Written by Cheyenne Freeman
I was in the seventh grade when I first read Francine Rivers’ Redeeming Love. It is a modernized version of the story of Hosea, set in the 1800s. Michael Hosea is waiting on the Lord to show him who he is to marry, and he hears the Lord whisper, “She’s the one…”1 as the highest priced prostitute walks past him through main street in town. I fell in love with the story of Hosea and his faithfulness after I read this book, and I decided to read the book of Hosea in the Bible for the first time.
In Hosea 1:1, we are told that Hosea was the son of Beeri in the days of Uzziah. He had three sons with his wife Gomer, who was a prostitute. The Lord called Hosea to marry Gomer in order to show Israel that God’s love is unending and persistent, no matter the numerous times of unfaithfulness. This was his calling: to marry a whore and bear children with her, a woman whose nine to five job was giving herself to hundreds of men on a daily basis. The Bible merely states after God told Hosea to marry her, “So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son” (Hosea 1:3). This is stated so casually, we almost do not think twice of it. How did Hosea get her out of the brothel? How did he not fall into temptation himself? Did he have to pummel men on his way out with her over his shoulders? Did he have to pay for her? Did she willingly marry him? Was she glad to be set free, or was she afraid to leave all that she had ever known? All these questions remain unanswered, but I imagine it was not so simple to marry Gomer.
When the Lord spoke to Hosea and told him to marry a whore, Hosea did not hesitate and he obeyed immediately. He trusted in the Lord and His plan for his life and that it was for his good. What great faith! Surely Hosea had been dreaming of his bride for most of his life, especially in his primetime. He must have pictured her as a young, beautiful woman of God’s heart; I am sure his first thought of his future bride was not that she would be the most lusted after prostitute in the entire town. I know that if I heard the Lord calling me to the same position, I would want to know why He would choose me for this job, what good could possibly come of this, why can He not choose someone else, does He not know the desires of my heart, did He not see the list I made of qualities I am looking for in a spouse? I would hope that I would obey the Lord in what He asks of me. But I know I would not do so as hastily as Hosea. He was clearly a man of faith and had great trust in the Lord. Because he was a prophet, he had to be in tune with the Lord’s voice and have ears to recognize his Shepherd’s voice.
The Lord told Hosea to name his children Jezreel, No Mercy, and Not My People, referencing the people in the nation and their sin and unfaithfulness towards the Lord. Convincing a prostitute she is worthy of love must have been hard enough for Hosea to begin with. But after they are married, she leaves him and runs back to her old ways. This man who came and took her must be mad; he must be crazy to think she could change the life she had always known. But he was not crazy, he was patient and understanding. He was persistent and loving. He sought after her again and brought her home. Again and again, Gomer left Hosea and was unfaithful. But Hosea never gave up on her. He never lost faith in the Lord, he never disobeyed the call on his life, despite the response from Gomer. Hosea must have been a very even tempered man, very controlled and gentle. I imagine the frustration of waking up alone, the realization settling in that she has run away, and he has to go after her yet again. But he knew it was for the Lord’s glory, His purpose, His perfect plan. The Lord was using him to reach his people, to show them their unfaithfulness and their betrayal to their heavenly Father who loves them so, so dearly, and only wants for them to accept His love.
The book of Hosea has made its way to my favorites list of Bible stories. It is such a beautiful depiction of the love God has for us, for me. I am reminded daily in one way or another of my brokenness and my need for Him, and it leaves me in awe to think that He is always waiting for me to just turn to Him over and over and over again, and He does not get tired of me. He is not frustrated with me or impatient. He is excited for me to come to Him, and He only sees me in my washed-clean state because of His Son’s shed blood. I need to accept His love, and stop running from it. I need to willingly turn to Him and know that His love for me is not based on performance, it is not bigger one day or smaller the next based on how much I sin. His love for me is constant, overflowing, boundless, unconditional. How dare I think my sin is more powerful than the cross, enough to keep me from going before the Lord.
I really admire Hosea’s spiritual strength. It is incredible to read of how he stayed faithful, he kept going back for Gomer and showing her love over and over again. He did not give up on her after the first time, or even the second. He kept pursuing her until God would tell him to stop. He made a covenant with her and the Lord that he would remain faithful to her until death separates them. A marriage is not broken once you slip off the wedding band. It is a lifelong commitment, and Hosea took it as such. I only hope to have that much trust and faithfulness to the Lord someday.
1 Rivers, Francine. Redeeming Love. 1st ed. Bantam, 1991. 432. Print.