My colleagues and I at the student ministry have been looking into the book of Hosea together recently. Hosea 1-3 tells the story of God telling Hosea to get a woman of whoredom to be his wife, to love her and care for her. Hosea obeyed God and did exactly that. However, she was unfaithful and committed adultery with other men. Yet, God did not tell Hosea to forsake her, but to get his wife back. This Hosea obeyed, and he even had to fork out money to buy her back from debtors.
God wanted Hosea to do this to emphasize the strong message He had for the Israelites – they were like Hosea’s wife, Gomer, who committed adultery – spiritual adultery, against the living God. After Gomer was graciously given a stable marriage and relationship with Hosea, she gave it up for temporal flings that only gave her more trouble. In the same way, the Israelites were by God’s grace, His chosen people. They were in a covenant relationship with Him and had all the blessings that came along with it. However, they decided to turn their backs on Him and chose to worship other gods and indulge in their own passions. The Israelites deserved full judgement from God because of their unfaithfulness, and yet, out of His mercy and love that is beyond understanding, God withheld His judgement against them. To vividly depict this, God told Hosea to redeem Gomer from her lovers who spurned her.
Hosea 3 says “And the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins.” So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a lethech of barley. And I said to her, “You must dwell as mine for many days. You shall not play the whore, or belong to another man; so will I also be to you.” For the children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or household gods. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king, and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.”
God’s immense love, grace and mercy shown here is truly amazing.
Man’s deceitfulness, tendency to sin and turn away from God as shown through the Israelites here is truly disturbing.
What struck me was how often we choose ‘other gods’ and ‘cakes of raisins’ over the true and living God who pursues us and loves us so much. We give in to our passions that can only give temporary pleasure and give up a deeper and closer relationship with God that lasts for all eternity.
What are the cakes of raisins in your life? How can we still enjoy cakes of raisins and stray from God when we know that He has done everything for us through Jesus on the cross?
Yet, never forget that ultimately, there is hope. In Hosea 3 God declares that His people will eventually return and seek Him. We know that when Christ comes again, He will make all things complete, and purify our imperfect hearts in full. In the meantime, we struggle on together, reminding each other of His mercies and love for us each day.