Jan 13, 2012

JESUS is ...the Faithful Husband - A Valentines Story

-Studies in Hosea

Story Date: -apx 2800 years ago, During a Time of Rebellion in Hosea’s land (northern kingdom –ISRAEL)

GOD Spoke to Israel through his servant. (Hosea).  The story is given as a similitude, or “similar to”.  Portraying Israel as an Unfaithful wife and God as the Faithful husband. 

God here is incurably in love with his people Israel!

In our modern day context…perhaps here in Georgetown?…. It may have happened something like this ... >>>

He walked along Georgetown’s  Main street one warm summer evening.  He was a little heated and tired from the heat of the day.  His new job kept him busy at pleasing and helping the people he was serving & after a full day at the office he could use a COLD ONE (a cold glass of … ice tea that is!)

He parked at an empty spot in front of the Royal, and crossed at the light.  That’s when he first saw her, … just past the CIBC bank and the Deli, as he walked along main street in Georgetown…  She was sitting down at her table at the Silver Creek Café, quietly sipping her drink.  He found himself pausing to take in her beauty. 

Her figure was breathtaking to him, to put it mildy.  But he held his stare just a bit too long drinking in her beauty until she somehow turned & noticed his admiring glance.  He’d glanced away quickly to avoid the awkwardness he felt getting caught starring.  Because he’d turned his eyes away so quickly, he’d missed her smile towards him although he seemed to sense it…. and he continued walking.

At only 25 years old & the new pastor in town, he had a reputation to uphold… but as he was still single, he’d often prayed for God to help him in his search for a wife.  He was a godly, man….devoted to God and his message….he had to be careful in how he lived, and who he was seen with.  After all, he had a reputation to maintain!  He lived his life with purpose and a sense of mission.

A few days later, he found himself back on Main street, and … what do you know???…there she was again in the same place.  It was a…different day but, … same restaurant/ same chair/same beautiful girl.  This time …ever bolder, ever hopeful and a bit braver…..He went on inside and ordered his ice tea.  He sat down at a nearby table that gave him a good view of her. 

She was stunning! … Her makeup was light, but highlighted her perfect face.  Her gold jewelry sparkled in the sunlight.  Aah! …her lips, her hips, her…fingertips!!!   She had his attention!

They didn’t say anything to each other at first, …but soon she began to glance his way and then smiled at him, and then even said “hello”.   Overwhelming feelings of some sort of new emotion swept over him… he somehow felt comfortable enough in the situation and began to return her efforts at making small talk, although being as beautiful as she was… he kept looking at her so tenderly.

He knew he’d been asking God for a wife…could this be her, ??? (he wondered).

 There was something magical and captivating in how she held her head & body, she was just so poised he could not look away.

While he was near her, he couldn’t help but notice all the men who while walking by would stare blankly at her beauty, - just as he had…..and she returned each of their admiring glances with a sort of flirtatious smirk ….but he didn’t really notice that part.

Besides….the small talk turned into a conversation…. And  she seemed to be really into him
… She pulled her chair a bit closer, and he moved his just a few inches closer as well. He was absolutely captivated by her!!!   They soon discovered that they had so much in common… family traditions, same religion, same favorite meals, favorite places… it seemed that they were oblivious to the rest of the world as they continued chatting seemingly about a million things.  …what a discovery…the chase was ON!

He asked her for her phone number… & she was only too happy to give it, and even her email address too.

As the months went by they could be seen all over town, walking together, laughing, enjoying  each other’s company & good times and all the  fun that comes with a new and exciting relationship. 
It seemed that life just couldn’t get any better for him and her!

It was late that fall when he proposed to her.  She hesitated slightly, but soon the words gushed out of her mouth…. YES I will marry you!   He already seemed to have her heart, so what could she say but YES!!!   It was such an exciting time for both of them.

After their wedding and honeymoon, the happy couple settled down in a little apartment.  They wanted a house, but since times were bad and money scarce, his salary could only afford the little apartment that they made their home in.

The church wasn’t real big, but they were happy to support such a good pastor who firmly had the interests of the congregation at heart.  He was such a faithful pastor, so the congregation did what they could to support his new life – but it was a struggle financially.  Although happy, the couple wasn’t immune to the stresses of newly wedded life…..there were adjustments to be made….and those bills!  Those bills just kept right on coming.

Soon the children came along, A joy to have, but at the same time they were extra mouths to feed
And yet even more expense.

The stress of it all seemed to affect her more …. She wondered why they had so little, why they couldn’t afford to live better.   It didn’t happen all at once…but you could say that a “coldness” had crept into their relationship.

For Him:

It seemed to happen quite gradually…………….Things kept him busy at the church…. Oh they were all necessary things that had to get done….and after all it was for God and his kingdom!  He was so devoted to his work.  He knew God had selected him to give out a specific message to the people, and that kept him real busy!

For Her:

…she began to  frequent places that she had been to before her marriage.

…she met with the people that she used to hang out with…..the old friends, who as she found out, were still going nowhere.

…after all she reasoned, she couldn’t bother him and his important job, so she seemed to want to launch out on her own she reasoned.

She began to stay out even later when she discovered the freedom that came with hiring a baby babysitter.  --- The kids were more work than she thought they would be. She rationalized, “I need a break”.

Generally, you could say that things deteriorated in their relationship…. At least that’s how she saw it.
Other men seemed so much more exciting to talk to, after being with him for so long.  Frankly, except for his tenderness, he bored her with his pursuit of always helping other people.

