God's Ferocious Love

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Our small group started a study in the book of Hosea last night. (We just finished a marriage study so Hosea seemed like the next logical place.......right?)  What I love about the book of Hosea is the picture of the gospel that is presented.  It really is incredible to see how God has always been pointing His people to the coming of His Son.  The story of Hosea is one of the most poignant and clear foretellings of the gospel that I know of in the Old Testament.

The basic story is as follows:

Hosea is a prophet of God to the nation of Israel.  At this point in time the Israel has become two kingdoms.  The south kingdom is called Judah and consists of two of the twelve tribes of Israel (Benjamin and Judah). The northern kingdom is called Israel and consists of the other ten tribes.  From the time of the division, the northern kingdom is lead by its wicked kings into idolatry and dependence on foreign nations.  It is to the northern kingdom that Hosea is called to prophesy.  God does more than just call Hosea to prophesy to Israel, He asks Him to be a living example of God's relationship with His chosen people.  God does this in, what to us certainly, seems a most unusual way.

He tells Hosea to marry a harlot, a prostitute.  God wants Hosea's marriage to be a parable of His covenant with Israel and through the names of his children with Gomer, the harlot, God foretells His judgment on His adulterous people.  Hosea obeys God's command, marries Gomer, and has three children named Jezreel, Lo-ruhama (No Mercy), and Lo-ammi (Not My People). Jezreel foretells God's destruction of Israel's ruling family, Lo-ruhama is the foretelling of God's withdrawal of His mercy from His people, and Lo-ammi is the foretelling of God disowning, for a time, His people.  All this is due to their adultery of turning to idols and forsaking the God who chose them as His own.  God is preparing to bring righteous judgment on His people, to the point of disowning them.

But then.....



14 “Therefore, behold, I will allure her,
and ebring her into the wilderness,
and fspeak tenderly to her.
15 And there I will give her her vineyards
and make the Valley of Achor5 a door of hope.
And there she shall answer gas in the days of her youth,
as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.
16 “And hin that day, declares the Lord, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ 17 For iI will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more. 18 And jI will make for them a covenant on that day with the beasts of the field, the birds of the heavens, and the creeping things of the ground. And kI will abolish6 the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down inlsafety. 19 And I will betroth you to me mforever. nI will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 nI will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And oyou shall know the Lord.
21 “And pin that day qI will answer, declares the Lord,
I will answer the heavens,
and they shall answer the earth,
22 and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil,
and they shall answer rJezreel,7
23 and sI will sow her for myself in the land.
And tuwill have mercy on No Mercy,8
and vI will say to Not My People,9 w‘You are my people’;
and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’ 
                                                                      Hosea 2:14-23 


God tells Hosea that He will not forsake His people forever, that there will come a day when He will gather Israel back up and reestablish an everlasting covenant with her.  Those who were disowned and not His people will once again be called His people and those on whom He withheld mercy will once again experience His graciousness. We know from Paul's quotation of this passage in Romans that this promise also applies to us whom God has saved and called out of our sin to salvation.  We were once his enemies, not his people, and now we are vessels of His mercy and we are His people forever more.

There is one word in this passage I want to look at for a moment.  It is the word that starts the passage from Hosea quoted above.

The word is therefore.

The word is therefore is used to connect what was just happened to what is about to happen.  For example, if I say, "I need some cash, therefore I am going to the ATM" I am indicating that the cause or reason for going to the ATM is that I am out of cash.  The therefore tells you that what precedes it is the cause or reason for what follows it.

So, back to Hosea.  God tells Hosea that He is going to allure His people to the desert and eventually restore Her.  He is going to reestablish His covenant with Israel (and with those of us who are grafted onto Israel).

Why is he doing it?  What precedes the therefore?

The laundry list of Israel's idolatry and spiritual adultery is what precedes the therefore.  God is telling Israel that because they have forsaken Him, because they have chosen to give their worship to idols, He is going to allure them in the desert and call them back to Himself.

Here is how that makes sense both for Israel and for us today.  God chose His people before the foundation of the earth.  He chose us to be set apart for His glory and His renown.  He will save His people, all of His people.  So when we run from Him, when we create and worship idols, He will win us back.  He gave His Son to make it a certainty that He would win us back.  God's love for His people is ferocious and unstoppable.  He has chosen us and He will save us.  No scheme of the enemy or sin of our own doing can change the fact that God, for no reason other than His good pleasure, chose us as His holy people.  Because His choice is due to His nature and His pleasure, we cannot escape Him.  Our sin is so heinous and wicked that it took the death of the Son of God to make it possible for God to redeem us.  That is how magnificent His love is for us.

So....
when we sin
when we run
when we worship idols
when we commit spiritual adultery...

therefore He will allure us, He will pursue us, and He will save us because we are His.