A Strange Love Story
This is a message through Pastor Danny Ninal delivered in the afternoon service of City Cross Link on 02 February 2020. From the Book of Hosea.
I would share with you something that I am sure you as husband and wife can think of and discuss. And I want to kick it off with the most absurd or unusual love story of all. But before we dive in there, let be start with a backgrounder.
The last 12 books of the Old Testament are known as the Minor Prophets. It’s not that their message is minor, they’re just shorter than others. The first of these minor prophets is a man named Hosea.
Many of these prophets had to go through lots of trials and difficulties; lots of strange things, lots of painful things in life.
But no prophet preached a more painful sermon than Hosea. His was the strangest message I have ever seen.
He was instructed to marry a prostitute named Gomer, who gave him three children, and he wasn’t even sure that the last two children were his. Let’s watch a short clip about this Strange Love story.
(click on this link to see the video clip)
Brothers and sisters, if that is not a strange love story, I don’t know what is. Gomer left Hosea for another man, and Hosea had the humiliating responsibility of buying back his own wife. There must be some lessons to this, otherwise, this is just simply crazy. And God doesn’t just put stories in the bible, because they are unusual. They are strange because there is a lesson on it. And that is what we are going to discuss this afternoon.
I would like to start of with the words of Hosea himself, in the clip.
GOD’S LOVE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON US
And this concept of true love which is not dependent upon the other, is entrenched deeply into the concept of COVENANT. The story here reflects the love story between God and Israel. God made a covenant with Israel. God saved Israel countless of times. We can think of Slavery from Egypt. God saved Israel from the Egyptians by dividing the sea so they can cross and escape from the Egyptians. God gave them Manna from heaven so the Israelites didn’t starve in the desert.
And, like Gomer, Israel continued to disobey God. They continued to worship Idols and the god Baal. They continue to disregard blatantly the love of God, by looking for other means of enjoyment. They even crucified His only Son, Jesus Christ.
And yet, God continues to love his people.
Let’s look at the mirror and ask ourselves. Are we better than the Israelites, or the Jews? No, we are not. Like them, and like Gomer, we continue to disobey him, and search for other worldly means of pleasure. Yet God continues to love us. He even purchased us back with the blood of His own Son, Jesus Christ. He bought us back, not just with 15 silvers and barley, but with the life of His only Son.
What is the lesson here? Let us look at that first point again.
GOD’S LOVE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON US.
Here is how it works. He made a covenant with us. A Covenant not a contract. Do you know what is the difference?
A Contract by legal definition means: An agreement between private parties creating mutual obligations enforceable by law.
In simple terms, it means “I will give you this, if you give me that.” An exchange of a valid offer and acceptance with adequate consideration or payment. For example, Armand and I will go into a contract agreement that Armand will supply me with 10,000 kilograms of “almost ripe” mangoes every month, and in return I will give him a contract of P12Million a year.
If Armand supplies that, I am bound by law to pay him. However, if he fails to do so, then I am not bound to pay. For instance, the requirement in the contract is 10,000 kilos of “almost ripe” mangoes. If he supplies only 5,000 kilograms, I am not obliged to pay, because he is short. Or if he supplies over-ripe mangoes, then I am not obliged to pay, because the contract says “almost ripe.”
That is the mechanics of a contract.
On the other hand, a Covenant is different, in a sense that the one who makes the covenant does so no matter what the performance of the other is. The covenant is not dependent on the other person.
An illustration of this could be a person’s Last Will and Testament. The person who signs the Will does not require the beneficiary to sign. In fact, the beneficiary, if of legal age, will receive the inheritance mentioned in the Will.
Let us take a look at Genesis 17:7
“I will establish my covenant as an everlasting covenant between me and you and your descendants… TO BE YOUR GOD AND THE GOD OF YOUR DESCENDANT AFTER YOU.”
And then look at Judges 2:1 this is the angel of the Lord telling the people
“I WILL NEVER BREAK MY COVENANT WITH YOU.”
So, this is how God love is. IT IS NOT DEPENDENT ON US. No matter what we do, God will continue to love us. There is nothing too good that we do which will make God love us more. There is nothing too bad that we do which will make God love us less.
GOD’S LOVE IS NOT DEPENDENT ON US.
Ah. Let’s go back to Hosea and Gomer. Do you remember what Hosea did after he realized that God’s love is not dependent on man? He went and looked for Gomer, this time willing to pay more than what was required, just to get her back.
