For the past week or so, the Lord has brought me repeatedly into an unusual story: the story of Hosea.
As I've prayed through this “minor” prophet’s book, I have been so captured by the Lord’s heart for His Bride in this hour! Please allow me to share what I believe He is saying today, and join me in praying Hosea’s prayers at the end of this post.
The book of Hosea tells the remarkable story of a prophet who married a prostitute. Think about it: a man who was called to be a pure, holy minister of God risked his reputation by mingling with and even marrying an outcast! Although the Lord condemned Gomer’s sin, he also reached into her vile lifestyle with a purpose: to redeem her. Her story is a poignant one for us today.
Jesus quoted the prophet Hosea twice as He spoke to the religious leaders of His time, saying: “I desire mercy (compassion), not sacrifice, and acknowledgment of God rather than burnt offerings.” (Matthew 9:13; 12:7; Hosea 6:6.)
Hosea carried God’s thoughts one step further, prophesying: “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge. Because you have rejected knowledge, I also reject you as My priests.” (Hosea 4:6.)
The moral of the story? To not know God is to seek our own destruction.
True priestly worship is presenting our entire being as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God. Anything less is not fitting for believers or priests! In the end, Jesus will say to those who pay Him only lip service: “Depart from Me; I never knew you.”
This one truth should compel us to pursue God wholeheartedly! Yet truth alone is not sufficient for most people to draw near to Him; we also need to be known ourselves, to be loved in return. The beauty of the Gospel is that it presents us with a Savior who does love us enough to know us completely and rescue us entirely!
On the other side of Christ's more difficult statements concerning judgment is a heart so full of love and jealousy for His Bride that He cannot tolerate any compromise, any sin within her that would separate her from His love. Truly the Lord is weeping over His Bride today, longing to restore her to Himself!
I believe Hosea’s prophetic words paint a picture of what is happening in the world right now. The church at large has replaced mercy and compassion with religious rules and rituals. Worse, believers and unbelievers alike have prostituted themselves through the idolatry of self, entertainment, status, money, and every kind of enticing seduction, refusing wisdom’s call to purity and holiness. In short, we no longer know or honor God.
Proverbs 3 encourages us to acknowledge God in all our ways. One Hebrew word for acknowledge is “yada,” which means “to know experientially.”
The word “acknowledge” is used nine times in Hosea! Sadly, many of us do not know God this way.
CURRENT EVENTS: JUDGMENT, DISCIPLINE, OR LOVE?
Some prophets describe the COVID-19 plague and its resulting lockdown as the judgment of God. God is certainly not outside of His rights to bring judgment for the sins of the nations.
Others see these events as the discipline of God towards the Christian church. It is certainly true that a Father who does not discipline His children is no father at all!
Yet as the Lord led me to return to the story of Hosea this week, I came to believe that what is happening worldwide is truly a sign of the great love of God!
The same God who urged Hosea to live out a prophetic parable by marrying and loving an unfaithful prostitute is the God who sent His Son Jesus Christ to win back an unfaithful Bride. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.”
Just as Jesus’ Name means “Savior” and “Deliverer,” so Hosea’s name also means “Deliverer.” Hosea’s story flies in the face of traditional religious views of God. How could a holy God condescend to marry an unfaithful people? Why would God make a covenant with an adulteress?
The answer, of course, is that God is a God of both holiness and love. As we read through the pages of Hosea’s short book, we see that despite God’s anger towards the rebellious, His love remains.
Dear Friends, if you sense that there are areas of compromise in your life, now is the time to confess them and return to Him! God does not delight in bringing judgment, especially on His church. He has provided a way out. (See 1 John 1:9.) But as we near the end times, it is more critical than ever that we abide IN HIM. A great shaking is coming, and there will not be safety anywhere else!
There are several times I can remember in my own life where I, too, was held captive in the enemy’s clutches. My own sins or the sins of previous generations deserved punishment. Each time, however, the Lord was gracious to send deliverers to me: believers who helped set me free. Because others fought for me, I was able to see the love of God in spite of my unloveliness.
