Following is a blog post by pastor Bob Hostetler, author of Falling in Love with God which released this week! You can follow Bob on Twitter: @bobhoss and learn more about his ministry at his personal website: www.bobhostetler.com. As always, copies of the book are available for FREE to bloggers in exchange for a review.
Once upon a time in a kingdom far, far away, God told one of his prophets, a man named Hosea, to find a whore and marry her.
That seems like a lot to ask. Even for God. Even of a prophet.
Can you even imagine what that was like? For Hosea to leave his cozy suburban bungalow to go to the seedy, sleazy red light district, to a woman who had slept with two or three men the night before . . . and in the light of day with mocking eyes watching, ask her to be his wife?
This is no pretty scene out of a Julia Roberts movie. It is the ugliest, most sordid, most revolting and shameful condescension imaginable—for a prophet of God, the Holy One of Israel, to debase himself by marrying a “fallen woman.”
And yet God asked it. And Hosea did it. And even recorded it in the Hebrew Scriptures.
But why? You’d think there could have been another way. An alternate ending. A Plan B.
Then again, how better to illustrate God’s infinite condescension in loving and redeeming sinful souls like mine. Only something that dramatic could demonstrate how far Yahweh would condescend, what he would be willing to do, how far he would be willing to go for his bride. For me. For you.
Perhaps you have heard or read the story of a woman who had been caught in adultery and was dragged in front of Jesus so his enemies could use her to trap him.
You may remember that, after he confounded them by saying simply, “If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her,” they all left, one by one.
And you may recall that when they were all gone and this adulterous woman was left alone with him, he said,
“Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?”
“No one, sir,” she said.
“Then neither do I condemn you,” Jesus declared. “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:10-11, NIV).
Do you know that Jesus addressed that “fallen woman” with the same term of respect he used with his own mother?
“Woman . . .”
“Ma’am . . .”
Do you know how far God condescended to be able to speak terms of love and respect . . . to you?
Do you know that he set aside majesty and glory, riches and comfort, to be able to say,
There is . . . no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1, NIV).
Do you know that the amount of condescension involved in the infinite, eternal God entering time and space—to be born, to live, and die, horribly and cruelly, for you—is immeasurable?
Do you know that he comes to you even at your worst? Even in sin? Your shame?
Do you know that no matter how low you may feel you’re not too low for him to reach?
The psalmist said,
If I make my bed in the depths, you are there (Psalm 139:8a, NIV).
Oh, the depth of the love and mercy of God! That he would condescend to me—to you—no matter how low we go, no matter how shameful we may feel, that he would condescend so far to us that Hosea had to marry a prostitute to depict it.
That is how deep the love of God is. There is nothing deeper. And it is for me. It is for you.