Hosea / chapter 2 (read the chapter)
In hindsight, I realized that I should have titled yesterday’s blog, God loves whores. So, I was delighted when I read today’s chapter and found that not only could I use that title today, but it actually has a deeper and more profound application in chapter 2.
It really was quite a remarkable thing God did through Hosea. He made Hosea’s home life a little microcosm of His relationship with Israel. Whenever the people mocked Hosea because his unfaithful wife had left him again, whenever they called him a fool for wasting his money on a woman who was squandering those resources on some filthy lover, Hosea could simply say, “Have you looked in a mirror lately? When it comes to God, every single one of you is Gomer! Stop whoring it up with all the false gods already!”
It’s no coincidence that God likens idolatry to adultery. Both are totally destructive to relationships. Both wreak havoc on the minds of those who participate in them. For instance, we know that one of the dangers of pornography is that it objectifies the participants in the minds of the viewers. Consumers of pornography grow to think of the men and women on screen as objects—objects to be used only in the pursuit of self-pleasure. Likewise, those who practice idolatry view their idols as objects—objects to be used only in the pursuit of some personal gain.
Both are ugly. And deadly.
The fact is, every person alive has been a spiritual whore at one time or another. And that might be bad news, except for the fact that God loves whores. Not only does He love them, He pursues them. Not only does He pursue them, He restores them. And He restores them by de-objectifying them, by helping them recover their self-worth through respect.
There were two great examples of that in this chapter. Here’s the first, amid God’s warnings about the consequences of running after other lovers: “Therefore I will take away my grain when it ripens, and my new wine when it is ready. I will take back my wool and my linen, intended to cover her naked body. So now I will expose her lewdness before the eyes of her lovers; no one will take her out of my hands.” (vs 9-10)
That statement really caught my eye. Nobody will take us out of God’s hands. At first, that might sound like the rantings of a jealousy-crazed maniac! On the surface, it sort of smacks of, “If I can’t have you, nobody will.” But that’s not actually what God’s saying at all. We have seen previously in Scripture (and it will be affirmed again later in this very book) that it is possible for us to take ourselves out of God’s hands. If we ultimately decide we don’t want to be in God’s hands, He will let us have our way, but what He’s saying here is, “Nobody else gets to decide for you! You are not some object to be passed around on a whim. I respect you enough to let you make your own choice. No one is going to take you out of My hands. If you leave My hands, it will be because you decided to go.”
The second example of God’s treating us with respect is just a few verses later: “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” (vs 14)
I love what Charles Spurgeon wrote on this verse: “This is a singular kind of power: ‘I will allure her;’ not, ‘I will drive her;’ not even ‘I will draw her’ or ‘I will drag her’ or ‘I will force her.’ No, ‘I will allure her.’ It is a very remarkable word, and it teaches us that the allurement of love surpasses in power all other forces.” Love is the most compelling power in the universe. But it wields its power without compelling or forcing the object of its affection to accept it. Ironically, it is precisely this lack of force that makes it so forceful. It is because love does not compel that it is, in the end, so compelling.
So, to those who have abandoned God to run lustfully (and fruitlessly) after blessing in other arenas, God says, “I love you still.” The fact that we have been unfaithful only makes His love for us burn all the greater. And when we find ourselves broken and empty from the selfish pursuits of evil, we will find that God not only takes us back, but He restores us. He treats us with respect when nobody else will, endowing us with power—the power to choose and the power to command His attention.
We have all been unfaithful. We have all been the one caught in adultery. But to that one—you! me!—God says, “I don’t condemn you. Why don’t you stay here with Me? Nobody will ever love you the way I do.”