The story of Hosea and Gomer
Weekly Scripture Reading: Hosea chapter 1-4.
He has left you. Like a bad dream come true, he left without a trace of remorse or regret. Seamlessly slipping into a new life with another women leaving you feeling alone, forgotten, rejected and without hope for a future. You ask yourself, How did I get here? I know I wasn’t perfect, but I thought I was a good wife. I tried, I really tried. This is not what I planned.
Hosea and Gomer have a similar story. Hosea was a prophet to the Israelites and Gomer was his wife. But Gomer was no ordinary wife. In chapter one, God commands Hosea to “Go, take to yourself an adulterous wife” (Hosea 1: 2 (NIV). As your read the narration of Hosea, the mystery of God’s choice for Hosea’s marriage partner will become clear in the symbolic relationship and family life of Hosea and Gomer that is meant to convey a strong message to the Lords people and to us. As Hosea and Gomer’s relationship became a representation for the relationship between God and Israel, watch closely for what God is teaching us about our relationships with Him and our own marriages. Hosea is a gift box of lessons and grace that is waiting to be unwrapped by you.
The metaphors begin in chapter one with the names of Hosea and Gomers’ three children. Jezreel, meaning punishment, Lo-Ruhamah, meaning no love. And, Lo-Ammi – you are not my people. Today, you may be reading this from a house where you feel the rooms hold no love, the people are not your own, and you are left alone with a life of emotional punishment. If this is you, you are not alone. Adultery is real, regardless of if it is physical or metaphorical in nature. It surrounds us all.
But as you read further, be encouraged by the specific instruction that God gives to us. It will become clear that reconciliation and relationships happen out of the personal action we take, God’s Holy Power, and our spouses choices.
Our Personal Choices
Show your love: Hosea 3:1 (NIV): “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” The word that stands out to me in this scripture is show. God tells us to show our love, not feel our love. There is a big difference, wouldn’t you agree.
Renew your commitment: Hosea 3:19-20 (NIV) “I will betroth you to me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness, and you will acknowledge the LORD.” Even though your spouse has broken your marriage covenant (Hosea 8:1) you have the choice to follow God’s word and bring blessing on your relationship. Your faithfulness may be the very thing that leads your husband back to the Lord and ultimately to you (1 Peter 3:1-5).
We forgive: The sweet direction of Hosea 11: 4 leads us to act with “cords of human kindness, with ties of love;” releasing our husbands from the “yoke” that binds their neck. One of the most difficult things to do is to let go of the anger, hurt, and resentment you feel from the pain you are experiencing, especially if your husband has not repented and returned to you. But God has designed us for freedom. Forgiveness is for your healing as well as his. In his book, The Shack: Where Tragedy Confronts Eternity, Wm. Paul Young writes about what it means to lift the yoke from another person’s neck:
Forgiveness is not about forgetting. It is about letting go of another person’s throat……Forgiveness does not create a relationship. Unless people speak the truth about what they have done and change their mind and behavior, a relationship of trust is not possible. When you forgive someone you certainly release them from judgment, but without true change, no real relationship can be established………Forgiveness in no way requires that you trust the one you forgive. But should they finally confess and repent, you will discover a miracle in your own heart that allows you to reach out and begin to build between you a bridge of reconciliation………Forgiveness does not excuse anything………You may have to declare your forgiveness a hundred times the first day and the second day, but the third day will be less and each day after, until one day you will realize that you have forgiven completely. And then one day you will pray for his wholeness……” (p. 227-228).
Trust in the Lord: Broken promises in our marriages can lead to the inability to trust again or have intimate relationships with others. Take this time to build your strength and relationship with the only one that will never leave you or forsake you (Deuteronomy 31:6). Imperfect human beings will disappoint you time and time again but our Lord will love you with an everlasting love. Rebuild yourself in the Lord and allow Him to fight for you.
God’s Holy Power
The Lord will fight for you: Hosea 4:9b (NIV) “I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds.” It is not our role to punish someone who has hurt us. There is a reason God says in Exodus 14:14 (NIV) “The LORD will fight for you, you need only to be still.” It is impossible for us to punish from a Holy righteousness that is filled with pure Love. Our motives for punishing someone who has hurt us will never be the same as our Fathers loving discipline.
