June 12, 2022 Grace United Church Northampton

God's Unconditional Love is Not Blind

God's Unconditional Love is Not Blind

Part I in the Hosea Sermon Series

We’ve been talking about experiencing God more relationally. In the book of Hosea, God shares just how serious and personal this relationship is to Him. 

Surprising to many, beyond more common Old Testament visions of God as Sovereign Creator, Theocratic King, and Righteous Judge, through Hosea's writing, God shows Himself as the Scorned Husband of an unfaithful wife who prostitutes herself with strangers, whose children are strangers in his home. 

We won’t spend much time on Israel’s history but there are a few things we need to understand Hosea. Starting with verse 1,

Hosea 1:1 The word of the LORD which came to Hosea the son of Beeri, during the days of Uzziah, Jotham, Ahaz, and Hezekiah, kings of Judah, and during the days of Jeroboam the son of Joash, the king of Israel. 

First, Hosea spoke to a real people in real time and history.

Hosea is written specifically to the people of Israel.

Second, following Solomon’s reign, the nation of Israel split in two. Ten tribes united under their king in the north (called Israel), and the two other tribes united in the south (called Judah). Israel refered to all twelve tribes prior to this but now there are two distinct nations. 

Third, Hosea and Amos were prophets to the northern tribes of Israel at the same time Isaiah and Micah ministered to Judah.

There was a flurry of prophecy because Israel was a decadent, worldly, spiritual mess. They were insatiably attracted to the gods, wealth, and popularity of the people around them.

Forsaking the Lord, Israel acted like the gods and peoples around: idolatrous, sexually deviant, socially unjust. 

This happens any time God is forsaken and the culture and its beliefs and values and pleasures capture our hearts. We may be living in such a time today. 

Fourth, the prophets issued a stern warning: repent, return to the Lord! For God will respond to your idolatry with devastating judgment. He is raising up the Assyrian army to destroy Israel—all according to the covenants that God made with Israel. 

Fifth, whenever you read the OT, understand Israel is not the church.

The church is not Israel. Thus, read the OT primarily looking at God’s character, His attributes and acts. But bear in mind that God has a different way of relating with Israel than with us. Thank you, Jesus. 

So the prophets spoke but the people’s hearts were too into other things. They heard but didn’t care. And they justified their sins. 

So God intends to use Hosea to show, in a dramatic fashion, His heart, God’s love. How He sees the relationship. That He loves too much to let them go any further…

Hosea is a young bachelor. And God tells him, “I have just the girl for you. She’s a bit of a wild one.” But then God tells him what’s up…

Hosea 1:2 When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry and have children of harlotry; for the land commits flagrant harlotry, forsaking the LORD.” 

So I have this girl for you. She’s beautiful. Quite popular among the men folk, not so much with the ladies. But she’s pretty damaged goods.

She’s also a street walker, a prostitute.

The Jerusalem Bible catches the gist of God’s command. God tells Hosea,

“Go, marry a whore, and have children with a whore, for the country itself has become nothing but a whore by forsaking Yahweh, the Lord.”  

God uses strong language to communicate a stronger point! He has loved an unfaithful, idolatrous, and adulterous people who worship every false god, trust every lie, value every promise, pursue every pleasure, and make every excuse to avoid being with her husband, the God who loves her. Listen to God’s heart…

So Hosea and Gomer date. Fall in love. You can’t read through Hosea without understanding that he truly loves Gomer. At some point, Hosea asks her to marry him, and she says yes. And it’s a storybook marriage. No. Well, maybe for a bit.

Hosea 1:3 So he went and took Gomer the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. 4 And [before Hosea could name the child] the LORD said to him, “Name him Jezreel [lit., "God will scatter"]; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.

Names mean something. This child’s name warns of God’s judgment on the king and the nation.

Hosea 1:6 Then she conceived again and gave birth to a daughter. And the LORD said to him, “Name her Lo-ruhamah [Not Loved], for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I would ever forgive them. 

In all of the books of baby names on the market, “Unloved” is not in any of them. There’s not a worse name for a little girl to have!

Whenever she met someone new, “Hey, what’s your name?” “I’m Not Loved.”

They realized, “O you’re the daughter of Hosea and his street walker, floozy wife Gomer! You’re probably not even Hosea’s child.” You can see them acting all snotty and judgmental—“Yeah, not loved, indeed.” 

To which Hosea could then say, “NO, it is YOU, Israel, who are not loved! For you do not love the Lord your God, you have forsaken the Lord and He will show no compassion when the army of God’s judgment comes upon you!!!”

Hosea 1:8 When she had weaned Lo-ruhamah ["Not Loved"], she conceived [again] and gave birth to a son. 9 And the LORD said, “Name him Lo-ammi, ["Not My People"] for you are not My people and I am not your God.”

When his friend’s parents would meet "Not My People," they were like, “Yeah, you’re probably not even Hosea’s son for you are children of harlotry” (v2).

