May 7

Hosea 1-5, Psalm 122

Many are familiar with the popular hymn, I Surrender All, written in the 1800's. We sing, "...All to Jesus I surrender, Humbly at His feet I bow, Worldly pleasures all forsaken, Take me Jesus take me now. I surrender all, I surrender all, All to Thee my blessed Savior, I surrender all." We all sing this loudly with arms stretched out. But are we truly willing to live out those lyrics? Are we willing to forsake all earthly pleasures in order to follow Him? In fact, whom do we fear more: the approval of our fellow man or the approval of God? Jesus said in Matthew 10:28, "And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell."

Hosea, a prophet of the Northern Kingdom of Israel, a contemporary of Amos, Isaiah and Micah, was asked to act out something incredibly difficult. We read in Hosea 1:2, "When the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said to Hosea: "Go, take for yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the Lord." After they have 3 children together, she leaves Hosea and plays the harlot. Despite the terrible pain and anguish, we next see the humiliating conclusion to this story in Hosea 3:1-3, "Then the Lord said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the Lord for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. And I said to her, "You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man-so, too, will I be toward you." Hosea's wife, Gomer, had fallen so low that she was being sold on the auction block for slaves for half price. Hosea in the pubic eye was isolated. He was publicly humiliated, his message was condemning to the people around him including the local priests. He was made to stand alone for the things of God. This was similar to what God called other prophets to do: Isaiah was asked to walk around naked for three years (Isaiah 20:3), Ezekiel was asked to publicly cook his food over dung (Ezekiel 4:12-15), Jeremiah was asked to walk publicly with a yoke on his neck (Jeremiah 28:10-12). Most of these prophets were ostracized from society and most were brutally murdered for standing with God, as Jesus described in Luke 11:47-51).

Most of us will never be asked to do what these prophets of old were asked to do. But would we if asked? Most of us can't comprehend how God must feel when the world shakes their fists at Him. Hosea could uniquely express the heart of God because he knew exactly how God felt. He had experienced the similar hurt, betrayal and disappointment, and yet he had also extended mercy, grace and forgiveness towards Gomer, his wife. We tend to inflate ourselves and our contributions to this world. But in this story, we are Gomer. We are all sinners who have cheapened ourselves one way or another and like Gomer who was being auctioned as a slave, we too were once slaves to sin. Like Gomer, we, the bride of Christ, were slaves purchased out of slavery by the grace of God, not because we earned or deserved it, by our Husband, Jesus. We read in Romans 5:8, "But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." As a result we also read in 1 Corinthians 6:20, "For you were bought at a price; therefore glorify God in your body and in your spirit, which are God's". Again, though many will never be asked to do what the prophets were asked to do, we have been asked and commissioned to do a whole lot more than we are doing. Our nation is just as desperate as the nation of Israel that Hosea was speaking prophetically to. Our nation is in desperate need of revival. We can continue to point to the preachers, pastors and leaders all we want, but what part are we willing to have in this? If we are willing to step out in faith, God will step out with us and empower us.

Messages from Pastor Lloyd Pulley:

Marj Lancaster