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HOSEA 3:1-5
Series:  Till Death Do Us Part - Part Three

Pastor Stephen Muncherian
Jul 1, 2012

This morning is our third Sunday looking at marriage.  If you were not able to be with us there is a link on your Message Notes that will take you to the web page where you can listen or read through our first two messages.  On the flip side of your Message Notes you’ll find some questions and suggestions for going further with what we’re looking at today. 


What we’ve been looking at is the bottom line stuff of male female relationships and what makes marriage work or not work.  Our desire - looking at marriage - is to see more clearly God’s design for marriage - and to see more clearly from God’s word how our marriages can keep getting better.  We’ve been exploring three cycles that can describe where we are in our relationship as husband and wife.


Cycle number one is the Weakening Cycle - which is a description of what we struggle with in our marriages.  We saw this cycle when we looked at the first three chapters of Genesis - especially Genesis 3:16 - God explaining the consequences of sin to Eve - in Genesis 3:16 - God nails the bottom line of our husband wife struggle.  God says to Eve, “yet your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.”  Literally - the Hebrew has this idea:  “Your desire is going to be to control your husband.  And He is going to exercise control over you.”


What’s gone wrong with the honeymoon - following the arrows around - rotating right around the weakening cycle.  Without love - Adam protecting Eve from the serpent - Eve insecure - reacts without respect for Adam - takes leadership away from Adam who’s let her down - desires to control her husband - and Adam - not respected by Eve - because she’s taken the role of protect and provide away from Adam - Adam reacts without love towards Eve.  Adam demanding to exercise control over Eve.  Eve desiring to control her husband.


For those that were with us does that sound familiar?  Yes?


The second cycle we looked at is the Energizing Cycle.  We looked at this cycle when we looked at Ephesians 5 - some very practical things that we can do as husbands and wives to cut-off the destruction of the weakening cycle and get us moving forward together as husbands and wives.


The number one need of a man is what?  Respect.  The number one drive of a man is what?  to provide and protect.  As a husband is giving himself to do that providing and protecting thing - he needs the unconditional respect of his wife.


The number one need of a woman is what?  Love.  She desires love - especially love that fosters a feeling of relational security.  Security coming from a husband who will be there for her in the way she needs him to be there for her - unconditionally loving her.  That love provides the protection she needs to feel - what allows her to feel secure.

Looking at the Energizing Cycle - following the arrows around - rotating around to the right.  As the husband loves his wife it motivates her to respect him which motivates him to love her.  That energizes our marriage - energizes us to do what God has purposed and enabled us to do as a married couple.


When we looked at Ephesians 5 we saw some very practical ways that both husband and wife can work together or alone to make that happen.  We also saw that God really puts the weight of responsibility for all this on the husband.  The husband needs to get the cycle started.


That doesn’t let wives off the hook.  Whoever you are - husband or wife - we’re called to “just do it.”  Start. 


But specifically - we husbands are called to follow the example of Jesus.  We’re called to sacrificial headship towards our wives.  Marriage isn’t about getting our spouse to conform to our needs or grousing when they fall short - and then we’ll love them.  Those are conditions placed on love.  That’s the Weakening Cycle.


Jesus didn’t wait until we we’re lovable to love us unconditionally - sacrificially - on the cross.  Sacrificial headship means the we husbands go first - we risk everything - rejection - disrespect -  to love our wives.


That all is the basis of the third cycle we looked at - briefly last Sunday - the Rewarding Cycle - our marriages humming along - firing on all eight cylinders - which happens as we learn to express unconditional love towards each other.


All of which is not easy.  Amen?


Someone said, “Marriage teaches you loyalty, forbearance, self-restraint, meekness and a lot of other qualities you wouldn’t need if you stayed single.”


Where we’d like to focus this morning is on that third cycle - the rewarding cycle - to focus together on unconditional love and how we can go there together.  To do that I’d like to have you turn with me to the book of Hosea.  Hosea is a little to the right of half way through the Bible.  In the Old Testament - Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea, Joel, Amos Obadiah.  If you’ve got one of those Bibles under a seat in front of you Hosea is on page 640.


