i think we all should have realized when a guy named hosea marries a woman named gomer that things were going to go downhill from there. or maybe it was this first couple of verses of hosea that really spelled out how this was going to shake out... i love that God really doesn't tiptoe around the tulips here with hosea... and it is especially hard hitting in the message version...
The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:
“Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”
Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim.
She got pregnant and gave him a son.
i was listening today to a sermon on the book of ecclesiastes by my bff matt chandler. well, the book of ecclesiastes is by king solomon. the sermon was by matt chandler. let's get that part straight. and he was in the 5th chapter of ecclesiastes when he had to go and start talking about being in the desert spiritually.
well, that was exactly what i needed to hear. and by "exactly what i needed to hear" i mean that i listened to it 4 times and cried harder each time i listened. it is a story about the desert. about a woman in the desert. it almost made me question whether my name might mean "gomer" and it also reminded my heart that God takes people into the desert BECAUSE HE LOVES THEM.
Hosea was a normal man who God came to, and He said, “Listen, I want you to marry a hooker.” And Hosea said, “Did you say hooker? Or did you say ‘Read a booker?’ Alright, I lost it there.” And God goes, “No, I said prostitute. I want you to marry a woman of ill repute.
And here’s the thing, Hosea. She’s going to be horrible to you. She’s going to cheat on you over and over and over again. She’s going to betray you. And each time she does, I’m going to increase your love for her so that you can’t wash your hands of it and walk away. And you’re going grieve and you’re going to hurt and you’re going to sob and you’re going to wail, but I’m not going to let you walk away from her.”
And you know, the first thing that struck me, because all that’s in Hosea 1, is that God told Hosea up front. And I love that, because Job, he doesn’t have a clue what’s going on. And then in the very last chapter of Job, God’s like, “Here’s what I was doing.”
I’m a Hosea kind of guy. Just tell me up front, “Look, the next five years are going to be bad, alright. Just brace yourself, because the next five are going to be rough, but then in the end, it will be good.” Yeah, at least he got told up front.
But here’s the thing He says to Hosea in chapter 2, and for me, this left an unbelievable mark on me that I haven’t been able to get away from. In fact, Hosea 2 is probably one of the verses that I quote to myself a bunch as I have continually tried to walk away from and get rid of what became kind of intellectual residue in my heart, and I’m not talking theology’s not important and big books aren’t important. I think that those things are important, but if they are at the expense of your heart and your soul, you’re in trouble. And in a lot of ways, I’m still trying to walk away from my theological education and sync back up in really deep ways with Jesus. And this is one of those verses, because that’s difficult. This is one of those texts that stirs me.
Here’s what He says to Hosea. He says, “Here’s what I’m going to do with Gomer, your cheating wife. I’m going to take her out to the desert, I’m going to allure her, and out in the desert, she’ll finally get tired of herself. And when she finally gets tired of herself...” You want to know the character of God? Listen to what’s next...
“...there I will speak tenderly to her.”
So, He doesn’t take her out into the desert and go, “Shame on you, woman of ill repute.” He doesn’t take her out into the desert to berate her for her sins or to pile on for her poor decisions, He says, “I’m going to take her out into the desert, and when she’s gasping for water, when she’s exhausted of herself, there I will speak tenderly to her and I will increase her vineyards.”
In the Old Testament, wine and joy are this parallel, they’re equal. Like, if you see wine mentioned, they’re talking about the increase in joy.
And He says, “I’ve got to take her out into the desert. I’ve got to take her out there, because the only way to kill certain things is to deprive it of water. And so, I’m going to walk her out into the desert, and I’m going to starve this thing out. And when she’s and almost dying, I’m going to speak tenderly to her, and I’m going to increase her joy.”
And then, look at me, because the next line to me was so heartbreaking and encouraging. He says...
“And out there, out where it’s dry, she’ll finally learn to quit calling me master and start calling me husband.”
And so, for some of you, please hear me, because I’ve been there. Please hear me. Tonight, your in a dry time not because God’s angry with you, but because He desperately loves you. That’s why. Right now, for some of you, the reason you can’t find Him is because He desperately wants you to really find Him. Are you tracking with that idea? Like, for some of you, He feels far so that you might as Acts 17 says, you might, “grope for Him although He is not far from any of us.”
So, maybe you’ve been allured out there. Maybe it’s not sin, maybe it’s not disobedience, maybe God just said, “Okay, I’ve got to kill some stuff in you. Let’s go.”
“Well, what stuff do You want to kill?”
“Well, I could explain it to you now, but you wouldn’t actually believe that it’s actually in your heart, because it’s really, really deep down. I mean, I’ve got to take the plow to you. Let’s get out of here. Let’s go to the desert.”
“Well, I don’t like the desert.”
“Well, I know you don’t, but let’s get out there. Because out there, I can really do a work in you, a work that will make you quit coming to church and quit doing Christiany stuff. Because you think in the end, I can kill you or that I wish you harm.
It’s out here, it’s out in the struggle, it’s out in the fight that you’re finally going to learn that I love you.”
it is going to be in the desert that i finally learn that He loves me. and it is going to be in this desert that i learn to call Him "beloved" not "master." i am going to wrestle with Him until the break of day and i will not let Him go until i see His face. until He blesses me. it may wound me forever. but i will wrestle in this desert. because He is faithful and true.
p.s. here was the first thing i every heard from matt chandler. and i have been a huge fan of his ever since. i have listened to almost every sermon he has preached since 2006. his sermons make me love Jesus more. the end.