I don’t know if you ever watched the Jerry Springer Show on television. It’s been on for many years and is still quite popular. Basically, people come on the show to tell the world about their problems and sins. Most often, people tell about some affair with the love interest of a friend or relative. It’s something of a public confession. Most of the time, the offended spouse or partner comes out, and it ends in physical violence. The audience roars in laughter and approval. Americans seem to love this kind of thing.
Here is one story that Jerry Springer would love. A preacher, a supposed man of God, had the audacity to sleep with a prostitute. He wanted her to stay with him, so he gave her a lot of money. They had two children out of wedlock. The prostitute was torn emotionally. She wanted to continue to sleep with her clients, but the preacher was a jealous man who did not want any rivals. Knowing the kindness and generosity of the preacher, she wanted to remain faithful to him but she thought often about her lovers. The preacher promised that if she would just stay with him and be faithful, he would marry her, make her respectable, and give her many gifts. What would she do? Who would she choose- her clients or the preacher? Yes, Jerry Springer would love to have these folks on his show.
It might surprise you to discover that the preacher is the prophet Hosea.
Although this story can be found in the book of Hosea, it isn’t clear if it literally happened as some kind of prophetic sign, or is just an allegory told to make a theological point. Either way, what is the message of this story? Hosea represents God and Israel is the prostitute; that is Israel constantly goes after the gods of other nations. Despite this sad situation, God tells Israel that if she will repent and return to Him, he will marry her, bless her and will proudly proclaim to the world that He is the God of Israel. Would Israel remain with God, or go elsewhere? The history of Israel shows that this was not an easy choice for them. Sometimes they were faithful, many times they were not.
What does this story have to do with us? Forgive me for saying this, but spiritually speaking, we are all prostitutes. We seek out other lovers for what we believe they can give us. We are torn in our hearts because we know how loving and kind and generous God is and can be. We also know that He is a jealous God. So sometimes we draw close to God, but most of the time, we pursue other gods. What are the gods that we chase after? They are our ideals, passions, fantasies and desires. Some of our gods are mental and some are physical.
Hosea shows us that despite this condition of being divided in our loyalty, God continues to loves us completely. He does not disdain us and would marry us if we would just repent and be faithful. To be married to God means that we will come to know real intimacy with Him. He will know us and we will know him in deep and abiding love. He will be our God and we will be his people. How did Jesus put it? Eternal life is know the Father and the Son whom He has sent. We will know him, not just know about Him.
What will we do – continue to play the harlot and pursue our lovers or repent and be married? If we pursue other lovers, God will continue to love us, but eventually we will grow old. Our lovers will abandon us and we will be left alone. If we choose God, we will be blessed with a life of real intimacy and we will know that love forever.
It seems like a no-brainer, but we humans seem to love playing the harlot. Sadly, because of our divided loyalty, we may only know about the greatest love of all when we could live in that love and have it live in us. You may feel ashamed because of your past unfaithfulness. Your past doesn’t matter. God loves you and would marry you today. So, repent and come home. A marriage feast has been set for you and God will clothe you in a wedding gown of righteousness. He will make you beautiful beyond anything that you can imagine and he will be proud to claim you as His own.