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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

God woos His wife Israel
Date Posted: May 26, 2024

(Excerpt from my book)

I have heard it preached from the pulpit. I have experienced the prejudice first hand. I have seen the devastating disappointment incurred by the mistaken belief that divorce is a sin. It is not a sin. What caused the divorce is the sin. Yes, God hates divorce; and from the very beginning it was not ever a godly solution to human problems. However, God exposes the sin which is good cause for divorce in several books of the Bible. We find these passages in Ezra 10, Ezekiel 16, the entire book of Hosea, and in every other book of the prophets. Adultery, fornication, child abuse of the most heinous kinds are the main offenses.

The story of Gomer and Hosea goes back to Israel committing adultery with foreign gods, and seeking security from foreign nations rather than worshiping the one, true God and having faith in His omnipotence. This broke the marriage contract Israel had with God which is found in Deuteronomy. This adultery which broke the covenant wasn’t just a one time fling either; it was a constant thing. It was extremely degrading and embarrassing to God, because it declared to the surrounding nations that He was a cuckold. Do you find that shocking? Today when the Bride of Christ worships modern day idols and puts those idols in places of honor within her heart, she is declaring to the world the same thing. Yes, it is quite shocking.

Israel was different because she “paid her lovers” and was paid in return. Ezekiel describes this extensively in 16:15-34. The horror of the things Israel called worship delved into the satanic when they offered their babies as food for the foreign gods, and made their infants to “pass through the fire”. We think we are not so barbaric as those who sacrificed their children to foreign gods, yet I see people who profess Christ and never teach their children about Jesus. I see young children who only see the inside of a church a few times a year, and only hear how to be saved when they go to Vacation Bible School. I see parents ignoring their children’s Christian education because they themselves do not “feel the need to go to church.” I witness parents going to church every Sunday, but living like hell the rest of the week as a testimony to their children. What is that telling them? That Jesus isn’t really the answer, and church is just something to do on Sunday, but doesn’t really mean anything. That is the same as making them pass through the fire for unless they repent and are saved, they will eternally live in the Lake of Fire.

Jesus told us that it is easier for little children to come to Him, and that only if we came to Him as little children would we enter the kingdom of Heaven. (Matthew 18:3) Since days of old, God has held parents responsible to bring up their children in the ways of the LORD with the result they will not stray far from the path.

Now, study Gomer a soiled wife, being wooed back to her husband. She was taken to wife by Hosea from her life as a prostitute because the Children of Israel were acting like prostitutes. God has never taken marriage vows lightly. This is one of the most serious commands ever given by Him. The example that Hosea and Gomer were to be for the Ten Tribes was excruciating for Hosea while Gomer was never truly required to change her behavior until after she was forgiven and taken back into Hosea’s bosom. How does one love a person who betrays you, and acts abhorrently? Only God can love that way, and it is only through the power of God that we can forgive to the point that love abounds again.

The lesson is far more than how God will deal with Israel, the Ten Tribes scattered around the world. This is God telling husbands and wives to love each other even when betrayed, even when the action of the spouse is so abhorrent divorce seems to be the only answer to peace. It absolutely cannot be done within our own power. Only God can give us the ability to love enough to forgive and set the wrong behind us. This, of course, is the ideal. Far too often, Christians get a divorce because of unforgiveness. Infidelity is the worst sort of betrayal, and yet when the guilty person acknowledges the sin, repents of the sin, and asks forgiveness, we are commanded as Children of God to forgive. He forgave us, how can we do any less? This does not mean that we sweep our anger into a box, tape it shut, and try not to think about it. It does not mean that we say, “I’m okay with what you did to me.” That is not what God is saying here when He tells Hosea to take back his wife and to love her as He loves the Israelites.

