Hosea, Adultery, Child Loss, and the Gospel

The people that we are closest with are the ones that have the greatest capacity to inflict pain upon us.  If a stranger or a mere acquaintance says something hurtful, we may not like it too much, but we’ll be able to shrug it off and move on.  But if it is your best friend?  Or your spouse?  That’s a different story.

Likewise it’s not just words from those people that cause us pain.  It’s their life situations, it’s what they put us through.  Due to this phenomenon I’ve concluded that for me, the two biggest emotional pains I could ever go through in life are the loss of a child or adultery by my wife.

The incredible thing about the book of Hosea is that we see both of these played out before our eyes.

For the most part we all know intellectually that we’re sinners.  We know we’ve wronged God, turned our back on Him, chased after silly idols, etc. etc.  But if you’re like me you don’t really feel it that deeply.  You’re not emotionally entangled in that reality to an appropriate degree.  The book of Hosea is one of the primary places in the Bible that emotionally helps me feel the reality of my idolatry.

That’s because it taps into one of those two deepest pains from the start.  Normally when a parent describes the wife you’re supposed to go find adjectives such as sweet, kind, thoughtful, trustworthy, committed, etc. are used.  Not in this case.  God tells Hosea to go marry Gomer who will be to him “a wife or whoredom.”  Why?  Because the people have committed whoredom against God, and this is a way for Hosea and us to feel it differently than we usually do.

So they have a son together.  The marriage starts off on a pretty good note.  But then the second child comes along, a daughter, and instead of saying “she bore him a…” it just says “and she bore a daughter.”  The implication is this isn’t his kid.  Gomer might be living with Hosea, they might be married, but he has no biological ties to this daughter.  And then a third child, a son, is birthed by Gomer, but this time there is no mystery.  Hosea essentially names the child “Not Mine.”

But it only gets worse.  Gomer continues her wayward ways, running from lover to lover because they’re promising her wealth and happiness and food and drink.  God says to plead with her, convince her that this is only going to get worse.  She thinks those adulteress lovers are the ones providing her with things, but they’re not.

Sometime later Gomer gets put up for auction as a slave.  Either because her lover got fed up with her and took all that he had given her so that she was destitute or because her lover was in fact a pimp who had been prostituting her out and now wants to get some money out of her before she’s too washed up.  Either way she is paraded, entirely naked most likely, before men about to bid on her as a possession.  But something unexpected happens during the auctioneer’s inducements of bids – a familiar voice.  Could it be?  Is that Hosea’s voice calling out a price to buy me back?  After all I’ve done?

Sure enough it is, Hosea forgives and continues to pursue even when Gomer hasn’t taken the slightest step back towards him.  Because he loves her and is committed to her.

That’s the story of me and God.  That’s what my heart tends to do, forsaking the God who betrothed himself to me and chasing after silly idols.  But the beautiful thing is that within this drama, even before any actual redemption takes place, God promises many things to her.  I’ll come win her back.  I’ll allure her.  I’ll fix all this.  With the repeated phrase – “in that day.”

And we know how those promises were realized, because we live on this side of the cross.  You see the crazy thing about the Gospel is that God endures one of the most excruciating pains in all the world, having adultery serially committed against him, and he makes it all right by willingly submitting himself to the only other pain that compares – the losing of a son.

If you feel that your heart is potentially growing cold.  Either to your sin or to the beauty of the Gospel, I’d encourage you to pick up the book of Hosea.  It’s short.  But powerful.

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