If I were to ask you to rate certain relationships on a scale of 1 – 5, how would they rate? For instance, how would you rate your relationship with your supervisor? On the scale of 1 – 5, with 1 being poor and 5 being good. How would you rate your relationship with your peers, your co-workers on that same scale? How would you rate your relationship with your spouse… with your children… with your parents… with your siblings? Don’t ask me about my rate about my relationship with my sister. You all already know that answer, right. Today we are going to study Hosea, and when you hear this story, you are going to be like, “That’s a really strange relationship!” Exactly! That was my first reaction when I first read this book! I was like, “Is this really in the Bible? Really?” So are you ready to hear it? You say yes? All right, here it comes. Fasten your belt. It was when Hosea was probably a young man. A beautiful woman caught his eyes. She was gorgeous. I think she was gorgeous because her name her name was Gomer. Golly! Gomer! So Hosea and gorgeous Gomer start a relationship and they fall in love. She had to be gorgeous with a name like that. Don’t you agree? I am sorry for anybody named Gomer out there.
Anyway, Hosea falls in love with Gomer and their relationship begin. It is just beautiful. So good. And Hosea is so thankful every day. He says, “Thank you God that of all men in the kingdom of Israel, I am with gorgeous Gomer!” And they had a little boy together. I think at this point of his life if he had a cell phone and a selfie stick in his time, he would’ve taken thousands of selfies with just him, and Gomer, and the little baby. I mean it is a beautiful love story. And that’s when the difficulty begins. You see suspicion enters in the story when Gomer’s old way starts to creep into this new marriage. You see, Gomer always had an eye for other men. So Hosea starts to feel a little bit nervous about all of this, and when he tries to look happy, he just can’t be happy even when a little baby girl is born into the family because he started to think, “I wonder this baby is mine.” wow. And the same thing happens when another baby comes along. He is fearful that Gomer might be with another man and eventually, he starts to get evidence that his fears are true. She was even with many other men. His heart is burned with jealous rage. His heart is broken. One night, she doesn’t come home at all. A week goes by. Several months. In fact, he doesn’t hear from Gomer. She’s gone, and Hosea is left with three kids. And eventually, he gets a word that Gomer’s life is so unraveled that Gomer is working in the streets. How do I say this? She’s like a working person. Prostitute! I just say this word, (oh!) I don’t think I never said this word in church before. This word is in the Bible! Can you believe that?
Hosea is always a man of faith. He goes to the Lord and prays, “God! What am I supposed to do! Gorgeous Gomer has left me. What should I do?” Because he’s blindsided by this discovery God has a shocking assignment for him. God tells Hosea, “Go get her. Rescue her and even redeem her and buy her back.” Even after all the pain, all the betrayal, all the lies, and the risk of his own heart, Hosea obeys. He finds her. She’s now in chains, in prison, and Hosea now has to win her heart back. He has to deep into his saving and he has to buy her back. Then they go home and have to start the hard work, rebuilding trust. I am sure there are lots of forgiveness, conversations, and tears. And this is in the Bible. I regretted a lot this week. Why on earth did I pick this book to preach? What was in my mind? So why is this story in the Bible? I will tell you why it’s in the Bible. Because God wants to convey to us God’s furious love to you and me. God’s furious love even for those who have got astray. Look with me at Hosea 1:2. (sd) “When the Lord first began speaking to Israel through Hosea, he said to him, “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” Hosea 1:2 (NLT) Now you might want to also underline the sentence. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods. You see, this is a hard passage to understand. God wants to communicate something to us about God’s love. I immediately had a trouble with this passage. “Did God command Hosea to do what?”
And let’s go to chapter 3 of Hosea. Hosea 3. (sd) “Then the Lord said to me, “Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.” (sd) So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine. Then I said to her, “You must live in my house for many days and stop your prostitution.” Hosea 3:1-3a (NLT)
Wow, God asked him to get married to a woman working on the street and now God commands him to go find her and love her again! Best of all what we can get here is a window into God’s heart and God’s love for you and me. How’s God’s character best described in the Bible? God is love. God loves you and me with the jealous love, furious love, unstoppable love! We go anywhere and do anything so that you and I can know God’s heart. Hosea story also tells us how God works within the same limits of human relationship you and I do. Have you loved somebody who didn’t love you back? Have you had somebody who chose not to love you? You see we have a window in God’s heart at this moment. Are you catching this? God is not some divine deity who’s sitting far away with a checklist, make sure you do right things. God is a lover! God is pursuing you and settles for nothing less than your full devotion. And no shorter time than eternity. This is our God and God is love. And God loves you! This is a real choice that you and I have to make, though. Whether we receive that love or not. Jesus also faced this in his ministry. Jesus would call people to himself, “come and follow me” and many people did. Those disciples found the adventure of a lifetime and they were transformed from inside out. But there were many people who did not follow Jesus. They said, no.
