What do you do when God’s incomprehensible love doesn’t match your understanding? How do you respond?
Her name was Gomer. The Bible doesn’t tell us anything about her background ~ what her childhood was like, what her hopes were, what her heart longed for or what she encountered along the way to womanhood. Neither does it describe her appearance; whether she was beautiful, ordinary or unattractive. But for all the blanks, it does make clear what she had become ~ a prostitute. Hers was a life given to the lust of men and the scorn of women.
Enter Hosea. He wasn’t seeking the services of Gomer, he was seeking to make her his wife. Why would a prophet of God do such a thing? Because God had instructed him to do so. Let that thought sink in for a moment; a man of God joined to a woman of reproach. Try to imagine the prophets burden and the prostitute’s astonishment.
Surely Hosea knew of this woman, for her reputation would have been a topic within any town. To approach her with a proposal of marriage was staggering. This was more than lifting a sinful woman up, this was taking her unto himself, giving her his love and his name. It must have been incomprehensible to Gomer. She knew what she was.
Her life had been lived outside the laws of God. She had compromised herself and nothing could be done to regain her virtue. How could she possibly relate to this man who spoke God’s words, demonstrated His goodness and expressed His love? Why would a man of honor approach a woman of shame? Yet Gomer accepted and her identity expanded to a prophet’s wife. It would be no easy journey.
Gomer had a new name, but an old nature ~ one that beckoned her to visit familiar ground with such regularity that she found herself on an auction block exposed in every way, for all to see and going to the highest bidder. Can you hear the mocking? “Well, what do we have here!” I would imagine Gomer never lifted her eyes. After all she stood there completely vulnerable with nothing to cover her disgrace.
And then she heard him. Amidst the noise and vulgarity of the crowed Hosea shouted “Fifteen shekels!!” All eyes must have turned to him. “And this barley, I have the bushels ready and will pay the price in full for her.” Can you begin to imagine Gomer’s hope when his voice reclaimed her, the gratitude when his robe covered her or her emotion when his hand reached for hers to lead her away from this bondage?
We tend to distance ourselves from identifying with the likes of Gomer because, too often, we don’t see ourselves as that far fallen. But sin is sin before a Holy God and, in that light, we stand on the same ground as she did. Though we seldom give voice to it, we sense deep inside that we miss the mark, that we’re a mess and we’re afraid someone will expose it.
Some reading this today may be carrying shame or pain that has never been uttered to another soul. A few may have traveled paths they deeply regret, compromised standards they never thought they would and secretly long for forgiveness and hope. It’s near. Jesus has already called out for you. He has paid the price, covered your guilt and holds out His hand to remove you from sin’s exposure and into His grace.
I’ve never lived the life of Gomer, but that doesn’t lessen the stain of my sins. I was every bit as much in need of redemption as she was. And Jesus, my Redeemer ~ my Savior ~ came for me, covered my iniquity with His righteousness and gave me His Name. It was intimate and personal and I will forever belong to Him. Yes, I fall sometimes. But He reaches for me, lifts me up and reminds me that He will never leave me or forsake me, that he will strengthen and shield me from the Tempter’s snare until the day He brings me safely home to the place He is now preparing.
And friend, that is true for you. The enemy will do everything in his power to discourage, to dissuade and defeat you. He will do his best to convince you that God could not possibly love one such as you or such as I. That is a lie.
The God that sent Hosea to Gomer has sent Jesus to us. He came for the very purpose of giving you a new name and a new identity. If you are sincerely willing to accept the incomprehensible gift of His love and salvation, then you are a new creation.
Lift up your head, you bear the name of Christ and are His beloved.