A true story with a little paraphrasing

The Old Testament prophets were remarkable men with a difficult task. They spoke for God to men and women. This was not easy because very often people did not want to know what God said. So by and large these men had a hard time, and this had an effect upon some of them. For instance, we see Elijah sitting under a juniper tree feeling very sorry for himself. Jonah did not agree with God saving the men of Nineveh so he runs away from the Lord. Perhaps no prophet felt things more than Hosea who was commanded by God to marry a prostitute. Even when he knew the reason for this command it is difficult to imagine the confusion that must have been in his mind. But the commandments of the Lord are not grievous and Hosea fell in love with this woman . We could even imagine it being love at first sight. Any way, Hosea married Gomer and they seemed to have lived happily together for a few years.

They had three children but the naming of each child served to remind the prophet of God’s purpose in the marriage……..

‘ So he married Gomer daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel. In that day I will break Israel’s bow in the Valley of Jezreel.” Gomer conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. Then the Lord said to Hosea, “Call her Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”), for I will no longer show love to Israel, that I should at all forgive them. Yet I will show love to Judah; and I will save them—not by bow, sword or battle, or by horses and horsemen, but I, the Lord their God, will save them.” After she had weaned Lo-Ruhamah, Gomer had another son. Then the Lord said, “Call him Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”), for you are not my people, and I am not your God’

This must be one of the most amazing stories in the Bible. But it is not a parable. This happened and is a wondrous testimony of the love and grace of God. Sinners are not saved by threats of judgement, crucial though this is; what saves sinners is the love and grace of God. Hosea and Gomer clearly reveal this love to us. Boice writes, ‘God said, “Hosea, I want you to marry a woman who is going to prove unfaithful to you but to whom you are nevertheless going to be faithful. You will love her, but she will disgrace your love.

I am asking you to do this because we are to present a pageant to Israel by your marriage. It is going to be symbolic, an object lesson. You are going to play the part of God. The woman is going to play the part of My people. The reason she is going to run away and be unfaithful is that this is the way my people act in the spiritual marriage that I have established with them. You are going to be faithful, because I am faithful to Israel even though she dishonours My name.”

God’s ways are not our ways and very often they baffle our sense of logic. God compares Israel to a wife who has broken her marriage vows and become filthy and polluted. In such a case there are many reasons why a husband may say that is the end, it is all over, and I will never have her home again. But God is not a man and he finds reasons why he should forgive and restore the sinner.

James Montgomery Boice regarded Hosea 3 as the second greatest chapter in the Bible. Before we disregard this as an exaggerated claim, listen to his reason, ‘The third chapter of Hosea is, in my judgment, the greatest chapter in the Bible, because it portrays the greatest story in the Bible – the death of the Lord Jesus Christ for His people – in the most concise and poignant form to be found anywhere. Our study of Hosea’s story has already shown that it is a pageant of the love of God for Israel, indeed for His people in every place and age. But when we ask, “Where in the whole of human history is that love most clearly seen?” the answer is obviously, “At the cross of Christ.” It is that cross and the work accomplished on that cross that is portrayed in this chapter. Hosea 3 shows us God’s work of redemption-the work by which the Lord Jesus Christ delivered us from sin’s bondage at the cost of His own life-portrayed in Hosea’s purchase of his fallen wife from slavery.

Gomer’s life style had taken its course on her health and beauty and she was no longer the attraction to men that she had been. She was sold into slavery and God tells Hosea to buy her back. What a marvellous picture this is of redemption and ransom.

Redemption means to set free from the slavery of sin by the payment of a ransom price.

Jesus told us that the reason he came into the world was ‘to give his life as a ransom for many’ (Mark 10:45). The word ransom is familiar to us when we read of someone who has been kidnapped and a ransom price is demanded to set him free. Jesus teaches us that his death is the means by which we are set free. He gave his life as the price of freedom for the slaves of sin. Redemption is a costly business: Peter has reminded us of that, and so too does Paul: ‘In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace’ (Ephesians 1:7).

The ransom price is the blood of Jesus, or, in other words, his sacrificial death on the cross. We are not redeemed by the teaching of Jesus or by the fact that he could do miracles. It is what he did on the cross that purchased our salvation.