Bible Reading Plan - www.Bible-Reading.com; The Story, Chapter 15; You Version Bible app Engaging God's Story Reading Plan Days 99 through 105
Welcome back to our study of The Story, God’s plan to restore us to a face-to-face relationship with Him. If you’ll remember, we have been walking through His word looking at the four movements that permeate the Bible. His word opens with His face-to-face relationship with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as He walked with them in the cool of the day. They gave up the right to see Him face-to-face when they disobeyed His command to avoid eating from the tree in the middle of the garden, the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
From that day forward, God has put in place a plan to bring us back into fellowship with Him. He built a special nation, Israel, to point us to Him and show us how to live in community together and with Him. This is the second movement in God’s story. The nation failed to live up to their side of the covenant God made with them, though, and went into exile in 598 BC and became a vassal of Babylonia. It didn’t become a self-governing nation again until 1948 when Israel’s borders were recognized after World War II. During the intervening 2500 years it fell under the auspices of some other nation’s rule.
The third movement comes in the form of a baby born to a teenage girl in a little village called Bethlehem. He would be called the King of kings and Lord of lords because He is God incarnate. The very Son of God foretold by the prophets centuries earlier. He was part of the Father’s plan to bring us back into that face-to-face relationship God desperately desires to restore with us.
The fourth movement in the story heralds the beginning of the church, the instrument that continues to share the message that God so loved the world that anyone who believes in Jesus as the Son of God would be saved and have everlasting life with Him in His perfect garden. We are part of that fourth movement and have the responsibility of sharing that message. The kingdom has come and we are to share the message with those around us.
The final movement of God’s story tells us of a restored relationship. A new heaven and new earth. A place where the redeemed will live in harmony with God and with each other because there will be no death, no pain, no sickness, no sin, no evil. It will be a perfect place. The place Jesus talks about as the place He is preparing for us to take all those who believe in Him when He returns to take us to be with Him.
So that is the story and today we look at Chapter 15 and what a strange story this is if seen only from our lower story point of view. The book of Hosea would make a terrible B-rated movie. The prophet hears a voice tell him to go marry a prostitute named Gomer.
Well, the first thing I think of when I hear the name, I think of Gomer Pyle from the Andy Griffith show. A little dumber than dirt and always in trouble. Probably not far from the truth in this marriage making idea that comes to Hosea, you might be thinking. But Gomer is a girl, a prostitute. But Hosea hears the voice and heads to the local corner where the call girls hang out. He waits for Gomer to walk by and flutter her eyelids at him, but instead of asking how much, He asks her to marry him. Now that’s a proposition she probably hasn’t heard before. Surprisingly, Gomer marries the prophet.
Things don’t change for Gomer, though. Prophets don’t make much money and she missed the baubles and trinkets her clients gave her. So it isn’t long before she looks up her pimp and goes back to work.
A few months or a few years go by and God tells Hosea to go get Gomer back. Here is that upper story at work again that we just don’t understand. From the lower story, it just doesn’t make sense. We would tell Hosea to cut his losses and run as fast and far away from this prostitute as he can and find a sweet girl with a few morals if he wants to keep his reputation as a holy prophet intact. But God tells Hosea to go back to the red light district and get Gomer back.
Can you imagine the look on her face when she hears the knock on her door expecting another of her clients, opens the door, and sees Hosea on his knees begging her to come back home? She goes reluctantly but still plays the harlot even when she goes back home. Hosea pleads with her more to give up her life of prostitution.
The lower story seems crazy to us. We see a prophet ruining his life chasing after this promiscuous woman. He has two children with her and even their names teach us what a terrible tragedies their marriage held. Their names meant God-scattered and unpitied, Jezreel and Lo-Ruhamah. Kids often live up to their names. How would you like to be Hosea’s kids growing up in their suburb of Jerusalem?
We don’t know the final outcome of Hosea’s marriage. We don’t know if Gomer ever straightened her life out or not. From the tone of the story and the message Hosea gives Israel, it doesn’t sound like it. You see, God used this unlikely lower story to share His upper story with His chosen people and all the nations who would hear about Hosea from that day on. He used Hosea’s life as an example of His indescribable love for us. A love that wants to rescue us from the deepest darkest sins and bring us back into His loving arms. A love that even when we run away from Him, He works diligently to bring us back and restore our relationship with Him.
Too often, like Gomer, we turn our eyes back to the old life and run away from God. We just won’t let Him care for us and provide for us the way He desires. Instead we turn to the pimp of the world thinking that life that leads to our ultimate destruction is more attractive. But like Gomer’s life, filled with temporary glitter and one night stands, it only leads to heartache and death.
We see again in these unlikely characters a lower story that seems to lead to No-wheres-ville. How could God ever use this mess in His march to bring us back to Him. But then in His upper story, we see His plan of redemption unfolding as He seeks the restoration of Israel through the demonstration of this prophet’s unusual life story. God wants us back. God chases us to redeem us. But we still have the final choice to make.
Did Gomer stay with Hosea and live happily ever after? We are not told. I’d like to think so, but we don’t know for sure. She may have wandered back to her life of prostitution. Or she may have straightened out her life and been faithful to Hosea the rest of their lives together. I doubt if it was a happily ever after in either case. The consequences of Gomer’s lifestyle would have continued to follow her through her married life with the snide remarks, the whispered gossip, the sly glances. Life for them as a couple would never be normal.
But God can do something so much better for us. Like Gomer, we may still suffer some of the consequences of the sins we commit before we decide to follow God, but He promises us everlasting life in His perfect garden when we follow Him. He tells us as His followers we will one day live walk with again face-to-face. What a great time that will be.
You can find me at richardagee.com. I also invite you to join us at San Antonio First Church of the Nazarene on West Avenue in San Antonio to hear more about The Story and our part in it. You can find out more about my church at SAF.church. Thanks for listening. If you enjoyed it, tell a friend. If you didn’t, send me an email and let me know how better to reach out to those around you. Until next week, may God richly bless you as you venture into His story each day.