Three therefore’s in chapter 2: begin v.6, 9, 14 Significant: what comes after “therefore” a response to what came before (duh!) and intended to fulfill particular purpose. Especially true when God says it – whatever is indicated by “therefore” is connected with God’s redemptive purpose in Christ. Remembere theme of study through Minor Prophets – Redeemed from Ruin. Applies whether action / result appears negative or positive. e.g., first two therefore’s followed by what appears negative and harsh; but those two have whole scene in view, with positive result. In fact, awful as it all is that God threatens, is the most gracious and loving thing God could do.
God compares himself to husband, his people to his wife. Concept takes on flesh and blood in Hosea and Gomer – God’s choice of method to communicate truth to his backsliding people. Further significance: NT portrayal of Christ as Bridegroom, Church as Bride. This Husband will under no circumstances divorce his true wife, will do all necessary to ensure her ultimate faithfulness. He does so because he loves her, even when she is not faithful.
Had mindset: must have been doing enough of what’s right… look at outward signs of prosperity; can rely on world’s way of doing things and be successful. Notice, too, even for token acknowledgement of the giver, Gomer identified the wrong giver and focused more on the gifts. But wait, it gets even worse: an implied sense of entitlement in her parting shot to Hosea.
“I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil and my drink.”
God already threatened v.3, Gomer refuses to hear pleas of her children. Defiantly slams out of the house, pursues her own course that will end in self-destruction if God does not intervene. Note: everything Gomer goes after v.5 will fail to meet expectations; note also, God gives warning – not a case of she messes up, he smacks her, then comes the explanation. Everything that happens to Gomer/Israel direct result of persistent willful rebellion; at the moment of genuine repentance, corrective discipline will instantly end. Consequences may continue, but God’s rod will be put away.
Example: God may use debilitating illness to make his point. Repentance and restoration does not necessarily mean short or no recovery period. May not mean elimination of all long-term effects of illness either. Those effects can serve as helpful reminder, keep us from wandering away… again!
A. deprived of her lovers v.6-7a
no surprise, repentance not immediate: had dragged out lot of rope, pursuing downhill course; now, trading one mask for another
instead of cloak of respectability, faithful marriage to one husband, etc – now appearance of being like everyone else/majority
keep in mind: language of immorality in OT can have two meanings – what you think, usual sense of fornication or adultery
used to picture spiritual unfaithfulness: devoting to idols what belongs to God, depending on idols to supply what God does
God has two obvious options: do nothing for a time, intervene; he uses each at his own discretion, ultimately for good purpose
apparent inaction on God’s part does not mean inattention; Gomer could think “nobody did anything until now, must be ok”
God obviously paying attention: consider names he instructed Hosea to give children, should have been wake-up call to Gomer
God’s intervention: make life difficult for Gomer – painful (thorns) and frustrating (cannot find), yet… still keeps pursuing lovers
Gomer was confident she knew who would satisfy her needs and desires, relentlessly chased after them; by God’s doing, always coming up short
how many, Christians included, look around and think: “if only…, I would be satisfied”; CBD search “how to” – 15866 total results, 3158 in Church and Pastoral, 1357 in Bible Studies
obsessed with quick fixes, things promised by this entrepreneur or that, relying on govt and professionals for answers
why so many telemarketing scams, email come-ons – because they work… often enough… because people believe promises
why are pain and frustration necessary? “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – if chasing those who promise to fix all your problems seems to be working, why change?
