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Hosea's Wife Gomer—A Difficult Lesson in Unfaithfulness —Part One—No Excuses—A Personal Testimony
Hosea the Prophet - A Living Parable Of God's Faithful Love to the Unfaithful
This difficult study from the book of Hosea was born from revelations I received upon my return from prodigal living twenty some years ago and contains my personal testimony. It isn't a pretty or flattering story by any stretch of the imagination but I hope it will showcase the truly beautiful One who saved a wretch like me.
"As we come to this prophecy of Hosea we cannot avoid dealing with the problems and issues of life, for that is the story behind the headlines in the prophecy of Hosea. It is not a pretty story, but we must understand it if we are to understand the message of Hosea"
— J. Vernon McGee "Thru the Bible" Commentary on Hosea
Upon this return, Hosea was the very book that God led me to read. I sincerely had no idea what was in the book prior to deciding that's which one I would start with on my journey back into His Word. As, I read and choked my way through the first two chapters, that consisted of the metaphoric use of Hosea's real life experience with an adulterous wife, I knew it was my bitter medicine prescribed by the Lord Himself that He would use to confront, as well as heal me. It was a Spirit led read.
I can't tell you how many times I shut the book and had to take a deep breath, but I understood God to be urging me to keep reading and to submit to the intensely uncomfortable confrontation it offered. The crimes concerning Hosea's unfaithful wife Gomer were the mirror that God used to lead me to a genuine repentance.
...the goodness of God leads you to repentance
— Romans 2:4
Many have read this verse with the assumption that this means that God would never make us uncomfortable or feel bad about blatant disobedience. My experience has been quite the opposite. God's goodness that leads to repentance includes sometimes painful but necessary discipline and actually confirms that we are truly His!
do not despise the chastening of the Lord, Nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him For whom the Lord loves He chastens, And scourges every son whom He receives if you are without chastening, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate...Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
— Hebrews 12:6-11
"As Hosea himself in his shattered happiness learned to know love as the indestructible force which could save even his lost wife, so Yahweh's holiness as the the sum of His being must contain the creative love which slays but also makes alive again"
— Karl G. Kuhn
The Fig Leaves Must Go
The temptation, most frequently, is to squirm off from underneath the icky ugly weight of our sin and hide behind the fig leaves of reasoning and excuse. This only creates an even greater difficulty of white washing over all of it, by putting on plaster masks of self-attempts to rectify ourselves in our own sight. What we really need is to get down really low and submit to the fiery furnace of His ever loving correction.
"We take that first sip of supernatural living water when we take off our masks and acknowledge ourselves as we really are...Following Jesus means taking a clear-eyed look at the facts of our lives without glossing them over. There's nothing like facing the reality of ourselves to help us see our need for God"
— Alice Mathews "A Woman Can Teach" chapter titled "The Woman at the Well"
The way up in God's kingdom is down.
Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up
— James 4:10
Christ, of course, has borne our sins.
who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree
— I Peter 2:24
It makes it extremely difficult for God to deal with us and appropriate the forgiveness and the healing we so desperately need if we refuse to acknowledge the gravity of our crimes against God by not allowing Him to confront us with the weightiness of it.
"Christ is never fully valued until sin is clearly seen"
— J.C Ryle
I most recently was listening to a friend who had a recent surgery. While visiting the physician it was discovered that the wound was infected. The doctor had to rip open that wound in order to get to the infection hiding beneath the surface so the wound could properly heal. it was by no means a pleasant experience but it was a necessary one.
God's invitation to come and deal with Him, and expose ourselves in this way, comes with a great and worthwhile promise.
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the Lord, “Though your sins are like scarlet They shall be as white as snow"
— Isaiah 1:18
The Case of the Immoral Woman — No Excuses
This is imaged for us by another immoral woman, besides Gomer, in the New Testament who was forgiven much. Luke recounts in chapter seven of his gospel account that Jesus was invited to eat at Simon the Pharisees' house. A woman who was a notable sinner in the community visited Jesus during this gathering and began to wash Jesus feet with her tears and wipe them dry with her hair. Simon, a self-perceived righteous pharisee, was appalled in his thoughts that Jesus was having anything to do with this woman. Simon didn't say anything, but Jesus knew what he was thinking and began to teach, by parable, an incredible lesson about complete forgiveness based on complete humility, which this woman was exhibiting. It was evident that this woman understood her great sin and made no excuse for it as well as appreciated such a great forgiveness according to His lesson.
