Editor’s Note: Today’s devotional is written by Cami King of JCC.
Devotional Thoughts for Today
Then the Lord said to me, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress, even as the Lord loves the sons of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love raisin cakes.” 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver and a homer and a half of barley. 3 Then I said to her, “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you.” 4 For the sons of Israel will remain for many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar and without ephod or household idols. 5 Afterward the sons of Israel will return and seek the Lord their God and David their king; and they will come trembling to the Lord and to His goodness in the last days.
Rick Warren developed a Bible study tool for narratives called “Picture It,” where you imagine yourself as a character from a Bible story to get a richer understanding of what the passage is trying to teach. While not the most rigorous tool in the arsenal, it’s a useful one for the book of Hosea. This short chapter is full of so much drama that it can seem unbelievably fictional. But it’s not some made up drama. It’s a true story of a real man and his real wife that God is using to show his people what their relationship with him really looks like. And I think we stand to learn much from it about the heart of our faithful God.
Picture it: you’re Hosea. How would you feel if the woman you loved left you to be with other men? What kind of heart would you have to have in order to still love her after that – and not just a feeling of love, but to also do love towards her by finding and rescuing her, overcoming your pride and publically loving her. What would you have been thinking or doing those lonely nights when she was away? As you headed to the auction block, what would be running through your mind? How would you feel as you watched her exposed and being sold to the highest bidder? How would you feel as you gave your precious resources to buy back your own wife? Slow down and try to imagine.
Most of us read this story absolutely furious with Gomer. We want to scream, “What are you doing? Don’t you see? Stop this right now!” But as Brooke Frasier once said, “We are Hosea’s wife.” We are constantly turning away from God who loves us more than anything and prostituting our hearts in worship of far less worthy lovers. And it’s easy to forget that with God, we are in a relationship with a real personal being. And while He’s faithful beyond measure, His faithfulness looks like something, feels like something, and costs something (just as it did for Hosea). May our hearts be moved as we remember the loyal love and faithfulness of our God today!
Prayer: Precious Savior, You are faithful (slow down and really declare those words to the Lord). My heart is so prone to wander, and I am constantly turning away from the life You offer me with You, to live my own way. Please forgive me. But no matter where I go, Your goodness and loyal love do indeed pursue me wherever I go. And for that, I am deeply grateful.
Bible Reading for Today: Ecclesiastes 7
Lunch Break Study
Read Exodus 34:5-8: The Lord descended in the cloud and stood there with him as he called upon the name of the Lord. 6 Then the Lord passed by in front of him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord God, compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in lovingkindness and truth; 7 who keeps lovingkindness for thousands, who forgives iniquity, transgression and sin; yet He will by no means leave the guilty unpunished, visiting the iniquity of fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” 8 Moses made haste to bow low toward the earth and worship.
Questions to Consider:
- When the Lord reveals Himself (shows His glory) to Moses on Mount Sinai, how does He describe Himself? What do each of these characteristics mean, and what kind of picture does this passage paint of what God is like?
- What do you think the Lord means by His words in the last clause of verse 7? How did we see this at work in our passage from this morning?
- (1) Compassionate & (2) Gracious – God’s compassion and grace work hand in hand. The first is the feeling in His heart concerning us that leads to acts of benevolence toward us. (3) Slow to anger – God is patient. While He does get angry in the face of sin and brokenness, He is slow to punish us in hopes that we will repent and be saved. (4) Abounding in lovingkindness – this is God’s loyal or covenantal love that endures forever. This is what we see playing out in Hosea. (5) Abounding in truth – As Jesus said, He himself is the truth. (6) Keeps lovingkindness for thousands – God’s love spreads wide and is offered to all who will believe. (7) Forgives iniquity, transgression, and sin – God forgives; He makes a way for us to be forgiven instead of being punished. (8) By no means leaves the guilty unpunished – God is also just, so His grace isn’t cheap. He doesn’t just overlook sin – He either punishes it or atones for it.
- “Visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the grandchildren to the third and fourth generations.” This can be a tough phrase to understand. Elsewhere in Scripture we learn that no man is punished for something He didn’t himself do. So what is God saying here? Sometimes, God gives people up to their own sin and allows the natural consequences of those sins to play out. Commentators call this God’s “passive judgment” where He isn’t necessarily punishing actively, but allowing sin to take its full course. And as many of us have experienced, the consequences of our patterns of sin affects those closest to us – especially our children.
In this morning’s passage, we saw that God would leave His people without king or sacrifice (v. 4). Because of their rebellion (they turned away from God’s king and from worship of Him), they would go without a king and without worship (sacrificial system) for a time before God restored them. This would help them to see the full weight of their sin and rebellion against the Lord and send them running back to Him.
What are the other “lovers” in your life that draw your heart away from the Lord? In other words, what things are you willing to compromise for? Is it career and success? Having a certain kind of lifestyle or a certain kind of family? Is it recognition or the approval of others? Is it wealth and comfort? We all have altars where we offer devotion (our time, treasure, talents) to achieve things we think will satisfy us or make us happy. Spend some time identifying those areas and offering them to the Lord, asking for freedom. Remember Hosea’s wife and ask God to give you singular devotion to Him alone. Remind yourself of God’s great love for you and all He has done to buy you back from bondage to those things.