We’re going to come to Hosea chapter 3.  But before we get there we need to back up to chapter 1 - starting at verse 1 - and understand together the big picture of what’s going on.  Let’s say that together, “The big picture.”


Hosea 1 - verse 1:  The word of the Lord that came to Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.


Let’s pause.  There’s a ton of information here we need to grab on to.


Take out your mental pencils - Quick Quiz.  Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah were all kings of Judah - the southern kingdom.  Of the four kings which one totally led God’s people away from God?  Ahaz.  Ahaz was the most perverse - immoral.  If there was a way to sin against God Ahaz did it and did it well.


Hezekiah - Ahaz’s son - Hezekiah was a good king.  Did a 180° turn around from his father Ahaz.  Cleaned out whatever wasn’t of God.  Led God’s people back to God.


Point being that during the days of Hosea - Judah - the southern kingdom - was hanging on spiritually.  Overall they were doing okay in their relationship with God.  Spiritually not great.  But okay.  However, Judah wasn’t where Hosea was living.


Hosea lives in Israel - the northern kingdom - where Jeroboam is the king.  Jeroboam - in contrast to Hezekiah - Jeroboam was an evil king - perverse - ungodly.  What follows after the reign of Jeroboam - for Israel - is a slide into disaster.  Of the kings that come next.  They all were evil.  Kings became kings by assassination.  Reigns were generally very short. 


Finally in 732 BC - the Assyrians - remember them?  Brutal guys - a whole nation focused on war and conquest that made the Klingons look like a bunch of flower children - in 732 the Assyrians under Tiglath-pileser III came and carved up Israel - the northern kingdom where Hosea was.  Finally in 722 Shalmaneser V - comes and hauls God’s people off into captivity in Assyria - ending the sovereignty of Israel as a nation.  All of which was God’s judgment on the ungodliness of His people.


Point being that Hosea was living through all that.  Judah hanging on.  Israel getting toasted.


By giving us the names of these kings we know where Hosea fit into that time of history.  Under Jeroboam and Uzziah - the kings that were on the throne when Hosea got started - under Jeroboam and Uzziah there was great prosperity.  The borders of Israel and Judah were extended almost to where they were under David and Solomon.  Luxuries were common.  Life was good.


But what was pleasing to the people wasn’t pleasing to God.  In prosperity the people had no time - no place - for God.  Beneath the surface of Disneyland was a growing tide of perversity - immorality - ungodliness - unrest - people treating other people lower than dirt - the fabric of society coming apart at the seams.  Does that sound familiar?


God had sent them prophets like Jonah and Amos.  In the south Isaiah and Micah were around.  But God’s people kept rejecting God and God’s love for them.  Until the Assyrians rolled over Israel and hauled God’s people off into captivity.


Hosea experienced all that.  Had a front row seat.  In the midst of watching his people - his nation come apart a the seams - God called Hosea to be a prophet calling God’s people back to God.


One other thing we need to know.  Hosea’s name means “salvation.”  Its closely related to the names Joshua and Jesus.  Hosea was known as “the love prophet.”  That’s really true.


Hold on to this.  In this book Hosea represents God.  What were going to see - is that while God’s people are rejecting God - we’re going to see through Hosea - God’s unconditional love - His persistent love - God’s commitment to love His people who are anything but lovable.


Let’s go on:  Hosea 1 - verse 2:  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.”


We’re together on the symbolism?  Right?  Hosea represents God.  His wife is a prostitute - who represents God’s people - who are out committing spiritual adultery with other gods and the stuff of the world.  The children are the result of that sin.  We’re together?

God speaks to Hosea and says, “Go marry a prostitute.”  Can you imagine?  That’s intense.  Can you imagine the layers of sin that God was trying to break through to get the attention of His people?


