“Go and marry a prostitute.” Thus begins the unusual story of Hosea, one of the most surprising prophets to the nation of Israel. It was his prophetic mission to marry a prostitute and love her in spite of her whoring with other men. In doing so, he became a living illustration of God’s love for His people in spite of their sin of giving themselves over to the worship of other gods.
After marrying her and lavishing his love on her, Hosea stood by and watched as his wife left him and went back to other lovers. And then the Lord told Hosea, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” (Hosea 3:1)
So Hosea went and found his wife, even bought her back with “fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine.” (Hosea 3:2) He bought back his wife. He paid for what was already his. Just as God has done with us.
Nowhere in this story is it evident that Hosea’s wife, Gomer, ever cleaned up her act. It’s not a story about Gomer learning her lesson and getting her husband back. It’s the story of the relentless love of the husband in spite of a whoring wife. It’s the story of how time and again Israel turned away from God, and experienced the consequences of the separation, and yet, in spite of that, God remained faithful to her. He found her; He bought her back; He brought her home; He clothed her nakedness and covered her shame. And He does it time and time again. It’s a story about the faithfulness of the lover in spite of the unfaithfulness of the loved. It was to be a real-life illustration to the nation of Israel about the love of God, and likewise, a story to us about the same.
How about you? Are you a practicing sinner or do you have sin completely under control in your life? Do you plan to never sin again? Do you want your relationship with God to be on the basis of your good behavior, or on the basis of His persistent, forgiving, unconditional love? How do you want it? Then that’s what you must give out, as well. That is what grace turned outward is all about. What you want for yourself is what you must give out to others.
But John, how do you love and accept someone who practices sin? I hear this a lot today. I wonder if Hosea might have something to say about that.