The Extravagant Love of God

Hosea  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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Scripture Reading

Hosea 3:1–5 NIV84
1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.” 4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.


We live in a world in which love is entirely misunderstood. Love is often given or shown only while it benefits the party giving. In other words, if I gain an immediate benefit through my demonstration of love, then I’ll give my love. And so long as my demonstration of love causes me no hurt or pain, I will give my love.
But if me giving love is going to cost me beyond what is comfortable or reasonable, then I will withdraw that love, and find someone else that is worthy of my love.
This kind of love, or even anything close to it, is certainly not a Biblical love. And it is certainly not the love that God demonstrated for His people Israel, and that He demonstrates for His people the church today.
As we come to our text this morning, we are going to see something of the extravagant love of God for His people. It is an overwhelming and gracious love that God seeks to demonstrate through his prophet Hosea.
As we study this passage very briefly, I do trust that we will be encouraged and that our hearts would be stirred to gratitude as we consider this extravagant love of God.
As we turn our attention to the text then, notice firstly...

1. Love Enjoined (Commanded) (v.1)

In verse 1 we read:
Hosea 3:1 NIV84
1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
God says to Hosea in this verse that he is to go to his wayward wife, and show her great love.
As we consider this verse in more detail, we must see firstly the command that was given to Hosea. The Lord says to him that he must go and show love to his wife again.
Note: The word “wife” in the NIV is an interpretation. Some versions may have "love a woman”. But the context clearly indicates that the woman is indeed Hosea’s wife.
But the reason for God referring to her merely as “a woman” is that due to her adultery, she has forfeited her identity as the wife of Hosea. In similar manner, Israel can no longer claim the title “people of God.” We’ll see this further as we move on through this passage.
As we delve into this, let us pause for a moment and truly consider Hosea’s situation, and perhaps how we would have responded under such situation. Hosea’s wife has been exceedingly unfaithful.
She does not love Him. In fact, she’s gone away and given herself over to another man, and she is being cared for and looked after by another another man in exchange for intimate relations. And Hosea, as the rightful and true husband has been abandoned and despised by his wife.
We must not allow the book to be treated in our minds merely as an analogy. This is a real event. This took place. And if we had to be one of the parties in such a relationship, or if we had to know that someone in our church was living in such a relationship, it would truly shake and shock us. It would be unsettling for us. And so it should! God was portraying for His people the shocking state of their relationship with him.
But as we go on, we read that Hosea is called to nonetheless show love, even though she is loved by another and is an adulteress.
For husbands here, what would your response be if this were your wife? What would the typical response be of a husband towards such a wife.
Proverbs 6:34 speaks about the jealousy of a husband whose wife as committed adultery, and the fury that arises within his heart when he learns of this.
Proverbs 6:34 NIV84
34 for jealousy arouses a husband’s fury, and he will show no mercy when he takes revenge.
That is the typical response of a husband whose jealousy has been aroused due to an unfaithful wife, and the man that has seduced her.
In fact, the typical response would usually go beyond this. According to the Mosaic law...
Leviticus 20:10 NIV84
10 “ ‘If a man commits adultery with another man’s wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.
But the response that God calls Hosea to show towards his wife is anything but anger, fury and wrath. It is not a response that is filled with rage or with seeking revenge. Instead, it is the response of compassionate, firm but redemptive love.
We read as the verse continues that God calls Hosea to "...Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes."
The fact that Hosea is called to love Gomer is another indication that she had indeed forfeited her right to his love. She was not deserving of his love. She did not merit the love. Instead this was unmerited love that Hosea was being called to here.
So in the case of Israel, as she had turned her heart to other gods. She was worshiping false gods, and was in fact delighting in the worship of these false gods. She loved the sacred raisin cakes.
We need to recognise that raisin cakes themselves were not the problem, but rather the fact that they were used in the worship of false gods. Recall also that the worship of the Baals was a fertility cult that delighted in promiscuity, and it is clear from the wording here that the Israelites were delighting in and enjoying the promiscuous lifestyle that they were indulging in.
But here again, we see this call of God to show love!
We must recognise the profound demonstration of the extravagant love of God that this is. As one commentator has pointed out...
God’s love is constant in all circumstances, present even while the people are enmeshed in their idolatry.
God’s love contrasts with the utter triviality of human affections which are diverted to the most unworthy objects.
God’s love is commitment and action, strong as well as tender.
As we continue forward...

