T HIS MONTH we’re looking at the Old Testament prophet Hosea and how his life, teachings, and warnings speak to us as we approach Christmas. Hosea uses a variety of examples to demonstrate the relationship between God and humanity. Last week was a loving, caring parent and a wayward child.
Today we go back to an example from chapter 1. A loving, faithful spouse and a wandering, unfaithful spouse. God tells Hosea to “Show love to your wife.” You see, Hosea’s wife, Gomer, is involved in a promiscuous lifestyle. It’s not clear exactly what her life involves. This action symbolizes God’s love for Israel even after Israel turned from God to love, follow, worship other gods, false gods.
To show the people God’s ongoing love and commitment for them, Hosea tracks down Gomer and buys her back. Is she caught up in human trafficking? Does she work under a pimp? Is she providing sexual favors to pay off a debt?
We don’t know. What we do know is that Hosea loves her and frees her from this life. Hosea wraps her in his loving embrace and returns her to safety of his home.
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WE ARE OFTEN like Gomer, like Israel. Wandering. Wayward. Promiscuous. Worshiping other things instead of God. Now, you might think because of this God will not and cannot possibly love you. But he does.
You fight voices that say you’re not enough. God says, “I love you.” You don’t feel loved, but God loves you. You are weak but God, in love, supports you. You are falling apart. God’s love holds you together. You say you don’t belong in worship. God says you belong to him.
You say you don’t love yourself; how can God possibly love you. God says, “I can. And I do.”
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CHRISTMAS IS QUICKLY COMING. And in the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem we see a costly demonstration of God’s love.
God comes to us in the fragility of a baby to bring us to the safety of life in him. God comes to us through his Son, Jesus, to free us.
God comes to us and welcomes us with a loving embrace.
You are loved. With expansive, costly love. You are loved to brothels and back. You are loved to the moon and back. You are loved from the manger to the cross — and back.
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FOR GOD SO LOVED THE WORLD that he gave his Son. For you. For me. For all of us.
Thanks be to God.