Let’s talk about Hosea.
Yes, I said that. Not an Old Testament book I’ve read much—or at all, really—beyond hearing a sermon here or there. Nonetheless, I was looking at it over the weekend, and I was surprised by how relevant it seemed to me.
For those unfamiliar with Hosea and his life, he prophesied at a time when the people of Israel were pretty far off from God, and many worshipped idols more than anything else, or other gods, such as Baal.
They had turned away from God.
So Hosea is preaching a very unpopular message, and letting Israel know what awaits should they not turn from their ways and back to God.
But, like people do, they don’t listen.
During this time, God tells Hosea to marry a promiscuous woman—Gomer. Perhaps not a prostitute, but from the little we can tell—not very far off, either. Out of faith to God, Hosea does as commanded.
He marries her, and she bears him children, each symbolic of an aspect of Hosea’s prophecy and God’s word toward the fallen away people of Israel.
They’re in pretty big trouble.
Yet at its essence, Hosea is a story of love. God’s love toward his people of Israel, told symbolically through Hosea’s love for Gomer, and his faithfulness to God.
Eventually, Gomer and Hosea are apart from one another, seemingly due to a divorce. Gomer ends up either selling herself into slavery to pay a debt, or perhaps she is just taken into slavery.
Hosea goes to her, and in essence pays everything he has to get her back—to secure her freedom.
As God gave everything to secure the freedom of Israel, through Jesus Christ.
He obtained our freedom the same way.
I wish I could read that story and think of myself as the ever-faithful Hosea, obeying God and keeping his commands. Always remaining faithful.
Except I am not faithful at all—certainly not as much as I would like to be.
I’m not Hosea at all. I’m Gomer. I look anywhere—everywhere—but where I need to be looking.
So many things become idols. My stuff. Stuff I have, and stuff I want. Places I want to go. People become idols. I don’t look at God or to God at all.
Sometimes I feel I truly have sold myself into slavery, and I need to be rescued. I need my freedom purchased.
I need to be saved from myself.
It’s then I remember this has already been done. It was done a little more than 2,000 years ago, when an itinerant rabbi cried out “It is finished” and died on a roughly hewn cross.
Hosea pleaded for Israel’s repentance. It didn’t come when he wanted it to, and as he prophesied, Israel fell—for many years.
Yet Hosea was faithful.
So many have entreated Jesus for on my behalf—for my freedom and repentance. Or perhaps repentance and freedom would be better said.
Jesus went one better—he died for me.
And came back for me.
When I am feeling like all of my words fall on deaf ears, when it feels like there’s no point in being faithful because no one else is, when it seems like all is lost (and all might even be lost for a time), I need to remember that even when I am at my least faithful, he isn’t going anywhere.
He came back for me.