I will sing of the mercies of the LORD forever; With my mouth will I make known Your faithfulness to all generations. … For who in the heavens can be compared to the LORD? Who among the sons of the mighty can be likened to the LORD? … The heavens are Yours, the earth also is Yours; The world and all its fullness, You have founded them. … Righteousness and justice are the foundation of Your throne; Mercy and truth go before Your face. Blessed are the people who know the joyful sound! They walk, O LORD, in the light of Your countenance. … The LORD said: “If his sons forsake My law And do not walk in My judgments, If they break My statutes And do not keep My commandments, Then I will punish their transgression with the rod, And their iniquity with stripes. Nevertheless My lovingkindness I will not utterly take from him, Nor allow My faithfulness to fail. My covenant I will not break, Nor alter the word that has gone out of My lips. (Psalm 89).
I have been contemplating what it means to have a “form of godliness but deny the power thereof” and I suspect either ignorance or pride is a major contributing factor to the denial of the power of God. What is the power of God?
- For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, …. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith to faith; as it is written, “The just shall live by faith.” For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened. (Romans 1:16 to 21).
- Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. (1st Peter 1:3 to 5).
The word “power” in these verses is “dynamis” which is defined by Strong’s G1411 as force, a miraculous power (usually by implication, a miracle itself). It is the abundant mighty ability.
The power of God is His inherent miraculous power by virtue of His nature or character. This power has the ability to save the believer from the penalty, power, presence and the pleasure of sin through spiritual rebirth by the Holy Spirit (1st Peter 1:23, 2nd Corinthians 5:17 ). God’s power provides deliverance, preservation, safety which is salvation.
Sanctification is dedication to God and separation from evil. In experience, it is both instantaneous and progressive.
To understand more about overcoming the power of sin, a good study in Romans 6 is helpful. There are many resources available on the web; one of which is my blog on Christ’s Prayer Sanctification.
So denying the power of God is denying His nature and His ability to do what He says. Now, I have never met a believer who intentionally denies God’s power; but I have met believers who question the LORD’s character based on interpretation of Scripture or not having a comprehensive understanding of the entire counsel of Scripture. We all start somewhere and the Holy Spirit is the true and faithful teacher who will guide the believer into all truth. It is also the believer’s responsibility to grow in the knowledge of the LORD. It is a relationship.
Now when the Holy Spirit is guiding, and a believer is studying the Word of God, it is quite possible that their level of understanding is precisely what it should be at this moment for a reason. For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. (Philippians 2:13).
Remember Nicodemus, who was a teacher of the law took, 3 years to fully comprehend who Christ was. Refer to John 3; John 7:50; and John 19:39.
Paul warned that in the last days people appearing to be “godly” would doubt God’s power (2nd Timothy 3:1 to 9). Doubt is unbelief. Unbelief values one’s reasoning above the validity of available information. Scripture states that God is able to keep us from stumbling, and to present us faultless to Himself (Jude 1:24). What is it that causes many to deny God’s power to keep a believer from falling? Do they think Scripture contradicts itself? Do people wrestle with the scope of God’s nature because a particular aspect is uncomfortable for them? Do we liken God to ourselves? Have people held to beliefs taught by someone they admired or trusted without their own deep study? Do they disbelieve the accuracy of the Word of God? I’m not entirely sure. Some have said free will negates God’s saving power.
Thayer’s Greek Lexicon defines pride (Strong’s G5243) as the haughtiness, arrogance or the characteristic of one who, with a swollen estimate of his own powers or merits, looks down on others and even treats them with insolence and contempt. Does pride prevent people from learning more about the LORD?
The free will of man has often been debated within many Christian and secular circles especially surrounding the security or assurance of the believer. Many fine believers hold differing views about a believer’s ability to permanently walk away from God and be eternally damned. I want to avoid all Calvinist–Arminian debates because I believe this tends to divide people. We should definitely always be ready to give a defence to everyone who asks for the reason for the hope we have. AND, I have been recently reminded through experience of what the Apostle Paul wrote:
- Remind them of these things, charging them before the Lord not to strive about words to no profit, to the ruin of the hearers. Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and idle babblings, for they will increase to more ungodliness. (2nd Timothy 2:14 to 16).