Verse 3:  So he - Hosea - went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son.  And the Lord said to him, - Hosea - “Call his name Jezreel, - which literally means “God scatters.” - for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, - which is a bit of history for another time - and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.  And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.”


Which happened - the breaking of the bow - military defeat.  Israel got hauled off to Assyria.  God scatters.


Verse 6:  She - Gomer - conceived again and bore a daughter.  And the Lord said to him, - Hosea - “Call her name No Mercy - or your version may say Lo-ruhamah - which is the Hebrew for “no mercy” - Call her name No Mercy, for I will no more have mercy - compassion - pity - on the house of Israel, to forgive them at all.  But I will have mercy on the house of Judah - the southern kingdom that doing sort of better spiritually - and I will save them - Judah - by the Lord their God - meaning that God personally is going to do this - I will not save them by bow or by sword or by horses or by horsemen.”  When she - Gomer - had weaned No Mercy, she conceived and bore a son.  And the Lord said, “Call his name Not My People - or your version may have the Hebrew “Lo-ammi” - Not My People, for you are not my people, and I am not your God.”  Ouch

Hosea and Gomer have children together.  Each child is given a name - by God - that shows where the relationship of God and His people have gone - where its going - because of the spiritual adultery of God’s people.


These are harsh names.  Imagine showing up a school.  “What’s your name?”  “Not My People.”  “Do your parents hate you or what?”  Imagine what kind of teasing did these kids got.  Brutal.  There’s “No Mercy.”  Her dad is that wacko prophet dude.  Her mother’s a prostitute.


When people saw the child.  When they heard the name.  Point was they should have understood.  Should have been appalled at where their sin had taken them in their relationship with God.  They should have turned back to God.


But God’s people persisted in sin.  They continued to reject God’s love.  And God gave them over to the reality of what it meant for them to not be His people - the reality of what it meant for them to live apart from the blessings of a covenant relationship with God.


Verse 10:  Yet - meaning even though my people continue to reject me - even thought they’re going to get hauled off into captivity - scattered over the face of the earth - yet - this is what will happen - this is what I - God - am going to do for My people - Yet the number of the children of Israel shall be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered.  And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” it shall be said to them, “Children of the living God.”

Verse 11:  And the children of Judah and the children of Israel - both the northern and southern kingdoms - will be shall be gathered together, - the two kingdoms - northern and southern - separated and scattered over the face of the earth - both will be united together again - and they shall appoint for themselves on head. - meaning one ruler - one government - over both kingdoms - And they shall go up from the land - They’re coming back to the land I gave them - for great shall be the day of Jezreel.


Grab that.  This is really cool God stuff.  Not until May 14, 1948 - the independence of the State of  Israel - 2,669 years after the fall of the southern kingdom of Judah - not until May 1948 was it possible to speak of a truly autonomous - undivided - nation of Israel - on the land promised by God - in the way that God prophesied through Hosea.  God drawing His people back to Himself.  Reestablishing them as a nation - as His people.


That’s God never giving up on His commitment to His people.


That’s unconditional - persistent - love.  God loving His people - not because His people deserve it.  But, because God chooses to love them. 


We’re together?  Right?


Verses 10 and 11 - here in chapter one - in the Hebrew text verses 10 and 11 are actually the beginning of chapter two.  Chapter two expands on this reality of the disaster of God’s people removing themselves from their covenant relationship with God - and how greatly God loves His people.  God choosing to love His people.


In chapter two - which expands on verses 10 and 11 - in chapter two there two examples of God’s unconditional love for us touch on - to get cemented in our minds this amazing reality of God’s unconditional love.


Look with me down at chapter two - verse 19 - God speaking to His people of what He - God - is going to do for them.  Verse 19:  “And I will betroth you to Me forever.  I will betroth you to Me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy.  I will betroth you to me in faithfulness.  And you shall know the Lord.”


