“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans.’ So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. And I said to her, ‘You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man--so, too, will I be toward you’ ” (Hosea 3:1-3).
How much does God love me? To what degree is God still willing to demonstrate His love to me in spite of my many failings? Through the prophet Hosea we learn of God’s great love for His people.
The prophet Hosea ministered to the northern kingdom of Israel during the days of the reign of Jereboam the son of Joash. From an economic standpoint the nation was enjoying a time of prosperity and growth (cf. 2 Kings 14:23-29); however, from a spiritual standpoint moral corruption and spiritual adultery permeated throughout God’s people.
To illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and to show God’s unfailing love for His people, God gives Hosea a unique instruction: “"Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry, for the land has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). Hosea’s relationship with his wife Gomer (Hosea 1:3), who formerly had been a harlot and who would be unfaithful to him as evidenced by her bearing the children of other men (cf. Hosea 1:3; 1:6; 1:8-9; 2:4-5), would serve to illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness to God and God’s amazing continued love for His people.
As the opening verses above indicate, when God tells Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery…” it appears Hosea’s wife Gomer had left him and fallen into a hard life of prostitution as she had become the possession of another. Hosea had to buy her back (Hosea 3:2). When Israel forsook God and committed adultery by worshipping other gods, she had to bear the consequences of this. God’s blessings would not be upon Israel while she persisted in unfaithfulness and the nation would begin to suffer economic hardship (Hosea 2:9-13). God allowed her to suffer the consequences of her sins to bring her to her senses: “She will chase her lovers, but not overtake them; yes, she will seek them, but not find them. Then she will say, 'I will go and return to my first husband, for then it was better for me than now’ ” (Hosea 2:7). God adds, “For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They shall fear the Lord and His goodness in the latter days” (Hosea 3:4-5).
During this time, did Israel’s unfaithfulness cause God’s love for her to cease? While having to let them endure suffering because of their own foolish ways, God’s love for Israel never failed. He loved them in spite of the fact they were not showing love for Him at the time. God would patiently continue to love His people waiting for them to come to their senses: “I will betroth you to Me forever; yes, I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy; I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord” (Hosea 2:19-20).
How comforting it is to me that God’s love for me never waivers in spite of my many failings. God’s love towards me motivates me to want to serve and honor Him. Today, I will strive not to break the Lord’s heart by being unfaithful to Him. I will rejoice in God’s amazing love for me as I serve Him!
“Or do you despise the riches of His goodness, forbearance, and longsuffering, not knowing that the goodness of God leads you to repentance?” (Romans 2:4).