Loyal Love and Steady Service
The LORD said, “I will show my love to the one I called ‘Not my loved one.’ I will say to those called ‘not my people’, ‘You are my people’; and they will say, ‘You are my God.'” Hosea 2:23
Fifty-eight faithful years of service. No glory. Much grief. That is the prophet Hosea’s story. First God told Hosea to marry Gomer, a woman who either was a prostitute or became a prostitute after they married. God chose to use Hosea’s dysfunctional marriage as a symbol of Israel’s unfaithfulness (Hosea 1:2-8).
God also called Hosea to preach to the ten northern tribes of Israel (called Ephraim in Hosea’s book). These people had turned to idol worship; they had exchanged God’s truth for lies. They mocked Hosea and labeled him a false prophet when he prophesied coming judgment and told them to repent (Hosea 9:7-8).
Hosea teaches us that God rewards obedience in ministry, not successful outcomes. The Bible records no dazzling ministerial triumphs for Hosea. No accolades from kings. No miracles. No conversations with angels. Just faithfulness.
Oswald Chambers wrote, “God puts his saints where they will glorify him, and we are no judges at all of where that is.”* Some of God’s prophets, like Elijah and Daniel lived in the limelight. I marvel over the miracles that accompanied their ministries. Other prophets, like Hosea and Joel, lived in relative obscurity. I marvel over their perseverance.
Hosea’s name means “the LORD saves.” Like Joshua’s name, it’s the Hebrew form of the Greek word, Jesus. The theme of Hosea’s book is God’s unfailing love just as the theme of Jesus’ life was God’s unfailing love. Even though Hosea’s book is filled with warnings of judgment, it also contains many reassurances of God’s love: “I will lead [Ephraim] into the desert and speak tenderly to her”; “I will betroth you to me forever”; “I will settle them in their homes”; “I will ransom them from the power of the grave”; “I will redeem them from death” (2:14,19; 11:11; 13:14).
God is faithful. He loves us with an everlasting love. When we are disobedient like Ephraim, He loves us. When we are obedient like Hosea, He loves us. Will we grieve God’s heart as Ephraim did? Or will we respond with loyal love and steady service as Hosea did?
Read Hosea 14. What does God ask His people to do? What will be the benefit of obeying Him?
Speakers are taught to make their final words the most memorable part of their message. What are Hosea’s last words? What does he want us to remember more than anything else at the end of his book?
Read Joel 2:21-27. How are his words similar to Hosea’s? What did God promise to do for Israel? How does this promise apply to us?
Denise K. Loock
*My Utmost for His Highest. August 10th reading.