The Challenge of Hosea

flock of white birds photo during sunset
Photo by Adam Grabek on Pexels.com

Hosea was a prophet to Israel canonized in the bible as a part of the old testament. In his time he was the only prophet God appointed to Israel and was challenged with bringing Israel back to God as they worshiped false gods. Hosea, whose name means “salvation” was told by God to marry an adulterous woman. He obeyed this difficult challenge. Her name was Gomer and she ran away from Hosea to sleep with another man. I don’t know if I could take on a relationship I knew was going to be a cheating one from the beginning, would you?  The amazing part of the story is Hosea went after her to bring her back to him even though he knew she had been with another man. God had placed love in his heart for her and that love drew him to extend grace to her in spite of her adulterous ways.

To understand the gravity of the situation, back then in Israel women were stoned to death for the crime of adultery. Yet Hosea’s protective love and grace for her saved her time and time again. He refused to not love her. He refused to scorn her for the things she had done. His love was a covering for her, just like God’s love is for His created and chosen people. He had told Israel in the past, “You will be My people and I will be your God.” This was a promise of love and devotion that God always intended to keep.

God can not break His promise and Hosea never broke his to care for a woman who was continually unfaithful. God’s love for His people was always unfailing, forever and eternal. God can not refuse to love because God IS love. Hosea’s example of love was a living portrait of the love God has always had for His people. His ways are those of restoration and redemption. It’s not to say there was never discipline or suffering for moving against God. A relationship is meant to be enjoyed by two, otherwise it is not a relationship. Yet God’s great mercy always took Israel back when they truly repented and were sorry for their sin.

Hosea’s life was a type and shadow of the same life of a nation called by God to be His chosen people. In this world we are challenged every day, just like Hosea to bring redemption and forgiveness to people who are far away from God’s love. Every time Gomer left Hosea for another man, you have to know she suffered because she was far from the love God had given to him for her. It was love that drew her. I have been often told that real true love is like a rubber band. It will stretch, but it will never break. It always snaps back to itself and reunites, redeems, and restores. Love that is like the love of God covers, protects, and holds its captivated beloved closely.

God restored Israel. Hosea covered and restored Gomer. I often wonder if we can learn to have that kind of restorative love? It’s a challenge when there has been pain, wounds, and ill treatment. The temptation is to give up and walk away. Yet God’s way never leaves and never forsakes. Aren’t we glad His character is like that? I wonder if our character can learn to be like Gods? Can we restore the breaches that have been created by wounds of the past or even present? Can we be a merciful and restorative people and continually draw back those who leave us because our love covers their mistakes? Are we a safe harbor for those who need to come back and dock because the waters have become too much of a challenge? I wonder; in this world, can we love like God? Can we be that light that always welcomes the weary traveler even when their journey has been less than upstanding?

Great questions to ponder. I have to imagine it would take a lot of healing and stripping away of the scars created by continual dysfunction in society. We are all in the same boat looking for a safe harbor to dock. I think I want to be a safe harbor that always extends grace and mercy to the repentant traveler in a world that can be so hard to live in. Temptation fulfills for the moment, but God’s love lasts forever. How would you want our world to be?

Loving you from here,

Dr Jenine Marie Howry

“I WILL Restore You”, says the Lord.

sept_feature_02_hHave you ever done some things that you have completely regretted; a poor decision that left you feeling shame and maybe some guilt as well? How about years and years of difficult issues that had been created because of one or several poor decisions? I know that I have! Aren’t you glad that God is one of restoration? In fact, He has a promise to repay and restore to us all of what the years have taken from us. Let’s take a look at Joel Chapter 2.

Joel 2:25 

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.”

What an awesome promise! What we sometimes fail to look at, though, is what comes before the promise. You see, there is a covenant condition that God had given to Israel and also to us when we seek out restoration. Let’s back up to verses 12 and 13.

Joel 2:12-13

“Even now,” declares the Lord,
    “return to me with all your heart,
    with fasting and weeping and mourning.”

Although this chapter in Scripture has to do with Bible history, as well as prophesy, it reveals the nature of our God and how He dealt with Israel. He deals with us in the same way because His nature never changes. I, personally, am so happy about that! A relationship with God through Christ does not promise our lives will be perfect, but it does give us the assurance that we will have all we need when going through a trial. Our love relationship with our mighty King who laid down His life for us makes life easier in and of itself. Have you ever noticed when you are “in love” the world could change its axis and you will not even bat an eye? Nothing moves us when we are in that “in love” state!

 Rend your heart
    and not your garments.
Return to the Lord your God,
    for he is gracious and compassionate,
slow to anger and abounding in love,
    and he relents from sending calamity.”

God requires repentance and a contrite heart before Him. He asks for dedication. Notice He mentions fasting with weeping and mourning. He does not like to see His people go through difficulty and trial. He loves restoration, but what He wants more than anything is our relationship with Him to be restored. It’s our choice, and He likes it that way. Would you want someone to love you because you require it or because someone desires to? Of course its because someone truly wants to! God is the very same way. He wants our love, dedication, relationship, and repentance. In return He promises to restore “the years” that were destroyed.

Joel 2:25 

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten—
    the great locust and the young locust,
    the other locusts and the locust swarm—
my great army that I sent among you.”

You know, I had to wonder why God had to mention so many different locust situations. It’s not one of those real deep theological questions, but I am so curious that I just had to know! So, I questioned God about it. Have you ever felt like you have been swarmed by so many situations that hit all at once? I think I can identify some of the locust situations in my life. Here are some examples for you:

  1. The great locust had to be that huge financial situation I went through when I unexpectedly found myself going through divorce. I mean, I lost everything one thing at a time. I slowly had to let go of my home, my business, my ministry, my marriage, and all of the financial security I had lived in.
  2. The young locust must have been something new that came into my life, like a new relationship that really did not work out because it was not God’s best for me, yet it made me grieve because of the deep desire to be restored in a permanent commitment.
  3. How about the other locusts? Boy, I can think of so many other things that hit me when I was down just to keep me off kilter. There were issues with my kids, life’s little dramas and you name it!
  4. Then there was the locust swarm! Ever have that day that had to be sent from hell where everything seemed to go wrong and happened all at once? Welcome to the locust swarm!

Now, I know this is a lot of revelation about my life, which I don’t mind, but I think you might understand the examples of what many locusts might look like. Lets get to the point. God wants to restore you from those things to a point where your very years are restored. His desire is that you suffer shame no more. We were not born for shame but for right standing with God. He wants that right standing for you and promises to give it to you. Being restored to God has great rewards! Even more than His restoration of years and of all you have had but He will pour out His Spirit as well! Look up Joel 2:28-32!

His restoration is so complete. He promises to restore grain, new wine, and olive oil (Joel 2:19)! The restoration of grain is material and financial blessing. New wine is joy, gladness, and fulfillment. New olive oil represents a fresh anointing! All of these things are so completely appealing but they are not the things we should seek, they are the things restored from seeking God.

I pray that God will restore you today, and that you will lay down all of your pain, your issues, your trials and your pride. Lay them all at the feet of our Jesus who sits at the right hand of the Father. He is ready to meet you at the throne of grace! We have Jesus as our great restorer of the breach between us and our heavenly Father. He is our intercessor, our redeemer, and our new coming King!
Pastor Jenine Marie Howry
800-421-1765 for prayer