Love Without Limits
Hosea if by far the ultimate story of judgment and love; and how a God of punishment and wrath is at one and the same time a God of restoration and redemption to all who will turn at His reproof and remember the bonds which welded them to His side.
The Fact Of God's Command
- He received a commandment and was commanded to do something.
- His obedience and fulfillment lay in obedience.
- He was commanded to marry a woman of harlotry.
- But all this lies within the definition of prophecy which is stated so concisely within this passage: the Lord “spoke through Hosea”.
- The prophet was by definition a spokesman of God; God would speak through him.
- But whereas God might normally speak through the words of prophets, he could also speak through their lives.
- In the first instance Hosea was called to a marriage, specifically a marriage through which God would speak to his people.
- We always need to be reminded that God may speak through his people to the world, not only through the words they speak, but also through the lives of obedience which they live.
- The first child was called Jezreel
- This was akin to someone in our time naming their children Vietnam or Watergate
- This name would have significance in ancient Israel.
- It was at Jezreel that the royal house of Omri had been exterminated by the house of Jehu in a terrible massacre (2 Kings 9–10).
- And although God wiped out the House of Omri because of their wickedness, the people didn't move in the direction of change.
- And 100 years later, they were still wicked.
- The second child was Lo-ruhamah, which means No pity!
- The Lord was through pitying Israel.
- The first child signified coming judgment, and the second was more solemn than the first.
- The second of the fact that God's love appeared to have met it's limits.
- The third child was named Lo-ammi, which means "Not my people".
- To a nation whose entire existence and faith were based upon the Covenant, there could be no more terrible pronouncement for those who had ears to hear it!
- First, he declares a coming act of judgment against the royal family, second a limit to his pity, and finally the end of the covenant relationship with Israel.
- And yet, as we reflect upon this progression of judgment, we can see that it involves a move from the active to the passive.
- First, God threatens action, but finally he simply announces the withdrawal from relationship with the chosen people.
- Judgment has always a purpose; it is not merely punitive or an angry reaction.
- The first stage of active judgment still contains within it the possibility that the people will be prompted to turn back to God; the last stage is nothing, for a people who have steadfastly refused a relationship eventually have the possibility of a relationship withdrawn from them.
- And the final terror of judgment is not that of a God active against mankind, but that of a God who has ceased to be concerned with mankind.
The Divorce Proceedings
- In the course of the divorce proceedings three condemnations are made, each followed by a statement of judgment introduced by the word therefore (verses 6, 9, 14). The condemnations and judgments refer first to Gomer, and then in allegory to Israel, but they also have a more lasting message beyond the immediate context of their initial usage.
- The first condemnation is based on the woman’s intention to pursue other lovers; indeed, her words are quoted to the court: “I will go after my lovers” (verse 5).
- She had consciously set off on her unfaithful path, deluding herself into the false belief that other lovers could make rich provision for her needs.
- The second condemnation was addressed to the wife’s wilful ignorance.
- She did not know that her husband provided the needs of life; it was not simple ignorance, but wilful ignorance. She would seek the fulfilment of her needs elsewhere.
- The third condemnation points to the failure that is forgetfulness (verse 13).
- In going her own way, Gomer had forgotten Hosea; in pursuing other gods, Israel had forgotten the Lord.
- It is not normal amnesia that is meant, nor the simple forgetting of facts; rather it is that foregetfulness of the bonds of faithful relationship that makes possible the faithless pursuit of alien liaisons.