We have spent much time on the subjects…Of Sin, Judgment, and End Times in recent days...And in light of the current National and World Events…Compared to Biblical Prophecy... These are appropriate and desperately needed studies!
But... There is one study... That our broken and sinful world...Our lost, directionless world...Needs even more! A Study which Trumps all other studies...And tells the world what it really needs to hear...Desperately WANTS to hear...More than anything else!
This week's lesson is going to begin with an amazing and true story…I’ve recently read...Involving a couple who went through the worst ordeal imaginable...I ask you to listen to this real story...It will take some a little time to tell it in detail...But it is so incredible... So relevant... That it is worth the time! Much of our lesson will be illustrated in these true events! So, just take a few moments to drink in these people's lives!
And as you listen... Think of the moment when you would have "Bailed!"
When you would have said, "Enough!"... And walked away.
This really good-hearted, sweet guy... Falls head over heals in love...With a girl from the other side of the tracks! (Wild, loose, trouble...)
He sees something deep in her that is just beautiful...Ever seen anyone think they can CHANGE someone with their love? "Romance evangelism?!"
He knows he probably shouldn't get mixed up with her...But he just can't help himself! Surprisingly, she dates him... And gets deeply into a relationship with him. Probably because no one else in her life...Has ever shown her any TRUE AFFECTION...So she clings to how special he makes her feel. All of his friends are really freaked-out by his new girlfriend...They ask him if he's gone nuts? Because he could do MUCH better! But... They actually end up getting married, believe it or not...And the wedding scene would have been hilarious, if not so pitiful...His side of the church full of warm, middle-classed, normal family...
Her side had only a few people... None real family... Most looked pretty rough...
But he didn't care... He was crazy in love!
The problems this girl hid during their dating months...Were harder to suppress in a now permanent situation...She had hidden her drug use from him...And… In her own low self-esteem... And selfish lifestyle from the past...She betrayed him a few times… When people made over her the right way!
He eventually found out...And after being totally crushed for a time.. Forgave her… And loved her as much as ever! Although she... Became a bit angry and resentful…Maybe from the guilt! Would you still be there at this point?
Then... A life-changing, gut-wrenching thing happened... She found out she was pregnant from one of the affairs!! Again, he was totally destroyed... His friends screaming, "I told you so!" But, he saw how scared and desperate she was now...He knew she had nowhere else, no one else...He still hoped to change her with his love...So he STILL stayed with her! Would you still be there at this point?
Over time, her drug use grew uncontrollable…As is often the case...Her husband saw the changes, but hoped he could love her through it! She finally reached a point where she could no longer support the expense of her habit..
Without bringing attention to the amount of money she needed...So, she began to set up meetings... To do, "favors"...In return for money or drugs... When she could break away...Her need for more drugs… And making more money...Became so consuming... It couldn't be a secret life of opportunity anymore...So she left her husband...After all of the love and forgiveness this poor man had shown... To not only go back to her old ways...But to go deeper than she ever had before...As she literally started making her own way working the streets!
She found someone to give her protection... A pimp!And she got what she wanted... Drugs and money.But her meth habit, her crazy life, and her cheap sex...Quickly left her completely used up, messed up & strung out...With nobody left in her life that really cared anymore…So strung out that she couldn't even attract good business anymore! So even the pimp barely took care of her... Became abusive...Because she started to be more of a liability to him than an asset...She was dirty… And now unwanted… Even by the pimp...And had nowhere to go! Pretty much living in a trashed out meth house...With other burned-out street walkers.
Her husband found out she had been seen on the streets...And staked out the area to see if it was true... He watched her pick up a few rough looking men!
He saw how skinny, trashy, scabby, and strung out she had become...And it made him nauseous... But it broke his heart too!
This husband followed her back to her, "rat hole" house...To find out where she lived...And in his pity for her... He literally started bringing food, clothing & other little gifts to her! Dropping them off with another girl at the trashy house... With a tip... To be sure the girl kept it a secret from his wife...She had no clue as to the source of these items! But she would always end up selling or trading the gifts... For more drugs or cheap outfits... To continue her horrid life!
