Choosing Chains

“For she said, ‘I will go after my lovers, who give me my bread and my water, my wool and my flax, my oil and my drink.’” Hosea 2:5


Gomer loved her stuff. If you are unfamiliar with the story of Gomer, it is found in the small prophetical book of Hosea. It is, indeed, a unique book. More than any other prophet, God used the life of this prophet to tell the story of the relationship between God and his people.

God told his prophet to marry a prostitute. You might view this as a life rescued. Gomer did not need to prostitute herself any longer. She had the care and protection of a husband, a godly man. Gomer never needed to return to her life of prostitution again. She was free. But again, we find her living the life of a whore (not my words, but God’s); and this is what seems so preposterous to us. Why would any woman who has been freed from her slavery in prostitution return to it? It is ludicrous and scandalous.

Gomer loved her stuff. To be clear, the stuff that she loved was not necessarily evil in and of itself. What she loved looks more like a grocery list to us. Bread, water, wool, flax, oil and beverages are common household items to us. What was the draw for Gomer? Her lovers were numerous. Her motive was singular: the reward. She distanced herself from her husband for what she believed was a greater reward. And that is just the point that God wants to make with us.

We look at Gomer and think it is sad that a woman would return to prostitution when she had been freed. The book of Hosea essentially tells us to look in a mirror. It is ludicrous that a woman freed from prostitution would return to it. It is just as ludicrous that someone freed from the need for comfort food would return to it for the reward to be found above and before the comfort of God. It is just as ludicrous as a person freed from the need to be more important than others would return to gossip. It is ludicrous that a person freed from greed would return to their career advancement above seeking God’s kingdom first.

 Looking in the mirror we should find that Gomer is not that different than us. We are not better than her. God tells us this story so that we would identify with Gomer. Gomer is simply returning to a different form of the same sin as ours. It is called idolatry. And we also love our stuff. It might not be flax seed and oil, but when we return to the things that we have been freed from we do it for the reward. We see the reward to be greater than the reward of knowing and loving God. Yes, this is ludicrous.

The story of Hosea and Gomer is an invitation for us to return to the greater reward. Hosea is told to go purchase his wife out of her sexual enslavement. The Father has purchased us with his son, Jesus. You are not just freed from a petty reward, but rather freed for a great reward. We are freed to know and love God! That is where there is greater reward. We will all have cravings for the lesser reward just as Gomer did. Let that craving push you in a better direction, toward God. The prodigal son returned home because he was hungry (Luke 15:16-17). When he returned to his father he received far more than a lesser reward. He received the greater reward, love.