“There was a certain creditor who had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. And when they had nothing with which to repay, he freely forgave them both. Tell Me, therefore, which of them will love him more?”
— Luke 7:41-42
Simon answers correctly that the one who was forgiven much would love more. I don't think the lesson implied that Simon was any less of a sinner before God than the woman known as a sinner.
for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
— Romans 3:23
It speaks more to the fact that Simon couldn't experience that type of forgiveness because he was unwilling to face his own sinfulness and thereby experience the greatness of God's forgiveness
I recall for a long time prior to this confrontation I hid behind a plethora of excuses as to why I was entitled to do what I did without judgment and was unwilling to face fully the complete wrongness of it all.
The Pharisee and the Publican—Humility Precedes Forgiveness
Another example and encouragement to come to Him undone comes from Jesus Himself and concerns our perception of sin in parable form.
“Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men—extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’ And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.”
— Luke 18:9-14
The Pharisee in this story is one who has reasoned away and justified his own sin which has left God unable to deal with him. If we want God to truly deal with us and cleanse us we must let Him strip us naked and expose what is really there.
The Ungrateful Servant - The Fig Leaf of Unforgiveness
Many times the scales on which we balance our sin is a bit skewed and altered to fit what we are comfortable with looking at via the smoke screens of those whom we think look worse than ourselves and or treated us or others badly.
In light of this, we might be tempted to blame a bad upbringing and past life experience on our poor choices and behavior and can make a great fig leaf that we can hide behind when dealing with our own sin. Most people have been hurt to one degree or another in life. It is inevitable when we live in this world with all who are sinful by nature. There is no way to make it through life on this earth among imperfectness and not be touched by it somehow. A Problem can occur when we use the pain of those experiences to avoid confronting our own sinfulness.
A personal example of this is when I was on the lam from God I chose a relationship that was very abusive and I could play the role of victim quite easily. I looked not so bad to those peering in from the outside. In fact, I rallied a lot of sympathies and am ashamed to say I wore my bruises in a disguised sort of pride.
When I finally ended that relationship, I was surprised at the realization that this person's behavior had become an enormous distraction and smokescreen that blocked my view from truly looking at myself. My eyes began to open when I lost my excuse to behave poorly and had no one to blame it on. Questions began to arise in my heart about all the excuses I was making and had made for so long based on making others sins so large and my own so small. The wisdom of God is so profound yet so simple when Jesus said this...
how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me remove the speck from your eye’; and look, a plank is in your own eye?
— Matthew 7:4
Unforgiveness can be like that. We end up weighing our own sins lightly yet give enormous weight to those we feel have sinned against us
We are just as accountable for our reactions to life's experiences as those who have wronged us. The truth is that if we were truly perfect people It wouldn't matter how we had been treated childhood or otherwise we would respond rightly. And if we are going to give ourselves the excuse of behaving badly because of how we were and are treated then it is only fair to extend that same excuse to those who we feel have offended us.
Jesus leads us once again in a story form lesson confronting our misconceived perceptions about the estimation of our own sin in God's eyes and concerns the issue of forgiveness.
Passing the buck and seeing oneself as an innocent victim is an art form today.
— Chuck Swindoll
the kingdom of heaven is like a certain king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. And when he had begun to settle accounts, one was brought to him who owed him ten thousand talents. But as he was not able to pay, his master commanded that he be sold, with his wife and children and all that he had, and that payment be made. The servant therefore fell down before him, saying, ‘Master, have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ Then the master of that servant was moved with compassion, released him, and forgave him the debt.
“But that servant went out and found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii; and he laid hands on him and took him by the throat, saying, ‘Pay me what you owe!’ So his fellow servant fell down at his feet and begged him, saying, ‘Have patience with me, and I will pay you all.’ And he would not, but went and threw him into prison till he should pay the debt. So when his fellow servants saw what had been done, they were very grieved, and came and told their master all that had been done. Then his master, after he had called him, said to him, ‘You wicked servant! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me. Should you not also have had compassion on your fellow servant, just as I had pity on you?’ And his master was angry, and delivered him to the torturers until he should pay all that was due to him. “So My heavenly Father also will do to you if each of you, from his heart, does not forgive his brother his trespasses.”
