THE UNFAITHFUL BRIDE Hosea 1:1-3; 3:1-5
The passages before us contains one of the most unusual and most difficult commands God ever gave. It was given to Hosea one of prophets to the ten tribes of Israel. He was commanded to take as his wife, one of the women of the land who was known to be unchaste and immoral. Accordingly he selected a woman whose name was Gomer whose character was such that she would likely prove unfaithful. Gomer did not love God, and took her pleasure wherever she could find it. From this union were born three children. But her heart had become contaminated with the immoral lifestyle which was poisoning the social life of the whole nation. In all probability Hosea's quite religious home, his simple occupations, and his devout Sabbath-keeping grew distasteful to her. She felt her life was intolerably dull. After the birth of her third child she was directly tempted, committed adultery, left Hosea and returned to her old way of life. Every indication is Hosea loved this woman and loved the three children she gave him. Hoses's love for his spouse had been very deep and tender, and he felt he loved her still, even after she had forsaken him. There is little doubt he missed her greatly and his home was never the same. He did not cast her off; she left of her own free will.
One thing this story does for us all who live in this far off time is to remind us of one of the great tragedies of human life—the tragedy of unrequited love, the misfortune of unreturned love. Hose loved his wife, but he was not loved in return. That is a bitter pill to swallow. It is heartbreaking to love someone in wedlock and not to be loved in return. Moreover, unreturned love is a tragedy that runs through all periods of human history, and our present generation is no exception. Unfaithful love is the theme of many popular songs that are being played on radio and television. Many of our folk songs that have stood the test of time have unreturned love as their theme. It is also heard in many popular songs that have gone to the top of the charts, and it is specially the primary theme of country music. America loves to sing about unrequited love.
We can also read about it in history. Napoleon Bonaparte deserted the wife of his earlier years and entered into a marriage that was politically expedient. He was not the only one who married someone because it would mean military or economic advantage. Royal families have practiced this from time immemorial. In this modern day it is exceedingly common for people to marry for social or economic prestige. I read of a man who was sent to the penitentiary for a crime he committed. His wife's deep love for him caused her to work tirelessly for 30 years to free her husband from prison. She worked as a scrub woman and other lowly tasks and other lowly tasks to support herself. She talked to everybody of importance who might have any in fluence, and after 30 years she finally achieved her husband's release from prison. Yet, within a year he had left her behind and married another woman. How many of both sexes have suffered hurt, sorrow and unhappiness from unreturned love?
I wonder what it was that Hosea had that is missing in many marriages today? Even Hollywood cannot match this story of love. I think Hollywood has contributed much to the misunderstanding that many young people have on love and marriage. Young people should not put their confidence in the Hollywood conception of love. It is based on outward beauty, physical appearance, social and economic prestige, physical passion, physical comfort, and selfish advantage. Hollywood's conception is more like Gomer's conception of love. Take your pleasure wherever you can get it, and let the chips fall where they may. If it feels good do it. Few things can hurt the ego of man and woman more than unrequited love, to love and not be loved in return.
In process of time, things went from bad to worse for Gomer. It would seem, too, that she by and by had became the slave of one of her lovers. About this time God gave Hosea another commandment almost as unusual and difficult as the one to marry Gomer. God said to Hosea, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." I think Hosea knew exactly who this adulterous woman was he was commanded to love again. It was his wife who had left him for another man. The New International version renders this passage like this, The Lord said to me, "Go show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulterer. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes." We take the woman here he is to love again is his unfaithful wife, Gomer.
She was the only woman he had ever loved. Moreover, she was on the auction at the very time Hosea received this command. He found her on the auction block and bought for himself. The price to buy her in money only one-half of the ordinary price of a female slave. The rest of the payment was made in barley–the usual coarse food of the class of people to which she now belonged. I believe God asked him to do this thing because God knew Hosea still loved her. He took her to his home as her guardian. He could not restore her to his table as a dutiful wife. He protected her from her sins, and it is our hope that she was brought repentance and a reconciliation took place. She was informed, "You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute, or be intimate with any man–so too will I be toward you"(Hosea 3:4).
