Hebrews 10:31 tells us “it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”
A number of years ago, a friend of mine got arrested for doing something bad in public—bad enough to make the evening news. That’s how we learned about his offense—by watching him get loaded into the back of a police car on tv.
One person in our friend group said, “Wouldn’t it be strangely freeing if everyone knew our most secret sins – if when we walked into a room, everyone knew the truth about us? Wouldn’t there be some good in it if people knew the things we work so hard to hide?”
In a manner of speaking, the book of Hosea opens with the people of Israel in cuffs, getting loaded into the back of the squad car. It happens like this: God tells His prophet to Hosea to “take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the Lord” (Hosea 1:2 ESV).
Hosea’s life was to be a sort of performance art. His marriage, along with all the pain it would bring him, was meant to stand as a witness against the people to whom he had been sent to proclaim God’s call to repentance. Good things—great things, in fact—lay in store for God’s people; but first they needed to be busted for who they really were: unfaithful people, raising a new generation in their infidelity.
There is no greater love than to lay down your life for your friends (John 15:13), but Hosea is a hard book. When you start to imagine the circumstances that would have moved God to ask His prophet to offer up his own heart for the sake of a nation of betrayers, it gets dark quickly. Think of the nights Hosea spent alone, knowing what his wife was up to. Hosea loved Gomer. He really did. But he knew she would break his heart over and over again. Unless Gomer herself felt the pain of her infidelity, she would never repent. But for this to happen, she would have to own the truth about who she was.
The same is true for us. Hosea’s marriage told Israel they were living like prostitutes while in a marriage covenant with God Himself. Hosea’s marriage, along with his genuine love for and sorrow over Gomer, was meant to arrest Israel (and us) in their (and our) acts of infidelity and read to them their (and our) rights.
Because of Jesus, we have the right to know God and to live at peace with Him. But as long as we deny our crimes—our perpetual running after other lovers—we will never accept the means by which we find the peace our hearts long for. Unless we are apprehended and exposed for what we are, we will never understand the steadfast love and mercy of our Groom—Jesus Christ, who took us as His own and binds our wandering hearts to Him.
It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. But how else will we be set free?
Written By Russ Ramsey