Hosea’s story awakens us to the mercy of God. What is mercy? Here’s the working definition of mercy. (sd) Mercy is not getting what we do deserve. That’s mercy. Not getting what we do deserve. You know when we had a confirmation class at night. I was coming from Caseys to Milledgeville church. It was less than a minute drive and I got caught by a cop! For speeding! I was so in a hurry with pizza to feed the hungry confirmands. When I saw the blue light and uh-ah-.my heart just sank! I had to pull over and the officer came. I forgot his name now. Milledgeville people told me his name. And this is the word that he said to me, “I am going to let you off with just a warning.” I am like “Really? Thank you!” I think I said “thank you” a hundred times to him. Mercy is a good stuff, isn’t it? I deserved punishment. I deserved a ticket! But God had mercy on me through that police officer! If you know him, please tell him I am really thankful for his mercy. Mercy is a good stuff and we all need mercy today. Can we all agree? We see the news coming across, alerts on our phones. We need mercy. Lord, have mercy on me. So this is our question today. (sd) “How can I awaken to God’s mercy?” God, wake us up to this reality of God’s mercy. Look with me to fill the first blank. (sd) 1. I can realize God has shown relentless mercy to me. In the story, Gomer represents you and me, and Hosea is representing God. So tap your neighbor, wake them up saying, “Hey, Gomer!” Yes, we are all Gomers. Why are we Gomers? Because we need mercy! We are all this character in this story! Look with me at Hosea 2:19-20. (sd) “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord.” Hosea 2:19-20 (NLT) What is going on here? This is mercy upon mercy upon mercy. Look at the highlighted words on the screen. (sd) It is God telling us who has been unfaithful. While we fail God, God’s love never fails us. I love a song that says, “My sin was great, but your love is greater.” God loves to show us God’s compassion today. What does compassion mean? Compassion is to love somebody from your guts. I think the reasons sometimes God is so angry in the Scriptures is God is jealous. When we go chase other things, God feels it with the jealous love. And this compassion fails us not and is always available to us. God promises you and me to be faithful. This is the relentless mercy of God. It is in Lamentation 3 that “God, your mercy is new every morning.” It was waiting for you to wake up today whether you know or not. God’s mercy never comes to an end. So let me ask you a question. Do you need mercy today? For those who say yes in your voice, or in your heart. I want to say, “Way to go.” And for the rest of us who didn’t say yes, don’t know I need that much mercy, as the mercy in this story. I know I need a little bit of mercy, but I don’t need mercy as Gomer did. I am not like Gomer. I mean she is really messed up. I am not that bad. Let me share my secret with you. I have this sick exercise that I compare myself to two or three worse people that I’ve never heard in my life. And then I always come out pretty good. And do you what I don’t do? I don’t compare to myself to Mother Teressa or Martin Luther King Jr. The saints who risk their lives for the sake of Jesus. I don’t compare myself to them. I mean there are some people I’ve heard about on yahoo news, yes, compared to them, I am not that bad! But the Bible says when it comes to comparison, we are to compare ourselves to Christ, not each other! Compare me to Christ? Now we all know the answer, right. We all need God’s mercy. Look with me 2 Corinthians 10:12. (sd) “We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. (Here’s the humorous part). When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” Don’t compare to each other, but always compare ourselves to God! We all need God’s mercy that is always available to us! Now, look with me to fill the second blank in your soul feast. (sd) 2. I can show God’s relentless mercy to others. In this story, we are not only Gomer. We are called to be like Hosea. So wave at your neighbor saying “Hey Hosea.” Yes, you are Hosea, I am Hosea in this story through the power of the Spirit living in our lives. God calls us to be not only mercy-receivers but mercy-givers. This is what Jesus commands his disciples to do. In fact, Jesus quotes from Hosea and shared this word from Hosea 6:6. (sd) “For I desire mercy, not sacrifice…” (Hosea 6:6a NIV) This is God’s plan for us that we need to show mercy to others. God wants us to show mercy more than God wants worship rituals even. Here’s what Jesus says about mercy-givers. (sd) God blesses those who are merciful, for they will be shown mercy. Matthew 5:7 (NLT) Who do we need to show mercy? Those who are lost, those who have doubt, who are abandoned, and also those who hurt us and have done us wrong. The most strange relationships being 0 in the scale. Jesus said they are the people that we need to show mercy to. We have given relentless mercy. We need to show mercy to them. Even, yes, that person that you are thinking of. But let me be clear that Jesus doesn’t call us to be a doormat, but to be disciples. Putting us in a dangerous situation is not a way of showing mercy. We just let go of the desire for revenge and give mercy to those who hurt one more time. We can choose either live our lives in rage against mercy or live in joy with mercy. Which one sounds better? The relentless of God that has given us will continue to working within us so that the same grace can work in others through us. Thanks be to God! Amen.