How Deep the Father's Love For Us

Hosea  •  Sermon  •  Submitted   •  Presented   •  32:25
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We are looking at the book of Hosea today as we begin a journey through a few of what are known as the Minor Prophets. The Minor Prophets are called such not because of their perceived importance or significance, but because of their length compared to those like Isaiah, Ezekiel, or Jeremiah. Hosea is a prophet of God who prophesies in a tumultuous time in Israel’s history. Beginning with the reign of Saul, Israel was a single united nation. They entered into a sort of golden age under the reign of Solomon, but suffered a split when his sons were rival kings. Remember that the nation’s territory was divided by tribe, of which there were twelve. For the sake of comparison, imagine if the US had twelve states instead of fifty. Ten of those tribes banded together under Jeroboam and retained the name Israel, while the other two made up the southern kingdom taking on the name Judah. The capital of Israel became Samaria and the capital of Judah was Jerusalem. There was much conflict between these two nations as well as between them and their enemies. But at the time Hosea began his prophetic ministry, Israel has entered into a sort of second golden age as they have experienced a reprieve from their enemies. The economy is doing well and people are at least outwardly religious, but the leadership is wicked. As goes the leadership, so goes the nation.
Hosea 1:1 NASB95
The word of the Lord which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel.
Verse one establishes for the reader a context for what is taking place in the life of both nations by informing us of the kings who reigned during Hosea’s ministry. We can use this information to pinpoint when Hosea lived and worked, and what issues he faced. This places Hosea in the 8th century B.C. from 782 - 722 B.C., the year Israel fell into captivity by the Assyrians. God calls upon the prophet Hosea to bring charges against his people. He uses strong language and it can be difficult to understand, but it almost feels like a courtroom drama unfolding before us but God chooses to illustrate all of this through a peculiar command.
Hosea 1:2 NASB95
When the Lord first spoke through Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.”
God commands his prophet to go and marry a woman of harlotry, which is the word for prostitute. Now, it is debated as to whether God was commanding Hosea to go marry a woman who was already a prostitute or one who would later cheat on him by becoming one. In either case, it is made clear that once Hosea is married, he will have children with her, but she will be unfaithful. This command is peculiar because it would seem a holy God is setting up his prophet for a miserable marriage and we want to know why he would do such a thing. It should be pointed out though that Hosea is not commanded to do anything immoral, but to intentionally place himself in a situation where he is going to feel the consequences of marital unfaithfulness and abandonment. It is the wife who will be committing wrongs against her husband.
But the why for this is also presented in the same verse. God says, “for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the Lord.” We understand from the outset that Hosea’s real marriage will provide a picture of God’s relationship with His people. He’s effectively saying, “What your wife will do to you, My people are doing to Me.” Hosea follows in obedience to the Lord’s command followed by some interesting choices for names:
Hosea 1:3–9 NASB95
So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. “On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the Lord said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. “But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses or horsemen.” When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah, she conceived and gave birth to a son. And the Lord said, “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”
In Hebrew, names usually carry powerful meaning. The name Hosea means salvation. The name Gomer means “complete” or “whole.”His first-born son is named Jezreel, named after the Jezreel valley and the town of Jezreel located in that valley. The name itself means “the Lord sows,” like sowing seed, or you reap what you sow. Through the naming of this child, God brings the charge He has against Israel. His charge against Israel is for the bloodshed of Jezreel committed by the house of Jehu. Jehu was a king of Israel whom God used to bring punishment against the sons of Ahab, one of Israel’s most wicked kings. In 2 Kings 9-10, we read of God’s judgment against Ahab and his family for murdering His prophets. So Jehu serves as God’s instrument of His justice for all the wrongs committed by Ahab and his family, but in chapter ten, he also attacks and kills members of Ahaziah’s family, the king of Judah, which was not the Lord’s command. We also see that Jehu did not depart from the same pattern of sin as his predecessors. Jehu eliminated an evil family, but his reign was no better than the one he replaced. For this reason, God is enacting judgment against the house of Jehu, which Jeroboam II is the head in Hosea’s time. God’s judgment against Israel is that he will break their bow in the Jezreel valley, that is total military defeat.
Hosea’s wife has a daughter named Lo-ruhamah, which means “no compassion” or “no mercy.” The Hebrew word translated as forgive here comes from a root word meaning to carry, lift up, or maintain. God is no longer going to allow the house of Israel to stand, and that is seen in the coming exile by the Assyrians. The house of Jehu will never reign over Israel again. He will have compassion on Judah, the southern kingdom. While they have issues of their own, they had not yet fallen to the depths of depravity Israel had fallen to.
Then Hosea has a second son, baby #3, named Lo-ruhamah, which means, “not My people.” The charges brought against Israel result in a complete withdrawal on His part from His people. God is abandoning Israel, the northern kingdom, and allowing them to succumb to the consequences of breaking their covenant relationship. In God’s covenant with Israel, He promised blessings and protection as long as they were faithful to Him in every way. This is not what Israel did. They broke every single one of the ten commandments. They worshipped other gods, they created idols for themselves, lied, stole, committed adultery, murdered, and so on. God warned them that if they did not follow His commands, He would remove His protection and blessings from them. The book of Hosea, along with many of the other prophetic books, shows us what happens when the People of God abandon Him.
However, this is not a complete abandonment, for the nullification of of the Mosaic covenant is not the nullification of the Abrahamic covenant. God made a covenant with Abraham that is binding to this very day. God intends to keep that covenant because the conditions for that covenant were placed solely on His shoulders. Let’s take a look at the last two verses.
Hosea 1:10–11 NASB95
Yet the number of the sons of Israel Will be like the sand of the sea, Which cannot be measured or numbered; And in the place Where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” It will be said to them, You are the sons of the living God.” And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, And they will appoint for themselves one leader, And they will go up from the land, For great will be the day of Jezreel.
A careful reading of these verses shows us that restoration of the people of Israel is in view. While God may have abandoned them to their desires, removed His protection from them, and allowed them to face exile, He also intends to restore the broken relationship. Israel is divided. The north is about to be exiled. But there will come a day when God reconciles the two and they return to the land as one nation.
There are two things we learn at the outset of the book of Hosea.

