Have you learned anything about what love is by considering Hosea’s love for Gomer and God’s love for His people? Considering Hosea’s conclusion is a wonderful way to begin the New Year. A.W. Pink said, “All religion is in effect love. Faith is thankful acceptance, and thankfulness is an expression of love. Repentance is love mourning. Yearning for holiness is love seeking. Obedience is love pleasing. Self-denial is the mortification of self-love. Sobriety is the curtailing of carnal love. . . The affections of man cannot be idle; if they do not go out to God, they leak out to worldly things. When our love for God decreases, the love of the world grows in our soul.”
Surely Pink was right. Hosea’s prophecy points both backward to the deep wells of God’s love in calling Israel out of Egypt the first time, and forward to an eventual fulfillment. As we read earlier, God reminded the people, “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” He did indeed call Israel out; but as he goes on to say in the rest of ch.11, Israel ultimately failed as a son. He deserted the Lord. He worshiped false gods, and he refused to repent. Behind Hosea’s prophecy is Moses’ warning to the people before they entered the Promised Land that God would drive them out of the land if, in their prosperity, they forgot God and turned to idols (Dt.28:15ff.). God had even given Moses a song to teach the people that told them they would be disobedient. Gratefully, that song concluded with another promise: “Rejoice, O nations, with his people, for he will avenge the blood of his servants; he will take vengeance on his enemies and make atonement for his land and people” (Dt.32.43). Did you notice that? God promised He would “make atonement” because of their sins in the land. And so He would.
As we turn from looking backward to Moses and look forward in search of a fulfillment, we discover that another Son came up “out of Egypt” who did not fail! The Gospel of Matthew quotes Ho.11.1 to describe the young Jesus’ return from Egypt after the death of Herod, who had been hoping to kill infant Jesus (Mt.2.15). The disobedient, adopted son Israel sinned. But the obedient, eternal Son, Jesus, made the atonement through his perfect life and sinless death on the cross.
Once he made atonement for God’s people by dying, God raised him on the third day “in fulfillment of Scripture,” Paul says (I Co.15.4), perhaps alluding to Ho.6.2. It is only because of Christ’s payment and restoration that you and I can be restored. If you are in Christ, then you have forgiveness for your sins. You have new life.
Consider God’s remarkable promise in Hosea 13: “I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death. Where, O death, are your plagues? Where, O grave, is your destruction?” Did God simply mean He would reconstitute the physical nation of Israel? That He would metaphorically bring her back from the dead? Well, Paul’s citation of this verse in I Co.15.55 shows that he regards it as pointing to the victory that Christians – God’s new Israel – have been given over sin and death through Jesus Christ! Jesus is the fulfillment of Hosea’s love. And that is great news for you and me.
I wonder whom you have identified yourself with while we looked through this little book. Hosea, perhaps? Have you sympathized with him? After all, God called him to love an adulterous wife by taking her back. And we all know how hard it can be to love sinners. But you realize who you really are, don’t you? I am here to tell you, you are Gomer. You are Gomer! Hosea’s unfaithful wife.
Regardless of all the ways you may compare your righteousness with someone else’s, when you compare yourself with God and what He has called you to be, it should be clear that you are Gomer. You and I are the unfaithful objects of God’s ever-faithful love. Only when we understand this do we begin to understand what love is.
Consider how strongly God in His holiness desires justice and so desires to punish our sin. Consider then how great His love must have been in order to devise and execute His plan of redemption through the cross. This is love!
May God give us cross-centered lives of grace and love. If you are truly a Christian, you know what it means that God has loved you.
Listen to these words of the apostle John in the New Testament: “I am not writing you a new command but one we have had from the beginning. I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, His command is that you walk in love” (II Jn.5-6).
“This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out His commands. This is love for God: to obey His commands. And His commands are not burdensome” (I Jn.5.2-3).
“This is how God showed His love among us: He sent His one and only Son into the world that we might live through Him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins” (I Jn.4.9-10).
Gomer’s only hope was in a love that she never deserved. And this is your only hope as well. That is Hosea’s message. “They shall …dwell beneath my shadow; they shall flourish like the grain; they shall blossom like the vine…” (Ho.14.7).
Wishing you a flourishing New Year!
Pastor Steve can be reached at PastorSteve@MaranathaBibleChurch.org