2. Love Exhibited (vv.2-3)

Secondly, we see this love demonstrated.
God has commanded Hosea to go and show love to his wife, although she is an adulteress. And we read in verse 2...
Hosea 3:2 NIV84
2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley.
The fact that Hosea needed to “pay a price” is striking in the first place. She was his bride. She was his very own flesh and blood, as they had been united in marriage, but Hosea needed to pay a price in order to get her back.
The reality is that she had wandered away, and either become a slave to another man, or had become a temple prostitute that needed a price to be paid in order to be gained back from her owner and master. In either case, she was no longer in a place of being in right relationship with her husband.
But Hosea goes on to obey God. He takes the price and pays it in order to have Gomer restored to him. He buys back his very own bride that had showed him nothing but contempt and hatred in her actions.
What we must note from the passage however is the low price that was paid for her, showing just how pathetic and unwanted Gomer really was.
In the Old Testament, we read that the price paid for a female slave was 30 shekels of silver (Exod. 21:32; Lev. 27:4). Thus, the price that was paid for Gomer demonstrates that she was in a sense undesirable to others. She was no longer in great demand. As one commentator notes:
Hosea, Amos 3:2–3 Taking the Initiative

She has become a cast-off, attractive only to an inordinate lust or a genuine love.

But in this instance, it was a demonstration of great love. Hosea was commanded to go and love. And what did he do? He went and bought her back. He loved her by demonstrating that love through his actions.
This is always how God loves - through actions.
Romans 5:8 NIV84
8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
As we go on in our passage, notice that Hosea now addresses his wife directly in verse 3...
Hosea 3:3 NIV84
3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will live with you.”
This is a challenging verse to interpret, and there have been many and varied interpretations given. If you look to the different translations, you will find that they differ between them somewhat as the translators grappled to convey the sense of what is being said here.
But the simple reality is that although Hosea takes back Gomer his wife, there is a period of time that is indicated in which there is to be no intimate relationship between Gomer and any other man. She has played the harlot. She has defiled herself with other men. But now, having been bought back at a price, she is to remain free from any relations.
That includes relations with Hosea himself.
While Hosea does say “…and I will live with you...” he nonetheless says that she is not to be intimate with any man.
Now recall that last time we were in Hosea, we considered that there would be a restoration of marriage. In Hosea 2:14, recall that Hosea proclaimed...
Hosea 2:14 NIV84
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her.
And in verse 16, Hosea had said that there would be a renewal of the marriage...
Hosea 2:16 NIV84
16 “In that day,” declares the Lord, “you will call me ‘my husband’; you will no longer call me ‘my master.’
And so there is certainly this hope of renewal in the marriage covenant, but it would be a process that would happen over time. This leads us then to consider the final point from our study in chapter 3, and that is...

3. Love Explained (vv.4-5)

Finally, we must consider together the meaning of the picture of this love that has just been demonstrated.
We read in verse 4...
Hosea 3:4 NIV84
4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or idol.
This verse explains what it means that there will be no relations between Hosea and Gomer, although Hosea has been very gracious and has not forsaken Gomer.
This speaks to the time in the “desert” that we read about in Hosea 2:14 where Israel is in fact going to be in exile (in captivity).
While they are there, they will live without king or prince. They will have no other leader to lead them. They will not be able to place their trust in their political, or even spiritual leaders, because they will be without these leaders. Furthermore, the leaders will not be able to lead Israel astray any longer.
Recall that it was the very leaders of Israel that led them astray and away from God...
2 Kings 17:21–23 NIV84
21 When he tore Israel away from the house of David, they made Jeroboam son of Nebat their king. Jeroboam enticed Israel away from following the Lord and caused them to commit a great sin. 22 The Israelites persisted in all the sins of Jeroboam and did not turn away from them 23 until the Lord removed them from his presence, as he had warned through all his servants the prophets. So the people of Israel were taken from their homeland into exile in Assyria, and they are still there.
Furthermore, they would be without sacrifice or sacred stones. The sacrifices speak of those sacrifices that were offered up initially to God, but now were being offered up to idols. There would be no sacrifices offered up at all.
This relates back to what Hosea had said concerning Gomer not having any intimate relations with any man, even with Hosea himself. Israel would not have close relationships through sacrifices offered up, either with false gods or with the true and living God. In this sense, they would be in the wilderness, and they would sense their isolation. But recall that this would be aimed at drawing them back to God.
Similar, the sacred stones referred to were a common feature of worship. Initially they were used as monuments to God’s goodness and directing, or to commemorate covenants. But later they were associated with the Israelites with Baal worship. And so God says that they will be done away with entirely.
They would furthermore be without ephod or idol. The ephod that is referred to usually contained the means of determining the will of God. They would draw a stone out of their pocket, and this would represent a yes or no answer from God.
The idols spoken of refer to household gods, that would either be thought to watch over the family, or to disclose the will of the gods to the family in relation to answers they were seeking.
All of these would be utterly stripped away from Israel, and they would be left in the wilderness, and God would use this time to make her long after Him once again.
Finally, we see...