Having said that, it is useful for an individual to research God’s Word to settle in their hearts what God has revealed because in doing so, there is a wonderful opportunity to know God deeper; to understand His character more; to realize how superior His nature is; and, to humble ourselves since pride (to one extent or another) is usually hidden in the sin nature of all human beings.
When we read God’s Word, we should always remember God is completely Himself at all times. He is always loving and gracious, and at the same time, He is always just and righteous, and so on. He is immutable. (Here are some references: Malachi 3:6; Exodus 3:14; Jeremiah 32:27; Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 6:18; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17; Revelation 1:8; Revelation 22:13).
Rather than go into the debate over various doctrines, let’s focus on God’s character and His covenant because God’s character is not subject to a human’s will or understanding . He is the great I AM independent of us. While God has permitted mankind to exercise a certain amount of choice, no human being is autonomous because: (1) we are not capable of self-existence; and, (2) we are confined to a created reality with overarching universal boundaries set by God whether we like it or not.
There are no contradictions in Scripture; rather there are opportunities to learn deeper truths by prayerfully searching the entire counsel of the LORD’s Holy Word and rightfully dividing using the Scripture’s full context. Scripture does not disagree with the mind of God because:
- All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work. (2nd Timothy 3:16 and 17).
Earlier I had mentioned sanctification which you will find is a theme that flows subtly throughout this blog. It is inescapable because it is a significant part of God’s New Testament covenant with us. Initiated by the Father’s grace, it is a journey into a relationship based on love that inspires and enables willing obedience through the power of the Holy Spirit in the life of a cooperating person.
This personal development in a regenerated person should not be judged by anyone other than our LORD. We know that one day, every person will give account to the only righteous judge for their lives. Believers are to love and to discern fruitfulness. Inspection of another’s fruitfulness is only to determine the nature of the relationship or amount of influence another should have in their lives.
- “No one can come to Me unless the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up at the last day. (John 6:44).
- For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee. (2nd Corinthians 1:20 to 22).
- And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30).
- But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. (Romans 14:10).
- For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad. (2nd Corinthians 5:10).
I can certainly appreciate the passion one feels for wanting others to have the same revelation they have received; but, revelation is the LORD’s work. I recently had to repent to the only “Vinedresser” for trying “too hard” to share someone my understanding of this covenant. I also apologized to the person for the level of intensity to avoid offence in the family of God.
This caused me to pray about the relationship between God’s sovereign election and the condition of the human heart; I was then prompted to invest time in the book of Hosea.
What a love story! Let’s begin.
Background: Historical Context for Hosea’s Times
Solomon completed the building of the Temple in Jerusalem in 960 B.C. In the later years of Solomon’s life, his heart became divided through compromise with his wives’ cultures and religions. He worshiped other gods instead of being completely faithful to the LORD.
- Therefore the LORD said to Solomon, “Because you … have not kept My covenant and My statutes, which I have commanded you, I will surely tear the kingdom away from you and give it to your servant. “Nevertheless I will not do it in your days, for the sake of your father David; I will tear it out of the hand of your son. “However I will not tear away the whole kingdom; I will give one tribe to your son for the sake of My servant David, and for the sake of Jerusalem which I have chosen.” … (1st Kings 11:11 to 13).
The Kingdom was divided at Solomon’s death in 931 B.C. when Solomon’s son Rehoboam refused to lighten the load of taxes and work for the Israelites. They rejected Rehoboam’s authority except those living in Judah which fulfilled the Word of the LORD spoken to Jeroboam through Ahijah (reference 1st Kings 12). Ten tribes in the north were now ruled by Jeroboam (one of Solomon’s officials who was an Ephraimite), and the south by Rehoboam.
