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Pursuing Love . . . Redeeming Love June 22, 2008

Posted by Kevin in Uncategorized.
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The book of Hosea is one of the more unusual books in the Bible. Hosea was a prophet in the time of the divided Kingdom and he lived out one of the most difficult stories that we can imagine. Hosea was told by God to marry a woman who would be unfaithful to him. This was a sin that was punishable by death. He knew what she was going into the marriage. God instructed him to go and marry a harlot. — How about that?

What would YOU do in that situation?

What would I do?

His wife’s name was Gomer and was a picture of the attitude of the Israelites toward God. Her adulterous actions were a reflection of the actions of the Israelites as they were unfaithful to God and worshipped Baal. Gomer’s actions resulted in her being enslaved. But God instructed Hosea to go and buy her back at the slave market . . . to pay the price to redeem her. This is a a picture of God’s desire to redeem His people from their sin.

Hosea would have been justified under Mosaic law to stop loving Gomer and divorce her. He could even have had her stoned. God wouldn’t have to look very hard to find reasons to stop loving us, would He?

However, in spite of countless reasons, God refuses to end His pursuit of us. God’s pursuit isn’t motivated by His desire to punish us; no, it is motivated by his love for us.

Deuteronomy 7:7-8 says:

The Lord did not choose you and lavish his love on you because you were larger or greater than other nations, for you were the smallest of all nations! It was simply because the Lord loves you, and because he was keeping the oath he had sworn to your ancestors. That is why the Lord rescued you with such amazing power from your slavery under Pharaoh in Egypt.

This passage reveals the reason God loves us — He wants to love us. He created us to love us and for us to love Him. He promised to love Israel’s ancestors and God can never be accused of going back on His promises.

Hosea understood commitment. Some prophets used object lessons; Hosea became an object lesson. He was told to take as his wife a woman of questionable character — a harlot. This relationship symbolized Israel’s relationship with God. The nation had been “married” to God but cheated on Him by pursuing other gods.

In the story, Hosea represents God. Hosea loved his wife as if she had been totally faithful to him all the time. And just like that, God loves us as if we had maintained our faithfulness to him. He loves us even now when we have moments of “unfaithfulness” (OK, let’s call them what they are – sin). In spite of our unfaithfulness, God loves us in the same way that Hosea loved his wife. The rest of the story is also symbolic. Hosea’s wife was taken into slavery and Hosea was forced to pay a huge price to reclaim her. But he did. He paid the price and bought her back. Wow!

God’s love for His people — you and me — isn’t based on his emotion; it is based upon His decision. It isn’t something He feels, it is something He does. When God looks at us, He sees us through the filter of His Son . . . if we have accepted His Son Jesus Christ as our Savior and given Him the right to be our Lord. God showed that He loved the world in this way: He gave His Son as payment for our sins.

In this context Hosea gives the Old Testament’s most eloquent expression of God’s love and tender mercy. It is embodied in the Hebrew word hesed, which is translated as “mercy”, “loving kindness”, or “steadfast love”. It is a love of loyalty and total commitment and it is best seen in the sacred vows of marriage.

Jesus was the very personification of love. He left heaven for a feeding trough and the dusty roads of Galilee. He grew up in a simple carpentry shop where he swept floors and worked with his earthly father. As an adult He entered a life of public ministry. He was pursued by the religious power brokers and betrayed by one of his closest friends.

He was here on a mission. That mission was to redeem us. His mission was to buy us back. He could have said that we weren’t worth it. (and we weren’t) He could have considered his own needs as more important than ours. But He stayed, He lived, He suffered, He died, and He rose again! Why? Love . . . God’s kind of love . . . agape love . . . love that won’t let go. God’s love is unlike anything that you and I can explain or understand. The only decision that we have is to accept it or reject it.

Depending on your generation, one of these sets of lyrics will resonate with you.

Matt Redmond says “You never let go”:

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
Your perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I’m caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won’t turn back
I know You are near

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go
Through the calm and through the storm
Oh no, You never let go
In every high and every low
Oh no, You never let go
Lord, You never let go of me

George Matheson says it is a “love that will not let me go”:

O Love that wilt not let me go,
I rest my weary soul in thee,
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.

O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee,
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain,
That morn shall tearless be.

O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee,
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there blossoms red
Life that shall endless be.

Either way, the point is that God loves you and has made a way for you to have a relationship with Him.

“God so love the world.” This is a simple statement that has incredible ramifications. Love is offered from Heaven to us. We simply have to choose to accept it or choose to reject it. And doing nothing is not an option. Accepting God’s love comes with conditions; rejecting it comes with consequences. Both the conditions of accepting and the consequences of rejecting it are predetermined . . . by God. And He has announced them clearly throughout the pages of Scripture. We don’t get to set the terms. How arrogant and rude of us to even think that we could. This is where so many potential believers balk — they want a relationship with God on their own terms, not His. However, a relationship with God on any other terms than His is no relationship at all.

For God so loved . . . that He relentlessly pursues us . . . to redeem us . . . to dwell in us . . . to cleanse us . . . to sanctify us . . . to empower us to live a life of Holiness.

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Comments»

1. jel - June 25, 2008

great post!

2. Kevin - June 25, 2008

Janice,

Thanks for the encouragement. How are things for you these days? Is it summer-time for you up there?

~Kevin

3. jel - June 25, 2008

it has been a swamp here!

we are drying out and it is HOT!

my sis and her husband was here for about a week, from NV. they left monday!

hope all is well with your bunch!


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