Minor Prophets, Major Messages #1
Message of God’s Forgiveness
They are called minor prophets not because they were less important, but simply because they did not write as much as the major prophets. Hosea is one of the longest of the minor prophets with over 14 chapters and Joel, Nahum, Habakkuk with 3 and Obadiah with just 1.
Hosea or Hoshea’s name means “salvation.” He was a pre-exilic prophet, as you can see on this timeline, who prophesied about 30 years before the fall of the northern kingdom of Samaria (722 BC) and about 150 years before the southern kingdom of Judah (586 BC). Chronologically he comes 100 years after Obadiah, the first minor prophet, 80 years after Joel (834 BC) and he may have known Jonah (760 BC), and Amos (766 BC) for they both lived at about the same time and is only a few decades before Isaiah (739 BC) and Micah (735 BC) who were also contemporaries. Hosea probably lived in the spiritually and morally corrupt northern kingdom of Israel also called Samaria, and Ephraim in the prophecies.
Betrayed - Hosea 1:1-3
The word of the LORD that came unto Hosea, the son of Beeri, in the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and in the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, king of Israel. The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD. So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim; which conceived, and bare him a son.
Living the Message
In the first three chapters of Hosea we see one of the most unique messages that God ever commanded a prophet to preach. It is not a message of words but the message of a life and it involves not just Hosea but all of his family. God uses the prophet’s life and family as a living example of God’s relationship with Israel, which He portrays as that of a husband and a wife. In the OT Israel is described as the wife of the God, while in the New Testament the Church is seen as the bride of Christ.
Now, it may seem harsh and unfair for God to command Hosea to marry a prostitute as a living example of God’s relationship with Israel. And well, frankly it is unfair. Nor is this the only time God is going to require great commitment and obedience from His prophets. He also required extreme lives of the other prophets during this time period of rebellion, judgment and exile.
Jeremiah was told to wear a yoke and tell Israel they could not win against their enemy because God was using Babylon to punish the nation. He was viewed as a traitor and thrown in a well to die.
Ezekiel’s ministry was an especially harsh “life as truth” existence. God tells him that his wife, the Bible calls her “the desire of his eye” will die and that he will not be allowed to mourn for her. He is made to lay on his left side outside a model of the city of Jerusalem while it is under siege, for 390 days and then 40 days on his right side. God seizes him in that position, and he is not able to move from laying on his side for a total of 430 days. During that time, he is commanded to cook his food with dried human feces, but God relents when Ezekiel pleads about such defilement and instead allowed him to use cow dung. Finally, he is told to shave his hair and beard and burn a third, chop up a third and throw a third into the air. He had to move out of his house, carrying all of his possessions in a bundle on his shoulder and do it by digging through a wall and to cover his face so he couldn’t see the ground. Finally, he was to eat his meals and drink water while acting like a man caught up in an earthquake.
Wow, and I thought the requirements for a pastor in 1 Timothy 3 for a were tough. Hosea (753 BC), however, predates Jeremiah (627 BC) and Ezekiel (593 BC) and so was the first of these living parables from God.
We told you that Hosea name means salvation. His wife, Gomer’s name comes from a Hebrew root which means to fail, end or finish.
Hosea take a prostitute for a wife.
There are three ways of understanding this verse. 1) that Gomer is not a real woman but an allegory for Israel, which in God’s eyes was practicing prostitution in their idolatry. 2) That Gomer is a real woman that Hosea married before she fell into prostitution or 3) or that Hosea married a real woman who was already a harlot or prostitute. This would be the simplest and most understanding of the reading. Considering the idolatry of the northern kingdom at this time, harlotry in the name of the worship of the Canaanite gods would have been very common. Nor is this the first time that a righteous man married a harlot for Rahab was a harlot and married Salmon and she was David’s great-great grandmother. (Salmon, Boaz, Obed, Jesse, David.)
It doesn’t matter which of the literal views you take, that Gomer was a real woman, for the outcome is the same she ends up in harlotry, whether she began that way or not, the outcome of the story and the parallel with God’s relationship with Israel is the same. Hosea marries Gomer and she betrays him by going to other men. She betrays her marriage vows and the sacred covenant of marriage.