too often people live on level of pragmatism rather than principle – answer question “does it work” instead of “what is right”
when it quits working, next question “what will work instead”, not “what is right now”; have to run out of options first
B. deprived of produce v.8-10
is this real ignorance or something else? here’s picture: Gomer, faithfully preparing offering of firstfruits (grain, wine, oil) and tithe on her income… for Baal
on her way to sacrifice, stop her and ask “where did all that come from?”, how do you suppose she would answer
might have given first lip-service to personal initiative and ability – I worked hard, played it smart, beat the odds, my doing
question: “you sure?”; response: “well, Baal did his part, why I’m sacrificing”; challenge “really?”, hairy eyeball; finally, maybe grudging acknowledgement of true God
using prosperity as cover for sinful behavior – will persist in sin until it is unmasked, in this case by God
not all Gomer’s sin as blatantly obvious as prostitution – in fact, God charges her with using what He supplied to perpetuate sin against him
in this case, regarding blessing from God as good reason to continue idol worship instead of giving God the glory and praise
Gomer has shown: determined to continue crediting wrong source for material blessings; adding pain and frustration into mix not enough to cause repentance
since still pursuing world’s way to supply her needs, God cuts off the supply – should be plain she is devoted to wrong provider
God also cranks it up a notch – doesn’t simply take away blessing/provision, does so in way that brings shame on Gomer
and… is kind of shame that puts up barrier between Gomer and former associates, ones she was counting on, who might bail her out; would fail even if they tried
God is making sure Gomer’s self-help plans totally fail – slowly but surely bringing Gomer to point where God is only option
C. deprived of mirth v.11
God promises to take away all reason and opportunity for celebration – times she could count on for pleasure… no more
because of Gomer’s misplaced loyalty, all good things God ordained for joy and pleasure had become means to an end
God intended He should be central in Gomer’s rejoicing – feasts to celebrate God’s provision; New Moons to celebrate God’s governing his creation; Sabbaths to celebrate God’s promised rest for his people
Sabbaths had become Gomer’s day off to do her thing; New Moons to celebrate getting older and keeping her looks; feasts an opportunity to gratify desires for food and fun
clear example of how good things given by God can be perverted to sinful use – when that happens, no longer serve orig. purpose
pleasure intended to be a result, not a goal; pursuing it as a goal will never satisfy – consider those who try thru sex / substances
what satisfied (sort of) yesterday, no longer today… keeps taking more, even more satisfies less, causes more frustration
D. vine and fig trees destroyed v.12
now it’s getting ominous – not only produce that is taken away, the source is destroyed: cannot consider this just a short-term blip
consequences of sinful behavior will last a while – even if replanted immediately, will be years before ready to produce again
can manage to survive brief period of hardship, stay reasonably positive when future prospects look promising
even greater demonstration of power and authority: isn’t just Gomer’s income that is cut off, her lover’s source of wealth destroyed
lots of ways income might not make it to intended recipient; must be superior force that destroy’s a god’s own property
this reflects on character of one being worshiped: if he lacks resources to defend own things, how can he be trusted to provide right help to others
e.g., financial counselor files for bankruptcy because of crushing load of gambling debt – still credible as a counselor??
and if you followed his advice, how’s the future looking? if you’re living hand to mouth, what are prospects will get better?
don’t forget – God not being mean or vengeful; is acting absolutely justly, and… ultimate purpose is redemption, not destruction
God’s plan from beginning not to leave his creation in ruin – has been working his plan ever since, will bring to completion
E. punished for her idolatry. v.13
impending disaster on Gomer / Israel is justified without question – idolatry under any circumstances unjustified and unacceptable
unjustified – had no reason to pursue false gods; were lacking no good thing from true God, idols were powerless to produce
truth be told – wanted what they thought was good but God knew better; they really knew better, instead wanted their own way
applies to Gomer and return to prostitution – she knew from first time around how empty, unsatisfying; went back anyway
here is ultimate summation of the problem: “Me she forgot”; translated that way… accurately – “Me” placed in emphatic position
is expression of loving heart of God that object of his affection and provision turned away, withdrew her own affection, despised his gifts, returned to something far inferior
God, knowing Gomer intimately / perfectly, does precisely what is best with regard to her soul – what will bring her back to him
F. purpose of trouble v.7b
to encourage repentance
might think was having desired response: Gomer says right thing, sort of, seems to have change of heart/mind about behavior
notice reason given: “then it was better for me than now” – feeling the pinch, not ready for true repentance, return out of love
to draw attention to God’s grace
was God who had supplied her need, even when she worshiped Baal… both times, and in between; obviously not earned
further elaborated in v.14-23, will see that God did not require her to clean herself up, make some points, then he would relieve her suffering
God’s goal for Gomer/Israel – that she would look to him to satisfy all her needs and desires, then give him the glory
Ultimately all of these threats were fulfilled in Israel’s removal from the land, its desolation and their captivity. Like other times in history, are close parallels with how God relates to his children when they wander away from him. True on individual and group level. Principles applied then, still apply now even though our Baals come in different forms and receive different sacrifices.
So we don’t fall into same error as ancient Israel: must keep looking to Jesus. Depend on Jesus to meet our needs, satisfy our desires moment by moment, not just for salvation but for sanctification also. And be sure to give God the credit and thanks for all his good gifts.