Monday, August 24, 2009
The Love of God from the Book of Hosea by Nedra O Brien (guest contributor)
Below is a devotional my mother in law, Nedra O Brien wrote for her church bulletin before she passed away in 2005:
The Book of Hosea is about a people who need to hear the love of God and the unique way God chose to demonstrate His love for them. They thought love could be bought, as in verse 9 of chapter 8, which says, “Ephraim has hired lovers…”, not understanding that God had freely promised them His protection and provision.
They also thought love was the pursuit of self-gratification…chapter 2 verse 5 says, “I will go after my lovers who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my linen, my oil, and my drink.” They didn’t seem to comprehend a love that has nothing to do with self, that serves others and is unconditional.
They mistakenly thought that loving unworthy objects could bring positive benefits, such as in their worship of the idol Baal Peor, despite the fact that God Himself Bestowed special favor on them. Verse 10 of chapter 9 says that they become an abomination like the thing they loved.
God wanted Israel to know His love, which reaches out for unlikely and unworthy objects. Chapter 11 verse 1 says, “When Israel was a child, I loved him.” And He wanted them to know a love that guides with gentle discipline, described in 11:4 as “bands of love”. He also wanted them to experience the kind of love that persists in spite of running and resisting. In fact, in chapter 11 verse 8, He says, “How can I give you up?”
The problem was how to get this message of God’s love to a people who were not inclined to listen, and probably wouldn’t understand even if they did listen. God’s
solution, of course, was to let the prophet Hosea be his own sermon, by having him marry Gomer. In his extraordinary love for her, he showed the kind of love God had for Israel.
We can learn several lessons from the Book of Hosea:
One…if the people around us do not see the love of God, they won’t find it anywhere. We have to show the world by our actions and our attitudes the authentic love of God in Christ.
Two…we can’t separate our witness and our ministries from our lives. Hosea’s strongest sermon was his relationship with his wife. The source of his power for preaching was his home and his family.
And three…the only perfect example of love is found in God Himself. We can draw from the well of love He has for us, offering it to others.