Intro: Today is Mother’s Day, and sometimes I feel compelled to speak about the value of motherhood, and maybe discuss some of the wonderful mothers portrayed in scripture, such as Samuel’s mother, Hannah, John the Baptist’s mother, Elizabeth, or even Jesus’ mother, Mary. But my approach is a little different today. For the most part I will be speaking about Jezreel’s mother, Gomer. Her contribution to the Biblical picture of motherhood is a little darker.
- As we studied last week from the OT book of Hosea, God used the personal life of the prophet Hosea to illustrate the sinful position of Israel before their God. Hosea 1:2 tells us that when God began to speak BY Hosea, He first spoke TO Hosea, commanding him to “take a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry”. I am convinced that the prophet did precisely what God said, and married a woman who was either already a prostitute, or soon became one. However you view it, it seems obvious that Hosea’s personal life was turned on its head in order to illustrate to him, and to Israel, how God’s heart was broken because of Israel’s betrayal of the covenant.
- Of course, as we mentioned last week, Hosea’s book is an extreme love story. The most powerful thought is the redeeming love that God has for His people, and His willingness to pursued them and bring them back to Himself. This again is illustrated in the life experience of Hosea.
- But in order to properly value the mercy and love of God, we must contemplate fully the sin of Israel. Hosea vividly depicts the nature of Israel’s apostasy. The nation has played the harlot in their worship of Baal. What is portrayed is the heinousness sin of the adulteress who leaves her family to pursue her lovers.
- In Hosea 2 God begins to bring His case against Israel. The faithful husband (God speaking in the first person) describes the unfaithfulness of His wife (Israel).
I. “Rebuke Your Mother…” (Hosea 2:2-13) Notice here that picture is the father addressing his children about their mother. The children are told to “bring charges against” (NKJV) their mother. The NIV uses the term “rebuke”, and other translation say “plead with”. The unfaithful wife must be confronted with her sinful conduct.
- It seems that the mother in this picture is the nation of Israel (as illustrated through Gomer) and the children are the individual Israelites who are being urged to convince their mother to return to God, her true husband whom she has deserted. (Were there still those who could be moved to repent?)
- Hosea describes Israel’s spiritual adultery in graphic language and warns that God will strip her bare as the day she was born (out of Egypt), in the wilderness dying of thirst with no help from their God. ( v. 3) God will not have mercy on her children, because they are the children of harlotry, and he is not their father. What is pictured is the rage of a husband as he learns not only of his wife’s unfaithfulness, but also that the children are no his. He will certainly put her out!
A. “She has “behaved shamefully” – in v. 5 Hosea describes Israel’s spiritual adultery as “shameful”. This word comes from a Hebrew root word that mean “dried up or withered”. As a plant that promised fruit, but dried up and died, so Israel had not lived up to their privileged position as God’s people. Her conduct brought shame on her husband. Do you think Gomer’s conduct brought any shame upon the prophet? Why did she do it? (this question is often asked in circumstances of marital unfaithfulness).
- In Hosea 5:3-4, Jehovah says… “I know all about Ephraim; Israel is not hidden from me. Ephraim, you have now turned to prostitution; Israel is corrupt. 4 “Their deeds do not permit them to return to their God. A spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” What does the “spirit of prostitution” look like? What attitudes and actions precipitated God’s judgment? (look at a few verses from the whole book to answer)
- First recognize that this was the lesson for Hosea as well. He came to know God’s broken heart as he contemplated the evil heart of his adulterous mate.
1. Covetousness: “I will go after my lovers…” (v. 5) Hosea records the words of the wife, now turned harlot, (maybe he heard these words from Gomer)… I will go after those who give me “my bread, my water, my wool, my linen, my oil, my drink”. This unfaithful wife left her husband out of selfishness and covetousness. Israel, likewise, wanted something for herself, and chased after the false gods of her neighbors in order to acquire the things of life (food, clothing, luxuries. In Hosea 4:13, God says that Israel offered sacrifices to their tree gods because “their shade was good.” We live in a pleasure driven society where even religion is chosen for the shade it provides.
a. In Col. 3:5 Paul says “covetousness (the inordinate desire for things) is idolatry”. We dare not conclude that we are not in this picture. The desire for and pursuit of things may be our greatest threat.