When Hosea bought her off the auction block, he wasn't impressed with her attractive figure, rouge, lipstick, or any other "put-on." She probably was not much to look at after the life she had been living. He saw in this woman what she once was; what he had known her to be; the first and only love he had or would ever have; the sweet heart of his youth, and above alll the mother of his children. I will tell you what this man had that is missing in many marriages today. He had character and deep love. This man had deep feeling, deep affection and deep love. Young women should take more to their marriage than a pretty figure and a beautiful face, and men should take more than a handsome physique and a passionate nature. There is one thing that we all take to our wedding, for good or bad, and that is the sum total of our personality. The most important things that can be taken to our wedding is sincere love and a good character.
God's command to to marry an immoral woman, and His command to love her again after Gomer left him raises a disturbing question. Why did God put Hosea through such a terrible ordeal? He did this because the marriage of Hosea is not the chief subject in this story. God did this to show to Israel and the world in general His inexhaustible love. This apparently was the only way God could convince Israel and dthe world how much they had mistreateed Him, and how much He loved the nation. To do this He compared His relationship to Israel as a husband-wife relationship. The true meaning of the story is that Israel was as unfaithful to God as Gomer was to Hosea. God has received much unjust criticism about His dealings with the nation of Israel both by Israel and the world in general. One of the greatest truths in the Bible is revealed in this story. As shocking as it sounds, that t truth is that God has had two marriages, and both wives have been as unfaithful to Him as Gomer was to Hosea. Stay with me and I will prove it to you. As beautiful as the story is, the great love of Hosea for his unfaithful wife is not what this story is all about. This story is about God's inexhaustible love for His two wives who deserted Him for other lovers and the grief He suffered from unreturned love. There is a lot of parable in this love story. Hosea represents God and Gomer represents one of His two wives. By hiistory and implication we learn that God actually had two wives and both were unfaithful to Him. . But someone might say, "Preacher God cannot marry anyone. He is God." Oh, yes He can. He has had two marriages and two wives, and both of them were as unfaithful as Gomer was. Their unreturned love, their unrequited love grieved God far far more than Gomer grieved Hosea. The New Testament tells us not to grrieve the Holy Spirit, and God has been grieved by His unfaithful wives. They both committed spiritual adultery. Who are these two wives and when did God get married.?
His first wife was the nation of Israel, and He describes that relationship like that which exists between a husband wife. In accordance with this figurative representation, God wooed and married a poor slave girl He delivered from the land of Egypt. God entered into a marriage relationship with her at Mount Sinai when He spoke the ten commandments. Israel signed the marriage certificate when they were baptized unto Moses in the cloud and the Red Sea. They signed the marriage certificate when they said at Mt. Sinai, "We will do all that you command. We will have no other God but You." For a short time she was like a faithful wife in the land of Canaan, but with the passing of years the nation deserted God for calf worship, the worship of Baal and other gods. Sexual immorality was allowed in those religions. In disobeying the ten commandments they committed spiritual adultery. By the time of Hosea, Israel had deserted God for hundreds of years and served other gods. . In Hosea 2:1-5 God said to Hosea, "Say to my people. Bring charges against your mother(Israel), for she is not My wife, nor am I her husband. Let her put away her adulteries". God divorced Israel for idolatry and adultery, spiritual adultery.
But God never ceased to love her just like Hosea never ceased to love Gomer. In spite of her unfaithfulness, God said to Israel in Jeremiah 3:14, "Return O backsliding children, for I am married to you. I will take you, one from a city and two from a family, and Iwill bring you to Zion." Israel was His first wife, and God treated Israel just like Hosea treated Gomer. He took her back, put her under strict discipline, made her live a clean life in order to bring her to repentance and be an obedient wife. He did this when after 70 years of punishment in Babylonia, He allowed them to return home to Israel. But one thing we know. God took Israel back and won her love again. He treated Israel just as Hosea treated Gomer. God put Israel under strict discipline by 70 years of captivity in a foreign country. God told Hosea to tell of these days in Hosea 2:13-16, "I will allure her into the wilderness and speak comfort to her...And it shall be in that day, says the Lord that you will call Me, My husband." In Hosea 2:19, God said to Israel, "I will betroth you to Me forever....I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord." This all happened when they returned to the land of Canaan after 70 years in the land of Babylonia. God's first wife was unfaithful time and time again, and the history of Israel verifies the fact. God's first marriage lasted 1500 years and ended for good in the first century A.D.