Finally he couldn't take seeing her like this anymore...And he decided he had to do something... Whatever happened as a result!
So he went to the meth house...Stepped around the strung out bodies...Until he came to HER... Sitting sideways against a wall...Knees tucked to her chest... With a few other scrawny women...Nasty, smelly and broken...
CHANGE TO WOMAN'S POINT OF VIEW:
She saw him when he walked into the dark room... And had this shocked glimmer of hope for just a moment...The only one that had ever really loved her was THERE! How? Why?
Then she quickly realized...He obviously was not there because he wanted her back... It was probably to vent his rage... And mock her!Or maybe even getting her arrested in spite! But... Then it happened!!! He knelt down, gently placed his hand under her chin...And looked into her eyes with tenderness... Not judgment...And quietly whispered, "Do you love me?" She returns his gaze with a glimmer of inexpressible love & hope...And faintly nods...Then pulls her head away and looks down in shame..As tears begin... And she starts to shake...She knows how she looks right now...How she's acted...How she smells...The pain she's caused...How completely unworthy she is… To be loved by this man!
A big, well-dressed man... Who obviously doesn't fit into this environment...
Walks up to the husband and intimidatingly asks, "Can I help you, bro?"
He answers, "This... Is my wife..." The man replies... "Well, she sure don't seem to be caring much about that right now, does she bro?!" "But I'll tell you what... She ain't no good to me like she is now... Trash! You can have her... For a PRICE!"
The husband asks, "How much... To take her away from here?!"Knowing he couldn't just walk away with her now...The man's reply, "How much you GOT?!"
When the deal was done...The husband walked away with no money... No watch... No sunglasses... And no shoes...He scoops her frail body into his arms...And begins walking towards the door...She stares at his face, inches from hers for a brief instance…Then, buries her dirty face into his neck…Jerking in uncontrollable, loud sobs...Of disbelief, embarrassment, and overwhelming excitement…All at once!
Back home... He tenderly helps her get cleaned up... Get beautiful clothes on...But he doesn't say anything... No questions... No accusations…His gentleness and his loving looks... Even now...Show her nothing but acceptance and concern.
When she is clean, warm and safe...He pulls her close... Holds her tightly...
And sings softly and sweetly to her... Until she stops shaking in fear and shame... Stops sobbing uncontrollably... Until she could actually accept that this moment was real!
This IS a true story!
When would you have given up on her?
When would you have turned angry and spiteful?
Would you... Have ever dreamed of taking her back?
The Actual Story... Hosea & Gomer!
This is a modern telling of a very true story... The Story of Hosea and Gomer! Some say their is no picture of a God of Mercy and Grace in the OT...I say... This is the sweetest and most Merciful Book of Scriptures!
In about 750BC... God told Israel and Judah exactly how He felt about them and their rebellion against Him...Through the unforgettable real life events of Hosea!
The Nation had turned from God because they were living in a time of great
prosperity (sound familiar?)...And in their need for nothing...They left God and chased after their own desires... Those desires were destroying them... Morally & socially!
Please listen... To these direct comparisons of our story today...And the Story of Hosea and Gomer...Hosea married a very loose and unfaithful woman... By God's Direction! Which was a complete DISGRACE for a prophet in his time! And at least SOME of her children (Last two)...Were very probably from her infidelity! (Based on names)
Hosea 1:2 (NKJV)
When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea: "Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry And children of harlotry, For the land has committed great harlotry By departing from the LORD."
Hosea 2:4 (NKJV)
"I will not have mercy on her children, For they are the children of harlotry.
The wife (Gomer) wanted & desired things passionately (Like Drugs)...Which she would not look to her husband to give provide…
Hosea 2:5 (NKJV)
For their mother has played the harlot; She who conceived them has behaved shamefully. For she said, 'I will go after my lovers, Who give me my bread and my water, My wool and my linen, My oil and my drink.'