To which Hosea could say, “No, Israel, YOU are not God’s people for you forsake the Lord and worship false gods and he will soon albeit temporarily forsake you.”

This is what God is doing, sharing His view of Israel's faithlessness to Him. And His love is not blind. And He's going to act according to their covenants.

I remind you that God that has a different relationship with Israel than with us. Israel relates to God through obedience to the Mosaic Law. Weekly rhythms. Dos and don’ts. Sacrifices. If they obey, God shall bless them—blessed shall you be in the city, the country, your vineyards, your families. But if they do not obey, cursed shall you be in the city… (Deuteronomy 28-30)

As Christians, we don’t relate to God through the law, but through Jesus. Not through obedience to the law but through faith in Jesus. 

Romans 6:14 You are not under law but under grace. 

It’s not "do well and you’ll be blessed, otherwise you’ll be cursed." But rather,

Ephesians 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,

If you are in Christ, you do not gain God’s favor through your good works nor do you blow up our relationship and lose His favor by our bad works. Or even our lack of works at times.

Romans 3:28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from works of the Law. 

Your good works aren’t what make you righteous or acceptable. The law made no one righteous. Jesus Christ makes us righteous through imputation. 

Romans 10:4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to all who believe. 

Jesus Christ is the end of doubting God’s acceptance. So put on the righteousness of Christ given you. For you are righteous by God's grace not your good works. 

Romans 11:6 But if it is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace.

We are not only justified by grace through faith, but we are also sanctified by grace through faith. For it is God who sanctifies the believer. God makes it clear that He wants relationship not performance.

Yes, God brought judgment on Israel for their unfaithfulness. God told them Israel they are “not loved” and they are “not His people”—hard words but these are the terms of their covenant. Yet He never says this to the believer in Christ. 

When sin abounds, God’s grace superabounds. God doubles down on His grace not law. 

Even if you are at such a selfish low, such a painful low that you told God, “I hate you.” However hurtful, God never responds to his child, “Well sometimes I hate you, too!” He affirms, “I chose you before you did anything good or bad. I love you with an everlasting love. And even if I had to I’d give My Son for you all over again I would. I did. And nothing you say will ever separate you from my love. Nothing you do will ever keep me from loving you.” 

Hosea puts our sin in the context of relationship, it puts God’s judgment and God’s discipline in the context of love, which is the only way they can be understood.

God doesn’t say, “I reject you!” He admits reality, “You have rejected Me! You don’t trust Me. You have taken your love elsewhere. I’m is not a part of your life. I’m no longer your God!” Any judgment must be seen through this lens.

Hosea reveals God’s vulnerability to us.

Love makes a person, even God, vulnerable to hurt, loss, to the other’s sinful words, actions. Especially when those we love make terrible choices, or they no longer love us, or they love someone else.

When we are hurt, when our hearts are wounded, we really ought not trust our perspective. For we see everything through unhealed pain. Our ego, our fear of being unloved, unimportant flares up. It’s not my fault. We blame others. Especially as time goes on…

God is so different from us. Even though we hurt Him, God’s loves, forgives. He admits it hurts but it doesn’t distort His view. God is love. Jesus abides in the Father’s love. He calls us to abide in His love… 

Because He wants to love you. Lead you. Fill your heart with hope. Shape you into His image. He wants to protect you from sin, Satan, and the world. He wants to pour out forgiveness and extend grace every day and heal the damage of sin that drives you to seek pleasure, or to cover the pain with anything else but Him. 

Does God care about your relationship with Him? I mean, really care enough that it hurts? YES! Think of the father of the prodigal Son. Look to our Lord, Jesus Christ, God’s own Son hanging on a cross for those He loves. At the guilty hands of those He loves. Doing everything to bring us close to God. Securing us in a relationship with God.

In Hosea, Christ loves and accepts every believer unconditionally but that doesn’t mean He unconditionally approves of everything we do. 

Hosea shows God never actually stops loving His people, but His love is not blind. Even in our passage, God cannot hide the future he sees with us,

Hosea 1:10 Yet the number of the sons of Israel will be like the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured or numbered; and in the place where it is said to them, “You are not My people,” it will be said to them, “You are the sons of the living God. 11 And the sons of Judah and the sons of Israel will be gathered together, and they will appoint for themselves one leader [the Lord Jesus Christ], and they will go up from the land, for the day of Jezreel [at that time, and from that time forward] will be great.

God's covenant will be fulfilled one day. For Israel will turn to Him, and the unloved children will be called the sons and daughters of the Living God!

At this future family reunion, He wants them to know, He’ll tell His people…

Hosea 2:1 Say to your brothers, "Ammi [My People]," and to your sisters, "Ruhamah [My Beloved, the one I love].”

God remains faithful to His Word. We can’t forfeit His grace. But even now let us know the heart of God toward us, and turn to Him. Repent. No, don't feel terrible for how awful of a person you are. But submit to God’s love and respond. You cannot fix this relationship but you can trust to love you.