God’s justice is never absent of His mercy.

Mercy is not giving someone what they justly deserve. Mercy is going easy on someone when you have the right to enact far greater punishment. God’s standard for entering His presence is perfection. All rebellious acts against God are punishable by death. Israel had a rap sheet that ran for miles. God could have cut them off at any time. Yet he was gracious and merciful to them. He gave them numerous opportunities to turn back to Him. Israel had done wrong and God was going to let them suffer the consequences of their actions, but He did not abandon them completely. And He does not do the same for you or I.

When we are at our absolute worst, God’ love for us never ceases.

The story of Hosea and his unfaithful wife illustrates the relationship between man and God. It really hits home when we come to the realization that we are the Gomer in this story. God is represented by Hosea, which means we are represented by Gomer. We are the ones who commit flagrant adultery. When our relationship with God is understood in the marriage metaphor, we are the ones who go out and cheat on God by giving ourselves to pleasures of every kind. Yet God continues to pursue us and take the steps necessary to buy us back so we can have a relationship with Him.
Romans 5:8 NASB95
But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
We are the ones who Jesus came to redeem by purchasing our pardon with His own blood. Without this sacrifice, it should be us hanging from a cross, not Him. Crime deserves punishment, but Jesus took the punishment for us. But it is because of us that He was put on a cross in the first place. He wasn’t forced to do this, He chose to because God was demonstrating His own love toward us. When we are at our absolute worst, God’s love for us never ceases. This is what Hosea’s marriage to Gomer illustrates.
There is a song called You Love Me Anyway by the Sidewalk Prophets. The bridge of the song reads:
I am the thorn in Your crown
But You love me anyway
I am the sweat from Your brow
But You love me anyway
I am the nail in Your wrist
But You love me anyway
I am Judas's kiss
But You love me anyway
See now I am the man who yelled out from the crowd
For Your blood to be spilled
On this earth shaking ground
Yes then I turned away with a smile on my face
With this sin in my heart tried to bury Your grace
And then alone in the night
I still called out for You
So ashamed of my life
But you love me anyway.
In a moment, we are going to sing a song together called How Deep the Father’s Love for Us. It may be new to you, but it is a great song to close on. It beautifully communicates the message of Romans 5:8.
Maybe you’re here today and you have known for a long time that there is something in you that is missing. And you have filled that void with anything and everything that has promised you happiness only to come up short. There is a God-sized vacuum in your heart that can only be filled by Him. He does so by helping us realize we are rebels who abandoned Him, but His Son paid the price for our crimes so we could be pardoned and come into relationship with Him. Is it time for you to place your trust in Jesus who has the power to save your soul?
Maybe you are here today and you have been far from God for a long time. Maybe you put on a real good face and you pretend that you are all good but you know there is something missing. God has allowed you to experience life without Him and you realized the grass wasn’t really greener. But how can you come back? Can you come back? Could God forgive you for the things you have done? The answer is yes. He sent His Son to pay the penalty of your sins so you could be with Him. It’s time to come home. Confess your sins to Him this morning and be healed.
Maybe you are here today and you and God are good. You know you misstep from time to time but you are quick to seek forgiveness. You’re faithful and your relationship with God is growing. Praise the Lord! Then as we sing this song, rejoice in the deepness of our Father’s love.
Maybe there is a decision you need to make today. Maybe you need to place your trust in Jesus for the first time. Or maybe you need to return to Him. Maybe He is calling you to follow through in baptism or join the church as a member. Maybe you would just like the pastor to pray with you. However the Lord leads, you respond.
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