It seemed that she stayed out just a little later each night, and enjoyed it just a little bit more each time.  When he asked her about it, she always seemed to have an explanation, but he had an uneasy sense that things were quite wrong.  The house never seemed to be as neat & tidy as it used to be.

He hadn’t said anything, but their second and third children didn’t look at all like him….. (The question of whether they were really his crossed his mind briefly.  …..but He soon brushed off the idea.  He was so in love with her that he knew that probably wasn’t the case - anyway, he’d always thought the best of her.)

She was distant to him ---But why did she seem so distant? "Am I working too hard at the church?"  …He was never really sure why!!

This is the way things went  until, …One morning, when he awoke…. He noticed that she was gone.  Completely.  Even her clothes were missing….He was at once alarmed…. And began to search the streets for her.  It had been a long time coming, but he’d never been so alarmed at her absence!

…He searched for her for years.  She was ….GONE.

Let’s switch back from the contemporary setting,  to the passage we’re looking at in the bible >>> …his name is Hosea, and her name is Gomer.  You can read the rest of the story in the book of Hosea, God’s prophet.

The bible says that when he found her, it was in the marketplace and she was in very bad shape.  She was about to be auctioned off.  He quickly pushed his way to the front of the crowd!  The slave traders had her in locked in shackles so there was no escaping her fate.  She was to be sold off as a slave for her accumulated debts.  The best years of her life were gone; her beauty had long since left her.  The overindulgences in her life had induced the grotesque flab, replacing once beautiful curves.

 Her lovers had said their goodbyes long ago.  She was being auctioned off as a slave, at half-price to the highest bidder!  (Hosea 3:2)

Because of her poor condition, she could not pull-in even the normal 30 pieces of silver, the full price in those days for a slave.  Hosea was so passionate about Gomer.   (He quite frankly just didn’t have that kind of money), but when the bidding came down to 15 pieces, the price he could afford, he quickly raised his hand high to the auctioneer’s call.  He was still so passionate about this women he’d loved and long ago married ….well really he was still married to in spite of her absence. He had to have her back.

Thank the Lord; He’d managed to find the purchase price of 15 pieces of silver and a homer and a half of barley, … that was about 86 gallons  – of donkey food!!  …And now he heard the auctioneer call out – “SOLD to the man from the church”!  

He was exposed!  Now everyone in town knew about his wife,  and his story.  He was going to be the laughingstock of his little city.  But that didn’t matter to him. He couldn’t believe it --She was His again!   He didn’t care that everyone in town knew about him and his wife.  It didn’t matter to him – He so desperately wanted her back.  He was overjoyed at who was coming back to his home!!!  He took her home…she was His once again!

This beautiful story is a picture of Christ’s love for his people Israel.   … And it is the same God who had such a passion for us at Calvary.   While this story is specifically written to Israel and the prophecy is of Israel, it is a similitude and its the way Christ loves and pursues each of us, even when we are wayward.   It was us …. “His bride”, his children, his people that he purchased with his own blood! 

He says (of Israel) in Chapter 2, verse 19:  “I am married to you forever!!!”

The Arm of Flesh will fail You:

Hosea was a prophet to the Kingdom of Israel.  His contemporaries were Isaiah, Micah and Amos.  He ministered for about 70 years.  His pulpit themes were sin, judgment and salvation.

Israel although prosperous, and enjoying a time of peace had turned their backs on God.  They were worldly, backslidden and followed after the gods of the surrounding nations.  They worshiped gods with names like Moleck and Baal.   They had forgotten the real God of Israel.  God had wanted to be their King, but they had other ideas and pushed him aside ...left Him.  So God sent Hosea as his messenger into this desperate situation.  He was to communicate God’s message.  God gave him a specific mission.

In Hosea Chapter 1, God told him to “…take to yourself an adulterous wife and children of unfaithfulness, because the land is guilty of the vilest adultery in departing from the LORD”.

The indication in the story is that Gomer had left her marriage vows and had begun “messing around”, making money as a prostitute.  Through this parallel story, Hosea told the people that although they had left the LORD, he wasn’t through with him yet.  God makes it clear that even in their darkest hour, GOD will bring restoration through His work on Israel.

God said of Israel, “…she didn’t know that it was I who gave her their corn & wine”.  This is true of us.  We forget that it was God who gave us the corn & wine, times of abundance.  We are prone to forget Him.  Israel would offer this corn, wine and gold as gifts to Moleck  the pagan god.

God has given each of us gifts to use for his glory.  If you abuse or misuse the gifts he gave us, he will take them away.  Rather than trust in God to meet her financial needs, Gomer  took matters into her own hands.   She went & sold herself into prostitution rather than spend time in prayer & waiting for God to meet her needs in His way.  Wrong life choices took their toll on her.

The reason I wanted to relate this story this way is that ….this can be a picture of God and His love for his bride, the church.  He is altogether "crazy in love" over his bride…..YOU ARE HIS BRIDE!!!

He wants you to get to know him, spend time with Him & trust in Him alone.  If you can’t trust him, it’s because you don’t know Him.  So get to know Him through his WORD, and you can learn to trust him more.  You are the “apple of his eye!!!”  … He wants you to trust in him completely no matter what is going on in your life or how dark the way ahead looks.  He wants to empower each of us with his Holy Spirit and use us to touch the lives of others.

Remember this bible story.  Don't ever allow your relationship with the Lord to cool.  Don't let the cover of your bible get dusty.  Don't be careless in your prayer & devotional life.  Your relationship with God has to be a bit like visiting Tim Horton's.  It has to be fresh daily!

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