She eventually would not even be able to please lovers…As their prostitute...
Hosea 2:7 (NKJV)
She will chase her lovers, But not overtake them; Yes, she will seek them, but not find them...
She was unaware that it was her Husband who brought gifts...To sustain her... The whole time she failed in her horrible, selfish life...
Hosea 2:8 (NKJV)
For she did not know That I gave her grain, new wine, and oil, And multiplied her silver and gold-- Which they prepared for Baal.
Hosea went after her again...In the middle of her terrible adultery and prostitution... She… By this time... Had fallen into such trouble...It seems she had sold herself into slavery to one of her suitors...In order to just survive! Hosea went to Redeem his Bride from a self-made prison...
Hosea 3:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans." 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. (Equivalent of 30 Shekels of Silver altogether)
The price of a slave... NOT a Mohar (Price of a Bride)...Was thirty shekels of silver...Hosea paid fifteen shekels... And then began offering other commodities...
Inferring that he had given all he had to give!!
Imagine seeing your husband... Whom you've done so wrong...Show up where you are now...Whether it was at the place where she was in slave-labor...Or at an auction somewhere... On parade... Naked. Thinking he was there to accuse or mock you for your betrayal! Maybe have you executed! (Had a right) And then watch him give everything he has in money...And then give even more... Until he is spent...To free you from your prison!! Because YOU are still TREASURED by him… Like THIS!When you should have been tried and killed!
And Hosea let HER DECIDE... Even then...If SHE wanted to come home with Him once more...Because some would still choose... Out of pride... Or feelings of unworthiness...To live as a slave... Rather than be redeemed again!
Hosea 2:14-16, 19-20 (NKJV)
14 "Therefore, behold, I will allure (Persuade, entice- not force!) her, Will bring her into the wilderness, And speak comfort to her. 15 I will give her her vineyards from there, And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope; She shall sing there, As in the days of her youth, As in the day when she came up from the land of Egypt. 16 "And it shall be, in that day," Says the LORD, "That you will call Me 'My Husband,'... 19 "I will betroth you to Me forever; Yes, I will betroth you to Me In righteousness and justice, In lovingkindness and mercy; 20 I will betroth you to Me in faithfulness, And you shall know the LORD.
When he gets her home... He doesn't scold or belittle her...He comforts her and celebrates! Zephaniah speaks of this same moment she returns...With beautiful details about Our God...
Zephaniah 3:17 (NKJV)
The LORD your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing."
A Living Illustration Of God's love For Us! What an incredible love story! And it was all LITERALLY lived out by Hosea and Gomer...To bring us the REALITY... Of HOW God Loves US!
Here… Is what God is Trying to SHOW US in this Event...Actual
experiences… He gives as living examples... So we could more powerfully relate to...EXACTLY how He feels about us!
#1- Though we may run from God... Sin against God on purpose... And live completely for self... He NEVER stops loving us Desperately and Intimately!
God doesn't Want… A religious or formal relationship! If that is all you have...
You have missed it ALL! And God purposefully used this Story… To show us how He HURTS...In our defiance and rejection of Him!!
Stop and think… When you are in a deep relationship... And something is not right between you and your beloved...No matter what else is going on around you...
Your thoughts are on one thing... The relationship...THAT is how God is with US...THAT is how God Wants us to be with HIM!
In adultery... You aren't hurt because someone broke a RULE...You are crushed because your intimate beloved wanted someone else...Needed something you seemingly couldn't give... You weren't enough for them! It is NOT the SIN that Breaks God's heart when we rebel!! It is that longing for something else... Instead of HIM! It is that our affection, attention, desire and acceptance...Are GONE! It is that HE is not the Center of our Universe anymore!
YES... HE WANTS TO BE THAT CLOSE! THIS is the Unstoppable Love He Wants us to REALIZE! The Pain He Feels that is Real and Intimate! He never stops Watching us…And even Caring for us in our rebellion!He Wants us back... Always... In Sincere Longing!
