God’s Last Statement. What’s Yours?
Nov 3, 2016 2089
During Hosea’s lifetime, Israel had forsaken the worship of God and had turned to the worship of strange gods. Other sins followed, including homicide, perjury, theft, and sexual sin. Hosea declared that unless they repented of these sins, God would allow their nation to be destroyed, and the people would be taken into captivity. But Hosea’s name means ‘Salvation’ and it is interesting how the theme of salvation shows up here.
While most prophecies begin with an explicit command for the prophet to prophesy, Hosea begins with God’s instructions for him to get married. Hosea 3:1 reads: Then the Lord said to me, “Go again; show love to a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, just as the Lord loves the Israelites though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes” (HCSB). At great pains, God reveals his attitude towards Israel by commanding Hosea, a respectable young man, to propose to a prostitute. Anyone who saw or knew about Hosea’s ordeal could only feel sorry for him. But God was using his whole miserable experience of personal sorrow and emotional distress to portray a vivid lesson to Israel. Hosea’s constant love and loyalty to Gomer provided a beautiful picture of the Lord’s unfailing love and loyalty to Israel despite her constant rebellion.
Though many in the nation were too arrogant to hear Hosea’s sermons, Hosea’s marriage became a living sermon. From the marriage proposal through to the bearing of children, some of whom might have been born out of unfaithfulness, the Prophet’s marriage was a reflection of the sad relationship between God and Israel. What Hosea did for Gomer, God did for Israel; what Gomer did to Hosea, Israel did to God.
Humanly speaking, Hosea’s love for Gomer did not make any sense. But, that is the very point of the message. God’s love for sinners is unexplainable apart from his free and sovereign grace. People would enquire, “What is wrong with the prophet? Why doesn’t he divorce her and get himself a decent wife? Didn’t Moses allow us to divorce on account of promiscuity?” And the elders who had taken time to understand the symbolism would answer back, “The prophet married Gomer while she was still a prostitute, the same way he called our forefathers while they were still sinners, and continues to love Israel despite her disloyalty. It is a sermon, son”. This metaphor reminded those who were keen to observe of the rich history of the nation of Israel, from the exodus, through the desert wonderings to Canaan settlement, only for Israel to turn to foreign gods and defile the land with disobedience. No doubt many must have been moved by this powerful sermon, and felt a pressing need for genuine repentance and change.
The message of Hosea transcends his time and circumstance to ours, both individually and corporately. At times we forget our beautiful past with the Lord, how God has raised us from poverty to material abundance only to get shocked by the material things and forget the poor in our midst, the Church and even our families. By forgetting to show gratitude to friends and family who stood with us, we disappoint God Himself, who gave them that spirit when we most needed it. As a community of faith, we no longer pay attention to the little spiritual matters as we used to do when God walked us from our Egypt of ignorance and sinfulness to our present knowledge of his grace. We have turned to strange gods of money, politics, traditions, fame and wealth.
But at a time when our cup of abominations is full, at a time when we are ripe for judgment, at a time when nothing should stop God from sending fire from heaven, God promises to save us. At a time when God has nothing to do with our children and says “not mine”,(Lo-ammi), in an interesting dramatic turn of events, the same Lord promises to save us from ourselves. Note, therefore, that God does not save us in our sins. Never! That would be too cheap. To the contrary, the Lord says: “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (R.S.V). This reveals how much God wants us to be straight, clean and pure before Him and the world. Because the bridegroom is pure, the bride must be pure also. When we see how God is concerned about us, and the price he is willing to pay for our salvation, we cannot afford to be calm in a world of sin. We are then moved to repent and ask him to take control of our lives. God’s ‘wilderness’ experience is good for us. It is during our low moments in life that we are ready to listen to the voice of God, when he re-invites us back to Himself.
At the cross, God enters into a marriage covenant with us, having saved us while we were still sinners. Nowhere is this truth captured better than in the words of Apostle Paul in Romans 5:8 “But God proves His own love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” (HCSB). As if that were not enough, he continues to love us despite our constant failures. But he is committed to change us so that we may attain a status befitting his bride. As it was in the marriage of Hosea, so is it in the covenant of grace. The last statement from God’s mouth is a statement of forgiveness, and the response is always a genuine act of repentance. God made his last statement at the cross. What is your last statement? – Pr Bonifresh Muhollo