The parallel truth that God wanted his people to see was that of Himself with them. He took Israel from the idolatry of Egypt and made a covenant with her at Mt. Sinai, a type or symbol of marriage, they made a vow to be His. From that point on the nation was to understand that there was a special relationship, like that of a husband and a wife, between the God of Abraham and the nation of Israel. Just as Gomer may have been take from prostitution and made the wife of Hoses, Israel was taken from idolatry and made the wife of God. Both broke their vows and betrayed their husbands. Israel covenanted with God that they would be faithful, that they would be pure, a vow they broke before the law containing that covenant was even finished.
Taken from Sin and Joined to Christ
Before we are saved, the Bible tells us that we are lost in sin, the children of wickedness. In the eyes of God our sin was just as terrible as the sin of Gomer. He may grade our sins on a scale, but when it comes to our relationship with God all that matters is that sin separates us from God and we must be brought out of it by someone greater than ourselves.
Scripture: Romans 3:9-18 What then? are we better than they? No, in no wise: for we have before proved both Jews and Gentiles, that they are all under sin; As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God. They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one. Their throat is an open sepulchre; with their tongues they have used deceit; the poison of asps is under their lips: Whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness: Their feet are swift to shed blood:
Destruction and misery are in their ways: And the way of peace have they not known: There is no fear of God before their eyes.
These verses, Paul takes from Psalms and Isaiah and they leave no doubt as to our condition before a holy and righteous God. We are sinners, born of a sin nature and apart from God because of who we are. We have nothing to brag about when we consider Gomer.
Nor do we have anything to be proud about when we consider the Gomers in our society today. We should never ignore sin but even worse than ignoring sin in others, is to pretend that the sin I abhor could very easily have been or become my sin. “There is no difference, Paul says, “We all come short.”
Hosea 1:4-9 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel. And it shall come to pass at that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel. And she conceived again, and bare a daughter. And God said unto him, Call her name Loruhamah: for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away. But I will have mercy upon the house of Judah, and will save them by the LORD their God, and will not save them by bow, nor by sword, nor by battle, by horses, nor by horsemen. Now when she had weaned Loruhamah, she conceived, and bare a son. Then said God, Call his name Loammi: for ye are not my people, and I will not be your God.
Hosea 2:1-5 Say ye unto your brethren, Ammi; and to your sisters, Ruhamah. Plead with your mother, plead: for she is not my wife, neither am I her husband: let her therefore put away her whoredoms out of her sight, and her adulteries from between her breasts; Lest I strip her naked, and set her as in the day that she was born, and make her as a wilderness, and set her like a dry land, and slay her with thirst. And I will not have mercy upon her children; for they be the children of whoredoms. For their mother hath played the harlot: she that conceived them hath done shamefully: for she said, I will go after my lovers, that give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, mine oil and my drink.
The Effect of Sin On Hosea’s Children
Not only does God command Hosea to marry Gomer, who breaks his heart and returns to harlotry, but that command extends even to his children. For God commands that they be given names that foretell the coming judgment upon Israel.
Jezreel means God scatters. Like a farmer sowing seed in a field. God will punish Israel for the blood spilt by Jehu at Jezreel, symbolic of all the blood spilt by the kings of the northern kingdom.
Loruhamah means no pity, no mercy - for I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel; but I will utterly take them away
Loammi literally means I will not be for you. He tells Israel, you are not my people, and I will not be your God.
What was happening during the time of Hosea and what God is trying to warn them about, using such drastic means as the very life and family of His prophet, is that judgment is coming. The sin, the idolatry and in God’s eyes adultery of His people would be harshly punished. He has been warning them since the time of the Moses and Joshua and now that warning is intensified and dramatized in the life of Hosea. Sin and its effects, sin and its judgment by God are put on public display in the life of God’s prophet Hosea.
This God says is what sin brings, there are consequences and there will be judgment!
The Effect of Sin on Our Children
I can’t help but think about those poor children of Hosea and Gomer. Not only did they have to bear the loss of their mother who leaves the family and goes to live with her lover or hires her out to other men, but they must also bear the names that are a constant reminder to them and all around them of the terrible cost of sin. Even now centuries later, I think God was not being fair to them. He should have somehow left them out of the problems and consequences of their parent’s sin and the sins of their culture and society. And it is just this response that make me realize the lesson that is being so powerfully but tragically displayed here.
