The Second Greatest Love Story Ever Told

 

hosea-and-gomerHosea:

It’s time.  I’ve hesitated to share my story because some will call me crazy, a glutton for punishment.  And perhaps they are correct. But one cannot turn off love.  The feelings don’t just stop.  Oh, there were times that I prayed for my love to end.  The tears I shed, the deep pain of betrayal that cut over and over, each cut deeper than the last.  I longed for the memories to be wiped from my being! But I’m getting ahead of myself.  A good story starts at the beginning.

I was a preacher in Israel.  At the time I began my ministry, Israel had become prosperous.  The people, sadly, had turned to idolatry, led by King Jeroboam II.  Their morals were loose, and they had forgotten that God had blessed them.  Everyone knows that a preacher must choose his life partner, his wife, carefully.  A preacher’s wife is of utmost importance to his ministry.  She must be an upstanding and virtuous woman, devoted to God and to her husband.  Those were my beliefs – until God told me to marry a harlot.

Gomer:

I suppose I used to be a “good girl.”  I remember growing up learning about the God of Abraham, who freed our people from Pharaoh.  I trusted God as a young child, but as I became older I began questioning the rules of God.  Why was there only one way to worship God?  The land in which we lived worshipped other gods.  They built idols.  Their temples were for worshipping – with their bodies.

I strayed away from the God of Abraham, and embraced temple worship.  I became a prostitute, a harlot.  Now before you condemn me, let me tell you that it was part of worship!  I embraced my role, and was convinced that there were many ways to worship.  Those were my beliefs – until I met Hosea.

Hosea:

I couldn’t believe it!  Marry a harlot???  Me – a preacher???  Yet, God’s voice was clear, and I dared not disobey.  Indeed though, I was troubled at the possible ramifications.  There’s nothing like a brisk walk to clear the mind, and my mind definitely needed clearing!  So I left my abode, and started walking, pondering God’s word to me as I trudged along.  The early morning air was filled with the smells of bread baking.  I listened to the normal sounds of children and their parents.  My spirit calmed as I realized that the God of Abraham did not give frivolous commands.  My steps became lighter, and I gazed around me.  Then I saw her. Our eyes locked.  Rather than looking away, like any self-respecting virtuous woman, she stared back brazenly. As the hint of a smile played on her face, a feeling of love came over me so intense that my breath was taken. She would be mine.  This harlot, Gomer, would be my wife.

Gomer:

I couldn’t believe it!  This preacher, Hosea, was staring at me like a delectable delicacy!  For the first time in a long time, I felt an urge to lower my head, to break the gaze.  But no, if he wanted a harlot, then a harlot he would get.  As he stepped toward me, I felt a strange flutter of uncertainty, a feeling unknown to me.  The feeling grew as Hosea stood before me.  He told me that I would be his wife. As he held out his hand, it didn’t occur to me that I could say no.  I slipped my hand into his, mesmerized by a tangible feeling of being loved.  And the two became one.

Hosea:

Life was good.  Gomer seemed content in her new role as a wife.  I was thankful that God had chosen such a beautiful woman for me, and I sensed in her a vulnerability I rarely glimpsed.  Our joy overflowed when she became pregnant and had a son.  We never talked about Gomer’s past.  It was easy for me to believe that she didn’t have one – only a present and a future.

God told me to name our first son Jezreel.  The name was prophetic, for God said, “I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.  And it will come about on that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” (Hosea 1:4-5)

Gomer:

Life was good.  Surprisingly, I settled into the role of a wife quite easily.  Although I occasionally thought about my past, I was satisfied being Hosea’s wife.  I again heard about the God of Abraham, and His jealousy.  He did not tolerate idolatry.  There would be no other gods before Him.

I was ecstatic when I found out that I was going to have a baby!  Now my life would be complete.  Yet, after Jezreel was born, I felt unsettled.  What was wrong with me?  I had everything, yet I longed for something else.  I thought more and more about my past life, the freedom it provided.  I fought against these thoughts, really I did.  But the harder I fought, the more vivid the memories!  I dreamt of my past as a harlot.  Hosea was preaching against Israel’s unfaithfulness to God – and I, in a moment of weakness, was unfaithful to Hosea.

Hosea:

I sensed a change in Gomer.  Little things irritated her.  She thought that the God of Abraham was being too judgmental, and that my message was too severe. Our intimacy that we had initially shared was all but gone.  Gomer reignited some old friendships, but I didn’t think she would ever be unfaithful.  Until she became pregnant again.  Still, there was a small chance that this baby was bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh.  How could I accuse Gomer if I didn’t know myself?

