Him.
DDG (p. 59)
Hosea restored Gomer as his wife, and he desired a holy covenant with her. He wanted all of her affection committed to him and him alone. He wanted her united to her husband and faithful to him so that she could be his and he, hers. God had rescued and would rescue Israel once again out of their slavery for the same reason—not so they could live as they pleased, but so they could finally be free to worship Him alone.
· When God sent Moses to lead His people out of their slavery in Egypt, Moses was to tell Pharaoh to let the people go so they could worship God (Ex. 7:16; 8:1). His heart for Israel was that they would be free to worship Him alone. Whether from physical slavery or spiritual slavery to idolatry and sin, God wanted His people free so they would be His people and He would be their God (Hos. 2:23).
· We were in slavery to sin. We were serving a harsh master whose intent for us was death. But through Jesus, God paid the price and bought us out of slavery, not so that we could be free to do as we pleased and attempt to rule ourselves but so that we could be united to Him in a holy covenant. He desires all of our affection. He wants us committed to Him, and He promises to be committed to us. We have been bought for a price and with a great purpose—that we would praise our God who has set us free and joined us to His Son in an eternal marriage covenant.
Ask:
What would you say is the natural response to someone who has sacrificed deeply to rescue you from that which you have caused yourself that would otherwise be inescapable and deadly?

Point 3: God’s love invites His unfaithful people to repent (Hos. 14:1-4).

Read Hosea 14:1-4 (DDG p. 60).
1 Return, O Israel, to the Lord your God, for you have stumbled because of your iniquity. 2 Take with you words and return to the Lord; say to him, “Take away all iniquity; accept what is good, and we will pay with bulls the vows of our lips. 3 Assyria shall not save us; we will not ride on horses; and we will say no more, ‘Our God,’ to the work of our hands. In you the orphan finds mercy.” 4 I will heal their apostasy; I will love them freely, for my anger has turned from them.
DDG (p. 60)
The Lord took the initiative in the repentance of Israel by calling on them to return to Him. All the words that He had spoken to Hosea and the actions Hosea had carried out were to show Israel that they were stumbling in their sin and needed to return to Him. To truly return to God, Israel had to do two things: 1) confess and turn away from the idols she had trusted in and 2) turn back to God with a heart full of trust.
Amazingly, God invites sinners to repent and offers the promise of compassion, healing, love, and a turning of His anger.
Many, maybe even most of you will remember the words to this old hymn, written by Robert Robinson during the time of the birth of our nation. In that song he wrote:
Voices from Church History
“O to grace how great a debtor Daily I’m constrained to be! Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, Bind my wand’ring heart to Thee: Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, Prone to leave the God I love; Here’s my heart, Lord, take and seal it; Seal it for Thy courts above.” 1 –Robert Robinson (1735-1790)
Repentance must involve both turning from idolatry and turning to God.
· 1) Turning from Idolatry: If Israel had simply tried to return to God while still holding on to her idols, her worship would have remained divided; she would still be an adulterous wife to Him.
· 2) Turning to God: If Israel tried to turn away from idols without trusting in God, then her repentance would have been incomplete and short-lived.
God does not want us merely to abstain from evil; He wants us to be in relationship with Him.
· There is no neutrality in our hearts; we will put our trust in and worship something: either God or our idols. Repentance must involve giving up idols and returning to God or else it is no repentance at all.
When we hear the gospel and grasp it in faith, our repentance is twofold.
So, remember —
Repentance is twofold:
++1) We accept God as God while we confess that our deceitful hearts were treasuring and trusting in false gods that could not save
++2) We turn to Jesus believing that He and He alone is the salvation that we need.
Ask:
What are some characteristics that mark true repentance of sin?
(a humble heart before God and others; agreement with God that something is sin; belief that the Lord responds favorably to repentance; a desire not to commit the sin again; repentance must be coupled with faith in Jesus; the Holy Spirit is working in him or her; must have a heart to worship the forgiving God)
DDG (p. 60)
It is important to notice that Gomer never initiated their relationship; Hosea was the one who pursued. The only time we see Gomer initiate anything relational was when she ran off with other men. The only hope, that Hosea and Gomer’s relationship would last, was that Hosea would never give up on pursuing her.
And so it is with God in His relationship with His people:
God initiates, God pursues, God never gives up on His people, or there would be no hope.
God’s initiative in this passage: God called Israel to return. He would forgive. He would heal their apostasy. He would love them freely. He would turn His anger away.
Remember 2 Chron. 7:14?
2 Chronicles 7:14 NASB
14 and My people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray, and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
Without God’s initiative, without God’s promises of favorable response, Israel would remain in their slavery. Israel could only receive God’s relationship in repentance, and in response to the pursuit of Israel’s “husband,” God. That has, would, and will be the only way that they will worship their Husband, not because they are faithful, but because He is faithful.
