Sermon: For Time and Eternity
Scripture: Matthew 5:31-32
In this week’s lessons, we learn what faithfulness in marriage means through a dramatic illustration from the life of the prophet Hosea.
Theme: Hosea and Gomer
At several points in our earlier studies of the nature of Christian marriage, I pointed out that according to the Bible God has established marriage, not primarily to promote happiness among mankind or even for reproduction. He has established it primarily as an illustration of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and His bride, the Church. Marriage is to show that when God joins a man or a woman to Jesus Christ in salvation He does so in love and in a bond that will endure forever. For this reason the possibility of a divorce between Christians—and we must remember that nothing that has been said here applies to non-Christian marriage—should be unthinkable. Marriage among all true believers should be permanent.
What the Christian attitude should be is illustrated in the greatest and strangest love story in the Bible. It is the story of the prophet Hosea and of his marriage to unfaithful Gomer. It is so poignant and so revealing of God’s unfathomable love for us, that I propose to conclude our studies of Christian marriage by telling it. I have found in my own study of Hosea and of books about Hosea, however, that no one has told the story with greater insight or more human interest than Dr. Donald Grey Barnhouse. Therefore, since I cannot improve upon his study I wish to pass the story on to you in his words. What follows is therefore a composite of the story as it was told in several of his published writings.
“There came a time when the Lord appeared to one of His servants, who became one of His prophets, and told him that he was to enact in his life the relationship of God with Israel. The prophet was told that he was to marry a woman who would become a harlot, and that he was to be faithful to her in spite of her unfaithfulness.
“And the LORD said to Hosea, ‘Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD’ (Hosea 1:2). In other words, Hosea was to live a dramatic pageant before the nations of Judah and Israel, whom God counted as one nation. Hosea was to play the part of the loving and faithful God. The erring wife would be cast in the role of the perverse nation. She would play the harlot with many lovers even as Israel had left the true God to go after a multitude of strange gods. The heart of the pageant would lie in the fact that Hosea would be faithful to her even in the midst of her greatest unfaithfulness. He would even provide the means for her to continue in her runaway life. And when the lowest point in her folly should be reached she would find her husband there at the nadir of her misery and he would redeem her and bring her back into the joys of truth and righteousness. ‘So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son’ (Hosea 1:3).
What important point about marriage is made based on the relationship between it and the relationship between Christ and His Church?
What is the meaning behind God’s command to Hosea to marry Gomer?
From the lesson, what is the heart of the pageant?