Children aren’t exempt from the sins of their parents, are they? Children aren’t somehow magically or supernaturally placed inside a moral sterility bubble that protects them from the bad choices, the immorality, the sin or the rebellion of their parents. In fact they are the first casualties of the sin their parents choose. They suffer not just from names, like Jezreel, but from the seeds of sin that are sown and scattered in their own innocent lives. Seeds that can and do bring a harvest of pain and destruction. Seeds that were planted there by an unloving and abusive father or a selfish and immature mother. Some seeds of sin too devastating and disgusting to even utter from a pulpit on the Lord’s Day.
Sin is a disease and there is no immunity, there is no segment of our family or society that isn’t affected. Adults and children, whether they are out there in the wilderness away from God or right here in our church house, will all be fatalities of sin one day unless we listen to the warnings of God, the pleadings of God and come to Him for the only cure.
Scripture: Listen to His pleadings to Israel and know that they are the same to us today.
Isaiah 1:18 Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.
Micah 7:18-19 Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? he retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy. He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.
If our hearts are troubled or broken because we see what sin is doing to us or what it is doing to our children, then “Look and Live” for God is broken hearted and is doing all to change the terrible consequences.
We dare not blame God because our own sin, and the sin of the world around us can and does destroy our communities, ourselves, and even our own families. Don’t blame God, He warned of the consequences of sin all the way back in the Garden of Eden. Don’t blame God, but rather thank God because He didn’t give Israel up to sin and He is not giving up on us today.
Hosea 3:1-5 Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine. So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley: And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee. For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim: Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.
Now the story of Hosea takes the strangest turn of all. Reading the text we see that God gives another command to Hosea. It seems that Gomer has left her family and returned to her life of harlotry and her former lover. And now God tells Hosea, “Go still and love this woman.”
He takes 15 pieces of silver, about 10 bushel baskets of barley and buys back his own wife. Reading between the lines it seems that she had run away back to an old lover, probably the so called “friend.” The price he pays also tells us something bout what has happened to Gomer. The compensation for slave killed by an ox is 30 shekels of silver recorded in Exodus 21. Here he pays 15 in silver and it seems the rest is paid in barley, but what this tells us that the man who is selling Hosea his own wife back, holds her at the same value that he would have for a slave.
Hosea, at God’s command pays the price and brings back his wife. A woman God has commanded him to not just buy back from the slavery of sin, but a woman he is to love and restore as his wife and mother of his children.
Of everything that God commanded his prophet to do, that is the strangest. Here even more than in the original command, there seems to be something at fault. Something doesn’t make sense to me. I understand the consequences of her sin but I cannot comprehend the force of God forgiving her.
We get a glimpse of God’s heart toward Israel, who Gomer represents in …
Hosea 2:14-23 Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak comfortably unto her. And I will give her her vineyards from thence, and the valley of Achor for a door of hope: and she shall sing there, as in the days of her youth, and as in the day when she came up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be at that day, saith the LORD, that thou shalt call me Ishi (my husband); and shalt call me no more Baali (husband of Canaan). For I will take away the names of Baalim out of her mouth, and they shall no more be remembered by their name. … And I will betroth thee unto me for ever; yea, I will betroth thee unto me in righteousness, and in judgment, and in lovingkindness, and in mercies. I will even betroth thee unto me in faithfulness: and thou shalt know the LORD. And it shall come to pass in that day, I will hear, saith the LORD, I will hear the heavens, and they shall hear the earth; And the earth shall hear the corn, and the wine, and the oil; and they shall hear Jezreel. And I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people, Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.
This is what so many don’t understand. This is what seems to be a fault in God’s forgiveness. God is a holy and righteous God who will utterly and completely judge sin, but He is just as much a God of love and will forgive sin. We see it in this powerful, strange story of Hosea and we see it even more fully in the story of Jesus Christ. So lets finish by talking about the scandal of grace.
We find it unthinkable that God would command Hosea to marry an immoral woman. When he does, then we can fully understand and probably even could have predicted that Gomer would continue in her sin, leave her family and return to her former lovers and life of sin.
But few of us would have predicted that God would send his prophet to buy her back from that adulterous sin. Yet He did. We don’t understand such an action and yet there it is played out for us in the lives of Hosea, Gomer and their children.
