SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSONS
Commentary by Walter Albritton
June 10, 2007
God’s Faithfulness Includes Both Love and Divine Judgment
Hosea 4:1-4; 7:1-2; 12:7-9; 14:1-3; 2 Kings 15:8-10
Key Verse: There is no faithfulness or loyalty, and no knowledge of God in the land. – Hosea 4:1
Salacious stories of romance are popular in every generation. Yet none of them has the timeless appeal of the biblical story of Hosea and Gomer. Here is an account of love, betrayal, and forgiveness that offers more than intrigue; it gives us a window into the unchanging character of our God.
Hosea was a prophet called by God
to pronounce divine judgment on the Israelites for their blatant idolatry. Like
Amos Hosea prophesied in the eighth century. We cannot know for sure but they
may have known each other. If so, we might imagine them as friends meeting in
Amos: “How good to see you, my friend. I hope you are well. I was saddened recently to learn that Gomer had left you again.”
Hosea: “Yes, it is true. Gomer keeps going back to her old way of life. She ignores my pleas to be a faithful wife. Even our three children are not enough to keep her home.”
Amos: “I can hardly imagine how much this hurts you. I know it breaks your heart. But I must tell you, your example of forgiveness has made a remarkable impression on many of the men in town. Most of us do not know what we would do if our wife left us with three small children to raise.” (Amos had too much respect for his friend to mention having heard that Hosea was no even sure he was the father of the second and third child.)
Hosea: “Well, Amos, I have to admit forgiving Gomer was not easy. At first I wanted to wring her neck. But being a fellow prophet, you understand what it’s like to feel compelled to obey God no matter what. God keeps reminding me that he expects me to practice what I preach. And while I know God is sick of the unfaithfulness of our people in worshipping worthless idols, I also believe he has not stopped loving us. He is going to punish us for our sins; he compels me to preach about that. But he still loves us and wants us to come back home, just like I want Gomer to come back home. You may find this hard to believe, Amos; but if Gomer is willing to come back home, I will forgive her again.”
Amos puts his hand on Hosea’s shoulder and says: “My brother, if you can do that, then your example will speak louder than all the powerful prophesying you have been doing. I will be praying for you, and please pray for me. We both have a tough job to do. It is not easy to tell people the truth about their sins but that is the mission God has given us. Somehow we have got to wake people up before it is too late.”
Hosea: “How true! We both share the same burning desire – to turn people from the idolatry that grieves God and allow him to give them the joy and peace that comes from faithfulness. Perhaps I keep on forgiving Gomer to help people see that the Lord loves them like I love Gomer – despite her sins. Nothing would please the Lord more than for his unfaithful children to come home and let him love them and restore them.”
Amos and Hosea embrace each other, speaking tenderly one word simultaneously, “Shalom!”
God allows us to learn his eternal truth in the midst of life’s sometimes harsh circumstances. Hosea learned about the character of the God he served as he endured the pain of Gomer’s unfaithfulness. His extraordinary example of forgiving love confirmed the truth of his preaching. Hosea was himself a window into the character of God.
Divine judgment upon willful sin underlines the integrity of God’s character. Were there no punishment for sin, God’s love would have no meaning. There are consequences for our sins. But there is unbelievable forgiveness available to all who turn from their wicked ways and return to the loving embrace of our Father. The beautiful yet heartrending story of Hosea and Gomer forever reminds us of the true character of our God.
Singer Tina Turner raised an important question in the song she made popular: “What’s love got to do with it?” You may recall the cynical lyrics:
"What's love got to do with it? What's love but a second-hand emotion? Who needs a heart, when a heart can be broken?"
Hosea answers the singer’s question. Love, like God’s love, has everything to do with our life! A broken heart can lead to reconciliation! A broken heart can bring a struggling sinner to God through faith in Jesus.
We do well to see that Hosea, like Joseph, is a foreshadowing of Jesus, whose forgiving spirit is the perfect window into God’s character. We are inspired by Hosea’s example. We are saved by the response we make to the example of our Lord Jesus, the ultimate exemplar of divine forgiveness.