Please note when you read Hosea’s story that the adulterous wife forgot her Husband and the fine gifts He gave her, but God said He would woo her back to Himself. He also would betroth her in faithfulness, and she would look at no one else and call Him Ishi. Come Rejoice With Me is that story, and you can see it does have a happy ending no matter how distasteful the beginning and the middle of the story. We know the end of the story for we find it in Luke 7:47. When Jesus is dining with Simon, His feet are not washed, and He is not greeted with the kiss of goodwill. (In the Middle East, men greet each other with a kiss to indicate all is well between them which is why Judas’ kiss was such an act of betrayal.) The woman never quits kissing Jesus’ feet; she washes them with her tears and anoints His feet with perfume. Simon mumbles that if Jesus knew what kind of woman was touching Him, He would have nothing to do with her. Jesus replies beginning with Luke 7:44 And turning to the woman he said to Simon, You see this woman? I came into your house; you did not give me water for my feet: but she has been washing my feet with the drops from her eyes, and drying them with her hair. 45 You did not give me a kiss: but she, from the time when I came in, has gone on kissing my feet. 46 You put no oil on my head: but she has put perfume on my feet. 47 And so I say to you, She will have forgiveness for her sins which are great in number, because of her great love: but he who has small need of forgiveness gives little love. 48 And he said to her, You have forgiveness for your sins.

In Deuteronomy 31:16-20 God shares with Moses He knows Israel will be unfaithful and break covenant with the LORD, that they will lust after other gods and forsake the one, true LORD, that they will lust after other gods and forsake the one, true God. Then He promises, “hiding I will hide My face.” That is a Hebrew nomenclature of a sweeping, continuing action. However, Isaiah tells us that God didn’t divorce Israel right away; He separated from her as a punishment to bring her back. He withdrew the blessings and rain didn’t fall among other things. But Israel continued to embrace other gods and Hosea tells us that this produced illegitimate children “children of whoredom” found in Hosea 2. Then in Jeremiah 3, we see the bill of divorcement where God hid His face from His people and declared they were not His people. The book of Jeremiah displays the unrepentant Israel and why the bill of divorcement was necessary. Ezekiel and Hosea also describe the punishment which was designed to stop Israel from sinning with idols. The punishment was necessary because Israel broke the marriage contract 16:58-59, and showed neither outward nor inward signs of repentance. In fact the book of Hosea is the surface story of God and Israel.

Therefore, despite the punishment, there is hope for Israel; and a continual call to repentance in Jeremiah 3 as well as in Hosea, but for 2,500 years to no avail. We find God did not divorce Judah because to do so would have made Jesus illegitimate. He suffered Judah’s harlotry until she rejected Jesus, her own Son. So now we have a situation that continues today. Israel and Judah are still in punishment. What makes it exceedingly worse for them today is the clear evidence that Jesus is God’s Son and is the Messiah, and they continually reject this evidence. God promised to give them back their land, which He has done in part. Israel does not yet have all the Promised Land.

In Jesus day, they had the opportunity to become sanctified but rejected it as a nation. Individuals believed and were saved and entered into a new marriage contract as the Bride of the Lamb. But the nation rejected Him on a corporate level thus the Woe curses and the scattering and the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem in 70AD.

Hosea tells us of how God will woo back His wife. Verse 14, He will “allure her into the desert and speak tenderly to her”. Several places, one being Matthew 24, Israel is told when you see these signs “flee into the mountains”. All their needs will be provided for: food, water etc. and this is basically when Israel finally turns back fully and wholly to God and calls him “my husband”, not “my master” Hosea 2. Therefore, all Israel will love so much because they have been forgiven so much.

This story gives the Bride of Christ the example of love and forgiveness. Divorce between believers is not an option, yet there is stubbornness of will and divorce happens. It is not something that cannot be forgiven. It isn’t something that debilitates a Christian from doing his or her work in the LORD. Only he who is without sin may cast the first stone. Since we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God, then no believer has a right to hold a grudge against another believer. In order for us to keep the vertical relationship with God healthy and open, we are commanded to forgive. That isn’t saying forgiveness is supposed to happen instantly, but it must be an open road with no dead end. He who is forgiven much loves much.

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Biography Information:

Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews check out Gina's book reviews at Upon

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