And that same truth, is seen in an even greater life and story. That life and death of Jesus Christ, God’s own son. This time God did not command his prophet but instead sent His own son. This time he did not demand a terrible price be paid by one of his servants but instead put an even more terrible price upon the shoulders of His only begotten son. Instead of the price being paid in shekals of silver and bushels of grain for an adulterous woman, Jesus paid in the suffering of pain and the shedding of his blood for me. If I see the sin of Gomer as abhorrent and she was bought back with just silver then what does the cost of my sin reveal? Jesus paid the cost of his own life to redeem me. Jesus suffered and died on a cross to buy me back from the depths and slavery of my sin.
Isaiah 53:4-6 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
2 Corinthians 5:21 For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.
Ephesians 2:4-9, 13-16 But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
Not of works, lest any man should boast. … But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity (the separation, the antagonism, the hostility), even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby:
In his book, “What’s so Amazing about Grace” Phillip Yancey says, “Grace costs nothing for the recipients, but everything for the giver.”
Illustration: News story of the forgiveness of the policewoman who killed an innocent man.
Many of you saw the news story this past week of Amber Guyer being sentenced for the murder of Botham (Bo) Jean a innocent man who police woman Amber Guyer though was in her apartment when in fact she had entered his by mistake and then shot him. Bo was a young man who was Christian, sang in an a carpella choir and graduated from a Christian college in Ark. He was watching TV and eating ice cream when he was shot dead.
His killer was a female police woman, name Amber Guyer, who had been sending explicit text to her boyfriend when he found the door to what she thought was her apartment open and found a black man inside. She pulled her gun and shot him.
In the sentencing phase of her trail, Prosecutors pointed to racially insensitive text messages and social media posts espousing violence, suggesting it showed her true character. One meme Guyger saved on Pinterest read: "People are so ungrateful — no one ever thanks me for having the patience not to kill them." Another Pinterest post read: "I wear all black to remind you not to mess with me, because I'm already dressed for your funeral." Guyger commented beneath the image, "Yeah I got meh a gun, a shovel and an gloves if i were u back da f---- up and get out of me f---- a---."
Jurors saw text messages from Guyger's phone that said things against MLK and some of her fellow officers who were black.
As a part of the trial the family of Bo Jean were allowed to give victim impact statements, the one from Bo’s brother, jean. Has now been seen and heard around the world.
Speaking from the witness stand, he said, ““I don’t want to say twice or the hundredth time…how much you’ve taken from us,” Brandt began. I think you know that. But I hope you go to God with all the guilt, all the bad things you’ve done in the past. If you truly are sorry, I know, I can speak for myself – I forgive you, and I know if you go to God and ask him, he will forgive you. I love you just like anyone else and I’m not going to say I hope you rot and die, just like my brother did. I, personally, want the best for you, and I wasn’t going to ever say this in front of my family or anyone, but I don’t even want you to go to jail. I want the best for you, because that’s exactly what Botham would want you to do. And the best would be to give your life to Christ. I’m not going to say anything else. I think giving your life to Christ would be the best thing that Botham would want you to do.”
Brandt then asks the judge if he could hug his brother’s killer. The two then embraced as Guyger cried on Brandt’s shoulder.
Judge Tammy Kemp then got down off the bench, and spoke with Jean's family members and embraced them. Kemp then spoke with Guyger and gave her a Bible. The judge and Guyger also embraced.
On Wednesday night, dozens of demonstrators marched through parts of downtown Dallas to protest Guyger's sentence as too lenient, sometimes blocking traffic on heavily traveled streets outside the courts building and through the western section of downtown. About 30 protesters chanted "No justice, no peace; no racist police" as they marched through the streets surrounded by up to a dozen police officers, some in riot gear. Around 20 other demonstrators remained outside the courts building and jail.
Tell me now, where would you have stood if it was you has family member had been killed? Would you riot with those outside who called for justice or would you have wept with those inside at gift of forgiveness?
What about right now? Where do you stand? Outside of God’s grace and forgiveness? If so then all you can expect is justice and the price for you sin is more than you can pay. Or will you stand inside the forgiveness of God, realizing that the price of your forgiveness was the life and death of Jesus Christ on the cross of Calvary. Where do you stand today? Where will you stand one day before God who paid the price for you? In His grace or under his justice?