#2- Walking away from God ALWAYS leads into a valley!! A valley full of broken dreams, crushed emotions, and messed up lives! And what may seem like freedom...Is really chaos...Loss of value for everything in life...And enslavement to things that hurt you instead of loving you!!!!
#3- God will LET US WALK AWAY... Because real love has a choice!!! He Loves enough to give us freedom...He knows that a chance for real love...Has to have a chance for great pain & loss! He also knows that sometimes… To walk away...
Is the only way we will ever see that HE...Is all that can EVER truly meet our needs…And Show us Perfect Love!
#4- He doesn't let you wander off without care...HE COMES AFTER YOU... HE GOES WHERE YOU ARE...And He PAYS for you to come home! And He'll CARRY you there if you can't even walk with Him...Just trust Him and hold on to Him!
Luke 15:4-6 (NKJV)
4 "What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it? 5 And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing. 6 And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
Hosea 3:1-2 (NKJV)
1 Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery... 2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley.
#5- You WILL NEVER be LOVED with more Devotion than His...It is time to leave the cesspool and go home with Him! The biggest illustration of this entire Book of the Bible is simply this!! When you are faithless, He is faithful...When you are lost in sin or shame... He will find you...When you are enslaved and hopeless, He will buy you back...When you give up on Him and life... He never gives up on you...
BUT… He will leave you to your own choices…Until you wreck your life enough to see the futility in your ways... Then He will come take your hand!!
Hosea 6:1 (ESV)
“Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.
When we realize how we really look...How badly we've really hurt Him...And how far He's come… To bring us back...We JUST HAVE to love Him deeply in return!
Luke 7:47 (NKJV)
Therefore I say to you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven, for she loved much. But to whom little is forgiven, the same loves little."
So many of us feel like God sees us differently than He sees others...
Especially because of our failures in His eyes... When so many others seem to be doing much better! We have to get rid of the thoughts…That God the Father begrudgingly lets us into His Kingdom… With a bit of distaste or disgust...
And GRASP the REALITY… Of HOW GOD FEELS about US...
Luke 15:22-25 (NKJV)
22 But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand and sandals on his feet. 23 And bring the fatted calf here and kill it, and let us eat and be merry; 24 for this my son was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.' And they began to be merry. 25 Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
Luke 15:10 (NKJV)
Likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Based upon the combined knowledge from the Scriptures…OF Hosea, Zephaniah, and Jesus Himself...He is already where you are... No matter how far you've gone away...And no matter how dirty, nasty, smelly, sickly, or selfish you feel...He will pick you up, and carry you home in His arms...Clean you up...Put new clothes on you...Hold you tightly and SING to you Himself...Until you truly BELIEVE how much you are loved!!!...And then He will break out the best He has in a feast for you...And lead you… Unashamed, with excitement, in DANCING!!
I'd say that sounds like a very Personable, Emotional…Crazy-loving God...Who is just so Happy to have you home with Him!! After all, just like Hosea... He paid all He had to get you back as well!
Isaiah has a passage some of you may have read…But few have grasped the significance:
Isaiah 49:16 (ESV)
Behold, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me.
One: The Hebrew word for engrave… Is NOT to write or tattoo…But to cut with a hammer and sharp object… A Chisel or a Nail!
Two: Many servants have had a master’s name placed on them…NEVER IN HISTORY… HAS A MASTER… Had His servants name!HE IS SAYING… “I BELONG TO YOU!!” Grasp that statement!GOD… Is Saying… He BELONGS to YOU!
None of us will ever experience that kind of relentless love anywhere else!IT IS REAL! He deserves our passionate faithfulness because He is so faithful to us!
We can have an exciting and personal life with God...Not a distant, formal, strained relationship! We just have to see Him as He really is...And love Him back with the same passion!
Come back to Him...
Come closer to Him...
Come to Him for the first time...
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