2. Ingratitude: Israel not only pursued false gods through covetousness,, but also attributed everything good that God had given to them as coming from these false sources. Hosea 2:8 – For she did not know That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold — Which they prepared for Baal.
a. Israel was convinced that she had received the good things of life from others, not her husband. They saw the riches of their neighbors and were willing to serve their gods in order to have the things they had.
b. We do not often think of ourselves as idolaters or spiritual adulterers. But we often exhibit the character of these Israelites. Instead of giving God glory for our wealth, our daily provisions, our happy circumstances we attribute these things to other sources.
- We like to think that we were industrious enough to earn the promotion.
- We believe that our good fortune is the product of our financial insight and wisdom.
- We believe we deserve from God good things because we are such good people.
c. We must recognize that Israel’s unfaithfulness was rooted in her unwillingness to glorify God for all that He had given. Paul describes this unfaithfulness in this way: Rom 1:21-23 – For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles. NIV Are you unthankful? Do you attribute the wealth, prosperity and relative peace of your life to nature, luck, your own wisdom, or some other source? Hosea 13:4-6 – “But I am the Lord your God, [who brought you] out of Egypt. You shall acknowledge no God but me, no Savior except me. 5 I cared for you in the desert, in the land of burning heat. 6 When I fed them, they were satisfied; when they were satisfied, they became proud; then they forgot me.”
- How does god respond to Israel’s ingratitude? Hosea 10:11 – Ephraim (Israel) is a trained heifer that loves to thresh; so I will put a yoke on her fair neck. I will drive Ephraim, Judah must plow, and Jacob must break up the ground. The “trained heifer”, was the female cow used to tread out the grain. Always well fed (not muzzled), and living the good life. God will take all that away and she will be put out in the field to do real work – plow.
3. Deceit: Hosea 11:12 – 12 “Ephraim has encircled Me with lies, And the house of Israel with deceit; But Judah still walks with God, Even with the Holy One who is faithful. Adulterers are liars first. They have to make up alibis and excuses for their indiscretions. Lies built upon lies. Israel, as a nation, lost all respect for the truth, choosing rather to listen to the false prophets of the false gods.
4. Arrogance: In chapter 12 Hosea describes Israel as a dishonest merchant who loves to defraud others. She boasts in her ill-gotten wealth, and says, “With all my wealth they will not find in me any iniquity or sin.” (Hosea 12:8).
a. This may describe an arrogance that says, “I am too big to fail.” I can do what I want and nobody can oppose me. I will buy justice if I need it.”
b. It may also point to an arrogance that says, “I will never get caught. No one sees.” Hosea 7:2- They do not consider in their hearts That I remember all their wickedness; Now their own deeds have surrounded them; They are before My face. I like the NLT rendering: “Its people don’t realize that I am watching them. Their sinful deeds are all around them, and I see them all. You may hide your spiritual duplicity from some, but not from God.
- Hosea 7:10 – Israel’s arrogance testifies against him, but despite all this he does not return to the Lord his God or search for him.
- Hosea13:1 – When Ephraim spoke, there was trembling. He exalted himself in Israel, But through Baal he did wrong and died. Some translations leave the impression that Israel was speaking and others were trembling, but the best sense seems to be a contrast. In times past when Israel spoke (to God) they trembled (as at Sinai, when the marriage began) and they were exalted by God. But when they turned to Baal (in their arrogance disrespect) they died.
5. Disloyalty: a good marriage requires a high level of personal commitment to another person. God demands absolute commitment. When this fails, the union is in trouble. Hosea 10:2 – 2 Their heart is divided; Now they are held guilty. He will break down their altars; He will ruin their sacred pillars. Other translations here say “deceitful” instead of divided, pointing to the self-deceit that says I can have it both ways.
a. Jesus pointed to the disaster of the divided heart. Luke 16:13 – “No servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.” Luke 14:26-27 – If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple. 27 And whoever does not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple. Jesus’ words are compelling. He is not calling on us to hate our parents. But we must love Him more. God does not just want first place in our hearts, He wants all of our heart.
Conclusion: Hosea 4:11-12 – 11 ‘Harlotry, wine, and new wine enslave the heart. 12 My people ask counsel from their wooden idols, And their staff informs them. For the spirit of harlotry has caused them to stray, And they have played the harlot against their God. Harlotry enslaves the heart. What Hosea would also make known is that God’s love would set Israel free. At the end of each description of Israel’s spiritual adultery is a promise of reconciliation. This is fulfilled in the death and resurrection of Christ, and the preaching of the good news of God’s redeeming love. Will you be a Christian today?