(Please view this post in the context of the entire book of Hosea. We won’t be able to grasp the meaning of the book of Hosea unless we have at least some understanding of the characters and their culture. We’ve concentrated on Hosea, and while the larger lesson of the story pictures him as being sort of like God who loves the Nation of Israel which is unfaithful to Him in every way and every day of their lives, there seem to be some other ideas worth being considered. ~don)
In our culture, adultery has been looked upon as moral failure, sin. That has been viewed as the ultimate “deal breaker” in a marriage. It is a sure fire way to escape marriage without any social repercussions. If your wife ran off with a slick talking dude you could walk away from the marriage with no questions asked. If your husband got caught shacked up in a motel with his lovely young secretary you could probably get an uncontested divorce decree. And alimony/and or one half of the matrimonial assets. And child support. And the house. And a car. And the horse he rode into town on.
Most people in our society at this point would view adultery as an unforgiveable trashing of the marriage vows. It is a cruel violation of the vow of love and commitment to fidelity and the ultimate intimacy which exists between man and woman when they are welded together as one. Divorce is viewed by almost everyone as a normal, rational, natural response to such betrayal. This story in Hosea, though, is about a man who chose not to go that route. Incredibly, betrayal after betrayal failed to convince him of the futility of his effort to keep a marriage alive, and to ‘keep the family together.’
I understand the fact that the book is making a point which is valid about how great God’s love is and how fickle we, His people, are. But I also feel this is a real story of a real guy whose heart was broken. Ripped out, spat upon, thrown down to the ground and trampled upon repeatedly. A guy who was given every reason to go nuts and hurt somebody or himself, or just divorce the haughty, naughty hooker. But he refused what most would consider a reasonable response and which they, themselves, would do with very little, if any, hesitation. Hosea kept loving, trying again and again to help her. And as far as the record indicates, he never did stop loving her.
Do you suppose in his mind he may have reasoned along these lines: “Yes, I know she’s wrong. And in her heart I know she knows that, too. I know her behavior is self-destructive, demeaning and beneath her. It has the smell of the gutter, the scent of certain approaching death. It’s breaking my heart and humiliating me. Friends and neighbors know and gossip and the embarrassment is as painful as the gut-wrenching pain of rejection. You call me an enabler. Or a wimp. You can call me weak and indecisive. . . and you may be correct.
But, somewhere inside me there’s a hope that won’t die just yet. I may be the only link she has to stability and sanity. I can’t describe what it feels like to see someone I love on the way to Nowhere. She’s driven by forces over which she has no control. She doesn’t seem to realize the danger swirling around and closing in on her. If I turn my back on her now while she’s blindly trying to find her way, what are her chances then? “
Hosea could have walked away at the first act of infidelity. Or the next. Or the time when he discovered Gomer had become pregnant and he was pretty certain he wasn’t the dad. There was no way of proving that for pure certainty. There were no DNA tests then to confirm or deny paternity. But he had his doubts, with good reasons. No one would have blamed him. Legally, he’d have been within his rights. All of us know situations which seemed to warrant a husband or wife giving up, walking away, and being justified fully in doing so.
But Hosea stayed on.
Maybe. Just maybe that was Hosea’s reason for hanging around so long. What do you think?
Now, I’m thinking and reading about Gomer. What a name for a woman. I can’t help but associate this with Gomer Pyle. Can you imagine a woman named Gomer? And a hooker at that! She’d have probably been the last one to get picked out of any lineup.
I don’t believe we know what really happened to her. What if, one day she realized what she was doing to herself, to people who loved her and wanted much better for her? What if she woke up one day and realized: “This lunk loves me. He really LOVES me.” There still remains hope for the adulterous and iniquitous Nation. Perhaps God still views this fallen lady as being worth redemptive love, and amazing graceIt seems as plausible to me that God could redeem one broken, used lady as He could salvage a ruined Nation! Perhaps. You may view it as a stretch. But perhaps Hosea’s upatience and love were sufficient to cause her to awaken one day and return to to the one who loved her.
Could such a realization result in a turnabound? Knowing that someone loves you enough to give his life for you…Think about this idea a bit. Could that realization be enough to cause someone to stop going in the wrong direction, turn around, and start going the right way? A great old time minister had a sermon (Phillips Brooks, I think) which he entitled “The Expulsive Power of a New Affection.” Someone is committed to a certain path, determined, and continuing toward apparent disaster . . . and one day falls in love. Really falls in love. Realizes what he’s got or what he’s missing. It can change a life. Do you suppose Gomer may have one day awkened, realized she was viewed as beautiful and valuable, and been changed by such a powerful realization?
I’ve seen it happen.
God’s son and servant, your friend and fellow student, ~donkimrey