Jeroboam then built up the city of Shechem in the hill country of Ephraim, and it became his capital. He also instituted idol worship in the north out of selfish ambition. He was concerned that those travelling to Jerusalem to worship would change their allegiance to King Rehoboam of Judah so on the advice of his counsellors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people:
- “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem. Here are your gods, O Israel, which brought you up from the land of Egypt!” And he set up one in Bethel, and the other he put in Dan. Now this thing became a sin, for the people went to worship before the one as far as Dan. He made shrines on the high places, and made priests from every class of people, who were not of the sons of Levi. (1st Kings 12:28 to 31).
The northern kingdom continued to digress deeper into sin with each of their kings. As an example of the greed and corruption within the leadership, we read of King Ahab’s plot to kill Naboth to steal his land.
- And it came to pass after these things that Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard which was in Jezreel, next to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. So Ahab spoke to Naboth, saying, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near, next to my house; and for it I will give you a vineyard better than it. Or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its worth in money.” But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give the inheritance of my fathers to you!” So Ahab went into his house sullen and displeased because of the word which Naboth the Jezreelite had spoken to him; for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed, and turned away his face, and would eat no food. (1st Kings 21:1 to 4).
King Ahab’s wife Jezebel conspired to obtain the land for her husband. She wrote letters to the elders and leaders of Naboth’s town in Ahab’s name demanding a prayer meeting be held with Naboth seated in a prominent place. The plan was to arrange for 2 villains to accuse him of cursing God and the king. After the town leaders did this, they dragged him outside and stoned him. As soon as the word got back to Jezebel that her plan succeeded, she told Ahab of Naboth’s death and he immediately went out to claim the land. (Refer to verses 8 through 16). On top of idolatry, this is the type of wickedness and selfish corruption that was increasing at the expense of human beings. Sadly, this happens today.
About 100 years after Ahab’s reign in the north, the LORD raised up Hosea the prophet who prophesied to the northern kingdom or Israel. His service to the LORD spanned the reigns of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah (kings of Judah); and, Jeroboam son of Jehoash (king of Israel). Hosea was the contemporary of Amos, another prophet to Israel, while Micah and Isaiah were prophets to Judah during the same period. Amos warned of God’s coming judgement on Israel which was to be sent into exile beyond Damascus (Amos 5:27) because their worship was intolerable (Amos 5:21 to 23) amidst their corrupted system of justice. Hosea named the tool of God’s punishment, the Assyrians.
With this background in mind, let’s consider the book of Hosea and its message to a nation, its people, and to us.
Point One: God’s Covenant Love is Deliberate
Before Israel has possessed the promised land, the LORD forewarned Moses that the tribes would “play the harlot with the gods of the foreigners “, forsake Him and break His covenant. The LORD explained that He would withdraw from them which would leave them without His supernatural protection. After being devoured they would realize their disloyalty caused their troubles. In this case, it was over 600 years of spiritual harlotry before the LORD pulled out. The LORD instructed Moses saying,
- “Now therefore, write down this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Israel; put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. “When I have brought them to the land flowing with milk and honey, of which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and filled themselves and grown fat, then they will turn to other gods and serve them; and they will provoke Me and break My covenant. (Deuteronomy 31:19 and 20).
Understanding God’s covenant with us is critical to understanding our redemption and standing with the LORD. Some relegate the Old Testament to the Jewish people. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, (2nd Timothy 3:16). While Israel remains God’s chosen people (Deuteronomy 14:2; Isaiah 62:12; Romans 11:1 to 2 and verses 26 and 27), these Old Testament Scriptures apply to all people groups in every era because His chosen people are from every nation under heaven. Praise God!
They sang a new song, saying: “You are worthy to take the scroll, And to open its seals; For You were slain, And have redeemed us to God by Your blood Out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, And have made us kings and priests to our God; And we shall reign on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9 and 10)
Humanity tends to forget lessons from history or assume things will be different for them. This too is a form of arrogance or pride. Although the book of the law and this song should have reminded them of their covenant, Israel was now cheating on the LORD by worshipping idols and doing so outside of Jerusalem.
