One of the most heartbreaking stories in the Old Testament is the story of Hosea. He’s been described as a gentleman farmer called of God to speak to the rebellious people of Israel. But Hosea’s message wasn’t just a sermon in the temple; his message came from his house.
Biblical scholars wrestle with the strange command of God that Hosea marry a prostitute. Does this mean that Gomer was a cult priestess in the immoral worship of Baal? Or does this mean that since the entire nation had left the Lord and were living in spiritual adultery, that she was just like everybody else? We’re not sure, but this union was bound to bring misfortune.
Hosea and Gomer had three children whose names were symbolic in the prophet’s preaching. But inexplicably, Gomer abandoned her husband and her children. She perhaps went back to the cult of Baal, or she went away with another man. Hosea became a single parent, though not by choice.
Twelve million families in America are headed by a single parent, which means one in four children don’t live with two parents. Single parents take on added responsibility. Hosea alone taught his two sons to be godly men and taught his daughter how to be a woman of faith.
Then the command came from God to find Gomer and bring her home. He found her in the slave market. Perhaps she fell into debt and was being sold to eradicate her debts, or maybe she was just used up by her former lover and good for nothing else than slavery. Hosea purchased her and restored her as his wife and as the mother of his children.
All his Israelite friends and neighbors said, “Look at Hosea. He was shamed but he didn’t give up on Gomer.” And Hosea said, “Don’t look at me. Look at God. You’ve turned from him, but he loves you still.”
In this regard, Hosea’s life was a type, or a picture, of God’s greater love for his people.
Through his prophet, God said, “my heart is turned within me. I will not execute the fierceness of my anger, I will not return to destroy, for I am God and not man” (Hosea 11: 8-9).
Here is one of the great phrases and deep spiritual truths in the Bible: “I am God and not man.”
Martin Luther once remarked, “If I were as the Lord God, I would knock the world in pieces.”
Fortunately, Luther wasn’t God!
The God of the Bible, as it were, lives in heartbreak while his children live in disobedience to him, and he’s restless until we repent and claim our rightful position of sonship with the heavenly father.