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: Gomer and Her Lovers
“Hosea and Gomer had three children, and God dictated the name for each, in order to illustrate the tragedy which their willfulness would bring. Of the first child God said, ‘Call his name Jezreel,’ (scattered); and God has scattered the Jews all over the world. Gomer next bore a daughter, and God said, ‘Call her name Lo-ruhamah,’ (not pitied), ‘for I will no more have pity on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.’ Hosea was instructed to name the third child, a son, ‘Lo-ammi,’ (not my people); ‘For you are not my people and I am not your God’ (Hosea 1:4, 6, 9).
“If we had no more than this, it would indeed be a terrible story. It would appear as though it were possible for God to divorce His people and break the marriage covenant by which He had bound His people to Himself. And Christians today would be permitted to seek divorces. But it is at this point that God intervenes to tell us that it will all turn out well and that they will live happily ever afterwards. For we read in the next verse, ‘Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered, and it shall come to pass, that in the place where it was said unto them, Ye are not my people, there it shall be said unto them, Ye are the sons of the living God.’
“The names of the three children are now changed by God Himself. The first child will still be called Jezreel, but with the meaning ‘God sows,’ instead of ‘God scatters,’ for the Oriental sowed seed by throwing it to the ground with the same motion that he used for throwing something away. Lo-ruhamah becomes Ruhamah (pitied), ‘For I will have pity on them, and I shall call Lo-ammi, Ammi, for they shall be my people’ (Hosea 2:22-23). The new meanings illustrate how God’s unchanging love covered the multitude of Israel’s sins, even as Hosea’s love covered Gomer’s sins, and therefore how a Christian’s love must cover an erring partner’s sins.
“Now Gomer left Hosea and lived with other men; and each lover was poorer than the man before him. One day Hosea said to a certain man, ‘Are you the man who is currently living with Gomer the daughter of Diblaim?’ ‘Well, what of it?’ replies the man. ‘I am Hosea, her husband.’ As the man recoiled, Hosea said, ‘But I love her, and I know that you don’t have enough money to take care of her. Take this money and see that she does not lack for anything.’ So the man took Hosea’s money and bought clothing, oil and wine for Gomer, who gave her lover credit for providing these things; but Hosea said, ‘She doesn’t know that I paid the bills.’
“Here is the story as told by God in the words of Scripture: ‘Their mother has played the harlot; she that conceived them has acted shamefully. For she said, I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink… And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished upon her silver and gold, which they used for Baal’ (Hosea 1:5-6, 8).
“No doubt the man who took Hosea’s money was thinking, ‘There is no fool like this old fool.’ But who can explain true love? Love is of God, and it is infinite. Love is sovereign. Love is apart from reason; love exists for its own reasons. Love does not operate according to logic but according to love. And we can see Hosea lurking in the shadows to catch a glimpse of her who filled his heart, weeping as he sees her embrace her lover and thank him for the gifts which true love has provided, which villainy offers and folly accepts.
“‘Now,’ says God, ‘that is how I treat you. You run away from Me and I pay your bills. The story of Hosea is a picture of My faithfulness. I am the faithful husband and you are the adulterous wife. You turn to other gods; you run away, and still I love you.’ Man runs away from God and says, ‘I’ve gotten away from Him; I have gotten away from God!’ And God touches him on the arm and says, ‘My child, I took a shortcut and here I am, to tell you that I love you and am providing for you.’ The man pulls away from God and runs; but God says, ‘My child, I took another shortcut. I want you for Myself.’
What were the names of the three children born to Gomer? What is the significance of each of them?
What were the new names given to the children, and what does this change illustrate?
Prayer: Pray for anyone you know who is spiritually wayward, that the Lord would bring conviction and repentance. Also pray for encouragement for the individual’s family.