True repentance

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Prepare

Begin by praying the Lord’s Prayer.


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Bible passage Hosea 3:1–5


Hosea 3

Hosea’s Reconciliation With His Wife
 1 The LORD said to me, “Go, show your love to your wife again, though she is loved by another man and is an adulteress. Love her as the LORD loves the Israelites, though they turn to other gods and love the sacred raisin cakes.”

 2 So I bought her for fifteen shekels of silver and about a homer and a lethek of barley. 3 Then I told her, “You are to live with me many days; you must not be a prostitute or be intimate with any man, and I will behave the same way toward you.”

 4 For the Israelites will live many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred stones, without ephod or household gods. 5 Afterward the Israelites will return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They will come trembling to the LORD and to his blessings in the last days.



New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society


Audio Bible passage


The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).


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Costly unfaithfulness
Hosea’s story is so human and heart-rending. But things get worse. Gomer has now left Hosea for another man (vs 1–3).

Hosea had to go and find her living with another man – the pain must have been terrible. ‘So I bought her’ he says – he had to buy her. The price he paid added up to around what Exodus 21:32 says a slave cost. That’s Hosea’s wife – what a horrible mess unfaithfulness causes.

Re-love
But God tells Hosea: ‘Go again, love her.’ How could he? For Hosea to love Gomer after all she had done over the years, all the hurt and lies, the children in his home who were only his in name – it would be heroic for Hosea to go and love Gomer again. But that’s exactly the point: because Hosea’s love for Gomer was to show the world God’s love in miniature.

What Hosea wants from Gomer is the same as what God wants from his people. Hosea doesn’t buy back Gomer so he can have a slave or a servant for himself – he wants his wife back. He wants the restoration of a loving, passionate, committed marriage. And that’s what God wants from his people – not just obedience to laws and rules, not servants or slaves just to do his will, but true genuine reconciliation. God wants true repentance, and true repentance is about an intimate relationship of love being restored (v 5).


Respond


Do you want God? Or do other gods have your heart?

Angus Moyes


Deeper Bible study


‘O God, let me not interrupt you with my chatter. Let me listen, rather, to your still, small voice.’1

According to the NIV, Hosea 3 tells how God instructs Hosea to love his wife again after she has been unfaithful with another man. Hosea buys (back?) his wife and arranges for her to live with him. As in chapter 1, the story takes on figurative meaning. Hosea uses it to proclaim that after a period of enforced separation, the people of Israel will return to seek after God and the Davidic kingship. Thus, they would come trembling with awe to the Lord and his blessings.

The husband–wife analogy is not without its difficulties (compare Ephesians 5:22–33). In the ancient Near East, the assumption is that a husband is the superior of his wife. Thus, in this passage, the husband does all the acting, instructing, buying, telling and arranging. All the wife can do is come running home. What is more, in the narrative, the husband is the innocent party. This may give the impression that husbands are always in the right however they behave! We must clearly resist such extrapolation. The truth is, all analogies break down and this one breaks down rather spectacularly.

For all its possible problems, the image of God as husband is audacious and instructive. I cannot accept the ancient Near Eastern view of marriage as determinative for today, but I affirm with Hosea that God is the superior of human beings, nevertheless acting towards them in love. As creator and initiator, God calls us into a covenant relationship with him that is characterised, not by force, but by love. We may think of God as divine master, lord or sovereign. Hosea wants us to know that, in relation to his people, he is also friend and lover.

Robert Parkinson

 

1 Geddes MacGregor, in Mary Batchelor, ed, The Lion Prayer Collection


Bible in a year


Read the Bible in a year.

Jeremiah 15,16

Psalm 116
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Hope even here


● What was it like being Gomer – easily led, subject to her lowest appetites, given up to sin?

● How might she have felt faced by the cleansing, forgiving love of her husband?

● Could she have discerned a divine hand in what was happening?

Reflect on your own feelings when you first grasped that Jesus had died for your sins, as you read this poem by Natasha Mudd.

Surrounded by two worlds, I am lost in many.
A voice cries out pleading for my sake,
‘Stop, turn to me.’
The more steps I move away, the more barren my body becomes.

For help I chase those who fuelled this state I find myself in
But they no longer want me…
I am lost in the idol god world I worshipped in over and over again.

