It’s that time of year again. Just when fall weather is starting to set in and autumn beauty is at its peak, Hallmark’s “Countdown to Christmas” premieres 20 new Christmas movies that make you exchange the excitement of pumpkins and apple cider for cravings of peppermints and gingerbread. I’m not complaining, though. I appreciate a good love story, and Hallmark scriptwriters seem to have an endless supply.
The Bible contains its fair share of “Hallmark-worthy” love stories.
Take a look at these storylines and notice the similarities to your favorite chick flick.
Jacob and Rachel– a persistent suitor worked tirelessly to win his bride. Ruth and Boaz–a young widow overlooked by society, captured the heart of a handsome, wealthy landowner. Esther and Xerxes–a stunningly beautiful commoner enthralled the king to become his queen.
Any of these sound familiar?
Though these accounts are incredible, Scripture reveals an even more powerful love story with a plot you’ll undoubtedly never see in a Hallmark movie. This story is that of Hosea and Gomer.
Hosea and Gomer’s Story
In Hosea 1, God comes to the prophet Hosea and tells him to choose a woman to marry. Before Hosea could take out a pencil and journal to write down all of the desirable characteristics of a future wife, God completely erased Hosea’s “Perfect Woman” list.
He told Hosea, “Go, take yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD” (Hosea 1:2).
Yes, you read that correctly. God commanded Hosea to marry a prostitute.
Instead of arguing and protesting, Hosea did as the Lord commanded. He found the prostitute Gomer, bought her freedom, and took her as his wife. He brought her into his house, cared for her, provided for her, and loved her, but despite Hosea’s attentive care and devotion, Gomer wasn’t satisfied.
She left the man who loved her to sell herself back into a life of prostitution. Hosea could have forgotten his covenant of marriage with her and left her in sin, but he didn’t. Instead, God told Hosea, “Go again, love a woman who is loved by another man and is an adulteress, even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods and love cakes of raisins” (Hosea 3:1).
Now, I know what you’re thinking. Who on earth would love something as unappetizing as a raisin cake? Oh, not what you were thinking? Must’ve just been me then.
The question that you might have been wondering is if God hates any form of sexual impurity and adultery, why would He command one of His prophets to marry a woman whose lifestyle is consumed by such sins?
The answer is in the verse we just read–Hosea 3:1. The Lord told Hosea to redeem Gomer out of slavery and love her again, “even as the LORD loves the children of Israel, though they turn to other gods.” Hosea’s relationship with Gomer was to represent the relationship between God and His chosen people, the Israelites.
The Israelites’ Story
By the time of Hosea, the Israelites had experienced God in countless ways. He had made a marriage-like covenant to them and promised to be with them and bless them. In return, their job was to follow His greatest commandment: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (Deuteronomy 6:5).
This command may seem simple enough for them to follow, but the Israelites repeatedly forsook God and ran back to idol worship. No matter how great the Lord showed Himself to them, they always turned away. They wanted the false gods who couldn’t hear them and the raisin cakes that couldn’t fill them.
God could not allow their spiritual adultery to continue, so He warned them of calamities to come.
Despite His impending judgment, the Lord did not leave His people without hope. He gave them a beautiful promise of forgiveness in response to their repentance (Hosea 14:4-7).
“I will heal their apostasy;
I will love them freely,
for my anger has turned from them.
I will be like the dew to Israel;
he shall blossom like the lily;
he shall take root like the trees of Lebanon;
his shoots shall spread out;
his beauty shall be like the olive,
and his fragrance like Lebanon.
They shall return and dwell beneath my shadow;
they shall flourish like the grain;
they shall blossom like the vine;
their fame shall be like the wine of Lebanon.”
Even though His children failed Him, God demonstrated faithful love.
When studying the book of Hosea, it’s easy to feel frustrated with Gomer and the Israelites. How could Gomer have been so foolish to leave the one man who truly loved her for a sinful lifestyle that could only bring her pain? And how could the Israelites not realize that worshiping false gods was futile?
May the Lord give us eyes to see our own foolish, adulterous hearts in these stories.
When we first accepted Christ’s gift of salvation and became Christians, we entered into a marriage relationship with Christ (Ephesians 5: 25-30). We are now eternally bound to Him, and He expects us to honor this covenant.
But we often don’t. We chase success, relationships, approval, and an endless number of eternally insignificant things that the world tells us are worthwhile, and we neglect the only One who can truly satisfy us.
Yet when we repent and return to the Lord, He is there to receive us unto Himself again.
“So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God” (Hosea 12: 6).
Hosea and Gomer’s love story has ended, but ours is still being written. Though our lives will likely contain many bloopers and unexpected plot twists, I can assure you that if God is our love–like any good Hallmark movie–we will all live happily ever after.