We’re going to begin a series today on women of the Bible, beginning with the well-known Gomer. You don’t know about Gomer? We’ve decided this series will feature some of the lesser known women of the Bible.
Gomer is the prostitute that the prophet Hosea found and married in obedience to the command of the Lord. “Go and marry a prostitute, so that some of her children will be conceived in prostitution. This will illustrate how Israel has acted like a prostitute by turning against the Lord and worshiping other gods.” (Hosea 1:2)
Gomer gave Hosea three children, each of which became an illustration of God’s dealing with His chosen people. The whole book of Hosea is a revolving door of God’s judgment and mercy. It pretty much mirrors God’s relationship with the nation of Israel throughout the Old Testament. They follow Him and He blesses them. They go against Him and He goes against them by abandoning them to their enemies and allowing them to be dragged off into exile. But throughout this rollercoaster ride is a thread of God’s love, mercy and faithfulness to his people that prevails in spite of them and in spite of even His judgment of them. It’s clear that His love and mercy operates on another track that has nothing to do with whether they are doing the right thing or not. It is God’s mercy regardless — His faithfulness anyway — His love, unconditional.
“Then the Lord said to me, ‘Go and love your wife again, even though she commits adultery with another lover. This will illustrate that the Lord still loves Israel, even though the people have turned to other gods and love to worship them.’ So I bought her back for fifteen pieces of silver and five bushels of barley and a measure of wine” (3:1-3).
This is the story of Hosea and Gomer — God and Israel — but it is really your story and mine, because we are Gomer. The only way to really understand this story is to make it personal. Stand in Gomer’s stilettos. Say along with her, “I am the one who leaves the Lord for other gods. I waffle; I waver; I go back and forth. I have sold myself to many lovers. There would be no chance for me were it not for my relentless husband who loves me, comes after me and even pays my going price to buy me off the street (after I already belong to Him in marriage, no less).
“But then I will win her back once again (says the Lord.. I will lead her into the desert and speak tenderly to her there” (2:14). ‘You will call me ‘my husband’ instead of ‘my master’” (2:16). “I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. I will be faithful to you and make you mine, and you will finally know me as the Lord” (2:19-20). “Then I will heal you of your faithlessness; my love will know no bounds, for my anger will be gone forever” (14:4). These statements all depend on God. They are His will. They happen in spite of the actions of His people. It’s God’s faithfulness and not ours that wins out in the end.
How about this beautiful picture of the heart of God: “Oh, how can I give you up, Israel? How can I let you go? How can I destroy you like Admah or demolish you like Zeboiim? My heart is torn within me, and my compassion overflows” (11:8).
All of this should evoke something like this response in us: “Oh, that we might know the Lord! Let us press on to know him. He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn or the coming of rains in early spring” (6:3).