God, a prophet and a prostitute

The book of Hosea is an incredible picture of God’s relationship with many of His people. Hosea was a prophet to the nation of Israel during a time of rebellion and idol worship. God decided that the best way to reveal their sin and turn them back to Himself was to show them their error through the life of Hosea.

God asked Hosea, a prophet and upright man, to marry a well-known prostitute named Gomer. You might think of it as one of the first reality shows where Hosea was to play the role of God and Gomer played the role of His unfaithful people.

At first Gomer was thrilled to be married to a good man like Hosea. But soon she found that she wanted more and began to seek fulfillment from many other lovers. She began to openly trade sex and companionship for fancy clothes, perfumes, food, parties and other gifts from many different men. What was even worse is how Gomer, the wife of a prophet of the God of Israel, and her many lovers would also openly worship Baal and the other false gods.

I can only imagine the pain and sorrow that Hosea experienced as he watched his wife publicly betray him many times over and in so many ways.

One of the most incredible parts of this story is told in chapter 2 and verse 8. Here we discover that Hosea, out of the love he has for his unfaithful wife, was giving money and other gifts to Gomer’s many lovers so they would look after her. Can you even imagine this? Hosea approaches one of her lovers and gives him some money so this guy would take Gomer to a nice restaurant so she would be fed.

Now let’s be clear. This is not giving us a principle of how we are or are not to treat an unfaithful spouse. Instead, the life of Hosea was a portrayal of the relationship between God and His people.

Hosea had witnessed Israel worshipping many gods in the various temples that they had constructed. They would turn to these gods hoping that they would bless them with better crops, fertility and other forms of prosperity. The worship of these gods would include grain and meat sacrifices as well as other forms such as prayer and singing.

What Israel failed to see was that these gods could not provide for them. That what they were seeking could only come from God, their Jehovah-Jireh (which means “The Lord is my provider”). And despite Israel’s unfaithfulness, God blessed Israel with bountiful crops, protection from other nations and a good overall economy. But like Gomer, Israel would take what God gave them and would offer up thanks, not to the source of their blessings, but to the false gods that they believed was providing for them.

Now at this point you may be shaking your head thinking about how foolish the nation of Israel was to think that someone other than the God of the universe was their source of all that they needed. But this is not just Israel’s story, but our story also.

Like Gomer, we have certain God given needs. Aside from the physical needs such as food and air, we have deeper, more fundamental needs such as to be loved, to be accepted, to have worth, to belong and to be secure. This is life to us.

We spend our lives searching for ways to find this life. We look to our families, friends, our marriage, children, work, church and even God. And sometimes when this doesn’t seem to be enough, we look to unhealthy places through sinful actions and relationships. We might even become angry and disappointed with others for not doing enough to meet our needs.

But like Gomer and Israel, we have failed to see the ultimate source is not those around us, but God Himself. God knows what we need and desires to meet those needs, often through the various people around us. But they are not the source of life to us, but rather the vessel which God uses to minister through. And unless we understand this greater reality, we will begin to worship those other relationships around us and demand that they give us the life we need. This will only lead to disappointment and frustration as God, motivated by His great love, will expose this error like He did with Israel.

Acts 14:17. “And yet He did not leave Himself without witness, in that He did good and gave you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”

Philippians 4:19. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”

2 Peter 1:3. “Seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.”

In Christ who is our Life,

Ross

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