Hosea and the Harlot

Hosea and the Harlot

Thursday’s Column: Carlnormous Comments

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Carl Pollard

The book of Hosea is like no other book in the Bible. It even stands out from the other books of prophecy in the Old Testament. Hosea was commanded to prophecy to the nation of Israel just like other men during this time period, but unlike other prophets Hosea’s message was directly tied to his personal life. He spoke to Israel and was motivated by the personal experiences that were happening to him in his life. 

Hosea was commanded by God to marry the harlot Gomer (1:2). Gomer’s unfaithfulness to Hosea served as an example of Israel’s unfaithfulness to God. As the account unfolds, Hosea and Gomer have three children whose names are used to send Israel a very specific message. While this book may seem harsh and almost cruel, let’s notice the main idea of Hosea. 

Hosea reveals to us the depth of God’s unending love for His children, a love that is never failing but also a love that tolerates no rivals. The people that God has chosen as His own must recognize that His love must come first above anyone and everything else. This fact is seen in Hosea’s marriage to Gomer. In chapter 1:2-11, we are introduced to Hosea’s family. He has a wife and three kids, but Gomer doesn’t stick around long. She leaves Hosea and goes back to her life of harlotry. There’s a symbolic message that Hosea uses in his prophecy. He compares Israel’s actions to what his wife did to him. They left their union with God to live a life of sin. 

While most of us would find it hard to love someone if they did these things to us, God still continued to love Israel. Hosea 3:1 says, “And the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods…” God’s love is truly unending towards His children. The book of Hosea clearly illustrates this point. 

By reading this book we can know that God’s forgiveness is available to everyone at any point. Not only do we get a glimpse of God’s attitude towards those who have left Him, we also see a personal example of how much God is willing to do in order to restore His relationship with us. 

Hosea truly is a unique book. The prophet married a woman that he knew would eventually betray his trust. He knew the pain and heartache that would come from her unfaithfulness to him, but it was all done so that we could better understand God’s love and dedication towards imperfect and sinful man. 

Mercy

Mercy

Wednesday’s Column: Third’s Words

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Gary Pollard

On at least two different occasions, Jesus said, “Go and learn what this means: ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice’” (Matthew 9.13; Matthew 12.7). It’s quoted from Hosea 6.6, but in multiple other passages God tells us that He prefers obedience over going through the motions of worship (Isaiah 1.11ff; Amos 5.21; Micah 6; Mark 7). 


This is NOT saying that worship is less important than obedience, since obedience causes us to worship. It does show God’s attitude toward those who claim to follow Him, but whose actions say otherwise. 
Listen to the force behind His words in Amos 5.21, “I hate, I despise your feasts, and I take no delight in your solemn assemblies.” Israel had adopted some religious and social misconduct. 


Do our actions cause God to wince at our worship? Israel was God’s chosen nation, but when they neglected to show mercy, justice, compassion, or faithfulness, God rejected their worship and sent them into captivity. 
So what kind of worship does God love? Obedience, mercy, pursuing good, showing compassion to those less powerful, integrity, justice, and being morally pure (Amos 5.11ff). 

GOD BENT DOWN, BUT THE PEOPLE BENT AWAY 

GOD BENT DOWN, BUT THE PEOPLE BENT AWAY 

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

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Neal Pollard

The story of Hosea is a microcosm of the human experience. In chapter eleven, God appeals to the people to understand how much He loved His people. God loved Israel, but the people loved the Baals (1-2). God healed them, but they did not know that He did (3). He held them with cords of love (4), but they preferred the bonds of Assyria with their swords and their fires (4-7). One way God depicts this is by saying, essentially, I bent down to feed them, but His people were bent on turning from Him (4,7). 

Have you ever reached down to feed your child only to have that child bend away in disgust and disapproval? Especially is this true when the food is good for them but does not taste good to them. Hopefully, in the process of training and development, they get over this tendency. Yet, God paints the picture of His children doing the same thing as they reject their Almighty Creator for a world that hates them.

When Hosea says God “bent” down, he uses a word found over 200 times in the Old Testament. Often, when referring to God’s outstretched hand, the writers are referring to it being extended in judgment against man (especially in Isaiah where we see the repeated phrase, “His hand is still stretched out,” several times in chapters 9 and 10). But that mighty hand is gently reaching down to care for, love, and hold His wayward people. But what do they do when He bends down? With rigid posture, they stubbornly turn away. They call Him “God Most High” but they do not honor Him with submission and obedience.

But then I consider my circumstance. Through Christ, God made the ultimate gesture of reaching down. Jesus allowed Himself to be lifted up on the cross, but this was God extending Himself and His love to me (Rom. 5:8; Gal. 2:20). In my daily life, what do I do with His outstretched hand. Am I ever determined to turn away from Him by my rebellion and self-will? I need to see how utterly foolish and self-defeating that is, and I need to see it for what it is. I am rejecting the love, the help, and the grace of the Omnipotent One who longs to be in a relationship with me. What do I hope to get anywhere else that can even compare to that? Thank God that His Word draws me back and reminds me of what He’s done for me and what He wants to do for me! May I be wise and humble enough to reach up when He reaches down!