The LORD sometimes calls His servants to experiences that enable them to demonstrate His message by example or verbal expression. Jeremiah and Ezekiel are examples of this as well. For Hosea, his marriage became a picture of God’s relationship with His chosen.
- ...the LORD said to Hosea: “Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. Then the LORD said to him: “Call his name Jezreel, For in a little while I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. (Hosea 1:2 to 4).
2nd Kings 10 informs us that Elisha had anointed Jehu to strike down the house of Ahab. The LORD desired to avenge the wrongful shedding of blood and repay Jezebel for her wickedness.
- Now Jehu drew his bow with full strength and shot Jehoram between his arms; and the arrow came out at his heart, and he sank down in his chariot. Then Jehu said to Bidkar his captain, “Pick him up, and throw him into the tract of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I were riding together behind Ahab his father, that the LORD laid this burden upon him: ‘Surely I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons,’ says the LORD, ‘and I will repay you in this plot,’ says the LORD. Now therefore, take and throw him on the plot of ground, according to the word of the LORD.” (2nd Kings 9:24 to 26).
Our LORD is a God of righteousness and justice, but Jehu was overzealous and it was a massacre which can be found in 2nd Kings 10:1 to 11. Almost a century later, the house of Jehu was punished for ruthlessness in executing the LORD’s justice on Ahab’s house. This is a great example of the importance of understanding God’s nature. The “how ” was as important as the “what” because our God of justice is also merciful and loving.
The LORD’s justice, righteousness, and immutability demanded that He fulfill what He omnisciently foretold Moses. He had to abide by the covenant’s blessings and curses found in Deuteronomy 28 because He can not lie. And as a loving, merciful God, He sent His prophets to warn them. God knew the general population would not repent and just as He knew the individuals who would take heed such as Hosea.
The LORD’s covenant with Abraham, Moses, David and the Church remain and were deliberately given to us despite the LORD’s foreknowledge of our “unglorified’ inability to keep it perfectly. As the Church, we learn from the Old Covenant about God’s character and we abide and thrive in the New Covenant.
- Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you. (Luke 22:20).
- But now He has obtained a more excellent ministry, inasmuch as He is also Mediator of a better covenant, which was established on better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then no place would have been sought for a second. Because finding fault with them, He says: “Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.. “not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the land of Egypt; because they did not continue in My covenant, and I disregarded them, says the LORD. “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws in their mind and write them on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. “None of them shall teach his neighbor, and none his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for all shall know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them. “For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” (Hebrews 8:6 to 12).
Point Two: God’s Covenant Love is Immutable
After Gomer gave birth to Jezreel, she had a daughter whom Hosea named Lo-Ruhamah which means no mercy. God had instructed Hosea to do so because the LORD was no longer going to show mercy. For many generations God by allowed the due penalty of the northern kingdom’s idolatry to remain unpaid. Therefore justice or judgment was coming to Israel. He declared that He would continue to show mercy to Judah.
The LORD told Hosea to name the next son Lo-Ammi (which means not my people). By naming the child “not my people”, the LORD had stated the fact that the people of Israel rejected God; that they had not wanted to be His people. As such, they were not. He honoured their will knowing He had a plan. Whether they were intentionally choosing this or they were blinded or deceived seems to be irrelevant just as it was for Adam and Eve.
This is amazing because it demonstrates how the LORD deals with His people:
- He may momentarily permit disobedience;
- He certainly disciplines continued or unrepentant sin; and,
- He then brings restoration to His own.
This is the same LORD: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. (Hebrews 13:8).
- “Behold, happy is the man whom God corrects; Therefore do not despise the chastening of the Almighty. For He bruises, but He binds up; He wounds, but His hands make whole. (Jobe 5:17 and 18).
- But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world. (1st Corinthians 11:32).
- For whom the LORD loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives.” (Hebrews 12:6).
