Marriage Matters: Lessons from Biblical Couples 2
Hosea and Gomer – Constancy Matters
Hosea 1:1-9; 3:1-3
When the prophet Hosea was instructed by God to marry a prostitute named Gomer, surely this was not what he had in mind. But God had a purpose. He needed to clearly demonstrate to Israel exactly how He loved them. Even while they worshipped other gods and were unfaithful to Him, God would pursue them and be constant in His love for them until He restored them to relationship with Himself.
If we are to love the way God loves us, in the covenant of marriage which He designed, we must remain constant in our love for our spouses. When they fail to live up to our expectations (which they will) or disregard their marriage vows in frustrating or even tragic ways, we are responsible for showing love to them constantly. Sometimes that love will have to be tough love, but no matter what, a marriage that honors the Lord must involve an immovable commitment to act for our spouse’s ultimate good despite the personal cost.
And yes, constancy costs.
While we are not privy to the intimate details of their restoration process, it is not difficult to imagine how painful it must have been for Hosea and Gomer. Imagine his heartbreak and anger at her betrayal. Imagine her debilitating shame and deep longing for wholeness. What we do know from Scripture is dramatic enough as it is. Hosea must buy back his wife from squalor after she has forsaken him willingly and turned back to prostitution, and then he must refuse to be intimate with her so she can be restored to him properly. This woman God asked him to marry has now been responsible for his humiliation, his financial loss, and his emotional pain. But Hosea must set all that aside to woo her back with affection.
We too must be willing to lay ourselves down to show true love to our spouses in the varied, challenging moments of our lives together. Being constant in marriage will mean lots of inconvenient yeses and agonizing nos. With God’s wisdom and strength, however, we can be steadfast in love and show a watching world what a marriage under His authority can look like. As we watch marriages fall apart around us, the best way to preserve our marriage bond is to prayerfully and sacrificially love the person God gave us—without stopping, no matter what!
Gomer gives birth to three of Hosea’s children in the story—with the symbolic names of Jezreel (God Will Sow), Lo-Ruhamah (No Compassion), and Lo-Ammi (Not My People). These names reveal that God’s love sees past the current and future sinfulness of Israel; rather, He sees the final redemption where He will have compassion on them, and when those who are now not His people will finally be His people again.
Hosea is intended to have the redemption of his own marriage to Gomer in view as well. Those children she has borne to him represent all that has gone wrong in Israel’s covenant with the Lord, but they also indicate the potential for a lasting legacy of God’s mercy and long-suffering love to come about from the union of a prophet and a prostitute. Who but God could redeem this story?
We may sometimes find ourselves asking that same question. Who but God could redeem this marriage with so much suffering that we never foresaw? Who but God could redeem this marriage so broken by sin and selfishness? The answer is clear—NO ONE but God.
Our God is called a God of restoration because even when we fall short, even when we walk away, He pursues us with a constant love—unchanged by what we think, say, or do. He is constant because it is His nature, and also because He has vowed to be. On our wedding day, we vowed the same. May God give us grace to live out those promises on the precise days for which we made them—the days we need them the most.
“And in that day, declares the LORD, you will call me ‘My Husband,’ and no longer will you call me ‘My Baal.’ … And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the LORD. And in that day I will answer, declares the LORD, I will answer the heavens, and they shall answer the earth, and the earth shall answer the grain, the wine, and the oil, and they shall answer Jezreel, and I will sow her for myself in the land. And I will have mercy on No Mercy, and I will say to Not My People, ‘You are my people’; and he shall say, ‘You are my God.’” (Hosea 2:16,19-23, ESV)