From the Book of Hosea, Chapters 1 and 3
Hosea was a prophet of the Lord who lived in the Northern Kingdom in 740 BC. It was a very tumultuous time in Israel. The nation was divided and had committed great sins against God.
God directed Hosea to take a wife from the town. God was very specific. He told Hosea to marry Gomer, a well-known woman with a sordid reputation. She had several children as a result of her sinful occupation.
We are not told about Gomer’s history, of what had brought her to this hopeless life. We can imagine she may have been abandoned by a faithless husband and left to fend for herself. Prostitution may have been her only means of survival, but that brutal life had taken a terrible toll on her heart.
For some years, she had been used by men, beaten and humiliated. She carried that shame with her every moment of every day. She was shunned and spit upon. As she walked through the streets, there were jeers and insults thrown at her. She had the additional burden of children, each with unknown fathers.
Every day that humiliation and filth was infecting her heart. The guilt and pain were crushing.
Then one day a man of God named Hosea came to the brothel and gathered Gomer and her children up and took them to his home. It was like being transported to another world. She was in a clean place with plenty of food. There were no men banging at the door at all hours of the day and night.
The most amazing part was the man, Hosea. He was kind and gentle with her. He did not berate her for her life or her past. He tenderly cared for her and her children, and in a short time, they were married.
Over the next few years, Gomer had two sons and one daughter with Hosea, and yet the time and the children could not erase the nagging doubts in her mind. In spite of Hosea’s tender assurances, she could not shake the thought that she was simply a charity case to him, the object of his benevolence. The house she cleaned and the children she cared for were not her own, but simply the result of one man’s pity on her.
After all, Gomer knew what kind of woman she was. She had done things in her life every day that couldn’t even be imagined by the polite ladies in the town. In spite of her clean body and clean clothes, she knew beneath her skin she was still a whore, damaged goods, worthy only of scorn. On the outside she was a wife and mother, but on the inside, the prostitute remained.
These two forces were at war within her.
Her husband’s tenderness became empty words which wounded her because they so completely ignored the truth. Her very home seemed to mock her. As she swept its floors, they seemed to say,”You don’t belong here. You don’t deserve this.”
Finally one morning, she could take it no longer. The voices were right. She didn’t belong there. She didn’t deserve this good man and warm home. She would leave this place and go back to what she deserved.
That very morning before her family awoke, she left her children and her husband, and went back to the life she deserved.
Many months went by. Hosea was haunted by the uncertainty of not knowing what had happened to his wife. He searched for her. He intended to tell her he loved her, and wanted her to come back home.
To his horror, all of his worst fears were realized. He found Gomer at the auction block. The man she had been living with had cast her out. She had to borrow from the money lenders to live, and was not able to pay back her debt, so she was being sold to the highest bidder.
Gomer was naked before the ogling crowd. She was taunted and reviled. The bidding began. She couldn’t open her eyes to see who was bidding on her. What did it matter? Her life had become one assault after another, shame heaped upon shame, suffering upon suffering.
Then out of her haze, she thought she recognized a voice. It sounded vaguely familiar and comforting. But she quickly denied it. She closed her ears and heart to what was happening around her.
Finally, the bidding was over. She waited for some stranger to grab her by the ropes that tied her to drag her off to more servitude and despair.
But instead, there was a tender voice in her ear, calling her by name. There were gentle hands removing her shackles. There was a warm cloak laid over her shoulders. The voice said, “I love you. I have come to take you home.”
God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)