- As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten. Therefore be zealous and repent. (Revelation 3:19).
He also promised Judah and Israel would be united; that spirit of division would one day be erased throughout the land.
- “Yet the number of the children of Israel Shall be as the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered. And it shall come to pass In the place where it was said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ There it shall be said to them, ‘You are sons of the living God.’ Then the children of Judah and the children of Israel Shall be gathered together, And appoint for themselves one head; And they shall come up out of the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel! (Hosea 1:10 and 11).
In 722 B.C. Israel (the northern kingdom) was taken by the Assyrians although captives were being deported decades leading up to the kingdom’s demise.
- And the LORD rejected all the descendants of Israel, afflicted them, and delivered them into the hand of plunderers, until He had cast them from His sight. … For the children of Israel walked in all the sins of Jeroboam which he did; they did not depart from them, until the LORD removed Israel out of His sight, as He had said by all His servants the prophets. So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. (2nd Kings 17:20 to 23).
The Assyrians also attacked Judah, but the LORD said:
- ‘For I will defend this city, to save it For My own sake and for My servant David’s sake.‘ ” And it came to pass on a certain night that the angel of the LORD went out, and killed in the camp of the Assyrians one hundred and eighty-five thousand; and when people arose early in the morning, there were the corpses.. all dead. So Sennacherib king of Assyria departed and went away, returned home, and remained at Nineveh. (2nd Kings 19:34to 36).
Since God’s nature is justice, He was righteous to fulfill His promise to judge the northern kingdom for their ingratitude after a long period of mercy. They had prospered but they did not recognize it was the LORD’s provision and His grace. With the implementation of the Mosaic covenant, He had forewarned if they did not serve the LORD with joy for the abundance of everything, they would serve their enemies. (Deuteronomy 28:47 to 48). True heartfelt gratitude (not lip service) prolongs mercy because it acknowledges God’s character. Mercy has an appointed duration.
With the Davidic covenant, the lineage of Judah was to produce the Messiah. God keeps His covenants so it is clear God’s mercifulness with the southern kingdom had a purpose.
- “Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, (Acts 2:30).
Since God’s character is immutable and His covenants are everlasting to those to whom they apply, we have can have peace resting in His ability to bring to fruition that which He purposes.
- But the Holy Spirit also witnesses to us; for after He had said before, “This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, says the LORD: I will put My laws into their hearts, and in their minds I will write them,” then He adds, “Their sins and their lawless deeds I will remember no more.” Now where there is remission of these, there is no longer an offering for sin. Therefore, brethren, having boldness to enter the Holiest by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way which He consecrated for us, through the veil, that is, His flesh, and having a High Priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. (Hebrews 10:15 to 23).
Point Three: God’s Covenant is Omniscient Sovereign, and Provides Safe Boundaries
Have you ever wondered why God would ask Hosea to bear such a burden? Would God ever ask you to do something that “appears” to be unfair from your perspective? If the LORD has permitted difficulty, He will not only see you through it, He will reveal more of Himself to you because of it. It is in these situations that we learn to trust and obey (even if with tears).
The LORD told Hosea upfront what He was to do, and He even told Him why. Did Hosea have a choice to disobey? Absolutely. Did God know that Hosea would be obedient? Absolutely. God is omniscient or all-knowing. In contrast, God knew Jonah would be initially disobedient with one assignment so He had prepared a large fish to “teach him”. Refer to Jonah 1:17.
God has created you with the abilities needed to accomplish the work He asks of you; and, He will develop them for each situation that He permits. The LORD told Ezekiel, “Behold, I have made your face strong against their faces, and your forehead strong against their foreheads. “Like adamant stone, harder than flint, I have made your forehead; do not be afraid of them, nor be dismayed at their looks, though they are a rebellious house.” (Ezekiel 3:8 and 9). I take comfort in God’s Word that says:
- No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. (1st Corinthians 10:13).
Two other great examples of our LORD’s foreknowledge, intercession, and protection are Jobe and Peter.
