(Adapted from an address by Dr. Kyle Yates at Bethel College, St. Paul, Minnesota)
You and I have heard of Leander who swam the Hellespont to get across to the other coast to see his little girl friend named Hero. We have the rather remarkable account of the love scene between a young man named Romeo and a pretty little girl by the name of Juliet. And in the language of all of us, those two names loom large. Several of us know the names of a couple of young women who lived on Wimpole Street, one a beautiful, sweet little frail flower by the name of Elizabeth Barrett, who fell desperately in love with a good, bald-headed forty-two year old man by the name of Robert Browning.
But we have not exhausted the affair when we say they were married and lived happily ever after. Follow in literature, follow in your own imagination the career of Robert Browning and Elizabeth Barrett. You will find what to me is the sweetest and purest and most beautiful bit of human love that has been written for us in literature. If you follow them around, not only in England but down through Italy and watch the beautiful, fine, cultured scholar, Robert Browning, who became the mighty lover and who sought hour after hour and day after day to find the place in sunny Italy that would most beautifully soothe and sustain the one he loved better than he loved his whole life and all that he possessed, you will be amazed.
But you would be greatly surprised if I told you that probably a love that is deeper and richer and stronger and more compelling and more nearly perfect than any love that has been written of a human person, is the love that Hosea had for this woman by the name of Gomer. When Hosea, with all of the love of his deepest being, said, “I will; I do; with my whole heart I love her, I devote myself to her, I live for her as long as I live and breathe,” the sacredness of the marriage vow meant much. We are not sure about Gomer, whether she had any depth of feeling at all in that direction or not. We are not sure that she had any adequate understanding of the sacredness of the marriage vow. We are reasonably sure that she did not have.
There were several years in which the light of the love-nest took on something of a semblance of making a go of marriage. But it was not very long before the low and the base and the unworthy and the unfaithful in her came out. The fleshly and the sexual and all the rest of those elements that express themselves in infidelity were revealed, and Hosea’s heart was broken. Gomer went on, unmoved and unchallenged. Tragedy, stark tragedy, and yet love in the heart of Hosea burned on.
After Gomer went away we can be reasonably sure that when Hosea came home and found that she was gone that he was hurt to the deepest place of his heart. Instead of declaring a holiday and inviting his friends in and giving a party and having a wild night, announcing that he was free from the one “ball and chain” that ruined his life,
Hosea must have retired and gotten his face down in the dirt of his tent floor and sobbed his heart out.
In the middle of that night it seemed that he could hear the voice of someone else sobbing, and listening for a bit, he became conscious of the fact that it was the sobbing of Jehovah God of hosts. When he inquired concerning it he became aware of the sacred truth that Jehovah God of hosts was hurt to the quick. Jehovah God of hosts loves with a love that is so far beyond human love that even the description of it is beyond us.
But Hosea gathered in that truth and wept his heart out. As his own love for Gomer deepened under the stress and stain of this infidelity and this loneliness and heart hunger, he began realizing that the love of God was so much richer and deeper, fuller and more compelling and purer. On the basis of that his whole ministry was built.
All the way in this book we are facing first of all Hosea the true lover. At the same time he shows that God loves us, even though we are sinners. No matter how deep the sin, no matter how ugly the life, no matter how far in the mire one goes, the love of God deepens and grows with an intensity that is unbelievably beautiful. That is what the book tried to tell us.
OUR SUBJECT FOR THIS SESSION IS LOVE
Please read the following verses and after each, write down what it says to you about God’s love.
Hosea 6:4 – 6
Hosea 1:1 – 3, 8
Hosea 2:14, 19, 20
If someone asked you to explain God’s love from the Old Testament, what would you tell them?
THE WONDROUS CROSS
When I survey the wondrous cross on which the prince of glory died,
My richest gain I count but loss, and pour contempt on all my pride.
Forbid it, Lord, that I should boast, save in the death of Christ my Lord;
All the vain things that charm me most, I sacrifice them to His blood.
See, from His head, His hands, His feet, sorrow and love flow mingled down;
Did e’er such love and sorrow meet, or thorns compose so rich a crown?
Were the whole realm of nature mine, that were a present far too small;
Love so amazing, so divine, demands my soul, my life, my all.