Have you ever read the book of Hosea? If not, it’s a book in the Bible about a prophet. Remember I said before that prophets were people who had words from God for other people? Well, this prophet named Hosea had an unusual call on his life. God told him to marry a prostitute, a woman who would be unfaithful, to symbolise the unfaithfulness that God’s people Israel had shown to Him – going away from Him and worshipping the so-called gods of the nations round about them.
Hosea marries Gomer, she goes back into prostitution, and he’s told to buy her back and love her the way God loves His people. There’s a lot in Hosea about punishment – lots of references to how Israel has rebelled against God. You’d expect that, wouldn’t you? Maybe you’d expect the punishment to go right through the time she’s in prostitution, and for it all to be resolved in the last chapter, but do you know what struck me as I read? This book has 14 chapters, and in every one, alongside the warnings, there’s either a message of hope, or an appeal for the Israelites to return to God. Take chapter 9 as an example. “They think that prophets are fools and that spiritual people are crazy. They have sinned a lot, and they are very hostile. Prophets are God’s watchmen over Ephraim” (Hosea 9:7-8 God’s Word Translation). What’s God saying? I send My prophets to watch over you. Don’t think they’re foolish – listen to them!
God can’t bear to punish us. When He disciplines, His love and compassion are never far behind. If you’re a parent, are you like that with your children?