Natural consequences exist: It may look as if your spouse has simply moved on without any consequences but Hosea is clear that when one plants wickedness, they will reap evil (Hosea 10:13). In chapter five Hosea tells us that their spirit and soul will be troubled – oppressed, trampled in judgment, eaten slowly away like a moth eating a cloth in a closet. At first taste, natural consequences may seem to draw a person to arrogance (Hosea 7:10), leading them to pursue more of the world and less of you and God. Don’t despair when you watch this happen. Thank God that He know what it takes for someone to return in repentance and in love.
God will heal you: When we personal repent of our sins and return to the Lord, He promises to forgive us and receive us graciously (Hosea 14:1-2 NIV). A beautiful passage to meditate on, “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them. I will be like the dew to Israel; [she] will blossom like a lily. Like a cedar of Lebanon [she] will send down his roots; [her] young shoots will grow. [Her] splendor will be like an olive tree, [her] fragrance like a cedar of Lebanon. Men will dwell again in [her] shade. [She] will flourish like the grain. [She] will blossom like a vine, and [her] fame will be like the wine from Lebanon” (Hosea 14:4-7 NIV).
Our Spouses Choices
Chasing after the wind: Hosea 2: 7 (NIV) says, “She will chase after her lovers but never catch them; she will look for them but not find them. Then she will say, ‘I will go back to my husband as at first, for then I was better off than now’.” King Solomon, who was given great wisdom from the Lord, explains our human desire to chase the wind in Ecclesiastics 2:10-11 (NIV).
I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil.
Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun.
When we depend on our own strength (Hosea 10:13) to fill the emptiness that only God can fill, we hurt ourselves and others by our words and actions. It is when we realized as King Solomon did that, “The last and final word is this: Fear God. Do what he tells you. And that’s it. Eventually, God will bring everything that we do out into the open and judge it according to its hidden intent, whether it’s good or evil” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14 MSG).
Where ever your relationship is today, stand in hope and faith that the words of the Bible are true. Trust the Lord and He will return to you what you have lost.
Punishment and restoration:
In one breath God declares: “I will punish both of them for their ways and repay them for their deeds (Hosea 4:9 NIV) and in next breath He says, “How can I give up on you…How can I hand you over…My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused. I will not carry out my fierce anger…For I am God, and not man – the Holy One among you. I will not come in wrath. They will follow the LORD (Hosea 11:8-10b NIV)! The truth of the matter is this: We are ultimately responsible for our own destruction and God is the healer and restorer of our lives. Hosea 13:9 (NIV) confirms this truth: “You are destroyed, O Israel, because you are against me, against your helper.”
Although the consequences for our actions have torn us to pieces, God’s compassion and love will heal and restore us (Hosea 6:1). Our Lord is a ready and waiting to change the lives of those that come willing and repentant (Hosea 14:1). Believe in God’s promise to mend your broken marriage covenant and relationships giving you a new intimacy and trust that you have never known before. He will remove the scars and old labels of your marriage and replace them with new life and big dreams (Hosea 2:16-17)!
Forgiveness in Action –
God told Hosea to show his love to Gomer even though she still loved another man (Hosea 3:1). In what ways can you show your spouse or others love when they have hurt you.
Hosea 11:4 (NIV) says that the Lord “led them with cords of human kindness, with ties of love; I lifted the yoke from their neck and bent down to feed them.” How will you lift the yoke of unforgiveness from the neck of the one you love?
What does it mean to you to take the posture of kneeling to feed someone (Hosea 11:4b)? What type of food does God ask us to give a person who does not deserve forgiveness in the eyes of the world?
Where have you fallen short in your relationship with God and others? What have you taken into your own hands and tried to handle in your own strength? Reflecting on your reading this week, spend some time with the Lord returning to him for forgiveness, compassion, love, and the very acceptance you desire and deserve. Journal your thoughts and prayers here if you like.
Words hold power. End this week by writing your own prayer using the beautiful words of Hosea and our Lord. Personalize it to your own situation. Use the creativity that God has given you to make it something beautiful that you can put on your wall, purse, or office. Here are some suggested scriptures: Hosea 2:7b, 2:16, 3:1, 3:5, 5:15, 6:1, 11:4, 11:8-10, 14:1-7.
From the verses in this week’s lesson, take words or sections of scripture and form them into a “power prayer” for yourself or your spouse. Be prepared to share your masterpiece with your group.