Our story is the same. God has called us sinners out of slavery to sin. And by faith in Jesus, God has forgiven us. God has healed our apostasy. God has loved us freely. God has turned His anger away from us. God has initiated everything and done all that is necessary to bring you to Himself. He offered up His only Son on the cross so that He could pursue you with all His goodness and love.
What response should you give?
We all must willingly repent from our idols and turn to Jesus with a heart of faith and with a heart of worship to this faithful God who has called us and done all that is necessary to lead us to Him.
Ask:
How does our pride battle against God’s work in our salvation?
(our salvation is God’s work through and through; we contribute nothing to our salvation, we only receive it by grace through repentance and faith; God loved and pursued us while we were still sinners and opposed to Him; Jesus laid His life down for those who rejected His rightful authority as Creator)
Praise the Lord, the steadfast love (hesed) of God never ceases. He will continue to pursue His people with His merciful, forgiving love.
His is a love that removes pride, brings repentance, and causes hearts to worship.
What happens to people who have experienced a love like this?
++They won’t be able to keep such a love to themselves.
++It is a love that works first on our own hearts and then flows out to others.
++It is a love that the world is hungry for; a love that loves the unlovely, underprivileged, and undeserving.
No wonder there was such concern about the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2, losing their first love.
Can I give you three indications that you or your church’s first love is in tact?
Three indications yours or your church’s first love is in tact:
++They are driven to show mercy to the undeserving and offer forgiveness to the sinner.
++They are compelled to pursue the hardhearted and love the unlovely.
++By God’s grace, they are consumed with the need to point others to Jesus and He will capture their hearts, just as He first captured ours.
Charles Spurgeon wrote:
It is the loss of your first love that makes you seek the comfort of your bodies instead of the prosperity of your souls.
Declension From First Love, Volume 4, Sermon #217 - Revelation 2:4
Charles Spurgeon
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones wrote:
It is no use asking the world to ‘love one another.’ It is impossible; they are incapable of doing it. We need the divine nature within us before we can truly love one another. If within the church you have failure on the part of men and women to love one another, what hope is there for the world to do this? It is utterly impossible.
The Love of God, 45
David Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Oswald Chambers wrote:
If you are in love, you do not sit down and dream about the one you love all the time, you go and do something for him; and that is what Jesus Christ expects us to do. Dreaming after God has spoken is an indication that we do not trust Him.
Oswald Chambers
Oklahoma Pastor E. F. Hallock, “Preacher Hallock,” they called him, once said -
Nothing will destroy a church and its power in a community and the world any quicker than to lose its first love.
E. F. Hallock
Erwin Lutzer related -
Love is higher than the other gifts in value; love is the one gift open to every member of the church. It is not dependent on ability, popularity, or shrewdness. The greatest path is open to the least of travelers.
Erwin W. Lutzer
Enough — we get it.
DDG (p. 61) Time to respond
++How do we respond to God in His pursuit of us?
++How can we model repentance to our community of people?
++Who has God asked you to love this week, even if they are difficult if not unworthy of your love?
Voices from the Church
“Jesus will join himself to an unfaithful wife—you and me—and make us his pure bride. He will go to the slave market of sin and buy us back at the cost of his own blood.” 2 –Nancy Guthrie
Session in a Sentence
God faithfully loves His people even when His people are unfaithful and fail to love Him.
++God’s love for and faithfulness to His children, do not depend on their own merit, but rather His choosing.
Close in prayer:
References
1. Robert Robinson, “Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing,” in Baptist Hymnal (Nashville, TN: LifeWay Worship, 2008), 98.
2. Nancy Guthrie, “How Could God Ask That?” The Gospel Coalition, July 28, 2011, https://www.thegospelcoalition.org/article/how-could-god-ask-that.
3. Douglas Carew, “Hosea,” in Africa Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Tokunboh Adeyemo (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2006), 1042.
4. Keren E. Morrell, “Hosea,” in The IVP Women’s Bible Commentary, eds. Catherine Clark Kroeger, Mary J. Evans, and Elizabeth Kroeger Elliot (Downers Grove, IL: IVP, 2011) [Wordsearch].
5. Santosh Varghese, “Hosea,” in South Asia Bible Commentary, gen. ed. Brian Wintle (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2015), 1120.
6. Lauren Johnson, ed., “Hosea,” in The Study Bible for Women (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2014), 1141-42, n. 3:1-3; n. 3:2.
7. Robert I. Vasholz, “Hosea,” in ESV Study Bible (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2008), 1641-42, n. 14:2-3; n. 14:4.
8. Duane A. Garrett, Hosea, Joel, vol. 19a in The New American Commentary (Nashville, TN: B&H, 2003) [Wordsearch].
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