But let us go one step back, and read Hosea 1:2
When the LORD first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the LORD and worshiping other gods.” New Living Translation
The first thing you’ll see is this. As this man married a prostitute, some people must have watched him with pity. Or others with confusion. Perhaps indifference. Perhaps, somebody stood on the street and said to him “Hosea, we love you, we respect you, we admire you. You’re a man of integrity. But we do have a question for you. ‘How can a holy man like you, be in love with such an adulterous woman like that.’”
And Hosea said, “I’m really glad you ask because I have an answer for you. Now I’m beginning to wonder, how a Holy God like that can love such an adulterous nation like us?” Or better yet, “How can a Holy God like that can love such an undeserving man like me?” This is the second point, of today’s message:
GOD’S LOVE IS UNDESERVED, UNMERITED.
The story of Hosea and Gomes is not just a strange love story. In this story you see a microscopic image of the heart of God. And if we look closer at the image, zoom it out, see God’s heart, we will understand better, how this Holy God can love an underserving people like us.
Let us go even further back. Let us to the time God was looking for a nation. A nation through whom He would reveal Himself.
GREECE. Why did He not go to Greece? Greece was the land of philosophers, great minds like Socrates, Plato, Aristotle. Contemporary philosophers are nothing compared to these brilliant minds of Greece. Greece looked like a logical option for a nation through whom God can reveal Himself. But no.
ROME. Why did he not go to Rome? That glorious city which was not built in a day? The majesty of the Caesars. The organizational skills of the Romans. But no, God did not choose Rome, nor the Romans.
BABYLON. Nor did God go to Babylon, which was renowned in building its palaces of splendour. Why not? Greece, Rome, Babylon. No. He did not.
God went instead to a little tiny nation of people, LAUGHED AT BY GREECE, ABUSED BY ROME, ENSLAVED BY BABYLON. And God said to this little nation, “You are the apple of my eye.”
Do you know that the original word used in this phrase was “Maiden” and not “Apple”.? The original quote was “You are the maiden of my eye.”
It is so deeply touching. It is like this. For instance, you are telling the woman you love, “Come close. Come closer. Come very close, and look into my eyes. When you see that miniature reflection of yourself, you will know that you alone are that little maiden in my eye.
God took that love to the maiden of His eye. He chose the most undeserving group of people.
GOD’S LOVE IS UNDESERVED. UNMERITED.
Let us take a look at ourselves. Haven’t you asked yourselves why God brought us here in New Zealand. Don’t you know many people envy us because we are here in this country with so much abundance? This beautiful place which we find ourselves? We ask, Lord, Why me?
Why do you love me so much? Why have you loved me with this kind of everlasting love?
Listen to this poem and imagine Jesus Christ telling you this:
My love for you is like the raging sea, So powerful and deep it will forever be. Through storm, wind, and heavy rain, It will withstand every pain. Our hearts are so pure and love so sweet. I love you more with every heartbeat!
That is a microscopic image of God’s heart. So loving yet so undeserved.
But then we ask, “So what?” What does it mean to me? To introduce my third point, let me tell you a story, of a little boy who dreamt of becoming an Olympiad.
Since he was 12 years old, he dreamt of that gold medal in the Olympics. He started training, everything he did was for that single purpose in mind. It has become his obsession. Eventually he qualified for the Olympics. He trained even more. In the trials he did well. He won the first heat. Then he won the second heat; and the quarterfinals. People started noticing him. Then he won the Semi-Finals. Now even the athletes started asking, who is this guy? Then when he was in the finals, waiting for the gun to go to signal the final heat, just seconds away from that gold medal. He can already feel it. He’s going to win this. Then all of a sudden, from out of nowhere, something happened, like a wave that flooded his mind for a brief moment. He lost a fraction of a second, and did not get the gold. The wave that came into his mind was this question: “I wonder if my daddy is watching.”
He didn’t have a good relationship with his father. For years, his father discouraged him to join the team. His father did everything to stop him. His father did not have enough faith that he was good enough for the gold medal. He left his father to continue training for the need that he was so obsessed about – that gold medal.
Then, when he was seconds away from that, a greater need flooded his mind – the need for a fatherly love. “I wonder if my daddy is watching.”
I would like to ask James, Justin and Vic to join me on stage. We shall sing you a song that brings about the third point.
(LORD, I NEED YOU) Click on this link to listen to the music
The third point is
GOD’S LOVE IS WHAT WE DESPERATELY NEED.
We need Him. We need His love.
Can you imagine how this world will look like if we were like in a LIMBO, or a vacuum, in a void, a world without a father? Imagine how deeper that need would be if we don’t have a heavenly father? No father to commune with?
