The Good Eye – Hosea

The Good Eye – Hosea

The Good Eye – Hosea. 

“Come, and let us return to the Lord; for He has torn, but He will heal us; He has stricken, but He will bind us up… Let us know, let us pursue the knowledge of the Lord, His going forth is established as the morning; He will come to us like the rain, like the latter and former rain to the earth… For I desire mercy and not sacrifice, and the knowledge of God more than burnt offerings.” (Hosea 6:1,3,6).

If ever there was a biblical example of someone with a generous heart, of someone who gave an unworthy person the ongoing benefit of the doubt, it was the prophet Hosea. Hosea was given a difficult task by God, and he needed a good eye to fulfill that task.

Not much is known about the background of the prophet Hosea, except that God chose him for a seemingly foolish mission. God commanded Hosea to be a living parable. Hosea has been called by some a prophet of love. But the parable was not primarily about human love. Hosea was a parable about God’s love and mercy. Unfortunately, God chose a rather unprecedented way to live that parable out. The Lord instructed Hosea to marry a prostitute, just another example of a sad street-corner whore. Not only that, but God wanted to see children from their union, and He wanted Hosea to remain faithful to her despite her further sexual adventures. How’s that for an assignment from a holy Lord? Could there be anything more foolish to the public eye than marrying a prostitute, raising a family, and remaining faithful to her? Ever the obedient servant, that’s just what Hosea did. Gomer the prostitute, unsurprisingly, was unfaithful to Hosea, but as instructed, Hosea remained faithful to Gomer. This was indeed a difficult object lesson to act out in reality. Imagine the shame and humiliation that Hosea had to endure while living out this parable.

But what was God’s point in this very visual aid? Why did God put Hosea through this strange marriage? God wanted to teach the Israelites a very important lesson, what turned out to be a gospel lesson in love. The Lord wanted Hosea’s union with Gomer to provide a graphic picture of the relationship between the Lord and His people Israel. The people are unfaithful to me, says the Lord. They are prostituting themselves after other gods. As the Message puts it, “This whole country has become a whorehouse!” (1:2). My chosen people have violated our covenant, our sacred marriage vows. They are uniting themselves with other gods. And yet, and yet. I will pursue my people in faithfulness, because I love them anyway. I will be faithful when my people are at their worst. Hosea is a picture of how I love my people, says the Lord. Hosea forgave Gomer even after she slept with other men after their marriage. And that is a picture, says the Lord, of how I will forgive my chosen people even after their wayward unfaithfulness. I will take them back into my love. “And it shall be, in that day,’ says the Lord, ‘that you will call me, my husband, and no longer call me, my master… I will betroth you to me forever. Yes, I will betroth you to me in righteousness and justice, in lovingkindness and mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness, and you shall know the Lord.” (2:16,19,20).

The story continues. Gomer was sold into sexual slavery, and Hosea in his faithfulness decided to redeem her, to buy her out of that slavery and have her return into his house. What a picture of the gospel of Redemption. We don’t know Gomer’s response to Hosea’s amazing generosity, his patience and forgiveness. We do know that Hosea goes on in his prophetic role to announce the Lord’s judgment on Israel and Judah. But the final chapter is hopeful for those who repent of their unfaithfulness. “Yahweh says, ‘Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever… Who is wise? Let him understand these things. Who is prudent? Let him know them. For the ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them.” (14:4,9). Hosea was an obedient fool for love. It seems that God is playing the holy fool for love for our sake as well. Jesus on the Cross, the holy fool of love to redeem our very souls.