By Russ Ramsey
Several 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, Hosea, to “Go and marry a woman of promiscuity, and have children of promiscuity, for the land is committing blatant acts of promiscuity by abandoning the LORD” (Hosea 1:2).
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—lay in store for God’s people; but first, they need to be exposed for who they really were: unfaithful people, raising a new generation in their infidelity.
When you start to imagine the circumstances that 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 knew Gomer 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 showed Israel they were living like an unfaithful spouse 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 Christ, we have the right to know God and to live at peace with Him. But as long as we deny our offenses—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 who we are, we will never understand the steadfast love and mercy of our groom—Jesus Christ, who takes us as His own and binds our wandering hearts to Him.