Undying Love
Dr. Joe Temple

Introduction

Open your Bibles, please, to that portion of the Word we are studying because we want to meditate together upon the information contained in chapter 3 of the book of Hosea as the Lord may direct. This is one of the shortest chapters in all the Bible—five verses in our English text, eighty-one words in the Hebrew text—but one of the most profound portions of the Word of God you will find. As far as I am concerned, it is one of the most beautiful love stories that you will find either in or out of the Bible because I do not believe that any earthly, worldly novelist could write anything to compare with the love that is described in this chapter.

I suggest that you read this chapter when you have time with what I refer to as a sanctified imagination and, as you do so, you will be impressed with the tremendous story of love which is recorded here in Hosea, chapter 3, beginning with verse 1:

Hosea 3

1Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.
2So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:
3And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.
4For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:
5Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Review

Since we are continuing our verse by verse study of the book of Hosea, I think it might be wise for us to keep constantly in our minds the prophecy as it is recorded in the book from an analytical standpoint.

You will remember that we pointed out to you that the book falls naturally into four divisions: Chapters 1-3 deal with the prophet's call; chapters 4-8 deal with the prophet's complaint; chapters 9-11 deal with God's condemnation on the nation of Israel through the lips of the prophets; chapters 12-14 deal with the consolation which the prophet offered to the people of God because our God is such that He never condemns without consoling. He never announces the hopelessness of men in their own strength without reminding them that He has provided a way out.

We began some weeks ago thinking together about the first division of the book, the prophet's call. We pointed out that many of God's servants have been called into various phases of service, but Hosea had a unique call. His call was not only to speak, but to live. His call was to illustrate his message, not with charts that you might flash upon a screen or pictures which you might draw, but he was to illustrate his message with his own life and the life of his family.

We had in chapter 1, verse 1 through the first verse of chapter 2, which actually belongs to the first chapter, an account of the domestic life of Hosea. He was to take unto him a wife, and the kind of life he had was to preach a message. He had three children. He was to give each one of them a name not that he liked, not that was related to his family, but a name that would declare the message that God had for Israel. Then we discovered in chapter 2, verses 2-23, an appeal to the people of Israel based upon the domestic experiences of Hosea.

Summary of Chapter 3

We now come to chapter 3, which we have referred to as an act of love for obvious reasons, but it is included in this portion of the Word that we have described as the prophet's call, because it represented another thing that God asked Hosea to do. As you think about this thing that He asked him to do, I am sure you will be amazed at even—I say this reverently—the audacity of God to ask a human being to do what He asked Hosea to do. I am sure if you think thoroughly, you will be amazed that Hosea would have the grace and the love and the compassion to do what he did.

The chapter to which we refer, Hosea, chapter 3, falls naturally into two divisions—the act and the application. I would like for you to notice by way of summary what we are going to find along this line. We are going to find that God commanded Hosea to marry someone the average man wouldn't want to marry. We are going to find that without an argument, Hosea immediately complied.

When he did, he suggested a condition which would be observed by both him and the woman involved, that condition being to represent a message which is discovered in the application of the thing in the chapter at which we are looking. The application found in verses 1, 4, and 5, deals primarily with Israel's past, Israel's present, and Israel's future.

I do not believe that any sincere, thinking person can read chapter 3 of the book of Hosea and say that the history of Israel has already been written in the sense that it has been accomplished. I do not believe anyone can read chapter 3 of the book of Hosea and believe but what God has a plan for the nation of Israel, the plan being fulfilled for her involving the welfare of all the rest of us.

Continue to Love

I would like for us to look a bit more in detail at what I have suggested to you because I believe in so doing you will be able to fit the facts firmly in your minds and accomplish the purpose that we have in mind, which is to send you away with a real message of undying love.

