I'll Take You Back
I'LL TAKE YOU BACK
By Mark E. Hardgrove, D.Min.
Text: Hosea 1:2, Hosea 3:1-4
When the LORD began to speak by Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea:
"Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry
And children of harlotry,
For the land has committed great harlotry
By departing from the LORD."
1 Then the LORD said to me, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery, just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods and love the raisin cakes of the pagans."
2 So I bought her for myself for fifteen shekels of silver, and one and one-half homers of barley. 3 And I said to her, "You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man - so, too, will I be toward you."
4 For the children of Israel shall abide many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or sacred pillar, without ephod or teraphim. 5 Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.
I've been preaching a series on the topic of God's desire to have relationship with us. As I've preached each sermon in this series I've felt a certain frustration at how inadequate I am in trying to communicate just how profound of a concept this is. God, the Creator of heaven and earth, who spoke the universe into existence with nothing more than the sheer power of His Word, that God desires to enter into a relationship with us, mere creatures, formed from the dust of the earth but filled with His breath and brought to life by His Spirit.
When we consider the majesty and magnitude of God, it must seem that we are but mere insects by comparison. Indeed, the earth itself is but a dark spot in our own galaxy, a mere speck of dust against the backdrop of the vastness of the universe, and yet God sets His affection upon us, upon me and upon you.
When I consider this truth, I always come back to one question: Why? Why does God want to know me? Why would He say that the very hairs on my head are numbered? Why would He say that He knows my coming in and my going out? Why would He care to know my thoughts afar off? Why does He even know my name? Why? There is, of course, a one word answer and the word is love. When I was on staff at the Lawrenceville Church of God we used to sing a song that said it like this:
Why did He go to Calvary, and why did He shed His blood?
Why did He suffer like no man has ever done,
There's just one reason and I'm the one
He loves me, He loves me, Jesus loves me,
He loves me, He loves me, Jesus loves me.
I think we are guilty sometimes of failing to comprehend just how significance this is. God loves us. Not only do we fail to comprehend the fact of His love, but I think we often fail to grasp the scope and the strength, the extreme unfailing, unflinching, unrelenting nature of God's love. That's where Hosea the prophet comes in.
The story of Hosea's marriage is a powerful symbolic representation of God's love for His people. In the Old Testament, this is specifically about His relationship with Israel, but the New Testament writers used Israel as a symbol of God's relationship with the church. In fact, in Romans 9, verses 25 through 26, Paul quotes Hosea to say that God is calling the Gentiles, who believe in Jesus as their Messiah, to be His people. Paul writes:
25 As He says also in Hosea:
"I will call them My people, who were not My people ,
And her beloved, who was not beloved."
26 "And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
'You are not My people ,'
There they shall be called sons of the living God." NKJV
So the extent of God's love is not limited to Israel or Judah, but what God reveals of His love for Israel is also a powerful revelation of His love for the church, and more specifically, for every member of the church-everyone man, woman, boy or girl who claims Jesus as Lord. In fact, God commended His love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us (Rom. 5:8). Look at your text in chapter 1.
I THE LIVING PARABLE OF HOSEA'S LIFE
The prophecy of Hosea opens in an unusual way. Many prophecies open with God instructing the prophet to prophesy, but Hosea begins with the Lord telling the prophet to get married. God begins His conversation with Hosea in verse 2, "The LORD said to Hosea: 'Go, take yourself a wife of harlotry and children of harlotry.'" I don't know about you, but if that was how God started a conversation with me, I'd probably want a second opinion. I'd be like, "Say what? You want me to do what? What will people think if I, Your prophet, the man of God, a man who declares Your word, what will people think if I come to church with the town prostitute and tell everyone I'm marrying her?"
If Hosea had asked that question I think God would have said, "That's exactly the point. If the people recoil at the prospect of the prophet of God entering into relationship with a harlot, then they really need to ask themselves how a holy God could love a rebellious, backsliding, sinful, idolatrous nation like them."
God was going to use Hosea's life as a living parable so the people could see just how much God loves His people. You'll notice that right after telling Hosea to marry the wife of harlotry, God goes on to make the connection between Hosea's wife and Israel. God says, "For the land [talking about Israel] has committed great harlotry by departing from the Lord."
Hosea (whose name means "salvation") was a prophet to the Northern Tribes, that is, to Israel. As you may remember when the ten Northern Tribes (known as Israel) split from the two Southern Tribes (Judah), Israel set up another place of worship in Samaria and instead of the Ark of the Covenant, they built a golden calf. They still claimed to worship Yahweh, but in their temple they had the golden statue of a calf, just as they had built in the wilderness after coming out of Egypt hundreds of years earlier.
They had been unfaithful to God over and over again, but God loved them anyway. They were forever engaging in the worship of the idols of the other nations around them, but God loved them. In fact, when God chose Abraham to be the patriarch of the nation, God called him out of a family that worshipped idols. God, by His grace, chose a man from whom a nation would be born, and from which a Savior would come, not just for Israel or Judah, but through Abraham all the nations of the earth would be blessed.