- And the Lord said, “Simon, Simon! Indeed, Satan has asked for you, that he may sift you as wheat. “But I have prayed for you, that your faith should not fail; and when you have returned to Me, strengthen your brethren.” But he said to Him, “Lord, I am ready to go with You, both to prison and to death.” Then He said, “I tell you, Peter, the rooster shall not crow this day before you will deny three times that you know Me.” (Luke 22:31 to 34).
- “Have You not made a hedge around him, around his household, and around all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land. (Job 1:10).
The LORD knew how each of these people would react, and He had set the limits to their testing. In Peter’s case, Jesus’ intercession to the Father assured Peter that he would return to Him. You see, it’s about the LORD’s choice, His election, His care and grace. The Psalmist writes about the LORD’s sovereignty in preordaining the days of His believers.
- You have hedged me behind and before, And laid Your hand upon me. … Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them. (Psalm 139:5 and 16).
- O LORD, You are the portion of my inheritance and my cup; You maintain my lot. The lines have fallen to me in pleasant places; Yes, I have a good inheritance. I will bless the LORD who has given me counsel; My heart also instructs me in the night seasons. I have set the LORD always before me; Because He is at my right hand I shall not be moved. Therefore my heart is glad, and my glory rejoices; My flesh also will rest in hope. (Psalm 16:5 to 9).
- “Hear another parable: There was a certain landowner who planted a vineyard and set a hedge around it, dug a winepress in it and built a tower. And he leased it to vinedressers and went into a far country. (Matthew 21:33).
Additional Scripture on the LORD’s determination of preappointed times and their boundaries includes Acts 17:24 to 28 and there are many more.
The LORD fashioned Hosea to be able to deliver difficult messages and to endure marriage to an unfaithful wife for a purpose. While the Bible does not provide Hosea’s dialogue with the LORD about the trials of being married to Gomer, there are some lessons that can be gleaned from the text. We can contrast what normative human reactions would be compared to the LORD. We then see:
- how much more loving, merciful, patient, longsuffering and kind the LORD is;
- how God’s love is not based on human performance; it is established on who He is, on His eternal and unchanging character; and,
- how His limits are pre-appointed and He waits patiently before bringing judgment and discipline at the appointed time. His discipline has a purpose.
Since God is love, nothing a person does can change His love. Because God is righteous He will resolve disobedience. The question is are you in covenant with this omniscient, sovereign, immutable and deliberate God?
If we understand God’s character, do we really think He is just reacting to our choices because He hasn’t foreseen them? Because He gives us a certain amount of choice, do we think that God’s mind is like ours? Do we exalt our opinions and our judgments over what God has revealed to us in His Word? Where we do not know, may we learn of the LORD and admit our uncertainty.
From the lives of Hosea, Peter, Jobe and others (along with my life’s experiences), I have learned that enduring difficulties for the LORD will develop deeper faith and a solid knowledge of Him. It’s within these experiences that we see more of His strength and more of the fullness of His character which enables us to be steadfast in Him. His character produces trust in us. The Spirit of God talks to our spirits during our experiences to train, comfort and develop us. We more readily choose to surrender when we know Him better and can trust His character.
- …count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing. (James 1:2 to 4).
- And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. (Romans 5:3 to 5).
Point Four: God’s Covenant Allures, Comforts, and Restores
Chapter 1 was primarily about Hosea’s marriage to Gomer and their children. Hosea’s children’s names were:
- Jezreel in English but Yizrᵊʿe’l in Hebrew which is pronounced Yiz-reh-ale and means God will sow.
- Lō’-ruhamah which is made up of two words:
- lô which means ‘no’; and,
- rāḥam which means ‘mercy’.
- Lō’ ʿammî which is also made up of two words:
- lô which means ‘no’; and,
- ʿam which means people (in the possessive “my people”).
For those who enjoy Jewish exegesis, the nomenclature of Hosea’s children seems to be remez (רֶמֶז) or “hints” or the deep symbolic. We could say that birth order prophesied that God would sow “no mercy” (or sow punishment deserved) to those who did not want to be His people. One does not sow without expecting a harvest.