We said that this chapter portrays an act on the part of the prophet, and we are going to discover in this act which was given to the prophet some words which will pretty well tell the story of what occurred. The act, of course, was based upon the command which God gave to him. Notice Hosea, chapter 3, verse 1:

Hosea 3

1Then said the LORD unto me, Go yet, love a woman beloved of her friend, yet an adulteress, according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

As we examine the command, the first words which attract our attention are, “Go yet love.” Think about those words for a moment: “yet love”—continue to love; that is what they mean. The woman in chapter 3 of the book of Hosea was not a new woman whom Hosea had never met; it was a woman who had failed Hosea miserably. Yet, he was to love her in spite of all her failures. The woman of Hosea, chapter 3, is the same woman of Hosea, chapter 1. She was named Gomer , which means “a failure.” Look at verse 1 of chapter 3, and you will understand that we are talking about the same woman. Notice what he said: “Go yet, love a woman.” Love a woman? Why not love a wife ? Because the sin of this woman had caused her to forfeit all her claims to wifehood.

Go back to chapter 1 of the book of Hosea and notice a difference in the wording of the command in Hosea, chapter 1, verse 2:

Hosea 1

2The beginning of the word of the LORD by Hosea. And the LORD said to Hosea, Go, take unto thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the LORD.

In chapter 1, Hosea was instructed to go and marry a woman who was known as a harlot, and he did. But she didn't live with him very long until she became an adulteress. If you will look farther down in chapter 3, verse 1, you will notice that this woman he was to love was called an adulteress . In chapter 1, she was called a whore or a harlot . Do you see the difference? There is a difference between a harlot and an adulteress. You take a harlot, if God commands, and move her into your home and love her as your wife. If she becomes unfaithful to you after that, she is not a harlot whom you have re-established; she is an adulteress who has been unfaithful to her husband.

I would like for you to notice there in the first verse of chapter 3, the phrase, “beloved of her husband.” If you are using the King James version as I am, you are looking in vain for that phrase; it isn't there. The phrase is “beloved of a friend,” but the correct translation is “beloved of a husband.”

This is not a suggestion that somebody came into her home and won her away from her husband. It is a suggestion, rather, that her husband loved her devotedly, and yet, in the face of all of that love, she chose to leave him and become an adulteress, leaving the husband who loved her more than you or I could possibly imagine as is certainly indicated by the fact that he was willing to take her back and act as though nothing had happened, leaving a husband like that to enter into this life of adultery.

God said to Hosea, “Go find Gomer, wherever she is, and tell her that you love her and you want her to come back home.” There is a difference, you know, between a woman who realizes the error of her ways and looks up her husband and says, “Will you take me back? I am sorry for all I have done.” There is a difference, I say, between that kind of woman and a woman who isn't sorry, a woman who makes no effort to come home, but is sought out by her husband and asked to come home and take the place of a wife again. This was God's command. How did Hosea comply? His compliance is described in the word preparation . Look at verse 2:

Hosea 3

2So I bought her to me for fifteen pieces of silver, and for an homer of barley, and an half homer of barley:

You say, “I am reading the verse, but I don't see the word preparation or anything that suggests it.” Look at the word bought in that verse, because the word bought comes from the Hebrew word karah , which means “to prepare the price.” You see, Hosea didn't immediately hear the command of God and then run without any preparation to fulfill it. He realized that something would have to be done, preparations would have to be made, for Gomer was not an ordinary prostitute. She had kept on with her prostitute activities until she became a slave in the temple of Baal. When Hosea came to see her, even if she had wanted to come home with him, she could not, for she had sold her life into slavery. Hosea, knowing that, was ready to pay the price that was demanded.

There is a significant thing to me in verse 2 about the price that was paid. He paid fifteen pieces of silver for her. If you will recall what you were taught in the book of Exodus, the price of a slave was thirty pieces of silver. But she had sunk so low in sin and degradation that he was able to get her at half price. He got her for fifteen pieces of silver, a homer of barley, and a half homer of barley which is approximately sixteen bushels of hog feed, for that is what barley was. Again, I am reminded of the depths of degradation to which she had slipped. She had slipped so far in relation to sin that she was worth only half of what an ordinary slave would be, and she could be purchased for what you could feed to the hogs.

Sin Never Pays

May we pause just a moment and make an application, keeping in mind that every passage of Scripture has one interpretation and then as many applications as is consistent with the Word of God. May we make the application, Beloved, that sin never pays. Stubbornness, rebellion on the part of people in departing from God, will take such a toll on your life that you will wind up being on sale at half price.