God doesn't love us because we're good enough to love, or because we've earned His love. God loves us just because He is God and He created us in His image and likeness for the express purpose of entering into relationship with us. Not a relationship of coercion or force, but a relationship built on love. God loves you because you are you. You may not think you're lovable, huggable, squeezable, and kissable, but God said that you are the apple of His eye. Ravi Zacharia said that what it literally says in the Hebrew is that you are the "maiden of His eye." It's like God calls to be so close to Him that you can look into His eyes and all you see is you. The question is never whether or not God loves us, the question is always whether or not we will love God and be faithful to Him.
God told Hosea to marry Gomer. To be honest, I think if God told me to marry someone name Gomer I'd have to pray really hard to be obedient. I'm sorry, but I'd always be thinking of Gomer Pyle. Anyhow, Hosea didn't ask questions or argue with God, Hosea simply obeyed God. He married Gomer and she bore Hosea a son, which God told him to name Jezreel, which means, "God scatters." It was a prophetic warning that if the people of Israel did not return unto God with their whole heart, God was going to tear them like a lion and scatter them throughout the nations.
God loved them, but they were unfaithful, so God tries to shock them into reality. They did not listen. Gomer had another child and the Lord instructed Hosea to name her Lo-ruhamah, which means, "not pitied." Again, this was a warning that if they did not return, God would show no pity in His judgment upon them. Still they did not heed the warning and finally Gomer had a third child and God told Hosea to name him Lo-ammi, and this is the final straw, the name means, "not my people."
Some might argue that if God loves them, why did He cut them off. The truth is that it was they who were cutting themselves off from God's pleasure. Ultimately the ten Northern Tribes were carried off into captivity never to be heard from again. The nation of Israel in Jesus day was from the two Southern Tribes, the largest being Judah, which is why they are referred to as Jews. God cut them off, but He did so reluctantly and only after giving them opportunity after opportunity to return to Him.
The Bible tells us not to tempt the Lord our God. If we turn our backs on God over and over, and God knows that we will not return, He may turn us over to a reprobate mind and allow us to follow the path that takes of further and further away from Him.
II THE GOD OF SECOND CHANCES
Look at chapter 3. This chapter tells us how far God is willing to go to bring us back. We read that after Gomer proved to be unfaithful to Hosea, he went to the streets and brothels to look for her and to bring her home. Look at the text.
The Lord told him to go and get her even though she was being loved by other men. She was committing adultery against Hosea, but God said (and look closely at this), "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery." Wow! Doesn't that just take your breath away? "Go again," this wasn't the first time Hosea pulled his unfaithful wife out of the brothel, but God said "go again."
The apostle Paul says, "Love suffers long and is kind" (1 Cor. 13:4). God said, "Go again, love a woman who is loved by a lover and is committing adultery." It is only when we feel the full impact of those words that we can begin to comprehend the love of God. Notice He said that she "is with her lover and is committing adultery." Hosea would catch her in the act, but instead of stoning her he was going to buy her back. God said, "Just like the love of the LORD for the children of Israel, who look to other gods."
I don't know why, but He loved me. He kept coming back for me. He wouldn't desert me or abandon me, even after I had turned my back on Him, even after people around me had given me up as no-good and worthless, God said, "I'll take you back."
Hosea went to the streets and found his wife and bought her back for a few dollars and eight bushels of barley. He bought back what was already his. She was still his wife and even if she had forgotten who she was and had been unfaithful, Hosea was going to bring her home.
All of humanity belongs to God but we have been unfaithful, so God sent His own Son as the ransom for our sins. He bought us back, He rescued us from the slave market of sin, even after we went there of our own free will. God said, "I'll take you back. I'll pay the price. I'll give it all, but I will not leave you there hopeless and helpless."
Look at verse 3. These are Hosea's words to his unfaithful wife, but they are also God's words to us. Hosea writes, "And I said to her, 'You shall stay with me many days; you shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man - so, too, will I be toward you.'" In other words, "We're going to have a long life together. You are going to be faithful to me, and I will be faithful to you."
Don't give up on yourself, because God hasn't given up on you. And don't give up on those you love. God may just send you back again and tell you to bring them home, tell you to try again, tell you love again. We give up a whole easier than God does.
One day Jesus told His disciples, "I must needs go through Samaria." Why? He met a woman there who came alone to the well. She was something of an outcast. She'd been married five times and the man she was living with now, wasn't her husband, but Jesus went to her, and she brought a city to Him.
The Prodigal Son literally ended up in the hog pen, but when he came to himself and came home, his father was waiting there for him. His father ran out to meet him and said, "I'll take you back."
God will take you back. He will forgive you and restore if you are ready today to turn your life around.