Most seeds have a waiting period before they start to grow. Only God knows the exact combination of circumstances to activate germination from a state of dormancy. Once the right conditions are achieved, the seed reacts to the environment. These conditions are usually seed-specific and involve the combination of temperature, moisture, light.
How much darkness or light is needed to trigger change? How much heat or coldness will cause the heart to seek comfort in the LORD? How much illumination of our LORD’s love is required before regeneration begins? If germination has begun, how much timer before fruitfulness?
Chapter 2 begins declares the end from the beginning. Let’s compare the chapter’s encapsulating verses:
- Say to your brethren, ‘My people,’ And to your sisters, ‘Mercy is shown.’ (Hosea 2:1).
- Then I will sow her for Myself in the earth, And I will have mercy on her who had not obtained mercy; Then I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they shall say, ‘You are my God!’ ” (Hosea 2:23).
Both the northern kingdom and Gomer were unfaithful to their “husbands” who were their protectors, providers, and lovers. God told Hosea to warn Israel and referred to the culture as the mother; the individuals in society as the children. The people who were born into the idolatrous civilization had personal choices to repent (although judgment was certain for the entire kingdom). In verse 5, the mother was unfaithful by searching to satisfy her needs from a source other than her husband (the LORD). This reminds me of our society; and, to some degree we all have some level of unfaithfulness. I am praying that I become more faithful and fruitful motivated by love for my LORD, my Redeemer, Saviour and Best Friend.
As a side note for those who are afraid of God: please take some time to meditate on what the fear of God truly is for His elect. The LORD Jesus Christ had the perfect fear of God which was complete love and respect (Isaiah 11:2 and 3). The Son of God was not afraid of GOD because He was the God-Man. Because of His respect, He humbled Himself (Philippians 2:6 to 8). He was in perfect unity with the Godhead. From a place of complete love and surrender to GOD, the Son of God was perfected (Hebrews 5:9). Demons tremble because they know their fate. They are confident God is able to bring it to completion (James 2:19; Matthew 8:29). We should tremble in awe of His majesty; not because we are afraid of the one who wants to marry us (1st Thessalonians 5:9 to 11 and Ephesians 5).
Getting back to the main message, please notice God’s strategy to remedy the kingdom’s misappropriated allegiance. Israel was to be set apart (holy, exclusive) to God just as Gomer was supposed to be to Hosea.
His strategy was two-fold: (1) placement a thorny hedge of protection; and, (2) allurement through love and comfort. There would be choices along the thorny hedged-way of return; possibly with pain to avert her from falling into her predisposed ways. She would walk it out.
The LORD said,
- Therefore, behold, I will hedge up your way with thorns, And wall her in, So that she cannot find her paths. (Hosea 2:6).
- “Therefore, behold, I will allure her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. “And it shall be, in that day,” Says the LORD, “That you will call Me ‘My Husband,’ And no longer call Me ‘My Master,’ … “I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; (Hosea 2:14 to 16, and 19).
The picture of the unfaithful wife (whether Israel or Gomer) was one who incorrectly thought the source of joy, love, sustainment, and health was to be gained outside of her union. From the entire counsel of Scripture, there numerous accounts where the LORD lovingly brought His chosen to a place of remembrance. It is in this place where the scales of darkness are removed from eyes so the beauty of His light can be seen.
Friends, the hedge of protection can be very difficult or painless depending on our choices along its path. The Valley of Achor means the Valley of Trouble. It is during trouble that we seek the LORD, and He turns our trouble into a valley of hope. By the end of the book, we realize the LORD viewed this unfaithfulness as something to be healed.
- “I will heal their backsliding, I will love them freely, For My anger has turned away from him. (Hosea 14:4).
- Jesus said: “The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed (Luke 4:18 ).