We think of Gomer in the terms of a Christian. I do not know anything any sadder than Christians who depart from the Lord and live out of fellowship and mingle with the world and sell themselves in sin until pretty soon somebody hangs a sale tag on them—for sale at half price. So often this happens to individuals who do not realize the toll that the world takes on their lives. I beg you, if you are careless in relation to your fellowship with God, think about it. Turn around and go the other way before they have a bargain sale for you.

Since we are on the subject of immorality, it would not be amiss for me to encourage you young people who are faced with temptation to be careful how you love. Someday they might have to hang a tag on you—half price. The reason I address remarks such as this to young people is not because I think young people are bad, but because I think young people are alive and vibrant and full of life. There is no use talking to a 98 year old man about lust unless it is in his mind. You young people are full of life, and your whole life is before you. Our whole society is geared to appeal to the flesh. The relationships of boys and girls and young men and young women is so arranged that oftentimes young women think that the only way they can hold a young man is to give him what he wants. I beg of you, young Christian ladies—we don't have to reserve these remarks for people who don't know the Lord; this happens to young Christian ladies—be careful how you love. Someday they might have to hang a tag on you—half price.

I would suggest to you young men, who are awfully anxious sometimes to enjoy the sweets and are not willing to take the wrappings, that you might be responsible someday for this half-price tag being hung on the life of some young woman. I wish every young man would not feel that it is his privilege, it is his goal, to see how many girls he can make. I wish every young Christian man would recognize before God that it is his privilege to be the guardian of the virginity of every girl with whom he associates so that he can say before God, if there is ever a half-price tag hung on her life, “I am not responsible for it.” This is the application of truth we are giving you, not the immediate interpretation of the passage of Scripture.

Conditions Under Which She Would Come Back

Back to the original thought. When Hosea complied with God's command, he presented, in addition to the price that he had to pay for this woman, the condition under which she would come back. When I used the word condition , don't think for a moment that I am suggesting that he was making a proposition. He was not saying to Gomer, “If you come back, you are going to have to do thus and so…” He wasn't saying that. He went to Gomer with open arms and he said, “Come back.” When she came back, he said, “This is what we are going to have to do for your benefit and mine. We are going to live in such a way that never again will the stamp of harlot be placed upon you. In order to do that, we are both going to have to sacrifice. You will not for a long time be recognized as my wife because of everything that has gone before.” The condition then was neither harlot nor wife, and that is indicated in verse 3, where we read:

Hosea 3

3And I said unto her, Thou shalt abide for me many days; thou shalt not play the harlot, and thou shalt not be for another man: so will I also be for thee.

You might describe all of this experience in one word—betrothal or engagement . You see, what was happening was that they were beginning again. They had made a mess out of life, and they said, “When we start over, let's start over like we did at the very first when our love was fresh and new and when we believed in each other and everything was exactly like we wanted it to be. Let's begin with an engagement period, a betrothal period.” Here is the scriptural approach to what should occur during an engagement period. There are many young people who will participate in heavy petting until the time that the engagement ring is placed on the finger, and then they reason, “We are going to be married, and since we are going to be married and since we are engaged, there is no reason we shouldn't go all the way.”

Let me suggest to you first, from the standpoint of experience, and I have dealt with many such, the ring that is so easily slipped on the finger can be just as easily slipped off. I have counseled with numerous young people who thought that because the ring was slipped on the finger, it was all right to go all the way. They did, but the ring came off and then they fell in love with somebody real and they would say to me (not in these terms always, but I don't know a better way to express it), “I really love this boy, but all I have to give him is the paper that the candy was wrapped in. Somebody else got the candy.”

In this passage of Scripture are the regulations for an engagement. Did you notice what he said? “You will not associate with other men, and you will not even be intimate with me for many days until such a time as our betrothal period is over.”

I say that this is a beautiful love story within itself, but I pointed out to you when we were looking at the entire chapter that there was not only the matter of the act of Hosea in relation to this wonderful thing that he did, there was also the application of truth. That application of truth, of course, is found in the passage of Scripture at which we looked, suggesting the history of Israel.

Hosea's Love Illustrates God's Love

The first thing that we call to your attention, by way of application, is what is said about Israel's present. We are not going to talk about Israel's past, because we already have primarily in talking about the love that Hosea had for Gomer, for God intended that the love that Hosea had for Gomer would be an illustration of the love that God had for Israel. If you will look at the last part of the first verse, you will see that to be true:

Hosea 3

1…according to the love of the LORD toward the children of Israel, who look to other gods, and love flagons of wine.

