God pictures His relationship to His wayward people in the prophet Hosea’s relationship to his adulterous wife, Gomer. Gomer didn’t just drift away, nor was she seduced unaware. Chapter 2:5-7 says she pursued other lovers. She had children by men other than her husband. She thought they would give her “my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink” (2:5).
However, God declared, “she did not know that it was I who gave her the grain, the wine, and the oil, and who lavished on her silver and gold, which they used for Baal” (2:8). She not only didn’t acknowledge God, didn’t even thank Him for His gifts, but she used His gifts to worship a false god.
Later God likened Israel as a child whom He loved and taught to walk, yet “they did not know that I healed them” (11:3).
The Bible says God “richly provides us with everything to enjoy.” (1 Timothy 6:17). “He makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). “The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in temples made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything…In him we live and move and have our being” Acts 17:24-28).
God gives us everything we have, even our very breath. Do we acknowledge Him? Thank Him? Or use His gifts in wrong pursuits?
Warren Wiersbe says, “The essence of idolatry is enjoying the gifts but not honoring the Giver” (Be Amazed (Minor Prophets): Restoring an Attitude of Wonder and Worship).
Romans tells us:
For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened (Romans 1:20-21).
The chapter goes on to say that since people persisted in living without acknowledging God,
- “Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity” (1:24).
- “For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions” (1:26).
- “Since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done” (1:28).
Wiersbe says, “One of the greatest judgments God can inflict on any people is to let them have their own way.”
Fortunately, God doesn’t give people up easily. Further in the Acts passage that we looked at earlier, Paul says God “made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their dwelling place, that they should seek God, and perhaps feel their way toward him and find him. Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:26-27).
Back in Hosea, God disciplines His people and then shares these “I will” promises:
- “I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her” (2:14).
- “I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope” (2:15).
- “For I will remove the names of the Baals from her mouth, and they shall be remembered by name no more” (2:17).
- “I will make for them a covenant on that day” (2:18a)
- “I will abolish the bow, the sword, and war from the land, and I will make you lie down in safety” (2:18b).
- “I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord” (2:19-20).
- “I will answer” (2:21).
- “I will sow her for myself in the land” (2:22).
- “I will have mercy” (2:23).
God draws us with “cords of kindness, with the bands of love” (Hosea 11:4). He seeks out the lost sheep.
From Wiersbe’s book one more time:
The key word is return (Hos. 3: 5), a word that’s used twenty-two times in Hosea’s prophecy. When Israel repents and returns to the Lord, then the Lord will return to bless Israel (2:7–8). God has returned to His place and left Israel to herself (5:15) until she seeks Him and says, “Come, and let us return to the Lord” (6:1 NKJV).
Sometimes the return we need to make is a simple confession of loss of focus, lack of acknowledgement, thankfulness, or love. Sometimes it’s a full-blown 180-degree change of direction.
That’s the essence of repentance: turning from our way to God’s way (for more on repentance, see here). That happens at salvation, but it also needs to happen throughout our Christian walk. As we learn more of His will and Word, we continually adjust ourselves to them as we walk with Him.
May we return to His gracious love quickly and wholeheartedly.
(Sharing with Inspire Me Monday, Global Blogging, Senior Salon, Hearth and Soul,
Purposeful Faith, Tell His Story, InstaEncouragement, Anchored Abode,
Recharge Wednesday, Worth Beyond Rubies, Share a Link Wednesday,
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Oh, those good “I will” promises from out God. Thank you for the reminder to acknowledge the Giver of all that we have. Turning to God’s way is something we must do our whole lives, not just on Sundays. I have been enjoying learning from your insights on the Warren Wiersbe books.
I was frustrated with myself that the Wiersbe books sat forgotten in my Kindle app for so long. But maybe this was the time I most needed them. Realizing that repentance and subsequent course corrections were an everyday part of life helped me a lot when I struggled with whether I had repented “enough.”
I have noted the times when God gives people up/hardens their hearts — I find it terrifying! I love the examples you gave showing that God doesn’t do this easily. I so wish our nation would return to the Lord. Then, I find myself wanting to exert control that I just don’t have. I guess the best way we can do our part to that end is to ceaselessly pray for God to bring it about. Thank you for your encouragement here!
That scares me, too–that God sometimes does ultimately give people up completely. But since we don’t know when that happens, I maintain that as long as there is breath, there is hope! Scripture often mentions God’s longsuffering and patience and desire for people to come to Himself. I pray that for our country, too.
Excellent ~ thank you Barbara.
Thank you, Doris.
This is so great! I always love Wiersbe’s perspective on things. I am following along his commentary on the book of Psalms. He gets so deep!!!
I do, too. I think I have that one and look forward to using it my next time in the psalms.
Barbara, this is such a good post and one I will be thinking on today. Repentance happens throughout our entire lives. May I always return quickly to Him so that my relationship with Him remains unbroken.
Thank you, Joanne. It helped me some years ago to realize that repentance should be a regular occurrence in our lives. I hope, too, that I’ll be so sensitive to the Holy Spirit that I’ll turn back the right way as soon as possible.
God’s grace comes through in loud tones throughout the book of Hosea. You have such a gift for pulling together your research and making me want to dig on my own.
I love God’s heart, especially in this book. Though He sometimes has to deal severely with His people, it’s in love. This books shows His tenderness and grief over them. And what grace to keep pursuing people who have rejected Him.
I appreciate your mention of research. Sometimes I feel I’m using too many Bible verses and need to hone in on just one passage. I’ve been strongly influenced by an early, dearly loved pastor who emphasized making sure we’re understanding a verse in context not only in its immediate placement, but within its book and in the Bible as a whole. I tend to want to study out all the verses–but that can be overwhelming in a blog post. 🙂 The Bible itself is the best thing we can share. But most people don’t read lists of Bible verses. So I really wrestle with how much to include.
I love the list of I wills. It’s a wonderful reminder of how God is pursuing His people!
I do, too. I love seeing God’s heart in this book, continually pursuing people who have rejected Him and gone their own way. That’s such good and comforting news for us.
First let me introduce my self. My name is Crystal and my Cat’s name is Daisy Mae. I come to visit your blog through Esme’s Senior Salon. I love your site and this post is great I sometimes forget to give everything to God and trust Him and those are the times I get really, really frustrated and hit a wall and then literally throw my hands up in the air and tell God the problem and that I will trust him to solve the problem the way it should be solved.
Thanks Again and Have a Great Week. Hope You visit my site and possibly follow me.
Oh I love how you demonstrated her pursuit of others. How many times do I pursue the things I want rather than the One who can give me all good things…maybe not my wants but definitely His best. Thank you for that perspective on Gomer and thank you for linking up @worthbeyondrubies
Those I Will promises are so Lifegiving and hopeful! Have you ever read Francine River’s Redeeming Love? It’s based on the story of Hosea from the lens of Gold Rush era.
Your posts are always filled with such positivity Barbara, I really do admire your writing. You always want to spread good news. I always feel better for reading your blog posts, thank you so much for sharing with all of us at #globalblogging
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