By David Faust
Last summer my wife, Candy, and I vacationed at Yellowstone National Park, which serves as a showcase for God’s creative genius. Majestic mountains, roaring waterfalls, multicolored wildflowers, breathtaking canyons, and grazing herds of bison and elk surrounded us. We arranged our schedule so we could watch the Old Faithful geyser erupt three times in the same day. (I told Candy that someday I want to be known as a faithful old geezer.)
Faithfulness is undervalued. Who gets a plaque for being trustworthy or a big raise simply for being dependable? What celebrities extol the virtue of faithfulness? It’s easy to overlook the faithful teacher who devotes her career to educating students, the reliable employee who shows up day after day, or the devoted family that steadily cares for a loved one with disabilities.
The book of Hosea tells a love story with a twist. The bride and groom in this story aren’t known for their romantic chemistry, but we can learn a lot about faithfulness by considering this match made in Heaven.
Faithfulness means obeying difficult commands. The Lord told Hosea, “Go, marry a promiscuous woman and have children with her, for like an adulterous wife this land is guilty of unfaithfulness to the Lord” (Hosea 1:2). Most of us might consider Hosea’s wife, Gomer, an unlikely choice for a prophetic first lady. Who wants to marry someone who is likely to cheat on you? Hosea had to overcome his misgivings about Gomer’s past and accept the likelihood of emotional pain in the future.
Then God told the couple to give their children unorthodox names to symbolize his strained relationship with Israel. They named their daughter Lo-Ruhamah (which means “not loved”) and one of their sons Lo-Ammi (which means “not my people”). What parents want to give their children such depressing names? Hosea obeyed God, regardless of the cost. His whole family paid a price because of the nation’s sinfulness.
Later God gave Hosea another difficult assignment: “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” (3:1). What is harder than reconciling with an offender who wounded you deeply? What tests your faith more than trying to forgive someone who has been unfaithful to you?
In the long haul, though, faithfulness leads to incredible rewards. A remnant of Israel would still accept God’s love. The Lord promised, “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’” (2:23).
Did Hosea realize that centuries later his prophecies would point to the young Messiah’s providential protection? “Out of Egypt I called my son” (11:1; Matthew 2:15). Could Hosea foresee that Jesus would quote his book to underscore God’s grace? “I desire mercy, not sacrifice” (Hosea 6:6; Matthew 9:13). Did Hosea understand how Christ’s sacrifice was essential for God to fulfill his salvation plan? “I will heal their waywardness and love them freely, for my anger has turned away from them” (Hosea 14:4).
Hosea paid a high price to be faithful. Maybe you’re paying a high price too. It helps to remember that at the cross, our faithful God paid the highest price imaginable in order to reconcile with us.
David Faust serves as the Associate Minister at East 91st Street Christian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana.
Based on International Sunday School Lesson, © 2012, by the Lesson Committee. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.
The Lookout’s Bible Reading Plan for November 29, 2015
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of The Lookout.
Daniel 7, 8