When we understand that the omnipotent (or all-powerful) God is the One that allures us back into His covenant love relationship, we understand that His love is also all-powerful. We know this because He is completely Himself all the time without variation (James 1:17). He does not force Himself on us, but the attraction to the power of His love far surpasses all other forces. It surpasses that attraction of sin; it surpasses our pride and sin nature. His covenant of love is more powerful than any enticement to be out of union with Him.
Then the LORD told Hosea to reclaim his wife and love her while she was still committing adultery. So in Chapter 3, Hosea bought Gomer for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and a half homers of barley. Hosea said to her:
- “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution. During this time, you will not have sexual relations with anyone, not even with me.” This shows that Israel will go a long time without a king or prince, and without sacrifices, sacred pillars, priests, or even idols! But afterward the people will return and devote themselves to the LORD their God and to David’s descendant, their king. In the last days, they will tremble in awe of the LORD and of his goodness. (Hosea 3:3 to 5 NLT).
This reminds me of verses from Revelation:
- Then the woman fled into the wilderness, where she has a place prepared by God, that they should feed her there one thousand two hundred and sixty days. … But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent. (Revelation 12:6 and14).
What does the LORD’s redemptive love mean? It means the lover of our souls bought us back from the slavery of sin independent of our works with a costly purchase price as Hosea did for Gomer. Did Gomer have a choice to not return to her redeemer? Hosea certainly would not force Gomer to come with him. There is a different question: why wouldn’t she accept Hosea’s protective love and authority now that she understood through experiencing the alternatives? He was the one that valued her while still unclean.
- Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own? For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God’s. (1st Corinthians 6:19 to 20).
- “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. (Matthew 13:44).
- “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, “who, when he had found one pearl of great price, went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:45 and 46).
Unfaithfulness is a disrespectful rebellion from the power of an agreement or vow. Hosea’s vow had substance while initially Gomer’s had none because of her thinking. Gomer couldn’t free herself from her unfaithful bent and from wanting what she wanted. Through her choices, she ended up in the slave market and was now captive. She was still Hosea’s wife because He had married her and when she went her own way, Hosea paid the price to bring her back. Now Gomer was Hosea’s bride through His covenant and ownership. Sometimes there is a period of lack of intimacy until the time comes where the unfaithful one comes to their senses and repents. What does it take to surrender?
If the LORD has fully restored His relationship with an unfaithful person, it will be on the foundation of righteousness, justice with lovingkindness and mercy. This causes the restored to enter into a more profound relationship because the experience has well “taught” them who the LORD is. His atoning redemptive work on the cross fully paid every future sin and it is completely sufficient! He heals the sickness of rebellion and pride. The awesome strength of His love and grace overcomes any fleeting thoughts to disregard His rightful ownership.
It is in knowing God (His triune person, His Character, His Word, His acts and His ways) that our security is found. This is where true fellowship and worship begins; where the embrace of our union is experienced in the hands of the Father and the Son (John 10:28 and 29). Changes may be gradual; BUT, there is no salvation where there has been no change of mind. Again, there must be change.
Only the Holy Spirit makes us His new creation and we are powerless without Him to permanently change our desires. When He is at home in our hearts, we have been made holy and are being continuously sanctified through His Word in us so that there is no desire to leave the bonds of the union we respect and love. He is simply irresistible to those who know Him.
If you do not know the LORD this way; or do not have a personal relationship with the LORD and want to know Him intimately, you can ask God to reveal Himself to you in a way you can comprehend. His Word says: …without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him. (Hebrews 11:6).
If you feel the Holy Spirit encouraging you to believe, you should evaluate the Scripture for yourself. Please visit desiringfruitfulness.ca/choices. There you can find 4 simple steps or concepts to help you ask the LORD to bring you into right standing with Him. The steps are designed to help you know why this prayer is necessary. It is as simple as acknowledging you are a sinner and believing that Jesus Christ is the risen Son of God. There are no “specific words”, but there is a process to coming to faith.
All Scripture used in this blog is from the New King James Version, unless otherwise specified.
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