HOSEA 14: UNCONDITIONAL LOVE
With the five ‘major prophets’ (large prophetic books) now behind us, today’s “Breadcrumb” comes from the first of twelve smaller prophetic books known as the ‘minor prophets’. Hosea is a righteous man – someone known in his day as “a man of God”. He would have grown up in Jewish religious circles and had become known, to those around him, not just for having a good grasp of religious knowledge and a clean personal life, but also having a real “connection” (a relationship) with the Creator God.
But in a bizarre dramatized message, the Creator gets Hosea to marry a prostitute! If the sheer violation of this for a squeaky-clean, virginal religious leader (who’s reputation was put on the line along with everything he’d painstakingly worked for all his life) wasn’t bad enough, Hosea had to love her, sleep with her like any husband would, and have children by her!
Today’s chapter picks up the saga at the end of Hosea’s book, after Gomer had shunned his love, left him, returned to prostitution, then ended up on a slave market.
Then, in a supernatural act of unconditional love, Father God asked Hosea to buy her back, reunite with her once more, and love her unreservedly: as if she’d never sinned.[a]
As a prophetic book, it’s more than clear that the Creator God is communicating timelessly. In other words, He’s demonstrating in an incredibly powerful way, what it feels like and what He’s done in purchasing for Himself a love-based family.[b] Though the perfect Creator God is spotless and without sin, He has united Himself with humanity, purchasing us from our squalor at the highest price imaginable. He’s then elevated us to the status of life-partner with Him and member of His family as His children.
The key message in Hosea’s book is the call to return to our Maker. If we do, Hosea reassures us that “repentance” – making a 180 degree turn away from our old ways – in order to reconnect with our righteous Father God, brings unprecedented blessing that’s clearly “out of this world”. But the timeless message to turn back to our Creator greets us this morning in a sharp call:
“Return, because your sin is your downfall!” [v1]
If only our sin wasn’t our downfall, we probably would evolve into something better. In a conversation with two Egyptians a while back, I asked what they learnt at school in their history lessons about their ancient past. Just as I was taught about the early settlers of Australia, I was curious to know what modern Egyptians say about their sophisticated ancient civilisation – at the time of the Pharaohs – and why it all came to an end. What was the cause of their downfall?
They couldn’t tell me.
It seems that, outside of the early chapters of the Book of Exodus – where the Creator God laid waste this ancient civilization of Egypt after their Pharaoh entered into a running battle with his Maker – modern Egyptians apparently aren’t given a specific reason for what brought them down from their superior position in world history. Rather than ‘evolving’, they don’t seem to know what caused their nation’s downfall.
Perhaps the technology of the ancient Egyptians would have spread further than the borders of one nation. And what knowledge was lost from the ancient Aztecs? As far as I can see, Hosea’s message stands relevant for all of us even today: we need to “return” to our Maker, because our sin is our downfall.
But rather than taking animals with them when approaching their Maker – an offering that’s not possible today nor even taken seriously back then – Hosea suggests we bring words. [v2] Accompanied by the action of ‘returning’, the prayer is simple and it’s the same prayer today: “Forgive all our sins and receive us graciously.” [v3]
Hosea 14 is a lovely chapter of grace where our Creator is now offering healing for waywardness and free, undeserved, unconditional LOVE for those who return to Him. [v4] May “the fatherless” find compassion in their Father God. So, in a gentle way, by identifying the righteous ways of God, Hosea begins to identify two groups of people – those who return and those who choose not to return.
My prayer all my life has been to adopt a lifestyle of ‘returning’ every day to my Maker. It started as a ten-year-old when I first realized that I could be left out of the Creator God’s Ancient Rescue Plan – I wrote about this moment of revelation in Chapter Three: After the Sun Set in my second book Mysterious? …Expect the Unexpected. That was more than 42 years ago and – unlike Gomer – I want to repent, return and remain every day, so that my sin won’t cause my ultimate downfall.
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[a] Isaiah 1:18
[b] Leviticus 19:34; Deuteronomy 6:5 & 7:9 among many references
[c] Matthew 25:33