Monday, October 24, 2005

Hosea and Gomer

In the previous articles in this series on the Bridal Paradigm, I've written about God's heart in creation and it's reflection in the stories of Adam and Eve, Isaac and Rebekah, Ruth and Boaz, Esther and Xerxes. In these historical accounts, we've looked his desire for an equal companion, one with a servant's heart, who keeps herself from lesser loves and intercedes from a position of intimacy. I've looked at these as foreshadowings, types or models of the relationship God desires with us. In all these, I've given an implied interpretation; it has not been explicit in the scriptural account. Here, I want to look at a story that, like the others, is a model of the relationship God's seeking, but the interpretation is included explicitly.

God commanded a young prophet to find and love a wife whose heart was not wholly committed to him; one whose heart would be enticed by other lovers. So, Hosea married Gomer. In time they had two boys and a girl. At some point, Gomer decided she'd had enough of family life and left, sought out a glamorous, promiscuous lifestyle, and eventually fell into slavery. At this point God again commanded Hosea to love her, seek her out and bring her out of her fallen state into one of restoration as his wife.

All this was orchestrated by God to be a prophetic picture for his people, Israel. They had been loved by God and brought to a land flowing with milk and honey. They'd left Him while seeking after lesser gods and fallen into the depths of depravity, eventually becoming slaves to others. While in this state, God had compassion on them and paid the price to restore them to Himself.

Hosea chapter 1 is a narrative of God's call on Hosea's life. Chapter 2 and most of the rest of the book, contains prophetic poetry about Israel's rejection of God as they pursued idolatry, His hemming them in and allowing judgment to fall. There are several sections throughout the book where God balances the gloominess of judgment with promises of restoration. The first is an arresting series of statements in chapter 2. I'm starting at the end of judgments in verse 13 to give context for the change in verse 14.

'I will punish her for the days of the Baals
When she used to offer sacrifices to them
And adorn herself with her earrings and jewelry,
And follow her lovers, so that she forgot Me,'
...
'Therefore, I will allure her,
...
And speak kindly to her.
...
'It will come about in that day,' declares the LORD,
'That you will call me 'My husband'
And will no longer call me 'My master'.'
...
'I will betroth you to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice,
In loving kindness and in compassion,
And I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness.
Then you will know the LORD.'
This is the first time in scripture that God explicitly reveals the depth of intimacy He desires. Deuteronomy 6:5 indicates that we're to love God with our all. David had a good understanding of God's forgiveness and loving-kindness, echoed in his life and writings. But it's Hosea to whom God first indicates the heart of a husband. Jesus leans over and whispers in Hosea's ear: 'The way you love Gomer, even in the place she's at right now, well that's the same way I love my people. I will pay the price; I will give my all. I will woo them and bring them out of the place they're in now so we can live together in righteousness.' He doesn't want a master/slave relationship. He wants a love relationship. We're to be betrothed to him. He wants us to know him and be known by him.