But what about God's second marriage? . Who else did He marry? God's second marriage is revealed by history and by implication from the first marriage. His second marriage was with the Christian nation of the world, composed of Jews and Gentiles from all nations who who have been redeemed and reconciled to God by the blood of Christ. God met another beautiful Hebrew girl in Jerusalem fifty days after His Divine Son died for the sins of all Jews and Gentiles at Calvary. God entered into a marriage relationship first with 3,000 Israelite Christians in the city of Jerusalem about 33 A.D. when He made with Israel the New Covenant predicted in Jeremiah 31:31-33. A remnant of obedient Jews signed the marriage certificate when 3,000 Jews obeyed this command of the Apostle Peter: "Repent and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit." The Christian nation of Israel unitedd with Gentile Christians became the second wife of God. It is true that only a remnant of Israel became a part of God's second wife, but the Hebrew scriptures reveal that throughout the 1500 years of God's first marriage only a remnant of Israel was faithful at any time. For rejecting God's second marriage, God allowed the nation of Israel to be taken into Roman captivity and allowed the Romans to destroy Jerusalem and the Temple in 70 A.D. God's new wife, the Church of Christ, the Church of God, went on to conquer the Roman world in the first century and made Jehovah and Israel the glory of the world. God's relationship to Christian Jews and Gentiles in the New Testament church is also compared to a husband-wife relationship. Christians signed the marriage certificate when they were baptized in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. John the Baptist told people in his time, "I am not the bridegroom; I am the friend of the bridegroom." He was teaching that Jesus of Nazareth is the bridegroom, and the church is His wife. The final meeting of Christ with His bride at the end of the world is described in this beautiful language of marriage in Revelation 19:9, "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb."
God's second wife, the church, was faithful to God, her husband, for abut three or four hundred years, as was Israel His first wife. Then most in the church deserted for a corrupted form of Christianity. They disobeyed God's laws and worshiped with idols and statues, changed the divinely appointed system of worship, bapized babies and other such like things.. In vain they worshiped God, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men. The desertion and unfaithfulness of God's second wife was far more serious and lasted much longer than the unfaithfulness of Israel. About 500 A.D. a great body of Christians deserted God for other lovers and continued to do so throughout 1,000 years of the Dark Ages. This group of unfaithful Christians are referred to as a Harlot, as was Gomer, in Revelation 17:1-6, and it is said of her that she committed fornication with the kings of the earth and the inhabitants of the earth. That woman is a church. This was spiritual or religious adultery. All who profess to be Christians would be wise to study and learn for certain who that woman is that is called by God a harlot and accused her of adultery. The partial unfaithfulness of the Church, the bride of Christ, has caused all of this division, strife and disharmony that exists in Christendom today. All the churches in Christendom today number in the hundreds, and all profess to be the bride of Christ. What do you think? Do you consider all the hundreds of different churches in Christendom, with their diverse doctrines and diverse forms of worship to be the faithful bride of Christ and God.. I just can't see present day Christendom as a picture of the faithful bride of Christ. Many people do, and those who think so do not believe that the church, the bride of Christ, has ever deserted God and became an unfaithful wife.
About 1500 A.D. there was a movement in Christendom, among those who professed to be Christians, a movement to return to God and faithfulness to Christ the bridegroom. It was this movement that resulted in great numbers of professed Christians to return to God and become more faithful as a part of the bride of Christ. God never ceased loving those Christians who became unfaithful during the Dark Ages. He calls them to repentance, and His love is ready at all times to receive back those who may have become unfaithful. The promise of Jesus is, "Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life." All who profess to be Christians must decide for themselves whether or not they have become unfaithful to Christ the Bridegroom.