Sunday, November 04, 2007

Dial Daily Bread

Dear Friends of "Dial Daily Bread":

Our Bible Lesson this week touches on the story of Hosea, the prophet who was divinely called to ministry, but whose wife whom he loved went sour on him.

Devout people wrestle with the story: when we read that “the Lord said to Hosea: ‘Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry ...’”(1:2) did the poor man know then that her character was bad? Or did he find himself in love with a woman who appeared to be of good character but later went bad on him?

It always seems difficult to believe that the Lord would tell him “‘Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery’” (3:1). God reads the heart, which we can’t do so well.

Normally we would expect that a young pastor who is being led by the Lord will guard his affections and keep them from being fixed on a woman of unfaithful character who would ruin his pastoral ministry. You don’t permit a woman to come between you and the Lord to whom you have given your heart to serve; but this story is different: the Lord actually gave Hosea love for this unfaithful woman because He said, ”‘Go again, love” that woman!

One sage tells us, “Love is a precious gift which we receive from Jesus.” Hosea has received an expensive gift from the Lord—a love that he cannot forget. Gomer was his first love, obviously; he was forever captive to her.

This is the way pure love is: “Love is as strong as death, jealousy as cruel as the grave; its flames are flames of fire, a most vehement flame.

“Many waters cannot quench love, nor can the floods drown it. If a man would give for love all the wealth of his house it would be utterly despised” (S.S. 8:6, 7).

Hosea’s captivity to Gomer illustrates Christ’s love for a corporate body of humanity which is His church whom He loves expensively. He is captive to “her.” The superficial and callous and hard-hearted look upon a lost “love” is just like getting another car; Christ can’t do that. He can’t dump that one church whom He loves and go “marry” another, even though “she” has been callously indifferent to Him, has actually “insulted” Him, and has broken His heart. He is captive to the same love that Hosea was captive to.

The surest way to understand the Hosea story is to read it in the light of its great antitype—the love of Christ for His church. Then it becomes poignant.

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