Love: Abandoned baby kicking on the side of the road…(1)
Hosea was a man called by God specifically to love. “Go, marry a woman…” (2) was God’s call to the prophet, and one he performed faithfully. His love story is intertwined with God’s allegorical love story with the nation of Israel, as told by Ezekiel (3):
Once upon a time, in a faraway land, there was a baby. This baby was born to an Amorite father, and a Hittite mother, but they abandoned her along the side of the path. The baby wept and screamed, still covered in blood, and fluid, naked for the world to see. People walked by, and heard the wails of the child, but none cared, none pitied, none even stopped to cast a glance in the direction of the shrieks. Compassion fled, and sympathy turned away. Abhorred, this child was cast away.
But, a man, walking through the field, suddenly stopped. The child, now weakening in the elements and sun’s harsh glare, was barely able to whimper. The blood had crusted to her body, and dust was caked to mud in the fluids. The man rushed with gentle steps to the baby’s side. His eyes welled with tears, and he knelt over the small, fragile form. His lips began to move, and a whisper was heard, “Live!” All the urgency, all the power, all the will of the master of the universe was embodied in that command. “Live!” he commanded again, this time in a strong clear voice, stretching out a hand over the baby’s brow.
Taking the baby home, he cared for her, and gave her everything she needed, everything she wanted. The little baby girl grew into the most beautiful woman in the land. The man passing by one day, saw her anew, and loved her with not just the love of a caretaker, but the love of a husband. He rushed with passionate steps to her side, and spread his cloak over her. He washed her, and anointed her, and dressed her in the most stunning clothes. He covered her with gold, and precious stones, so that her natural beauty was enhanced, and she outshone the stars.
But this rags-to-riches princess betrayed her true love, and went into the markets, brazenly displaying her beautiful body, and selling her affections to anyone who paused. So lusting was she that she took her jewels, her gold, her expensive clothes and bartered them for sex, paying her lovers. She took her sustenance, given by her husband, and used it to feed her partners.
If that were not enough wickedness in the face of undying love, and rescue from certain death, she took the sons and daughters born in the marriage, and sacrificed them to the heathen gods, in the fire of ash of darkest evil. What then were her whorings? She no longer remembered her beginnings, and the babe covered in blood and dust of so long ago.
It was in the height of her flagrant wantonness that her husband had his fill, and stretched out his hand against her. He cut off her support, and gave her up to be raped and robbed. He wept bitter tears, for her longed only to love her, in passion and compassion, but she would not take his selfless offerings. He cried out to her, “My love, I gave you all! You were to stay faithful, not spend your beauty on anyone who chanced by! I was your husband; I loved you!” But he had no choice: he brought lawsuit against her, and judged her as an adulteress and a murderess. He destroyed completely her whore houses and her beds of lust. And then he left, heart shattered.
Many years later, the woman, now ashamed and utterly destitute, sat by the road with nothing at all. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks. A man passed by, but she did not glance at him, she had long since abandoned her licentious ways. But the man had stopped, and was staring at her. When, after many moments, she dared cast her eyes up to him, she saw the face of her husband. He too was crying, and held his arms out to her. He gathered her to himself, and restored her as his wife, and forgave her evil.
Hosea married a prostitute, and had children with her (4). A few years later, his wife returned to prostitution, leaving her devoted husband and children. At God’s request, Hosea went, and found her, and re-married her. Imagine the heartache, the devastation, the worry and the confusion of a husband who does everything to care, support, and love a wife who leaves him, and shares the most sacred physical act of marriage with complete strangers for love. Imagine going and finding her, and trying to love her again. Issues of trust, resentment, heartache would threaten daily civility, and Hosea’s trust in a sovereign God must have been a constant question mark upon his soul.
Gomer, Hosea’s wife was not quite as evil as Ezekiel portrays God’s bride, but her betrayal was real. Not just a work of fiction to stir up the emotions, when she left Hosea she shattered his heart. What devotion to his wife, and to God, Hosea must have had, to endure such personal turmoil as a prophet! His eyes surely wept God’s tears as a grieving husband.