From Garden to City reading: Hosea 1-3
Throughout the Old Testament, the writers compare the people of Israel to adulterous wives who reject the husband (God) who has rescued them, loved them, provided for them, and turned to other lovers (the gods of other nations).
The book of Hosea takes this metaphoric description and makes it real. God instructs Hosea to marry Gomer, a prostitute, to love her and provide her. She turns to other lovers again and again, and finally Hosea leaves her to those lovers. Ultimately she chooses Hosea and he rescues her and loves her again.
It's an intriguing book. Why does Hosea marry her, knowing she will betray him? Why does he take her back again and again.
Of course, the answer is because God said to do so.
A bigger question is, why does God choose the Israelite people, knowing they will betray him again and again. Why does he take them back again and again?
The biggest question is why does God send Jesus to die, to redeem the world, even though he knows that most will reject his gift of salvation?
The answer is love.
Some years ago the women in my small group passed around a copy of Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers, a retelling of the story of Hosea and Gomer. I'm not a huge fan of western novels, and I swore off romance novels more than 30 years ago, but after a great deal of encouragement, I bought my own copy. It's worth reading to see the unrelenting love of God played out in a more familiar setting.
Personally, I prefer When Heaven Weeps by Ted Dekker. It's a more modern setting with some international intrigue and a link to World War Two.
Both Rivers and Dekker bring the love story of Hosea and Gomer to life.
More importantly, we see ourselves in the role of Gomer and we see God's persistent love, rescuing us over and over again.
The rest of the book of Hosea is full of symbols. I don't understand most of it, but I'll read it anyway.
As we read God's word, he faithfully brings pieces to life.
He faithfully surprises us with nuggets of truth.
I'm looking forward to reading the book of Hosea again.
It reminds me of the women in my small group. A few of us read the book of Hosea through. God really blessed us in the reading of this book.