— Matthew 18:22-35
The ungrateful servant obviously underestimated the gravity of his own sin toward God and inaccurately gave it a light estimation and in comparison weighted more heavily someone's crime against him. It was apparently a ridiculous faulty standard with which he measured himself by.
Whenever we find ourselves in an occasion to withhold forgiveness we are in danger of making the false assumption that Christ has asked us to be more forgiving than He. If we struggle with this it may very well be that we have seriously underestimated our own sin and the extravagant price that was paid for all. Which helps us understand God's condition that we must forgive in order to comprehend and receive our own forgiveness.
if you forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you
— Matthew 6:14
This issue of forgiveness yanks the fig leaf of unforgiveness right off from under us as far as justifying ourselves concerns.
"By judging others we blind ourselves to our own evil and to the grace which others are just as entitled to as we are.”
— Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Another big problem occurs when our estimation of ourselves is based on comparing ourselves with what and whom we perceive as the worst in human nature We might be tempted to base our perceived position of righteousness on a scale with Hitler on one end and Mother Theresa on the other and would, therefore, be somewhere between the two which isn't so bad right? to which Paul advises ...
they, measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise
— II Corinthians 10:12
We can't look squarely on at our predicament while measuring ourselves with each other.
"To be a great Christian means to forgive the inexcusable because God has forgiven the inexcusable in you"
— C.S, Lewis
What is interesting as well to note, with biblical instances of sin such as Rahab the Harlot, The woman at the well, The woman caught in adultery, is that God doesn't give a lot of background information on the sinners past experiences, such as they were raised in a dysfunctional household and therefore made a lot of bad choices, I think that it may be that they are separate issues.
In other words, if we are giving ourselves grace to sin because of how we were treated we then must extend that same grace to those who treated us a certain way because of the way they were treated. This all goes back to the beginning of time with the first couple God simplified the lengthy explanation and called it sin. Played out in all its forms that is what it is called. We need to remember the first pair did not sin because they weren't loved enough or were treated poorly James in his epistle informs us that we sin because...
each one is tempted when he is drawn away by his own desires and enticed
— James 1:14
This is not to say that coming from difficult places is not in need of healing, counsel, and consideration. It is simply saying it does not make right our decision to sin because of that. There may be circumstance and events that were fodder for unholy thoughts, desires, and intents but none of them made us sin. When we finally learn to separate these two issues it is then that He can finally deal with us and those whose sin affected our lives and it is in this place that we truly discover we are as great a sinner and in need of forgiveness as those who sinned against us.
It is not my intention to discount the painful experiences of some who were victims of things they shouldn't have been. My intention is to not let ourselves be deceived by hiding behind that victimization to hide our own sinfulness as I did for so long.
"I remember two things - that I am a great sinner, and that Christ is a great Savior"
— John Newton
I learned in this lesson that I didn't do what I did because I grew up in a broken and dysfunctional family. I didn't do what I did because my husband at the time didn't treat me the way I wanted and expected him to treat me. I did what I did because there was adultery already resident within in my heart.
God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart
— Deuteronomy 8:2
God is most willing to help and heal us of whatever we have been through or happened to us but not willing to dismiss our own accountability for things we chose to do that are apart from His good graces. In Part two we will give this a more detailed look on how to separate these two issues as we take a look at how Gomer reasons these things within herself. we will also see the grace and compassion of God in His willingness to deal with us in spite of ourselves. He is so good.
The entirety of the series will share much of my testimony that is so relevant to this text. For years I have tried to write it down and I was never able to pull it together. I think I understand why God has allowed me to do it now. It is the first time that I have been able to tell the story without blaming or making excuses which is why this first part is so central to that message. We can never be truly free until we take full responsibility for our sin.
We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners.
This concludes Part One of this series that I hope inspires us to humble ourselves before our gracious God and King, laying all our cards on the table, because He has made it a safe place through Christ to do so. He is a Mighty Counselor. I know right well! Let His cleansing repentance do mighty work in you.
I hope you stay tuned as we dive into the first chapter of Hosea in part two which will include some word studies, name meanings, as well as symbolic applications. The highlighted purple "part two" should take you to the next part of this series. If you are using the main page to access each part please note that parts 2 and 3 are out of order. The articles are listed in order of publication and I accidentally published 3 before 2.
© 2015 Tamarajo