God is still the God of the unlovable! I believe God is fighting for us now, using these dire circumstances to draw us back to His heart. In every trial, God's heart will always be to restore us to a place of wholehearted devotion to Him, because He knows us. He knows we can’t be truly happy anywhere else. Why do we fight the One who so faithfully fights for us?
THE BRIDE AND THE GROOM
I will betroth you to Me forever; I will betroth you in righteousness and justice, in love and compassion. I will betroth you in faithfulness and you will acknowledge the Lord.
~ Hosea 2:19-20
Is there anything more captivating than a Bridegroom in love with His Bride? Any story more poignant than a wedding story? During the time Jesus walked this earth, He made a point of eating with sinners and talking with prostitutes. In this, He wasn’t much different from Hosea.
Our Heavenly Groom could not have made His intentions any clearer: He intended to win back His wandering Bride at all costs, luring her into the wilderness until she had eyes for no one but Him! He Himself would wash her and purify her of her sins if only she would come willingly to Him!
It is the kindness of God that leads us to repentance. In this heart-wrenching time of fear and uncertainty about the future, we would do well to return our gaze to the eyes of our Heavenly Bridegroom, who has chosen to love us in spite of ourselves! It is HIS heart that is broken for us! He desires to redeem us personally, just as God chose to save Judah from their sins (Hosea 1:7).
Whether we like it or not, God knows what is best for us, and He will protect us even from ourselves. The recent turn of events in our world should be seen as a great mercy on His part, a heartfelt surge of compassion to wake us up from our precarious position in the camp of the enemy.
RETURN TO THE LORD!
I hear God’s voice calling to us through Hosea: “I long to redeem them but they speak about Me falsely. They do not cry out to Me from their hearts.” (Hosea 7:13-14)
Friends, whether you feel close to God or far from Him, please pray with me the prayers of Hosea 6 from your heart. Your prayers in this hour do matter, and the safest place you can be in the coming days is wrapped inside the arms of your Bridegroom.
“COME, LET US RETURN TO THE LORD.”
Lord, we confess our sins to You. We repent for our own idolatry and for the spirit of prostitution that has swept through our nation. Please forgive us for continually turning away from You!
“He has torn us to pieces but He will heal us; He has injured us but He will bind up our wounds.”
Lord, we believe it is still Your will to heal Your people. We believe this worldwide plague and its complications are being allowed as loving discipline towards those You have created for Yourself alone. Thank you for the faithful wounds of a Friend that will restore us to true fellowship.
“After two days He will revive us; on the third day, He will restore us, that we may live in His Presence.”
We believe that as we acknowledge You for who You are, you revive us. You lead us on straight paths. You bring health and healing to our bodies, souls, and spirits.
“Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to know Him.”
We repent of apathy, pride, dullness of hearing, and not seeking to understand who You are. By this time we ought to be teachers ourselves! Forgive us for forgetting Your Word and for failing to press in to the Spirit so that we might know You fully. Help us to distinguish between good and evil. Train our senses to discern Your truth!
“As surely as the sun rises, He will appear; He will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that cover the earth.”
We celebrate today the hope that You give in the midst of our trials. Thank you, Lord, for the refreshing rains that follow true repentance. Thank you for your delivering love. We look forward to the fulfillment of Habakkuk 2:14: The earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of YOU, Lord, as the waters cover the sea! Send Your glory, Lord.
Who is wise? Let Him realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the Lord are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.
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A severe hearing loss from childhood caused Deborah Perkins to develop what she now calls her secret weapon: tuning in to God's voice. A Wellesley College graduate and an award-winning writer, Deborah is now a wife and mother of 3 boys. Deborah has devoted over 25 years to professional and lay Christian ministry in New England and beyond. Her passion is inspiring people to cultivate greater intimacy with God.