The forgotten voice appears again warning me of the destruction I must bear;
To be stripped naked in front of all the lovers this world had me toy with.
Not one can save me from this greater power.
Punishment has me fenced in, boxed and blocked by a wall of thorn bushes,
Yet, the wild animals enter easily,
Eating the crumbling fruit that remains of me.

I hear that same voice cry to me again, yet its declaration has changed.
I am not dragged towards it for judgement, but won with words of love.
It talks of a place where I will grow and be loved by the one who calls me ‘Mine’.

As the voice alights softly on my mind,
I am raised from freshly ploughed soil.
With each step I take through the door of hope,
Peace and safety produce like ripening corn.

Natasha Mudd


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Audio


  • Song: A love so amazing
  • Composer: Paul Oakley
  • Album: Newday - The Sound of a New Generation
  • Publisher: Survivor Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2003 Thankyou Music
  • Buy this and other great worship songs: here


Marriage Song – Phatfish
Michael Sandeman
Copyright © 2011 Phat Music
Buy this and other Phatfish songs at shop.phatfish.net




Comments
  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 10 October 2017

    However much we are appalled at the idea of buying a woman, a wife (and some still face crippling bride price payments in their societies), this is what God the Lover, the Husband did for us. It cost Him the dearest, most precious thing He had - His Son - to buy us back from enslavemen to Satan. May we be forever grateful and respond with devoted hearts, eager for His presence, and delighting in His ways. Welcome back Teresa. Yes, we can always begin again. Prayers Peter, and all WLers with our various needs and limitations.

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    I loved the poem. Reminds me of those precious words of Jesus "Come to me" I want that same love for all. The love that has made a decision to treat everyone well and then I know all will be well with my soul.

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    I can see Hosea's faith in God's way being greatly tested; just as Abraham's was. It is clear that God would not desert Israel despite their bad behaviour; His love is triumphant and everlasting. Hosea returned home with a forgiven Gomer and restored her into her place in his family. Gomer was given time to think about what she had done and hopefully change her ways......"Your will be done, Heavenly Father God. We abide in Your love for us." Amen.

  • Lynda Spencer | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    God bless you, TERESA. There's not one of us who hasn't slipped in some way. Welcome back! I love the instructions for marriage given by God, through Paul, in the letter to the Ephesians. If my husband loves me 'just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her' (Eph 5:25) then I have no problem in submitting myself to his leadership in our marriage and our home. Problems come when each of us, in any relationship, fight for our rights without assuming our responsibilities.

  • Derek Forster | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    Take my life and let it be Consecrated, Lord to Thee; Take my moments and my days, Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Let them flow in ceaseless praise. Take my hands and let them move At the impulse of Thy love. Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee; Swift and beautiful for Thee. Take my voice and let me sing Always, only, for my King. Take my lips and let them be Filled with messages from Thee, Filled with messages from Thee

  • Mae Russell | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    I stand amazed in the presence of Jesus the Nazarene and wonder how He could love me, a sinner condemned unclean. How marvellous, how wonderful ....is my Saviour's love for me!

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    This passage is really beautiful, and I'm glad to have been able to take time to sit and read it. It shows me how much I fall below the love of God. It's not a matter of trying to emulate The Lord in this, but relying on Him to put that love into my own heart and life. Jesus seems to have lovingly taken over the rest of my life. I'm still really trying to trust, and that's where I feel in a similar way to Hosea. Like Gomer my own wife walked away. The hurt is felt not only by me, but there are consequences which are holding back our children. My part, I feel is not to teach lessons, but to avoid words, and let the Lord do the work! His graciousness to me is utterly undeserved, and I can say that one night, having just been diagnosed with an unpleasant blood problem, I lay awake in bed and said that what I really needed as the years go by, would be a person to be my Mother! An astonishing and beautiful reply came back, "I'll be your Mother!" I do not now say that I'm alright, but sober reflection shows me a Jesus who has kept His word!

  • Ruth Lewis | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    ROGER, when I was a little girl in Catholic school, I was taught in our religion class that Jesus will be whatever we need Him to be. Father for the fatherless, Mother to the motherless and husband to the widow etc. I have never forgotten that.

  • Teresa Matheson | Wednesday, 11 October 2017

    #BiblepassageHosea3:1–5 nice after yesterday's wake up call

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