No matter where you are now, that need for a Divine Father, will always be there in your heart. If not filled in with Jesus Christ, it will create a vacuum, a void, that nobody else can fill in. Not money, power, position, without Christ, that need will never be filled in.
Brother, you need that love. Sister, you need that love. Sir, you need that love. We all need that love. It is the only love in the world that gives you essential worth. And I want you to hear me now. We need this love.
· God’s Love is not dependent on us.
· God’s Love is undeserved, unmerited
· God’s Love is what we desperately need.
With these three truths about God’s love, let me go back to that Marriage Contract I mentioned earlier. I want to present an application of these lessons in a way that you might not like, but I must have to say.
Today, Christian couples have allowed their unhappiness to become an acceptable reason for divorce. We can’t deny the growing numbers of people dissatisfied with their relationships. Some even hate their once chosen mates. Relationship pain is real and it hurts. However, listen to this: an escape plan is not always the answer. Couple unhappiness can be remedied. But, it takes work, counselling, and a return to the covenant vows what we made to each other.
The bible is full of difficult covenant relationships in need of reconciliation. Our story of Hosea and Gomer is one of them. Their marriage is both symbolic and real. But most of all it deals with God’s desire to restore. Hosea endures the emotional pain of spouse betrayal, works through the restoration process and redeems the woman who has wronged him.
One of the things that we could learn from this story, is that Hosea and Gomer were not alone, they were not on their own. God was with them. And that is why I would like to emphasize today, and share to all, especially to the married couples of CCL. And if you are planning to get married, think about this:
There is the husband, the wife, and God. When you quarrel, remember you are not quarrelling by yourself. There is a third party to your marriage. When we made our vows, it was not just a contract, it was a covenant, a covenant we made with the wife, or the husband, and with God.
When you try to solve it by yourselves, chances are you would fail.
Let me tell you a story about a man who, every time he goes to work, he stops by the clock and synchronized his watch with the clock. One day, a man walked to him and asked, “I am amazed to see every day that you synchronize you watch with my clock. What kind of work do you do?” He said, “this is embarrassing, but I am the timekeeper in the factory nearby, and the clock in the factory does not work very well. So, I synchronize my watch with your clock, so I can ring the bell at 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon at the end of the day’s shift.
“Funny,” the man said, “because my clock does not work very well too, and I have to synchronize my clock with the bell that I hear every 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon.
What happens when two wrongs correct themselves by each other. Pardon my grammar, but they will be wronger and wronger all the time. And this usually ends with the wrongest - divorce or separation.
G.K.Chesterton, puts it simpler by saying, “Anytime you remove a fence, always pause long enough to find out why it was put there in the first place.”
In other words, before you remove marriage, always ask why God instituted it in the first place.
God gave us the moral law, to remind us that our marriage is sacred, our worship is sacred, that my body is sacred, my words are sacred, my time is sacred, my properties are sacred. These invaluable sanctities, are preserved in His words, and it is the desecration of His Word that has put us in the mess where we find ourselves today.
In the story of Hosea and Gomer, God shows us another answer than just separation. When Israel turned away from God His response, may have been “depart from you.”
God could have separated himself from Israel, who kept on disobeying Him by worshipping idols. But He did not.
He could have separated Himself from of us after all the sins we have done. But that is not how it ends. He even died for us, to get us back.
And it is best shown in Chapter 3 and says to Hosea to go and love her again.
Hosea 3:1 The Lord said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the Lord loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”
Brothers and sisters, the one word that defines the Christian faith, is the word forgiveness. God forgives you. God forgives me. And gives us a chance to start afresh. But this forgiveness can only be fully understood in the context of God’s Love.
In conclusion, I would like to say to the husbands, we need to love our wives no matter what. Whether they are undeserving, as Gomer was to Hosea, we need to love wife again and again and again. I want the husbands to tell your wives now, “I Love.”
Now, I know that our stories may be the reverse. It is the other way around. It may not be the wife, but the husband. I tell you what. We all share a part of the problem. It is never just a problem with the other person. It is not just the problem with the husband, nor the wife. Sometimes, both share the same blame. But we are not here to talk about blaming each other. We are talking about forgiving each other.
Wives, just as Gomer was accepted by Hosea no matter what, we all need to remember that your husbands love you, although sometimes it doesn’t seem so. Even though sometimes, your husbands appear like they are not thinking about you, believe me when I say this, girls. Kaming mga lalaki will say, “You are always in my mind.”
Now, this time, wives go ahead and whisper to your husband, these words: I LOVE YOU.
TO ALL OF YOU I SAY
GOD LOVES YOU