Again, God told me my daughter’s name.  “Name her Lo-ruhamah, for I will no longer have compassion on the house of Israel, that I should ever forgive them.  But I will have compassion on the house of Judah and deliver them by the Lord their God, and will not deliver them by bow, sword, battle, horses, or horsemen.”  (Hosea 1:7-8)

Gomer:

I just couldn’t keep up the pretense.  I knew Hosea loved me – and I loved him!  But once a harlot, always a harlot, or so I thought.  I had broken my covenant with Hosea.  I suspected that he knew, since we were rarely intimate.  But he didn’t mention it.  The rift between us grew wider and wider.  There were days that I truly thought I would go crazy!  Two babies, a husband who continued to preach about Israel’s unfaithfulness to God, and me – the unfaithful wife.  I longed for the days of harlotry!  I began to spend more time with my old friends.  I was living two lives – one as a wife and mother, and the other as a harlot.  At some point, the two had to collide…

Hosea:

We became more distant.  Gomer wasn’t interested in God’s message.  Nor did she seem interested in me.  She spent more time with her old friends.  She changed.  Gone were the nights of lying close together in each other’s arms, whispering about our dreams.  Gone were the laughter and tales about the children’s latest escapades.  Instead, we slept rigidly, our backs to each other.  Only cursory comments were made, if any at all.  My mind went wild with suspicions.  If only I knew with certainty, I thought.  I prayed that I would discover the truth.  My prayer was answered, but not in the way I expected.

Gomer:

I had to tell Hosea.  I procrastinated as long as possible, but one can only hide for so long.  Finally, I summoned up the courage to tell him I was expecting another baby.  The look on his face – I will remember that look until the day I die. I had betrayed the one man who loved me.

Hosea:

I knew before she told me.  I was patient, wanting her to tell me when she was ready.  Never had I felt the degree of utter devastation and betrayal that I experienced when Gomer informed me that she was pregnant again.  We both knew that this baby wasn’t mine.  For the third time, God gave me a name for the baby.  “Name him Lo-ammi, for you are not My people and I am not your God.”  (Hosea 1:9)

Gomer:

I was on a downhill spiral, completely out of control.  I was convinced that my life was better without Hosea and the children.  I felt as if I would suffocate if I stayed one more second.  So I left.  I ran, back into the arms of my lover.  He promised his undying love to me. He was exciting and fun!  And a liar.

Hosea:

My friends said it was for the best.  They said I should find a truly virtuous woman, one who feared the God of Abraham.  But I couldn’t get Gomer out of my mind, or my heart.  God had given me a love for her that remained, although she was gone.  I prayed for her safety, and I prayed that someday we would live again a husband and wife.  My heart was broken, the betrayal was unbelievable; still I love Gomer with a fierce and protective love.

Gomer:

My lover found another – younger and more beautiful.  One who didn’t bear the stretch marks of pregnancy or the saggy breasts of nursing. A harlot’s productive years are numbered, for one is only young and beautiful for a short time.  Hosea invaded my mind more and more.  Oh, what a fool I had been, giving up true love for a perverted lust!  I remembered Hosea’s messages.  Wasn’t that what Israel had done? Rejected the God of Abraham for idolatry?  Tears streamed down my face as I stood on the auction block, waiting to be sold into slavery. Naked, chained, a life ruined by dissatisfaction, disdain, disorder, discord, and disappointment.  I was prepared to be discarded.

Hosea:

I never stopped thinking about her.  Day and night, awake and in my dreams, Gomer was there.   Each time I preached about Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s love and mercy, God spoke to me about Gomer.  I knew I must find her.  I received word from a friend that Gomer had hit rock bottom, and was being sold as a slave.  Quickly, I headed out, my heart beating furiously.  What would I find?  And what would I do?

Gomer:

I heard his voice.  “Fifteen shekels of silver and thirteen bushels of barley,” he shouted (Hosea 3:2). How different this meeting was from our first!  This time, I couldn’t meet his eyes.  As he covered my nakedness and swept me from the auction block, Hosea whispered in my ear,  “You shall stay with me for many days. You shall not play the harlot, nor shall you have a man; so I will also be toward you” (Hosea 3:3)

Hosea:

She was a shadow of the woman I knew.  Yet my love for her was stronger than ever.  Would she break my heart again?  Would betrayal become a normal part of our relationship?  I did not know.  I did know, however, that true love comes at a cost.  And I knew that I was willing to pay the price.

Gomer:

Hosea treated me like a precious guest in our house.  What once seemed suffocating was now a breath of fresh air.  Hosea had paid a high price for loving me.  I had betrayed him over and over, yet still he loved me, and was willing to restore me to my place as his wife. What wondrous love is this!

Debbie’s Musings:

Although Hosea preached to the people of Israel, his message is applicable to Christians today.  Simply speaking, God does not tolerate idolatry of any form or fashion.  In a society where we are always busy and competing with one another, it’s far to easy to knock God off of His rightful position of first in our lives.  Although God punished Israel, He also offered them redemption.  He offers us the same. God’s love didn’t diminish because Israel was disobedient.  Nor does His love for us diminish.  God corrects His people in love.

And Hosea and Gomer?  I like to think that they lived happily ever after.  The story of Hosea and Gomer is the perfect picture of Christ and His Bride – the Church.  And I know how THAT story ends!

while-a-sinner-_romans-5_8-revised

You can read more about Hosea, Gomer, and Israel in the Old Testament book of Hosea.

About Debbie

Debbie is a special education teacher, a wife, and a Meme to four granddaughters. She seeks to bring to life the people of the Bible. They were real, with real emotions, just like us.

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