By David Faust
Hosea had it rough. God commanded him to marry a promiscuous woman. Sometime later, after she bore three children, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, reverted to her old ways and fell into the arms of another man. Now it was time for another difficult command. The Lord told Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes” (Hosea 3:1).
What was God saying here? He wasn’t implying that a spouse should shrug off adultery as if it’s no big deal. Adultery is an emotion-shredding ordeal for everyone affected by it. Just as Hosea suffered because of Gomer’s unfaithfulness, God himself experienced the ache of betrayal when his people embraced false gods. Instead of hungering for a deeper relationship with God, the Israelites enjoyed eating the sweet-tasting raisin cakes served during pagan feasts associated with Baal worship. We can imagine Hosea’s emotional suffering when his wife left him for another man, but do we comprehend the pain God feels when his beloved people reject him in favor of selfish pursuits and alternative religions?
Yet the story doesn’t end with rejection. God instructed Hosea, “Go, show your love to your wife again.” More than grudgingly accepting Gomer back into his home, the prophet was to genuinely love her. Hosea said, “So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. Then I told her, ‘You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you’” (vv. 2, 3).
What can we learn from this story?
To free Gomer, Hosea paid 15 shekels of silver—half the going price of a common slave (Exodus 21:32; Leviticus 27:4). Whether by intentionally selling herself into prostitution or through the manipulation of a cruel paramour, Gomer had been enslaved by a degrading lifestyle. Even in the eyes of her so-called “lover” she was worth little more than a few dollars and a pile of grain. The only way out was for someone to purchase her freedom.
The unpleasant truth? We are all like Gomer. We have sold ourselves short. We have dishonored God and devalued ourselves by committing spiritual adultery. Jesus said, “Everyone who sins is a slave to sin” (John 8:34). Peter warned that false prophets promise freedom, but “they themselves are slaves of depravity—for ‘people are slaves to whatever has mastered them’” (2 Peter 2:19). We need someone to set us free.
Despite Gomer’s sketchy past and her repeated unfaithfulness, Hosea demonstrated abiding love for her—and their flawed but determined marriage served as a living illustration of God’s remarkable faithfulness.
Even though we have flirted with the false gods of selfishness and lust, God remains determined to pursue us. Betrayed for the price of a slave and crucified for our sins, Christ came to free us from spiritual slavery.
How should we respond to such love and grace? By remembering, “You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies”
(1 Corinthians 6:19, 20).
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
|A Clean and Faithful Heart
|The Faithful God
|Faithful to Truth
|Free in the Spirit
|An Unfaithful Bride
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version © 2011, unless otherwise indicated.