We live in a world filled with love stories. Most of them are lies. They are not love stories at all—they are lust stories, sex-fantasy stories, domination stories. From the cradle we are fed on lies about love.
This would be bad enough if it only messed up human relationships—man and woman, parent and child, friend and friend—but it messes up God-relationships. The huge, mountainous reality of all existence is that God is love, that God loves the world. Each single detail of the real world that we face and deal with day after day is permeated by this love.
God’s story, His Love Letter to us, expresses His desire for us to know Him—to know real love—so we know how to love Him back. Loving others begins by knowing and loving God and realizing the depth of love God has for us.
But when our minds and imaginations are crippled by lies about love, we have a hard time understanding this fundamental ingredient of daily living, “love” is either as a noun or as a verb. And if the basic orienting phrase “God is love” is plastered over with cultural graffiti that obscure and deface the truth of the way the world is, we are not going to get very far in living well. We require true stories of love if we are to live truly. (Eugene Peterson, MSG, Intro to Hosea)
Let Peterson introduce you to Hosea, God’s prophet, called to an unlikely love–
“Hosea is the prophet of love, but not love as we imagine or fantasize it. He was a parable of God’s love for his people lived out as God revealed and enacted it—a lived parable. It is an astonishing story: a prophet commanded to marry a common whore and have children with her. It is an even more astonishing message: God loves us in just this way—goes after us at our worst, keeps after us until he gets us, and makes lovers of men and women who knew nothing of real love. Once we absorb this story and the words that flow from it, we will know God far more accurately. And we will be well on our way to being cured of all the sentimentalized and neurotic distortions of love that incapacitate us from dealing with the God who loves us and loving the neighbors who don’t love us.” –Eugene Peterson, The Message, Intro to Hosea
This is God’s Message to Hosea son of Beeri. It came to him during the royal reigns of Judah’s kings Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah. This was also the time that Jeroboam son of Joash was king over Israel.
This Whole Country Has Become a Whorehouse
2 The first time God spoke to Hosea he said:
“Find a whore and marry her.
Make this whore the mother of your children.
And here’s why: This whole country
has become a whorehouse, unfaithful to me, God.”
3 Hosea did it. He picked Gomer daughter of Diblaim. She got pregnant and gave him a son.
4-5 Then God told him:
“Name him Jezreel. It won’t be long now before
I’ll make the people of Israel pay for the massacre at Jezreel.
I’m calling it quits on the kingdom of Israel.
Payday is coming! I’m going to chop Israel’s bows and arrows
into kindling in the valley of Jezreel.”
* * *
6-7 Gomer got pregnant again. This time she had a daughter. God told Hosea:
“Name this one No-Mercy. I’m fed up with Israel.
I’ve run out of mercy. There’s no more forgiveness.
Judah’s another story. I’ll continue having mercy on them.
I’ll save them. It will be their God who saves them,
Not their armaments and armies,
not their horsepower and manpower.”
* * *
8-9 After Gomer had weaned No-Mercy, she got pregnant yet again and had a son. God said:
“Name him Nobody. You’ve become nobodies to me,
and I, God, am a nobody to you.
10-11 “But down the road the population of Israel is going to explode past counting, like sand on the ocean beaches. In the very place where they were once named Nobody, they will be named God’s Somebody. Everybody in Judah and everybody in Israel will be assembled as one people. They’ll choose a single leader. There’ll be no stopping them—a great day in Jezreel!”
WHAT DO WE LEARN—HOW DO WE RESPOND?
On our very worst day—God loves us! God also loves your worst (to you) neighbor.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16 NIV
“So then, since we have a great High Priest who has entered heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we believe. This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most. Hebrews 4:14-16 NLT
“If, when we were at our worst, we were put on friendly terms with God by the sacrificial death of his Son, now that we’re at our best, just think of how our lives will expand and deepen by means of his resurrection life! Now that we have actually received this amazing friendship with God, we are no longer content to simply say it in plodding prose. We sing and shout our praises to God through Jesus, the Messiah!” Romans 5:10-11, MSG
Adam got us into this mess, but God sent Jesus to get us out!
Here it is in a nutshell: Just as one person did it wrong and got us in all this trouble with sin and death, another person did it right and got us out of it. But more than just getting us out of trouble, he got us into life! One man said no to God and put many people in the wrong; one man said yes to God and put many in the right.
All that passing laws against sin did was produce more lawbreakers. But sin didn’t, and doesn’t, have a chance in competition with the aggressive forgiveness we call grace. When it’s sin versus grace, grace wins hands down. Romans 5:18-20, MSG
Dear Friends, THIS is real love.
Thank you for teaching us that your love goes far beyond and well above what humans first think. We judge, manipulate, lie, cheat, coerce and even beg people to love us, when at our worst, you reached out to us and simply loved us, saved us and set us free to love by your forgiving standard of pure mercy and grace. Your love is greater and higher and greatly desired by a me and the rest of the hurting world seeking love that is real. You are real. You are love. May we love like you love us—without conditions.
In Jesus Name, For Your Glory, Amen