4. Love Effective

We thus read in verse 5...
Hosea 3:5 NIV84
5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.
Here is the great redemptive love of God begin effective to bring the people of God to Him in humble repentance and faith. The Israelites, it says, will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king.
The reference here to “David their king” is a reference to a future king on the throne of David, rather than to David himself. It is a reference to the great Messiah, even Jesus Christ who came to serve as the King of all kings, and Lord of all Lords.
We see that the people will come trembling to the Lord and to his blessings in the last days.
The last days that Hosea speaks of here refers to the days from the coming of Christ and His ministry in calling people to himself, and even extending to these days in which we live.
You will recall the account in Acts 2 at Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came down, that Peter quoted the prophet Joel in verse 17...
Acts 2:17 NIV84
17 “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.
And so Peter said that those words were fulfilled in their own presence, thus clearly indicating that they were in the last days even then.
But we also live in what is termed the last days, before the return of our Lord and Saviour Jesus.
Albert Barnes writes in his commentary on this...
This was to take place "in the latter days." These words, which are adopted in the New Testament, where Apostles say, "in the last days, in these last days" Acts 2:17; Hebrews 1:2, mean this, the last dispensation of God, in contrast with all which went before, the times of the Gospel . The prophecy has all along been fulfilled during this period to those, whether of the ten or of the two tribes, who have been converted to Christ, since God ended their temple-worship. It is fulfilled in every soul from among them, who now is "converted and lives."

Application and Conclusion

As we draw to a close, how may we as the church be encouraged through these verses?
Well, first of all, let us consider this great love of God as demonstrated through this passage. We have seen something of this love, but we must also recognise that we too are called to love in such a manner.
As we look at the account of the love that Hosea was called to show his wife Gomer, we may have been shocked that he was called to show such love for such a person who done him great harm, and was utterly unworthy of his love.
But such is the love that God had for us. That we, who were vile sinners, unworthy of the holy and pure love of God, were deeply loved by him, is a great encouragement to us. God’s love extends to those who are undeserving.
God’s love for us is extravagant.
But taking this a step further, let us consider that great love for us that was a redemptive love. Our minds must be drawn to our own redemption from lives of worldly living, and living for self, and then what price was paid in order to redeem us.
One difference between God’s love demonstrated for us from the love of Hosea to Gomer is that the price paid. The price paid for unworthy Gomer by Hosea was a small price, reflecting the lack of worth of Gomer.
In our case, our unworthiness is the same, and yet the redemption price paid was of exceedingly great value - the very Son of God, perfect in every way.
Our minds must be drawn to the great redemptive price that was paid at the cross, as Christ died, and God was prepared to pay the great redemption price in order to buy us for himself.
Galatians 4:4–7 NIV84
4 But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5 to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, the Spirit who calls out, “Abba, Father.” 7 So you are no longer a slave, but a son; and since you are a son, God has made you also an heir.
It is a most beautiful truth that God loved unworthy sinners. God loved those who loved other gods. God loved those who worshiped and bowed and delighted themselves in the pleasures of this world, seeking after things in this world to bring them satisfaction and happiness.
God loved you and I, and paid a great price in order to bring us back to himself, the Creator God, who made us for the worship of His holy name.
Do you realise just what God has done for you?
But finally, consider further that we are called to love in similar manner. As Hosea was called to show love to Gomer, we are called to show love, even to those who may appear to be unlovely and unlovable. As God showed love to us, we are called to show love to others.
John 13:34–35 NIV84
34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
How is your love towards unworthy sinners? Do you love unworthy sinners in the same way that God has loved unworthy you?
1 John 4:7–8 NIV84
7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8 Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.
How well are we loving the unlovable? Remembering that we too are unlovable.
May the Love of God greatly encourage us in our service of Him.
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