The Story of God & His People: Part II
Nine and a half years ago I stood about right here. I recited vows like for better or worse, for richer or poorer, in sickness and health. But if I was being honest with you I can’t say that I was thinking about worse, poorer, or sickness on that day. My wedding day was a day of excitement and hope.
Last week we looked at the beginning of the story of God’s marriage to his people. In the beginning heaven and earth were in a perfect marriage and this was on display in the first marriage between Adam and Eve. But at this point we have to confess that it doesn’t feel perfect. Word like poorer, sickness, and worse could accurately describe the spiritual state of humanity. Every worldview in the history of humanity has asked the questions (1) where do we come from, and (2) what went wrong? Last week we looked at the former, this week the latter.
Remember Pastor Kevin mentioned that the creation covenant had 2 stipulations, one positive – be fruitful and multiply – and one negative – you shall not eat of the fruit of the tree. In Gen 3 Adam sinned in rebellion to God’s covenant. Gen 3 – Rev 20 is the story of man’s unfaithfulness and God’s faithfulness. Hosea 3 is the most vivid tangible picture in the Scripture of our rebellion and God’s response. We have been unfaithful to God’s covenant, but God is faithful.
The first thing that Hosea teaches us is that our relationship with God is like a marriage. When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord (Hos 1.2).” YHWH tells Hosea that he has to marry a woman who will break his heart and commit adultery because he has to know how God feels in his marriage.
Hosea marries her as a living-breathing picture of how God has loved his people. We are sinners and yet God has taken the initiative to pursue us. Like PK mentioned last week God’s kingdom has always been God’s people in God’s place under God’s blessing and rule. While we are indeed members of God’s kingdom, to know God as king isn’t enough. The Bible also says he is the husband to his people. Look at Hos 2.7, 16. Paul calls the church the bride of X in Eph 5. Marriage is the most intimate human relationship on earth. That’s how God wants to relate to us. Not just as king or Father, but as husband. God’s people in God’s place under God’s blessing and rule are the bride of X.
After Hosea and Gomer are married she starts to commit adultery. Tim Keller says of Gomer that she’s like a city without walls, defenseless against her own passions. In 1.9 she has a son named לֹ֣א עַמִּ֑י, which means, “not mine.” Look at 2.5: For their mother has played the whore; she who 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 vs. 8: And she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal. Gomer left Hosea for another man who wasn’t even meeting her needs. So what does Hosea do when he hears about this? He shows up at the guy’s door. The man says, “Who are you?” He says, “I’m Hosea, you’re sleeping with my wife.” At this point the adulterer is probably expecting to get hit in the face, but instead Hosea gives him some money and says, “I just want to make sure that Gomer has food to eat and clothes to wear.” If you’re here and you’re not a Christian, this is your story. You’re living in adultery and you don’t even realize that God is meeting your needs.
Eventually she ends up in slavery just so that she can live. Her owner decides he’s ready to sell and puts her up for bidding. In a slave auction like this Gomer would’ve been standing naked in front of a crowd of bidders so that everyone can come see what they’re paying for. What a savage picture of what sin does to us. It disguises itself in pleasure. It promises enjoyment and fulfillment. Sometimes it even pretends to be righteous or religious, but in the end it leaves you naked and ashamed.
Guys, this is what we do. We were dead in our sins when God made us alive together with X. And yet we continuously return to the graveyard. We’ve been redeemed from sexual slavery and yet we pursue adultery. The reason that the Bible uses the term adultery to describe our sin is because we are the bride of X. God has always loved his people through covenant and we are unfaithful to the covenant. We need complete and utter redemption. And thanks be to God he redeems.
Look at vss 1-3 again,
And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. 3 And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.”(Hos 3.1-3).
Hosea goes to buy his wife back. The Hebrew word for bought here is the word כָּרָה, which carries the idea of haggling. Hosea had to scrape together everything he could find for the price of a slave and he still had to talk the seller down. Can you imagine the conversation between Hosea and Gomer on the way home? She’s assuming that he’s going to get his revenge now. But he doesn’t. He says you come home to be my wife. You be faithful to me and I’ll be faithful to you. And the Bible never tells us how Gomer responds. Does she repent and live in faithfulness? Does she bolt the next chance she gets? It’s left open ended because it’s as if Hosea looks at the camera and says to us, “what’re you going to do?”
The story of Hosea is not simply a positive picture of how to treat an unfaithful spouse, but a picture of the character of God. Hosea gives us a glimpse of the true marriage he created us for. 4 For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days (Hos 3.4-5). God is telling us that he’s going to come redeem us like Hosea did Gomer.
The Lord Jesus Christ came to earth, conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the Virgin Mary. He lived a sinless life – he is the 2nd Adam who was faithful to the covenant. And then on Good Friday he died in the place of his people. When the Bible says that Hosea bought Gomer, that was a shadow of the price that God would pay for his bride. Hosea paid the average price of a slave. “Jesus paid it all, all to him I owe. Sin had left a crimson stain, He washed it white as snow.” Jesus was buried for 3 days and then on Easter Sunday he rose again from the dead. He is the true David; the king of God’s people in God’s place under God’s blessing and rule. He is the true groom who redeems this adulterous bride.
So again, Hosea looks back at you. What’re you going to do? If you’re here and you’re not a Christian, can you be honest with yourself this morning? That feeling of guilt and shame that you suppress never leaves. That’s because you were created to be in covenant with God and you’ve been unfaithful to the covenant. Jesus came to keep the covenant in your place and to redeem you from your spiritual adultery. All you have to do is repent of your sin and transfer your trust to Christ Jesus. Believe that he died for your sin and that he rose again. Confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead and you will be saved!
There’s also application for how we think about marriage. Some in the room are thinking wrong about marriage. Some of you singles may be under-valuing or over-valuing marriage. Maybe you’ve seen bad marriages and you think “I don’t need that mess,” or maybe you’re obsessed with the idea of marriage. You think you need to be married to be complete. Until you’re in relationship with the true bridegroom, you will never be complete. That’s true if you’re married too. Until you’re in right relationship with the true bridegroom, you will never be the husband or wife God made you to be.
We have been unfaithful to God’s covenant, but God is faithful. There’s a sense in which every week at the Lord’s Supper is a vow renewal between our bridegroom and us. We’re invited to commune with Christ at communion. We’re reminded to give thanks at the Eucharist. If you’re a believer use the sacrament this morning to refresh and renew your new covenant vows with Christ. If you’re here and you’re not a Christian, you don’t need the bread and wine, you need the bridegroom, and he’ll have you, for better or worse.