You see, it was as though God said to Hosea, “Hosea, I know all about your heartbreak. I felt for you when Gomer left. I have lived with you every day of agony as you passed by the heathen temple and knew that the girl you loved was a prostitute in that very place. The reason that I can feel for you,” God said, “is that is exactly the way My people, Israel, treated Me, because I took Israel when she was nothing and I made Israel My wife. Hardly had the vows been said until she, too, became an adulteress, following after other gods and drinking flagons of sacred wine and eating little raisin cakes as an indication of her faithfulness to her idols.” God said, “Hosea, I know what you are going through, but I want you to love Gomer as I have loved Israel.”

I would like to emphasize that this might be the explanation of how this could be done. I said in the beginning that I don't see how it could be done, and I said that I don't even know why God would expect it, but this might be the answer right here. Do you love as God loves, to the extent that you can love in spite of sin? Do you love as God loves, to the extent that no matter what anybody does, they could not kill your love for them?

I have counseled with many individuals who have said to me, “I loved this person at one time, but they have killed all the love I have had for them.” By God's grace, I have never had to face anything like that, but I cannot feature anything that my wife or my children would do—anything—that would kill my love for them. Yes, they could break my heart. Yes, they could make it difficult for me, but I don't know of anything they could do that could kill my love. I love them according to God's love for Israel.

Israel's Present Condition

That's all we'll say about the past. Notice the application as far as Israel's present is concerned in verse 4:

Hosea 3

4For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

If we examine this verse in words that you will be able to keep before you, may we suggest that Israel's present condition is described in verse 4 in the terms, “without a king, and without a prince.” The nation of Israel is without any divinely ordered government. Notice what I am saying—divinely ordered government .

The last king she had was Zedekiah. The Babylonians took him into Babylon and put out his eyes just after he witnessed the murder of his two sons, so that there would be etched upon his memory forever the dying struggles of the two boys he loved.

Israel did have a prince, Zerubbabel and his descendants, until the time that Israel chose Caesar instead of Christ. From that day till this, she has been without a king and without a prince.

She has also been without any approach to God. Oh yes, she has her religion; she has her Torah, which is the law. She has her empty ceremonies, but she has no temple. She has no priesthood because there is no genealogy for the tracing of such. She has no blood sacrifice to offer to atone for sin. She is without any approach to God.

It would be wise to remember that one of the reasons she has no approach to God is that the Lord Jesus Christ is the final, full and complete sacrifice for sin, and no animal sacrifice will ever suffice. Anywhere in the world where an individual Israelite will turn to the Lord Jesus Christ and receive Him, he is saved without any strings attached and he becomes one with the Body of Christ. But we are talking about the great mass of Israel today, who is without divinely ordered government, without an approach to God and, strange as it may seem, without any idolatry of any kind. That is suggested in verse 4, where you read:

Hosea 3

4For the children of Israel shall abide many days without a king, and without a prince, and without a sacrifice, and without an image, and without an ephod, and without teraphim:

The image and the teraphim are representative of idolatry. Why do I say this is an unusual thing? Would you not think that when Israel had full contact with God there would be less chance of her going into idolatry than when she had no real contact with God? That would be the normal assumption, but one of the miracles of the hour, one of the reasons we know that God's Word is true and dependable is that what He said about Israel is true. She was cured of her idolatry in the land of Babylon. Say what you will about Israel today, she will never be mixed up with any images or any idols. This is her condition in the present hour.

Israel's Calendar

We need to say a word about her calendar. I use the word calendar only for the sake of alliteration, because we are interested in knowing just how long this present condition of Israel will last. If you will look there at verse 4, you will find a phrase which will tell you many days. That phrase, many days , has no beginning and no ending. There is no way to evaluate the time. All that we can say is that up to the present moment, it has been over 2000 years that the nation of Israel has been neither wife of Jehovah nor harlot departing from Jehovah because she is neither owned by Him nor by the worshiper of idols just as Gomer was neither harlot nor wife for a certain number of days.