The name “Lord” here translates the Hebrew “Yahweh” - the name of God that describes God as always existing - the eternal creating God.  And yet its the name of God that describes His intimate saving relationship with His people.  The God who saves His people - pulls them out of Egypt - brings them back from exile - redeems them from sin.


That’s huge.  The eternal God of creation - who could have justifiably spoken one word and none of this would exist - poof - gone - no more unfaithful people.  God - takes His people - who have prostituted themselves with every known form of perversity - and makes them to be righteous - made right before Him as a virgin bride - and justified - set free from condemnation for their sin - and He - God - commits Himself to faithfully pouring out his love and compassion on them - forever.


Go down to verse 23 - example of unconditional love number two - verse 23:  “And I will sow her for Myself in the land.  And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, “You are my people;” and he shall say, “You are my God.”


The name of God here in the Hebrew is “Elohim” which describes God’s divine power.  Nothing in creation - not even guys like Tiglath-pileser king of Assyria or Adolf Hitler dictator of Nazi Germany or Ahmadinejad President of Iran - is going to keep the Almighty God from reestablishing His people in the land that He’s promised them.


Are we together?  Unconditional love is the choice to love - regardless.  And committing everything we are to acting on that choice to love.  Let’s say that together, “Unconditional love is the choice to love… regardless.  And, committing everything we are to acting on that choice to love.”


That’s the background to chapter 3.


Chapter 3 - verse 1:  And - or some versions translate it “When” - meaning after the wedding - the kids - and Gomer leaving Hosea and living as a prostitute again - and the Lord said to me - Hosea - “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress - meaning she’s out sleeping around - go love that women - 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.


Meaning about a homer and a half of barley.  Given what we know about the going price for slaves back then - Hosea pays about half-price for Gomer.  Meaning she comes cheap.  It’s the bottom line reality of how bad things have gotten for Israel - not just economically - but spiritually how low they’ve sunk - the devaluing of the image of God - the corrupting of God’s people by their sin. 


Chapter 3 is “A homer for Gomer.”  Let’s say that together, “A homer for Gomer.”  Which is not about baseball.  We’re talking the cost of unconditional love.


What would this be like?  Buying back your wife who’s out selling herself as a prostitute?  Bidding for her at a public auction?  Buying her back from slavery to her sin?  Humbling?  Sacrificial?  Sacrificially setting aside our pride and our prerogative to reject her?  This is an amazing picture of God purchasing us - redeeming us - buying us back from our sins - in Jesus Christ - on the cross - the cost of unconditional love.  

Verse 3:  And I - Hosea - said to her - Gomer - picture God speaking to His people through Hosea - “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.”  For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods.  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.


Do you hear God pleading with His people?  “Seek Me.  Come to Me.  Dwell with Me.  Live in the goodness of relationship with Me.  Forever.”


Turn forward with me to Ephesians 5 - to the verse we skipped over last Sunday.  Ephesians 5 - verse 32.  Remember in Ephesians 5 - the verses we looked at - Paul is writing about marriage.  That whole discussion about marriage - in the larger picture of Ephesians 5 - grab on to this - that whole discussion about marriage is really an illustration of Jesus’ relationship with His Church.


Ephesians 5 - verse 32:  This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.


The mystery begins in Genesis.  After the fall - the honeymoon is over - God is describing the disastrous effects of sin - in the same conversation when God speaks to Eve about the struggle we have between husbands and wives.  We’re together?  Genesis 3:16.


Back up one verse to Genesis 3:15 - God speaks to the serpent - to Satan - God says, “I will put enmity between you - Satan - and the woman - Eve - and between your offspring - Satan’s descendants - and her offspring - Eve’s descendants - He shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel.”  (Genesis 3:15)


Point being:  There’s going to be continual conflict - war waged between Satan and His minions - between those following Satan - on one side and God’s people on the other side.  But God’s people will be victorious.  (Romans 16:20)  How will God’s people be victorious?  In Genesis we’re not told.  Its a mystery. 


