Monday, December 3, 2012

Hosea's Adulterous Wife

Last night, our ladies group started to study the book of Hosea as the beginning of a study on "Revealing the Heart of God" through Hosea, Amos, and Jonah. I love the book of Hosea and truly appreciate the questions and discussion that the ladies bring. If you missed last nights study, PLEASE take time to read this and read the first 3 chapters of Hosea and bring me your questions before jumping in next week in chapter 4. Hosea was a prophet of God to the Northern Kingdom of Israel around 750-722 B.C. The first three chapters of the book are a constant parallel between the life God told Hosea to live as an illustration of the life Israel was choosing to live with her God. It's important before getting into this to note that all throughout scriptures, God uses the marriage relationship as a picture of the covenant between God and Israel and also as the picture of Christ and His church. The people of Israel kept returning to their pagan lifestyles and their false gods despite all that God had done for them. We first see God telling Hosea to take a wife of harlotry and to have children of harlotry. Gomer was likely a prostitute involved in the worship of Baal. They have three children who God names for them; Jezreel("God Scatters"), Lo-Ruhamah("No Compassion"), and Lo-Ammi("Not My People"). God was showing a live illustration to His people through the life of His prophet Hosea. Through these names He is telling Israel what is going to happen if they continue to live this life of sin. When we walk away from God there are ALWAYS consequences that affect us and others. God doesn't want us to continue in our sin, but He will not tolerate it either. At the end of chapter 1 into the first verse of chapter 2 we see that God's heart is always for restoration. 2 Peter 3:9 tells us that God desires that ALL would come to repentance. So we see the heart of God telling Israel his plan for restoration and in 1:11 and 2:1, we see him reverse the names of the three children. He desired for Israel to repent, turn from their gods, and stop playing the harlot against their God. Chapter two shows us that God will not let the sin of His children stay hidden. You cannot hide in your sin. Not only that, but God will take away everything if He has to in order to call you to repentance. We see also the purpose of Gomer leaving her husband again to return into adultery. Verse 5 of Chapter 2 tells us that she falsely thinks that these other men provide her with things she wasn't getting at home. Of course, we know that everything given to us is of God. We have nothing at all without His provision. Just like in a marriage, finding our needs being met by other men is adultery, so seeking any other means to meet our needs other than God is adultery against Him. God says if we continue in this, He will strip us bear and take away everything that gives us comfort and security until we have no choice but to look to Him. He does this because living in disobedience HURTS and we don't even realize it until it's too late. He would much rather "hurt" us His way so that we can be healed, then to let us go further into sin which will always destroy us. The rest of Chapter two springs back into His plan for mercy and restoration. If we choose Him and LEAVE our sin then he says he "betroth's us FOREVER". In the case of Israel He promises to be their God, to restore them, to be their husband and not just their task-master. To wrap up the relationship, chapter 3 shows us a beautiful picture of the redemption we have in Christ. To "redeem" literally means "to buy back". Hosea's bride left him and their children to go back into prostitution. She got so deep into this life of sin that she finds herself sold into slavery. The going rate to buy a slave of her status in that day would have been about 30 shekels of silver. This is significant because we see that Hosea, at the command of God, went to buy her back out of her sin and slavery. He paid 15 shekels of silver plus 1.5 homers of barley, signifying that he must have had to scrape together everything he had to get this sinful bride back to continue in their marriage! This purchase was unselfish, sacrificial, and showed complete unconditional love. Just as Christ died for us WHILE WE WERE IN SIN. (Romans 5:8) We were once living in the slavery of our own sin, dying and on our way to an eternity in hell. God desires a relationship with you and He loves you so much that even in the midst of your sin, He sent His only son to earth to die on the cross in order to pay the ultimate price for your sin. This is redemption and this is the picture God was portraying to Israel in the book of Hosea. Much like Jesus telling the adulteress woman at the well to "go and sin no more", Hosea says to his bride in 3:3 to stay here many days and do not play the harlot or have another man, and by the way, I will be faithful to you. In some ways we feel bad for Hosea, that God would require something so horrible of him just to get a point across, but it's so important for us to remember that it's not for us to know the mind of God. Look at the big picture here and never forget what God did for us through His son Jesus Christ. If you've never turned from your sin, then let Jesus become your savior today and commit to a life of obedience to God! If you choose to stay in your sin and walk farther away from God, realize the gravity of that decision. God will expose your sin and strip away the things you think give you security. He is not willing for you to die in your sin, and He will do anything possible to show you that you need Him. I asked the ladies to be conscious this week about when they find themselves turning to someone or something else for their provisions, confidences, or emotional security other than God. Then, as soon as you recognize it, confess it immediately and acknowledge God as the only source of these provisions. I think we'll find we do this a lot more often then we even realize! I know we talked about a lot more than this on Sunday night, so read Hosea chapters 1-3 and if you have any questions please don't hesitate to ask! If I don't know the answers, I will find them with you. :o)

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