How both privileged and devastating it was for Hosea to be chosen to reveal Your heart toward humanity; to be the one who would live out the expression of Perfect Love, knowing and experiencing both delight and gut-wrenching grief – the extremes of emotion that can only be known by one who has truly loved, but has been truly broken by it.
Privileged because to love as You love is to experience the essence of who You are: God is Love. Hosea could not act out this love as if it were a play to be performed. He could not pretend, because Perfect Love cannot be falsely impersonated.
In the choosing of Hosea, You prepared, gifted and formed a heart within him that both comprehended and felt deeply, Love her as the LORD Loves (Hosea 3:1 NIV). Anything less than this and Hosea would not have been able to feel and express the heart of deep and devastating grief that You felt over the betrayal and unfaithfulness of Israel, and of humanity. That being so, when You asked Hosea to marry Gomer, it is true to say that he loved her. That he looked on at her with tender-hearted emotion, with desire, with an attraction and an eagerness to take her as his wife, to know her, to enjoy her, to delight in her in intimacy. Equally, it is also true to say that he experienced the intense emotion of heart-wrenching grief over her unfaithfulness – love not returned or acknowledged, or at best an unpredictable coming and going of one who takes love one moment and turns from it the next.
From the outset, what I already know, this story is an incredibly sad, yet an incredibly beautiful picture of Your love towards sinful, unfaithful Israel, and of all Your beloved humanity.
I hear the tension of betrayal, grief and desire all mixed together in Your words, “How can I give you up? How can I hand you over? How can I treat you like…? How can I make you like…? My heart is changed within me; all my compassion is aroused.” (Hosea 11:8 NIV)
Sometimes I have this overwhelming grief well up in my chest. It’s when I sense the reality of the ridiculousness of this world’s situation. A ruined, broken, stubborn, sinful, lost humanity – loved! Loved by You, God, with passion – and with such compassion – that it’s beyond comprehension. We are so Loved!
As I have reviewed this journey and the things I have written and learned, I’ve thought about the many times that I have wanted to correct the word love, to Love. Or perfect love, to Perfect Love. Wanting to capitalise these words because I have come to discover that Love is who You are. God is Love. You are Perfect Love. I cannot describe or use the term love in its purest essence without identifying it as You. It’s not just what You do. You’re not just good at love. You are Love. It is Your name and Your identity and I want to capitalise it, signifying it as Your Person, who You are, Your Name.
To talk or write about Love as the LORD Loves (Hosea 3:1 NIV) here in this blog, is to try and give words and voice to who You are. Human love is not really love at all. It is need. It is lust. It is selfish ambition. It is emptiness looking to be filled. There are attempts at love which are unique, rare and unexampled. Acts shown by one who has felt toward another such devotion and affection, that their behavior has gone beyond normal emotion to a passion-fueled display – sacrifice, care, compassion, commitment, romance. But these are rare and still flawed by humanity.
Love her as the LORD Loves.
Hosea, you were called to love Gomer as God Loves. You were to represent if you like, the Perfect Love of God who is Love. It was to be beyond anything humanity had seen or believed could be – one, fueled with all that was needed, complete and without lack, everything required, perfect in every way – to turn the heart of a desperately lost and emotionally ruined prostitute to you. To make this one who had been used and abused and made worthless and unwanted, treasured and desired.
So in the opening verses God, You say to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a promiscuous woman.” (Hosea 1:2 NIV) Go, “love her as the LORD loves.” (Hosea 3:1 NIV) Go, is a very purposeful thing that You are asking of Hosea. Go, requires action. To do something. To consciously make the steps towards something.
You don’t sit back and wallow. You are not self-piteous. Your Perfect Love does not allow You to do this. It motivates You. It is an action, Go, kind of Love.
I’ve watched on, completely helpless, as heartbreak was experienced by someone close to me. The frustrating thing was I couldn’t fix it. I couldn’t take it away. I couldn’t make it right, though I was desperate to do so.
I watched as excruciating emotional pain affected every part of his being. Physically, unable to eat; unable to sit still while at the same time unable to focus on any task. Emotionally, a rollercoaster of ups and downs. Tears always threatening to spill. A helpless desire to bargain and to retract the things said and done to get back what had been lost. The irritable energy to do something to make it right, but the unwillingness on the part of the other one to want it so. The loneliness and desperation to have and be with the very one who he couldn’t have or be with. The anger and frustration over events and words that couldn’t be changed. Tumultuous thoughts that just wouldn’t quit, wouldn’t let him sleep and wouldn’t let him move on.
You know for sure you are alive when you have experienced heartbreak. The emotions are intense and real and painful. He was willing to fight for it, to do whatever it took to get it back, but she was unwilling. For her, it was over. So when I think of You, in this way, heartbroken, it can only be God who can ultimately redeem what is truly lost and undo what has been done, to fix what has been broken, who has a Perfect Love that is what is needed to make wrong things right again, who can be that all that is needed love, that is not lacking or failing to be what it should be, who can move and Go, and that going will achieve what is to be done.
Hosea is a picture of both Your heartache and Your actions to make love right again.
Continued in next week’s blog…
[Hosea was a prophet of God to the nation of Israel. It is where much of my journey of love was awakened. His story is found in the Old Testament part of the Bible. Read more here.]