God goes on through history - through Scripture - with the Passover Lamb and the whole Old Covenant sacrificial system - clues to help us understand the mystery - helping us to understand what God is doing.


Isaiah - inspired by God - Isaiah writes:  “Surely our griefs He Himself bore, and our sorrows He carried...He was pierced through for our transgressions...By His scourging we are healed...the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him.”  (Isaiah 53:4-6 NASB)  Those are clues.


Ezekiel writes of God’s people - Israel.  “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them.  And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them.  Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”  (Ezekiel 11:19,20 NASB)

Joel writing of the day when God delivers His people - Joel writes,
“It will come about after this that I will pour out My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.  Even on the male and female servants I will pour out My Spirit in those days.”  (Joel 2:28,29 NASB)


God works in mysterious what?  ways.  There’s a mystery that flows through Scripture - flows through history - God at work - working victory for His people.  God unconditionally - by choice - pursuing His people through ages.  When we see Jesus - God Himself dwelling with us - dying for us - finally the mystery is revealed.  When we trust Jesus as the Savior - that mystery is revealed to us - personally.


Paul writes that this mystery is great.  Its profound.  Its beyond the scope of what we can get minds around.  Each of us - our sins forgiven - restored to righteousness - each of us having an intimate relationship - oneness - with God through Jesus Christ.  Relating to each other as the Church.  Profound?  Yes?


Paul goes on to say - Ephesians 5:33 - “However - or some versions translate it “Nevertheless”  Meaning - keeping in mind everything I’ve written about husbands and wives - which is what we looked at last Sunday.  ...let each one of you - husbands - love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.


The kind of unconditional love - the dogged down through the ages - unceasing pursuit of God for His people - for Israel - for the Church - that’s the unconditional love that needs to exist between a husband and a wife.  Love that initiates with God - that initiates with the husband through sacrificial headship - that’s poured out - even at great cost to the one who loves.


In order to help us hold on to that reality of unconditional love as we head out of here into the day to day stuff of life I’d like to show you a short video clip.  As you’re watching this think about unconditional love.


(video:  The Wounded Bride)


How wounded is the bride?  How wounded are we?


There are rival gods out there - a tremendous number of voices and words coming into our minds all the time - repeatedly offerring us protection and security - other philosophies - points of view - offers being made to us from other sources - that we really can’t trust God fully with our lives.  Voices that tempt us to fornicate with our egos - our pride - our self will. 


Satan would love to use any or all of that to get our focus off of God.  To flirt with the sins of this world rather than maintaining our covenant with God.


We are so wounded by our sin.  By our spiritual adultery.


And yet God loves us - intensely - deeply.  Desires to sacrificially pour out His love on us - even die for us.  To take the burdens off our shoulders.  To bring peace to our hearts.  To establish us and bless us and watch out for us and heal us and care for us and guide and lead us through life into eternity with Him.  To live in a deepening relationship with us - for each of us to live in oneness with Him and with each other.  God chooses to pursues us - wounded as we are by sin - to love us unconditionally. 


Two final thoughts of application.


First:  Marriage is a whole larger than the trivial fallen in lust - have sex - get married - selfishness that we see happening around us in the world - and even in the church.  Marriage illustrates the reality of God’s unconditional love for His people - us.  That takes marriage and what it means to be married to whole different level.  Doesn’t it?  May we realize the awesomeness of what God calls us to be a part of and so cherish the opportunity.

Second:  What choice will you make?  Each of us has a choice of how we will love others - who like us have been wounded by sin.  Here in this congregation.  At work.  At school.  In our homes.  In our marriages.  Will we love unconditionally?  May God help us to understand how greatly He loves us - and the strength and courage and commitment to love others as we have been loved.







1. For Men Only - and - For Women Only     Shaunti and Jeff Feldhahn

2. Love and Respect - The Love She Most Desires; The Respect He Most Needs     Dr. Emerson Eggerichs 


Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®  (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.