Israel Will Return to Christ

Look at the text concerning Israel's future in verse 5:

Hosea 3

5Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD their God, and David their king; and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

Afterward—this certainly indicates that there is a future for Israel and only an individual who fails to understand God's Word as it actually is would think otherwise.

How may her future be described? Let's describe it in the words of the text—afterward. After what? After this long period of 2,000 years, which eventually will bleed into a period of great tribulation and anguish as described in the Scripture as the time of great tribulation. After that great tribulation, Israel will awaken to her great need of Christ and, in the latter days which is presented in the last part of verse 5, at the end of the age, recognizing her need, will return to Christ.

I would like for you to look at the word return as it is explained for you in the book of Deuteronomy, chapter 4. Notice there a prophecy related to the very prophecy we are considering at the moment.

Deuteronomy 4

30When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.

How many wayward children, like the prodigal, have wondered how they would be received when they come home? Please pardon another very practical application. I have said some words to young people. May I say some words to you who are fathers and mothers? Before you decide that you will close the door on your children, before you say something that may make them think that the door will be closed, think very carefully and remember that God has set the example for you. He's never closed the door on any of His children who want to come home. If your children have disappointed you and made it difficult and made you feel as if there isn't any use in your trying to go on and you're just through with the whole picture, keep the door open. That's what God does. If ever they need you, they need you when they've gone away. Don't ever leave them with the impression that they can't come back. Let them know that though you cannot agree with what they are doing and though your heart is broken because of it, the door is always open. God said to the Isralites, “When you return, I'll not forsake you and I'll not destroy you. I'll receive you with open arms. You see, God knows that when His people are out of fellowship with Him, they've had punishment enough. There is no need for you to lay on the lash when they come home.

Israel Will Seek Their Lord and David Their King

Another word to consider is the word seek . What did we read in Hosea, chapter 3, verse 5?

Hosea 3

5Afterward shall the children of Israel return, and seek the LORD…

How encouraging it is to know that they not only seek the LORD, but—this is of great interest as far as Israel is concerned—they “seek the LORD their God and David their king…” It isn't just a matter of returning to God; it isn't just a matter of being saved. God saves any individual Israelite under the same conditions that He saves anyone else, but when His nation returns to Him, they must seek the Lord and David their king. There are numerous passages which we are not going to take the time to examine: Jeremiah 30:9; Ezekiel 34:24; Ezekiel 37:27. These passages would seem to indicate that David is going to be raised from the dead and be a co-regent with the Lord Jesus Christ when He returns to the earth. There is a difference of opinion among Bible scholars as to whether or not this is the interpretation of these passages. This we say to you: If it isn't the interpretation, then the only other interpretation it could be is what is suggested in the Amplified translation of the Scripture which says, concerning Hosea, chapter 3, verse 5, “They shall seek the LORD their God from the line of David, their king of kings”; that is, they will look for the King of Kings, the Lord Jesus Christ, to come through the line of David, according to the promise of God's Word.

They Shall Stand Amazed

These individuals who return to the Lord and who seek their king will do so because they are ready to acknowledge Jesus Christ as their Messiah. Then what will happen? Is this the time when God says, “You left. You wanted to do what you wanted to do, and now you've done it. Now you're coming home, begging and crawling! You don't need to think that I'm going to receive you with open arms.” Is that what God says? No. Look at the last part of verse 5. When they come home, it is recorded:

Hosea 3

5…and shall fear the LORD and his goodness in the latter days.

It seems kind of foolish to talk about fearing goodness, doesn't it? Who is afraid of blessing? This isn't as happy a translation as it might be. The word for fear here could be translated by the word amazed , and what you read is that when they return to the Lord, they shall stand amazed at the Lord and His goodness. Perhaps that is what the songwriter had in mind when he said, “I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene that He should love me, a sinner condemned, unclean.”

Beloved, when Israel has a right picture of herself, she will stand amazed at the Lord and His goodness just as Gomer stood amazed that Hosea could still love her after the sorry life that she led, just as you are probably amazed that Hosea could love Gomer after the kind of life she lived. It all seems to emphasize a truth that I always rejoice in emphasizing, and that is that God loves you and nothing that you can do will separate you from his love, and one day when you have traveled as far along the pathway of self will that you wish to travel and decide to come home, you will stand amazed at the goodness of the Lord and at the Lord Himself.


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